The number of millionaires in the world grew to nearly 47 million over the past year, and they now own nearly half of the world's wealth, according to a new study.
Despite the trade wars, slowing global growth and unstable stock markets, the total number of millionaires in the world increased by 1.1 million from mid-2018 to mid-2019, according to Global Wealth Report from Credit Suisse. The world's 46.8 million millionaires are now worth a total of $ 158.3 trillion – or 44% of the world's total wealth.
The United States continues to lead the world in total millionaires and growth. The United States added 675,000 new millionaires last year, giving a total of 1
Australia was the biggest loser of millionaires, down by 124,000 to 1.2 million, but much of that decline was due to exchange rates, since millionaires are measured in US dollars.
While the US towers over China with millionaires, the report said that China is now leading the United States for the first time in the number of "global wealthy," defined as those in the top 10% of the world's wealth.
The concentration of wealth on top has become a central theme in the democratic primaries. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have both proposed wealth tax when they campaign for president. Both of their proposals would impose a tax on accumulated assets and savings rather than just income. The bottom half of the world's population makes up less than 1% of global wealth, according to the report. The bottom 90% of the world's adult population – about 4.5 billion adults – make up 18% of global wealth.
Nevertheless, the inequality may be on the way down. The top 1% controlled around 47% of global wealth in 2000, compared to 45% in 2019. The reason: wealth of the global middle class is rising. The number of people in the world worth between $ 10,000 and $ 100,000 has seen the largest growth in a wealth segment, tripling since 2000 to 1.7 billion people.
The report said that inequality has declined over the past three years and is expected to continue its downward trend as more of the world's lower middle class and middle class gain ground.
"While it is too early to say that wealth inequality is now in a downward phase," the report said, "the prevailing evidence suggests that 2016 may have been the peak for the foreseeable future.
Correction: The number of new millionaires in China is 4.5 million. An earlier version misread the total.