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Wealthy Chinese outnumber wealthy Americans by 1 million

Chinese tourists take pictures near Tiananmen Square on the 65th National Day in Beijing, China. The day marks the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949 (Jordi Bernabeu Farrús/Flickr)
October 24, 2019

There are more Chinese in the top 10% of richest people in the world than there are Americans for the first time ever.

The number of wealthy Chinese outnumbers wealthy Americans by one million according to Credit Suisee’s annual Global Wealth Report, CNN reports. There are 100 million Chinese and 99 million Americans in the top 10%.

China has been increasing its share of the wealth, the report notes, but the United States still has more millionaires, about 18.6 million which is 40% of all millionaires, and also has a much stronger middle-class. Additionally, U.S. wealth per adult is $432,365, while China’s is $58,544.

“Trade conditions and debt levels are causing concern, but signs for the coming years are otherwise fairly positive,” Credit Suisse noted.

Nannette Hechler-Fayd’herbe, global head of economics and research at Credit Suisse CSGN.S, echoed that statement, saying, “Despite the trade tension between the United States and China over the past 12 months, both countries have fared strongly in wealth creation, contributing $3.8 trillion and $1.9 trillion respectively.”

The number of the millionaires  in the world has risen by 1.1 million, reaching to an estimated 46.8 million and collectively owning $158.3 trillion in net assets, 44% of the global total, the study found.

Up from 11% in 2000, the bottom 90% now accounts for an 18% share of total global wealth and since 2016, the share held by the top 1% has broadly eased back.

Additionally, the report highlights how wealth is distributed more towards the very top, as 50% of adults account for less than 1% of total wealth, while the top 10% own 82%. The top 1% alone owns almost half of all global assets, according to the report.

In order to be considered in the top 10% individuals must accumulate roughly $109,400 in net assets, while that number is $964,000 to make it to the top 1%.

Wealth inequality is a point of contention between the political parties in the United States, with major candidates in the Democratic Party vowing to tax the richest at higher rates in order to help fund social programs such as Medicare for All.

Artificially low interest rates and bond-buying programs from central banks since the 2008 financial crisis has led to a rise in asset prices, thus raising the share of the top 1% of wealth holders. Inequality “continued to decline for those below” that segment, Credit Suisse notes.

“While it is too early to say that wealth inequality is now in a downward phase, the prevailing evidence suggests that 2016 may have been the peak for the foreseeable future,” the report’s authors write.