Thu 10 Oct 2013
Australians remain the richest people in the world, by one measure at least.
The median wealth of adult Australians stands at $US219,505 ($233,504) – the highest level in the world, according to the Credit Suisse 2013 Global Wealth Report, released on Wednesday.
Median wealth is the midpoint between richest and poorest, meaning that 50 per cent of the population has more than $233,504, and 50 per cent less than that.
By the measure of average wealth, Australians fall back to second with $US402,578 per person, ranking behind the Swiss who were the world’s richest on $US513,000.
Credit Suisse chief investment strategist, Australia, David McDonald said the nation’s household wealth per adult grew by 2.6 per cent in the past year. That was slower than the global average of 4.6 per cent, but Australia still had the best distribution of wealth among developed nations.
‘‘Although we are up there at a high level of wealth per adult we’ve also got a better spread than a lot of the other developed countries including, obviously, the Swiss, but also places like the US,’’ Mr McDonald said.
The number of Australian millionaires increased by 38,000 to 1.123 million people. About half of the rise in
Australian wealth is due to exchange rate appreciation.
The millionaire calculation includes the value of real estate owned outright.
Australians were shown to have a much higher level of wealth held in property and non-financial assets – 58.5 per cent compared to the world average of 45 per cent and just 38 per cent in the US.
The US remains the millionaire capital of the world, with 13.2 million people topping the seven-figure mark and nearly 46,000 people in the ultra-high net worth $US50 million-plus category.
Australia has 2,059 ultra-high net worth individuals, 2.1 per cent of the global total.
While the Land Down Under has maintained its place at the top in median terms for three years running now, Credit Suisse reported that North America has regained its title as the wealthiest region in the world.
Rising house prices and stock markets fuelled a 12 per cent rise in North American wealth to $US78.9 trillion from mid-2012 to mid-2013, putting the region ahead of the Asia Pacific and Europe for the first time since before the global financial crisis.
Credit Suisse global head of research for private banking, Giles Keating, said Japan’s economic slump had dragged down the Asia-Pacific region.
‘‘The fourth annual Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report shows an $US11 trillion rise in (global) wealth to $US241 trillion, with the US as the clear winner, overtaking Europe, while Asia Pacific fell back due to sharp depreciation of the yen,’’ Mr Keating said.