The Global Millionaire Roll Showing No Slowing

Sam Pizzigati

From a top financial analyst group, new evidence that the human race, as a whole, has never been richer. So why are governments forcing austerity on so many of the world’s peoples?

“2010 was a damn good year,” Monish Kumar, a senior partner at the Boston Consulting Group, told reporters earlier this week, “for global wealth.”

Kumar misspoke. Last year, he should have said, amounted to a mighty fine year for the global wealthy.

These wealthy — households worth over $1 million, not counting residences, luxury goods, or personally owned businesses — increased their share of global wealth in 2010 from 37 to 39 percent, or so the Boston Consulting Group calculates in its newly released 11th annual Global Wealth report.

Net-worth millionaires now make up 0.9 percent of the world’s households. They entered this year, all together, with $47.4 trillion in investible wealth. On average, these millionaire household had $3.8 million to invest in 2010.

Millionaire households actually make up significantly less than that 0.9 percent of the world. The Boston Consulting Group calculations only cover 62 nations. These nations do account for over 98 percent of global domestic product. But they don’t include many populous but desperately poor countries.

The Boston Consulting Group numbers do include this year, for the first time ever, a country-by-country breakdown of the super rich, those households that hold at least $100 million in “assets under management.” The United States boasts 2,692 of these households, far more than any other nation in the world.

The United States also tops the world, once again this year, in total millionaire households, with 5.22 million, about 42 percent of the global count.

The most remarkable stat in the new Boston Consulting Group Global Wealth report? Maybe this: Total world wealth as the Boston Consulting Group defines it — that’s cash deposits, money market funds, stocks and bonds, among other onshore and offshore assets — has now jumped $10 trillion over the 2007 pre-Great Recession wealth level, the previous all-time record.

We have, in other words, never been as wealthy as a human race as we are now. Yet governments the world over are pleading poverty and imposing austerity on their people. No mystery in that paradox. Just beaucoup heaps of inequality.

Sam Pizzigati edits Too Much, the online weekly on excess and inequality published by the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies. Read the current issue or sign up at Inequality.Org to receive Too Much in your email inbox.

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