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Who owns the world ? Most of the wealth in the hands of 2% of the people

Economics / Strategic News Dec 05, 2006 - 08:38 PM GMT

By: Nadeem_Walayat

Economics

Whilst most of the worlds attention is focused on the GDP growth rates of China and India, a study published by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research (part of the United Nations University), reveals that the worlds wealth is heavily concentrated in North America, Europe and a handful of developed Pacific rim countries. With 2% of adults owning more than 50% of the worlds wealth.


Who owns the world ? Most of the wealth in the hands of 2% of the people

The two most asset rich countries in 2000, were Japan and the United States. In the US, average wealth amounted to £144,000 per person, and $182,000 in Japan. In comparison with India, the figure was $1000, China on $2200. The amounts also varied considerably between developed nations, with Britain at $128,000 per person and New Zealand at just $37,000 per person. At the bottom was The Democratic Republic of Congo with just $180 per person. Off course since 2000, both China and India have grown significantly and the figures are probably some 40% higher now, but still well behind the developed countries.

Those in the richest 10 per cent of adults had assets of $60,000 or more, while those in the top 1 per cent - who now number 37 million - had at least $500,000. Some 37 percent of the wealthiest 1 percent live in the United States, 27 percent in Japan, and 6 percent in the UK, followed by 5 percent in France. Among the wealthiest 10 percent, 25 percent live in the U.S., 20 percent in Japan, 8 percent in Germany, and 7 percent in Italy. France and Spain claim 4 percent, followed by 2 percent in South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and Canada.

For a person in 2000, to join the top net wealth clubs, then they would need -
$2,161 to be a member of the top 50% wealthiest individuals on the planet.
$61,000 to be a member of the top 10% wealthiest individuals on the planet.
$500,000 to be a member of the top 1% wealthiest individuals on the planet.

So despite economic growth spreading into developing countries, and raising wages / living standards, this has yet to make any significant impact on the distribution of wealth.

In the present day, given the growth in the worlds money supply since 2000, the amount needed is probably double the figures stated above.

The top 10 richest individuals for 2006 are -

  • Bill Gates ($53.26 billion) USA Microsoft
  • Warren Buffett ($46 billion) USA Berkshire Hathaway
  • Carlos Slim Helú ($37.6 billion) Mexico Telmex
  • Ingvar Kamprad ($28 billion) Sweden IKEA
  • Lakshmi Mittal ($27.7 billion) India Mittal Steel Company
  • Paul Allen ($22 billion) USA Microsoft
  • Bernard Arnault ($21.5 billion) France LVMH & Christian Dior SA
  • Prince Al-Waleed ($20 billion) Saudi Arabia Kingdom Holding Company
  • David Thomson, 3rd Baron Thomson of Fleet ($19.6 billion) Canada Thomson Corporation
  • Li Ka-shing ($18.8 billion) China (Hong Kong) Hutchison Whampoa , Husky Energy & Cheung Kong Group

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