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Australia lost 124,000 millionaires last year

Global household wealth is currently estimated at about $360 trillion, according to Credit Suisse’s 2019 Global Wealth Report. This represents an increase of about $9 trillion (~2.6%) from 2018-2019.

Over the last decade, much of this growth in household wealth has come from two countries: the United States and China. 40% of the world’s US dollar millionaires reside in the United States, and China now has the second highest number of dollar millionaires. (If there are any curious Canadians reading this, Canada represents 3% of the world’s total.)

The number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals — individuals with a net worth greater than $50 million — exhibits a similar pecking order. The US is by far the most dominant.

Of course, dollar millionaires represent a small percentage of the world’s total population. Credit Suisse estimates that there are about 5.1 billion adults in the world. About 56.6% have a net worth under $10,000 and about 0.9% (okay, 1%) are millionaires. This 1% controls/owns about 44% of global wealth. Thinking back to figure 7 (above), consider this math: 50% of the world’s millionaires are now in the US and China.

Fluctuations do happen, however. Australia lost some 124,000 millionaires last year largely because of a (-6%) drop in home prices, which tends to correlate pretty closely to the real asset part of household balance sheets. Australia shed about $443 billion in household wealth since 2018, making it the biggest loser in Credit Suisse’s report.

The other thing that you may find interesting from this report is the wealth/GDP ratio that they use. Household wealth and GDP tend to correlate. But the ratio of wealth to GDP also has a tendency to increase as a country develops. This makes sense because things like the rule of law and access to capital tend to increase people’s willingness to invest/borrow. But in developed countries, it could also be a signal for asset inflation.

If you’d like to download a PDF of the full wealth report, click here.

Note: Credit Suisse’s definition of household wealth is your typical net worth calculation: assets (financial assets and real assets) minus liabilities. For most people, the real asset part is principally housing.

Charts: Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2019

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