Global wealth up 27 per cent since financial crisis, study shows

A man gives coins to a beggar in downtown Ronda, southern Spain, in a 2015 file photo.
A man gives coins to a beggar in downtown Ronda, southern Spain, in a 2015 file photo.PHOTO: REUTERS

ZURICH (AFP) - Global wealth has grown by more than a quarter in the decade since the financial crisis, but the spread is far from even, a study published on Tuesday (Nov 14) showed.

In its Annual Global Wealth Report, the research arm of Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse found that global wealth had expanded 27 per cent in the past 10 years.

And between mid-2016 and mid-2017, global wealth grew by 6.4 per cent - its fastest pace in five years - allowing the mean wealth per adult to reach a record high, the study showed.

It pointed to "widespread gains in equity markets", at the same time as non-financial assets like real-estate for the first time passed the level they were at when the global financial crisis struck in 2007.

"A decade since the start of the global financial crisis, we see a significant increase in wealth across all regions of the world," Credit Suisse chairman Urs Rohner said in a statement.

But while wealth grew worldwide, some obviously benefited more than others.

Today, less than 10 per cent of the global population owns 86 per cent of the global wealth.

And since year 2000, the number of millionaires globally has increased 170 per cent, while the number of people with more than US$30 million (S$40 million) to their name has ballooned five-fold to around 45,000 worldwide, the study showed.

At the same time, the Credit Suisse report detailed how so-called Millennials are facing far more adverse market conditions than previous generations, which will "most likely limit their wealth acquiring prospects".

They have been hit with direct losses from the global financial crisis, but also "faced first-hand the subsequent unemployment, increased income inequality, as well as higher property prices, tighter mortgage rules, and in some countries, a considerable rise in student debt," the study said.

"They are also set to experience less access to pensions than their predecessors."

Geographically, the United States raked in most of the global wealth gains.

US households alone added around US$8.5 trillion to their combined coffers, half of the total world gain over the past 12 months, the study showed.

By comparison, China contributed US$1.7 trillion to the global wealth gain.

Switzerland, meanwhile, remained the country with the highest average wealth per adult, with that number soaring 130 per cent since the turn of the century to US$537,600, the study showed.

Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Britain and France, also figure among the top countries in terms of wealth per adult.