Global Wealth Update: 0.7% Of Adults Control $116.6 Trillion In Wealth

Tyler Durden's picture

Today Credit Suisse released its latest annual global wealth report, which traditionally lays out what is perhaps the biggest reason for the recent "anti-establishment" revulsion: an unprecedented concentration of wealth among a handful of people, as shown in its infamous global wealth pyramid, an arrangement which as observed by the "shocking" political backlash of the past few months suggests that the lower 'levels' of the pyramid are increasingly unhappy about.

As Credit Suisse tantalizingly shows year after year, the number of people who control just shy of a majority of global net worth, or 45.6% of the roughly $255 trillion in household wealth, is declining progressively relative to the total population of the world, and in 2016 the number of people who are worth more than $1 million was just 33 million, roughly 0.7% of the world's population of adults. On the other end of the pyramid, some 3.5 billion adults had a net worth of less than $10,000, accounting for just about $6 trillion in household wealth. And inbetween is the so-called global middle class - those 1 billion people who rising anger at the status quo made Brexit and Trump possible.

Incidentally, we tracked down the first Credit Suisse report we found in this series from 2010, where the total wealth of the top "layer" in the pyramid was a modest $69.2 trillion for the world's millionaires. It has nearly doubled in the 6 years since then. Meanwhile, the world's poorest have gotten, you got it, poorer, as those adults who were worth less than $10,000 in 2010 had a combined net worth of $8.2 trillion, a number which has since declined to $6.1 trillion in 2016 despite a half a billion increase in the sample size. The same goes for the layer right above, also known as the "middle class."


How about the very top?

Things here are even more nuanced, with 28.9 million people whose net worth is between $1 and $5 million gradually tapering off  to just 140,900 Ultra High Net Worth individuals who control more than $50 million in assets each.  Of these, 50,800 are worth at least USD 100 million, and 5,200 have assets above USD 500 million. The total number of UHNW adults is about 3% higher than a year ago (4,100 individuals), and the increase has been relatively uniform across regions, except for the higher than average rise in Asia- Pacific countries (10%)


Here is the commentary from Credit Suisse:

Wealth differences within and between countries

Wealth differences between individuals occur for many reasons. Variation in average wealth across countries accounts for much of the observed inequality in global wealth, but there is also considerable disparity within countries. Those with low wealth are disproportionately found among the younger age groups, who have had little chance to accumulate assets. Others may have suffered business losses or personal misfortune, or live in regions where prospects for wealth creation are more limited. Opportunities are also sometimes constrained for women or minorities. In contrast, many individuals can be found at the other end of the spectrum who have acquired large fortunes through a combination of talent, hard work and good luck.

The wealth pyramid in Figure 1 captures these differences. The large base of low wealth-holders underpins higher tiers occupied by progressively fewer adults. We estimate that 3.5 billion individuals – 73% of all adults in the world – have wealth below USD 10,000 in 2016. A further 900 million adults (19% of the global population) fall in the USD 10,000–100,000 range. While average wealth is modest at the base and in the middle tiers of the pyramid, total wealth there amounts to USD 35 trillion, underlining the economic importance of this often overlooked segment.

The base of the pyramid

The layers of the wealth pyramid are quite distinctive. The base tier has the most even distribution across regions and countries (Figure 2), but also the most uneven range of personal circumstances.

In developed countries, only about 20% of adults fall within this category, and for the majority of these individuals, membership is either transient – due to business losses or unemployment, for example – or a lifecycle phase associated with youth or old age. In contrast, more than 90% of the adult population in India and Africa falls within this range. For many residents of low-income countries, life membership of the base tier is the norm rather than the exception.

Mid-range wealth

In terms of global wealth, USD 10,000 –100,000 is the mid-range band. It covers around 900 million adults who represent a high proportion of the middle class in many countries. The average wealth of this group is quite close to the overall global mean wealth, and its combined net worth of USD 29 trillion provides it with considerable economic clout. India and Africa are under-represented in this segment, whereas China’s share is disproportionately high. China and India provide an interesting contrast. India accounts for just 3.1% of those with mid-range wealth, and that share has changed very little during the past decade. In contrast, China accounts for 33% of those with wealth between USD 10,000 and USD 100,000, ten times the number of Indians, and double the proportion of Chinese in 2000.

The high wealth bands

The top tiers of the wealth pyramid – covering individuals with net worth above USD 100,000 – comprised 5.9% of all adults at the turn of the century. The proportion rose rapidly until the financial crisis, but has remained quite stable since that time. It currently comprises 8.2% of the global total, nearly the same as in mid-2015. Regional composition differs markedly from the strata below. Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region (omitting China and India) together account for 89% of the group, with Europe alone providing 144 million members (36% of the total). This compares with just 5 million adult members (1.2% of the global total) in India and Africa combined.

The pattern of membership changes once again for the US dollar millionaires at the top of the pyramid. The number of millionaires in any given country is determined by three factors: the size of the adult population, average wealth, and wealth inequality. The United States scores high on all three criteria, and has by far the greatest number of millionaires at 13.6 million, or 41% of the worldwide total (Figure  3). For many years, Japan held second place in the millionaire rankings by a comfortable margin – with 13% of the global total in 2011, for example, which was double the number of the third placed country.
However, the number of Japanese millionaires has fallen, alongside a rise in other countries. As a consequence, Japan lost its second place to the United Kingdom in 2014, but bounced back again this year because of exchange rate appreciation.

After a drop this year, the United Kingdom falls to third place with 7% of millionaires worldwide, followed by Germany, France, and China with 5% each, and Italy, Canada, and Australia with 3% each. Switzerland, Korea, Spain, and Taiwan are the four other countries with more than 350,000 millionaires, which is the minimum requirement for a one percent share of the global total.

Changing membership of the millionaire group

Year-on-year variations in the number of millionaires can often be traced to real wealth growth and exchange rate movements. Last year, we reported that widespread depreciation against the US dollar had resulted in a significant reduction in the number of millionaires between mid-2014 and mid-2015. This year, the changes in both directions have been relatively modest: a net increase of 596,000 or 2%. Japan reversed the trend of recent years, adding more than a third to its total (up 738,000 to 2.8 million). Millionaire numbers rose again in the United States, but only by 283,000, which is less than the typical rise in the period since the financial crisis. The downside was experienced by the United Kingdom, which lost around 15% of its millionaires (406,000 adults), and to a lesser extent by Switzerland (down 58,000), and China (down 43,000).

High net worth individuals

The usual source of information on wealth data – official household surveys – tends to become less reliable at higher wealth levels. To estimate the pattern of wealth holdings above USD 1 million, we therefore supplement the survey data with figures from “rich lists” such as the Forbes annual tally of global billionaires. These rich list data are pooled for all the years since 2000, and well-known statistical regularities are then used to estimate intermediate numbers in the top tail which are consistent with the Forbes data. This produces plausible estimates of the global pattern of asset holdings in the high net worth (HNW) category from USD 1 million to USD 50 million, and in the ultra-high net worth (UHNW) range from USD 50 million upwards.

While the base of the wealth pyramid is occupied by people from all countries at various stages of their lifecycles, HNW and UHNW individuals are heavily concentrated in particular regions and countries, and tend to share more similar lifestyles, for instance participating in the same global markets for luxury goods, even when they reside in different continents. The wealth portfolios of these individuals are also likely to be more similar, with a focus on financial assets and, in particular, equities, bonds and other securities traded in international markets.

For mid-2016, we estimate that there are 33.0 million HNW adults with wealth between USD 1 million and USD 50 million, of whom the vast majority (28.9 million) fall in the USD 1– 5 million range (Figure 4).

There are 2.5 million adults worth between USD 5 million and 10 million, and 1.5 million more have assets in the USD 10– 50 million range. In terms of HNW membership, Europe briefly overtook North America in 2007, but North America regained the lead in 2010, and now accounts for a much greater number, namely 14.7 million (45% of the total), compared to 9.8 million (30%) in Europe. Asia-Pacific countries, excluding China and India, have 6.0 million members (18%), and another 1.6 million are found in China (5% of the global total). The remaining 816,000 HNW individuals (2% of the total) reside in India, Africa or Latin America. 

Ultra-high net worth individuals

Our calculations suggest that 140,900 adults worldwide can be classed as UHNW individuals, with net worth above USD 50 million. Of these, 50,800 are worth at least USD 100 million, and 5,200 have assets above USD 500 million. The total number of UHNW adults is about 3% higher than a year ago (4,100 individuals), and the increase has been relatively uniform across regions, except for the higher than average rise in Asia- Pacific countries (10%).

North America dominates the regional rankings, with 73,400 UHNW residents (52%), while Europe has 29,800 (21%), and 18,800 (13%) live in Asia-Pacific countries, excluding China and India. Among individual countries, the United States leads by a huge margin with 70,400 UHNW adults, equivalent to 50% of the group total (Figure 5).  This is a small increase of 500 compared to mid- 2015. China occupies second place with 11,000 UHNW individuals (up 640 on the year), followed by Germany (6,100, up 500). The United Kingdom lost by far the greatest number of UHNW individuals (down 700 to 4,700), but still heads France (4,100, up 600). In contrast, Japan gained the most (3,600, up 1,000), and now occupies sixth place. Italy (3,300, up 400), Canada (2,900, up 100), Korea (2,500, up 200), and India (2,300, up 100) are the other countries with the highest numbers of UHNW individuals.

The wealth spectrum

The wealth pyramid captures the contrasting circumstances between those with net wealth of a million US dollars or more in the top echelon, and those lower down in the wealth hierarchy. Discussions of wealth holdings often focus exclusively on the top tail. We provide a more complete and balanced picture, believing that the base and middle sections are interesting in their own right. One reason is the sheer size of numbers and their political power. However, their combined wealth of USD 35 trillion also yields considerable economic opportunities, which are often overlooked. Addressing the needs of these asset owners can drive new trends in both the consumer and financial industries. China, Korea and Indonesia are examples of countries where individuals have been rising rapidly through this part of the wealth pyramid. India has not shown similar progress to date, but has the potential to grow rapidly in the future from its low starting point.

While the middle and lower levels of the pyramid are important, the top segment will likely continue to be the main driver of private asset flows and investment trends. Our figures for mid-2016 indicate that there are now nearly 33 million HNW individuals, including 1.6 million in China, and more than 6 million in other Asia-Pacific countries. At the apex of the pyramid, 140,900 UHNW adults are each worth more than USD 50 million. This includes 11,000 UHNW individuals in China (8% of the global total), a 100-fold rise since the turn of the century. A further 8,500 UHNW adults (6% of the total) can be found in Hong Kong, India, Korea, and Taiwan.

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101 years and counting's picture

the central banks have done a wonderful job of pulling all money up the ladder.  their masters must be delighted at all the free money they have been given in the last 8 years of theft and rape of the bottom 99%.

This is it's picture

I belong to the part of the pyramid that is buried underground.

Holy hand grenade of Antioch's picture
Holy hand grenade of Antioch (not verified) This is it Nov 22, 2016 11:11 AM

Pyramid 'SCHEME'

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

For the top 50,000 individuals, do we:

Let them keep 'their' money, but take their balls

Take 90% of 'their' money, but let them keep their balls

Nemontel's picture

Its a ponzi scheme thats completely unsustainable. When the Debt Bubble bursts their "wealth" will evaporate. America is going broke and the 1% with it.

runnymede's picture

Unfortunately they have title to the property. They've bought real assets with fake money. Biggest scam in history, brought to you by Central Banks

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

It's a small* club, and you're not in it!

Your choices are: Fight them, Join them (if they'll take you), or try not to get eaten or enslaved.

* The Self-Chosen, i.e. a subset of Chosenites

ParkAveFlasher's picture

These stats are priced in USD.  Why don't we price them in gold oz?

Mass_hysteria's picture
Mass_hysteria (not verified) Nov 22, 2016 10:58 AM

Trump is for the little people

as he's surrounding himself with JEW bankers & neocons.


The trumpers keep licking the butt.


morally, spiritually bankrupt. they are still in denial they're being coned, but soon they'll wake up.


I did, I was a trump supporter, but then I realized..shit, the fucker coned me!

NoDebt's picture

Maybe Hillary's con job would have been more to your liking.


Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Perhaps the bigger lesson is that America as a 'united' nation is basically toast.   And thats not necessarily a bad thing.  Decentralization is what we need in this world.

Maybe that is the next step, towards 'peasants' actually regaining control of the country.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Leave Hillary alone. She's "suffered enough", don't ya know?


DuneCreature's picture

Conned is spelled with two 'N's.

Coned sounds like he put a dunce hat on you and made you sit in the corny corner.

Live Hard, We Won't Be Fulled Again As Soon As We Learn To Spell It. Die Free

~ DC v4.0

PoasterToaster's picture
PoasterToaster (not verified) Mass_hysteria Nov 22, 2016 11:23 AM


runnymede's picture

Psychopathic douchebags come in all flavors. Identify your enemy first then act accordingly. 

roadhazard's picture

I've know Trump since the sixties and that is why I would never vote for him. I told Zhers many times but they knew better. I continue to laugh at all the personal attacks and down votes because I told ZHers the truth. You all can suck it now and enjoy the ride.

LawsofPhysics's picture

LOL!!!  Define "wealth"!!!  How are those 0.7% pricing their wealth?

Still accepting fiat?

stupid is as stupid does...

bada boom's picture

Why does this article make mention of "Adults"?

NoDebt's picture

Counting a lot of kids who have little or nothing would make the results look even worse, would be my guess.


Amun's picture

Allows them to exclude 26% or just under 2bln of world's population aged 0-14 years


If one excludes the 28mln of western "millioners", whose "assets wealth" is in the overpriced houses 

And ignores the "noise" of "asset wealth" in "pensions" of another 2.5mln of westerners ($1mln to $5mln)


then you are left with a lot clearer picture of who/how many own the system - 140,000- - 0.002%

or benefit from it - less than 2 million out of the world's 7.4billion population -  0.05%

Lies All Lies's picture

I don't think a  house (in which you live) is regarded as 'Net' wealth - have to live somewhere. Investment properties (value less borrowings) would be. And that will be compromised in the coming  real estate/financial debacle.


runnymede's picture

Great catch---

No (human) adults at Davos. Only psychopaths. 

Clock Crasher's picture

Ponzinomics taken to its logical conclusion. All wealth warehoused in software.

Clock Crasher's picture

you got companies with a market cap of 9 billion with 9 employees.
-R Banon

Planetary Books's picture
Planetary Books (not verified) Nov 22, 2016 11:09 AM

Understanding Elections, Gold & US Dollar Through Manipulation Theory

Ignatius's picture

The real "hockey stick."

It's about wealth, not climate.

PoasterToaster's picture
PoasterToaster (not verified) Nov 22, 2016 11:23 AM

Claims against assets?  Come and take it.

The problem is that this "wealth" is actually a measurement for who calls the shots at the macro level and has less to do with actual goods (not services).  And the more they tamper with the money supply the less accurate their assumptions become.  Sooner or later the numbers become so detached from reality that stupid decisions are made and things fall apart for them. 

That's the reset.

darteaus's picture

Bet the Clintons will be dropping out of the club soon.

FreeShitter's picture

Im in the 7.5% bracket and still feel poor.

youngman's picture

Me...I am going out and buy a lottery ticket......see you in Davos

Jason T's picture

If free societies, they deserve it.

In socialist communist socieities, they don't.

For example, Huga Chavez's daughter, richest Venezulan, $3.5 billion ..doesn't.

Foks who own the US appliance company, Speed Queen .. most certainly do. 

Uzda Farce's picture
Uzda Farce (not verified) Jason T Nov 22, 2016 4:46 PM

Free societies? Where? The "robber barons" of the 19th century (Rockefeller, Morgan, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Astor...) made their money the "old fashioned way". They took control of mining, manufacturing, transportation, banking, and government. Then they left the booty to their heirs and foundations which still control the game. For specifics, see "History of the Great American Fortunes" by Gustavas Myers, 1909

moonmac's picture

Fed Easy Money is just another Get-Rich-Quick scheme for Millionaires and Billionaires that works perfectly. No late night infomercials needed, just a printing press and a willingness to destroy Working Class Americans forever.

conraddobler's picture

NOW the pyramids make sense.

PGR88's picture


100% the direct result of central banks and fiat currencies.   Control over the worlds most basic commodity, money, lies in the hands of a few political elites, and their member banks.  Who gets new money first always benefits.

runnymede's picture

Good thing ZH is an officially identified fake news site otherwise I'd know that our enemy is a psychopathic cabal of bankers/satanists/media/globalists and their ennablers that have stolen all the world's assets and left us with nothing but the debt, endless wars, bloodshed and unsustainable systems and institutions.

Because then we'd be all fooked. 

runnymede's picture

There is no pareto law with with globalists. As long as they've got someone to polish the helicopter it's all good. 

Squidbilly's picture
Squidbilly (not verified) Nov 22, 2016 2:35 PM

Drudge linked this article, he shoud link more, especially since we get to speak freely, the public would appreciate that. At least ZH doesn't run any exorcist stories.

RusBear's picture

Another red revolutuon?

runnymede's picture

Involuntary debt jubilee?

If the 99% just stopped paying their debts-----

Or didn't show up for work for a month. 

This is all about debt. 

RusBear's picture

Yep would do the job. Just a simple bank run will do.

But in reality who has balls and money to do that?

StreetObserver's picture

What's not shown is that among U.S. religious groups, Hindus are second in wealth behind Jews, yet they barely show up in the top tier as "Indians". 



JohninMK's picture

Wonder if it includes all those poor people who are just beneficiaries of some mega trust or other? Billionaires in all but name.

Then there are the trillionaires, the ones you never see in the 'Rich Lists'.

Elco the Constitutionalist's picture
Elco the Constitutionalist (not verified) Nov 22, 2016 3:33 PM

Trickle up economics works! I am still waiting for people realize that usury (inflation and interest on debt) is a trickle up economics scam.

Liberty and interest rates are mutually exclusive in a fiat currency system.

Vin's picture

And that probably doesn't include all the gold stashed in switzerland and elsewhere that was stolen from us.

arrowrod's picture

'king A.  I'm in the top .7%.

I drive a 1998 Camry (V6 yeehaw), have a 1998 F150.  Shop at Walmart.

But, let's face it, the winners are the families that send their children to elite schools.  The children get hired into the "executive" level of corporations, make $500K and get stock options for several $million. 

My children are too stupid to listen to me.  When I die, they will piss away whatever I give them.  My grandchildren are stupider, sheltered showflakes.  Idiocracy here we come.