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Wealthy echelons thrive amid economic volatility

The world’s richest people saw their wealth expand last year as stock markets and real estate gained in value, according to Swiss bank Credit Suisse.


Total global wealth increased by 9.8% to $463.6 trillion (CHF447.7 trillion) as the world’s millionaires and billionaires grabbed an increasing slice of available assets. By the end of 2021, 45.5% of global wealth was in the hands of just 1% of the population, compared to 43.9% in 2020.

With 1,152 millionaires (an increase of 113 in 2021), Switzerland continues to punch above its weight by size of population. The Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report states that wealth is becoming more evenly distributed in the Alpine state, which lost 120 ‘ultra high net worth’ multi-millionaires last year.

The Swiss are comfortably the wealthiest population in the world when measuring the average (mean) level of wealth per person ($696,600). But Credit Suisse says that wealth distribution can be better judged by looking at the median wealth per adult.


Levels of (in)equality

In Switzerland, one half of the population has less than $168,080 in wealth, while the better-off half has wealth in excess of this figure. Using this parameter, Switzerland is the sixth wealthiest nation by head of population.

Comparing the wealth of the top 1% of the population with the bottom 10% gives an indication of wealth distribution known as the Gini co-efficient. A score of 0 means everyone has the same amount of wealth while 100 denotes all the wealth in a single person’s hands.

The Swiss Gini co-efficient stood at 77.2 last year, which is better than the score of 81 recorded at the start of the Millennium, says Credit Suisse.

Worldwide, the number of millionaires grew from 57,316 in 2020 to 62,483 last year, led by the United States and China.


Further wealth expected

The ongoing war in Ukraine, food and energy shortages and inflation, have dampened wealth expectations considerably for 2022. The Swiss Bankers Association says that this resulted in the volume of assets managed by Swiss banks falling by 4.4% in the first four months of this year compared to a 12.1% growth in 2021.

But Credit Suisse economists still expect to see 40% more millionaires by 2026 and a $169 trillion increase in global wealth.

The main driver of that expected growth will be in middle and lower-income regions, such as China, India and Africa, that are forecast to continue to expand above the global average.

Credit Suisse, which runs one of the world’s largest private banking operations, predicts a 38% increase in the number of Swiss millionaires (1,591) by 2026.

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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