1% of world’s pop­u­la­tion own half its to­tal wealth, Credit Suisse study shows

The Guardian - - FINANCIAL - Ru­pert Neate Wealth cor­re­spon­dent

The globe’s rich­est 1% own half the world’s wealth, ac­cord­ing to a re­port high­light­ing the grow­ing gap be­tween the su­per-rich and every­one else.

The rich­est have seen their share of the globe’s to­tal wealth in­crease from 42.5% at the height of the 2008 fi­nan­cial cri­sis to 50.1% in 2017, or $140tn (£106tn), ac­cord­ing to Credit Suisse’s global wealth re­port, pub­lished yes­ter­day.

“The share of the top 1% has been on an up­ward path ever since [the cri­sis], pass­ing the 2000 level in 2013 and achiev­ing new peaks ev­ery year there­after,” the an­nual re­port said.

The in­crease in wealth among the al­ready very rich led to the cre­ation of 2.3 mil­lion new dol­lar mil­lion­aires over the past year, tak­ing the to­tal to 36 mil­lion.

“The num­ber of mil­lion­aires, which fell in 2008, re­cov­ered fast af­ter the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, and is now nearly three times the 2000 fig­ure,” Credit Suisse said.

These mil­lion­aires – who ac­count for 0.7% of the world’s adult pop­u­la­tion – con­trol 46% of to­tal global wealth that now stands at $280tn. At the other end of the spec­trum, the world’s 3.5 bil­lion poor­est adults each have as­sets of less than $10,000 (£7,600). Col­lec­tively these peo­ple, who ac­count for 70% of the world’s work­ing-age pop­u­la­tion, ac­count for just 2.7% of global wealth.

The re­port said the poor were mostly found in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, with more than 90% of adults in In­dia and Africa hav­ing less than $10,000.

Mean­while, at the top of what Credit Suisse calls the “global wealth pyra­mid”, the 36 mil­lion peo­ple with at least $1m of wealth are col­lec­tively worth $128.7tn. More than two-fifths of the world’s mil­lion­aires live in the US, fol­lowed by Ja­pan with 7% and the UK with 6%.

How­ever, the col­lapse in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote meant the to­tal num­ber of dol­lar mil­lion­aires in the UK fell by 34,000 to 2.19 mil­lion. Just over half of the UK’s 51 mil­lion adults have wealth in ex­cess of $100,000. The mean av­er­age wealth of a UK adult is $278,038, but the me­dian is $102,641.

While the global pop­u­la­tion of mil­lion­aires has grown con­sid­er­ably, the num­ber of ul­tra-high net worth in­di­vid­u­als (UHNWIs) – those with a net worth of $50m or more – has in­creased even faster. “The num­ber of mil­lion­aires has in­creased by 170% [since 2000], while the num­ber of UHNWIs has risen five­fold, mak­ing them by far the fastest-grow­ing group of wealth-hold­ers,” the re­port said.

The big­gest losers, the it said, were young peo­ple, who should not ex­pect to be­come as rich as their par­ents.

Ox­fam said Credit Suisse’s re­search showed that politi­cians needed to do more to tackle the “huge gulf be­tween the haves and the have-nots”.

“In the UK, the wealth­i­est 1% have seen their share in­crease to nearly a quar­ter of all the coun­try’s wealth, while the poor­est half have less than 5%,” said Ox­fam’s head of ad­vo­cacy, Katy Chakrabortty.

“The re­cent Par­adise Pa­pers rev­e­la­tions laid bare one of the main driv­ers of in­equal­ity – tax-dodg­ing by rich in­di­vid­u­als and multi­na­tion­als. The chan­cel­lor should use next week’s bud­get to pri­ori­tise tough ac­tion to tackle tax avoid­ance to help pro­vide funds to fight poverty in both the UK and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.”

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