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Asian Millionaires: The Richest Millionaires

For the first time, millionaires in Asia are now richer and more plentiful than the ones in North America.

Guests attending the Millionaire's Fair 2007 in Shanghai, China try their luck at a roulette table. The Millionaire Fair started as an idea in Europe in 2002 and was thought up by Yves Gijarth, a Dutch media executive. There are similar events in Amsterdam, Moscow, Cannes, Dubai and Courtrai in Belgium. "The Millionaire Fair is an exclusive 3-day event, which brings together key players from the industry of opulence and offers the finest luxury products the world has to offer to establish a benchmark for luxury products across the (communist) nation." However, a 2008 survey showed that Chinese millionaires are paying closer attention to wealth management than to luxury goods. (Photo by In )
Guests attending the Millionaire's Fair 2007 in Shanghai, China try their luck at a roulette table. The Millionaire Fair started as an idea in Europe in 2002 and was thought up by Yves Gijarth, a Dutch media executive. There are similar events in Amsterdam, Moscow, Cannes, Dubai and Courtrai in Belgium. "The Millionaire Fair is an exclusive 3-day event, which brings together key players from the industry of opulence and offers the finest luxury products the world has to offer to establish a benchmark for luxury products across the (communist) nation." However, a 2008 survey showed that Chinese millionaires are paying closer attention to wealth management than to luxury goods. (Photo by In )

For the first time in modern history, Asian millionaires are raking in significantly more dough than the super-rich of Europe and North America — and will keep on getting richer.

They have become wealthier and more numerous than their peers in the West, according to a report released Thursday by management consulting firm Capgemini.

The firm’s annual report measures the total number and wealth of so-called high net worth individuals — people who have more than $1 million — on every continent.

Last year, Asia’s millionaires saw their wealth increase by 10 percent — twice as much as in Europe and nearly five times the rate of growth in North America. That puts the wealth of Asian millionaires at a total of $17.4 trillion, compared to $16.6 trillion in North America.

The report’s findings suggest that fat cats in China and Japan, which together contributed 60 percent of all new millionaires in 2015, flourished despite sluggish growth in both countries. In 2015, China’s economic growth rate slowed to its lowest level in 25 years, while Japan’s gross domestic product shrank for two quarters in a row, putting it on the brink of recession.

The report predicts that by 2026, millionaires in the Asia-Pacific will hold more wealth than Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa combined. That prediction is based on the rapid ascent of the richest 0.1 percent in Asia, where millionaire population and wealth have doubled over the last decade.

In North America, the rate of wealth growth plummeted from 9 percent in 2014 to just 2 percent in 2015. Latin American millionaires, meanwhile, shrank in both numbers, down 2 percent, and wealth, shrinking by 4 percent. According to the report, much of this was due to Brazil’s political crisis and market volatility, as well as a crash in commodity prices.

European millionaires, led by Spain and followed by the Netherlands and Germany, increased their wealth by nearly 5 percent. Spain, shockingly, recorded the highest number of new millionaires on the continent despite anemic growth and a record unemployment rate of 21 percent.

The graphic below, which Capgemini provided to Foreign Policy, illustrates how global wealth in the hands of the few has shifted toward Asia.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.44.56 AM

 

 

Photo credit: Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

Henry Johnson is a fellow at Foreign Policy. He graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a degree in history and previously wrote for LobeLog. @HenryJohnsoon

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