The world’s rich are getting richer – and they are adding more money to their fortunes at a faster rate than ever before.
Despite a challenging world economic environment, $20 trillion was added to the global cash pile in the past year.
That took total global wealth up more than 8% to $263 trillion, report researchers for bank Credit Suisse.
Not only has world wealth hit a new peak, but the money mountain has doubled since the year 2000, at a time when the world economy was put through a shredder and has stuttered to a fragile recovery.
At the turn of the century, total world wealth was put at $117 trillion.
US and Europe lead rankings
Personal wealth has surged in the US and Europe in recent years, mostly on the back of significant increases in the value of equities on the major stock markets.
Market capitalisation soared by 22% in the US, while Canada, France and Germany also saw gains of almost 30%.
The bank reports the US holds $91 trillion – just over a third of the world’s total wealth and an 11% increase over 2013.
Europe is not far behind with a money pile of $85 trillion – 10% up in a year.
The bank also says the number of ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNW) has hit a new high of 128,200. Someone classed as UNHW has a net worth of at least $50 million.
Almost half of these UHNW – 63,000 – live in the USA – and another report based on Forbes magazine rich list data shows that every state in the country has at least one billionaire.
Wealth gap widening
That’s a rise of almost 10,000 in a year and an increase equivalent to more than the number of billionaires living in China, which is second in the list with 7,600 UHNW.
The world’s richest person is listed as Microsoft software pioneer Bill Gates, who has a personal fortune of more than £80 billion.
“The report shows that the number of millionaires and billionaires is growing more rapidly than the amount of average wealth,” said a Credit Suisse spokesman.
“That suggests the very wealthy are gaining more money than the rest of us.
“Our report looks at wealth inequality and shows that while the gap between the rich and the poor was narrowing a little before the downturn, it has widened since 2008.”