BUSINESS

Top 1% Now Own Half World's Wealth: Credit Suisse

Millennials are unlikely to attain their parents' level of wealth, report finds.

11/14/2017 17:00 EST | Updated 11/14/2017 17:05 EST

Global wealth inequality has reached yet another record high, and the richest one per cent now own slightly more than half of the world's wealth, says a new report from global banking giant Credit Suisse.

The latest edition of the bank's Global Wealth Report also comes with a warning that millennials are unlikely to attain their parents' levels of wealth.

The amount of wealth held by the top one per cent rose from 42.5 per cent in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, to 50.1 per cent this year, Credit Suisse said. It has hit a new record high every year since 2013.

Patrick Aventurier via Getty Images
Luxury yachts are displayed at the Hercules Port in Monaco for the 27th edition of the International Monaco Yacht Show, Sept. 28, 2017 in Monaco. The world's richest one per cent now control slightly more than half the world's wealth, according to a new report from Credit Suisse.

Meanwhile, 3.5 billion people, corresponding to 70 per cent of the world's adults, each own less than US$10,000 in wealth, the report found. Together, they hold just 2.7 per cent of the world's wealth.

"Inequality has continued to edge upwards, so that ... median wealth fell again this year in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America," the report said.

"Our projections for 2022 suggest more pessimistic scenarios for the immediate years ahead."

The world's household wealth grew by 6.4 per cent over the past year, in U.S. dollar terms, the fastest rate in five years. The world minted 2.3 million new U.S.-dollar millionaires in that time, almost half of them in the U.S.

Credit Suisse

Wealth in Canada grew somewhat more slowly than the world average, up 4.4 per cent in a year in Canadian dollar terms.

The number of U.S.-dollar millionaires in Canada has surpassed one million in recent years. Credit Suisse estimates there are 1,078,000 millionaires in Canada, up about 9.5 per cent in two years, from 984,000 in 2015.

'Particularly challenging circumstances' for millennials


The report devotes considerable space to assessing young adults' wealth situation, and suggests millennials are unlikely to achieve their parents' levels of wealth.

"We find that millennials face particularly challenging circumstances compared to other generations," wrote Credit Suisse chairman Urs Rohner in the report's preamble.

"With the baby boomers occupying most of the top jobs and much of the housing, millennials are doing less well than their parents at the same age, especially in relation to income, home ownership and other dimensions of well-being...."

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The report lists a litany of reasons for younger adults' poorer prospects: the destruction of wealth during the financial crisis of 2008-09, and higher unemployment rates since then; rising house prices; increasing inequality and lower income mobility; and less access to retirement pensions.

"We expect only a minority of high achievers and those in high-demand sectors such as technology or finance to effectively overcome the 'millennial disadvantage,'" Rohner wrote.

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