World’s Millionaires and Billionaires

World’s Millionaires and Billionaires Now Control Half the World’s Personal Wealth, New Analysis Shows

“The rich are getting a lot richer and doing so a lot faster.”

Spectators watch the Mercedes-Benz Polo Challenge July 21, 2001 in Bridgehampton, New York. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)Spectators watch the Mercedes-Benz Polo Challenge July 21, 2001 in Bridgehampton, New York. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Millionaires and billionaires own nearly half of all the world’s personal wealth, which reached $201.9 trillion last year, according to a new report from Boston Consulting Group.

“The share of global wealth held by millionaires increased to almost 50 percent in 2017, compared with just under 45 percent in 2012, driven mainly by higher-wealth individuals investing in higher-return assets,” the report (pdf) states.

In other words, as Bloomberg put it, “The rich are getting a lot richer and doing so a lot faster.”

That’s especially true in the United States, where the Trump administration and the GOP-controlled Congress are working to keep slashing taxes on the nation’s wealthiest individuals and corporations at the expense of working families.

“North America remained the richest global region in 2017 in terms of personal wealth, which expanded by 8 percent to $86.1 trillion,” the report notes. “North American wealth was highly concentrated in the over-$5-million segment, which held 42 percent of investable wealth.”

Overall, researchers found that “residents of North America held over 40 percent of global personal wealth, followed by residents of Western Europe with 22 percent. The strongest region of growth was Asia, which posted a 19 percent increase.”

Although China currently has fewer millionaires and billionaires than the United States, the report’s lead author Anna Zakrzewski told Bloomberg that researchers expect the number of Chinese millionaires to increase four times as fast as in the United States. “China will continue to experience similar growth as in the past,” she said, “and this will mean that over the next five years, there will be more wealth created in China than in the U.S.”

But no matter where the wealth is created, it will likely remain concentrated in the hands of the world’s richest people. As Common Dreams previously reported, an Oxfam study published in January found that during 2017, “a new billionaire was created every two days.” According to that report, “82 percent of all wealth created went to the top 1 percent of the world’s richest while zero percent—absolutely nothing—went to the poorest half of the global population.”

Meanwhile, in the United States, religious leaders and anti-poverty advocates have launched a new Poor People’s Campaign—inspired by similar efforts of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. decades earlier—and organized nonviolent direct actions to demand that lawmakers at all levels of government “address the enmeshed evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation, and America’s distorted national morality.”

That campaign comes as 43 percent of U.S. households cannot afford “a bare-bones household budget of housing, child care, food, transportation, and healthcare,” according to a United Way study published last month.

Noting that “the three wealthiest people in America own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent ,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had responded to those findings by tweeting, “Is that really the kind of society we want to be living in?”