Are you a member of the world’s wealth elite?

Wealth Elite

If you own the laptop you’re reading this on outright plus your iPad and iPhone then  you’re already wealthier than half the world’s citizens. A net worth of $3,650 is all it takes to be grouped with the richer half of humanity.

If you have a small slice of equity in your home you’re every chance to be among the wealthiest 10% of the word’s population. $77,000 gets you into this club.

To be in the top wealth percentile you don’t have to be a millionaire. If you’re worth $798,000 you belong to the elite 1% club. Feel richer now?

These are a few of the findings published in the recently released Credit Suisse global wealth report. The report highlights the enormous wealth inequalities that exist globally and within most countries, emerging and developed. It also comes with a bit of a warning.

We’re wealthier

Globally wealth has grown considerably since the turn of the millennium. We were worth a combined $117 trillion in 2000 and are now worth a record $263 trillion.

Combined wealth took a hit during the financial crisis but has accelerated since with uninterrupted increases since 2008 and a $20 trillion gain in the last year alone. The financial crisis marked another turning point. As Markus Stieri from Credit Suisse puts it,”The financial crisis has acted as a break point in inequality as most countries were showing a flat or declining trend before 2007“.

The story from 2008 is different with the massive wealth increases, helped in part by government stimulus efforts, not exactly being shared very evenly.

Wealth inequality on the rise

The fact that $3,650 to your name makes you wealthier than half the world’s population highlights just how little that half have. Most of us are part of ‘the other half‘.

This next fact isn’t going to make it seem any better.

The 85 richest people in the world have a combined net worth of around £1 trillion, which is equal to the combined wealth of the worlds poorest 3.5 billion. The wealthiest 1% account for almost one half of total wealth.

“Taken together, the bottom half of the global population own less than 1% of total wealth. In sharp contrast, the richest decile hold 87% of the world’s wealth, and the top percentile alone account for 48.2% of global assets,”

Emerging economies aren’t to blame for the growing wealth divide. In the UK inequality has risen since the turn of the century. The United States, Switzerland and Hong Kong are all in the very high inequality category.

source: Credit Suisse

Who’s richest?

No prizes for guessing the USA comes out on top in terms of combined wealth and number of millionaires, with daylight second. In terms of median and average wealth per adult, Australia and Switzerland are the champions.

  • Median adult wealth (2014): 1st Australia $US225,000, 2nd Belgium $US173,000
  • Average adult wealth (2014): 1st Switzerland $US581,000, 2nd Australia $US431,000

Median wealth in America, at $US54,000 doesn’t even crack the top 10 – again highlighting the wealth divide there.

A warning

The reports authors make the following, rather worrying observation:

“For more than a century, the wealth income ratio has typically fallen in a narrow interval between 4 and 5. However, the ratio briefly rose above 6 in 1999 during the dotcom bubble and broke that barrier again during 2005–2007. It dropped sharply into the “normal band” following the financial crisis, but the decline has since been reversed, and the ratio is now at a recent record high level of 6.5, matched previously only during the great Depression”

Asset bubbles everywhere! Australians aren’t wealthy because they’ve been extremely productive and earned more income over the last 10 years. It’s because their homes are overpriced.

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