Global wealth rises to $263 trillion

15 October 2014

ZURICH: Total global household wealth grew by 8.3% to $263 trillion from mid-2013 to mid-2014 and is forecast to grow 40% to $369 trillion by 2019, according to a new report from Credit Suisse, the investment bank.

The US, the world's largest economy, is expected to remain the world's most affluent country with more than $114 trillion in wealth by 2019, but wealth in China and India is expected to grow rapidly at 11% and 9% a year respectively over the next five years.

With the release of its fifth annual Global Wealth Report, Credit Suisse predicted that the share of wealth from emerging markets will likely reach 21% by 2009, or $76.4 trillion, and China alone will account for nearly 10% of total global wealth.

There are currently 34.8m millionaires in the world, up 164% since 2000, and their number is expected to swell by 53% to 53.2m by 2019.

Meanwhile, the number of Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) individuals – defined as people with at least $50m in assets – stands at 128,000. The US accounts for almost half (49%) of this group, followed by China (6%), Germany (4.3%) and the UK (3.6%).

China today has as many UNNW individuals as all of Europe had in 2001, the report said.

The report defines net wealth as the value of financial assets plus real assets, such as property, minus household debt. This means an individual needs just $3,650 to be classed among the wealthiest half of the world's population.

On this basis, Switzerland ranks as the country with the highest average wealth per adult at $581,000, followed by Australia ($431,000), Norway ($359,000), the US ($348,000) and Sweden ($333,000).

These rankings change, however, when median wealth per adult is calculated. By this measure, Australia is ranked as the top economy ($225,000 per adult), followed by Belgium ($173,000), Italy ($142,000), France ($141,000) and the UK ($131,000).

Credit Suisse also highlighted that wealth inequality has increased since 2008, especially in emerging economies like China and India.

"Taken together, the bottom half of the global population own less than 1% of total wealth," Credit Suisse said in comments reported by the International Business Times.

"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," it continued.

"We expect to see a big improvement in the position of emerging economies over the next five years. Asia and particularly China will account for the largest portion of newly created wealth among the emerging markets."

Data sourced from Credit Suisse; additional content by Warc staff