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The world shed 3.5 million millionaires in 2022 as market losses drained wealth at the top

<i>Abdullah Durmaz/iStockphoto/Getty Images</i><br/>Global median wealth actually rose 3% in 2022
Abdullah Durmaz/iStockphoto/Getty Images
Global median wealth actually rose 3% in 2022

By Allison Morrow, CNN

New York (CNN) — Last year, as interest rates rose and inflation stayed stubbornly high, total household wealth declined for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis.

That might sound like bad news, but the numbers tell a more optimistic story.

Here’s the deal: The grand total of all the private wealth in the world fell 2.4% to $454.4 trillion, according to the annual Credit Suisse and UBS global wealth report. Much of that was due to losses in stock and bond markets, which disproportionately affect wealthier people.

Meanwhile, global median wealth, a more meaningful indicator of how the typical person is faring, actually rose 3% in 2022.

In short, the average Joe got a bit of a boost and a bunch of millionaires and billionaires took a bath — a phenomenon some refer to as a “rich-cession.”

(For the record: The report defines net worth or “wealth” as the value of a household’s financial assets and real assets, like property, minus their debts.)

The drain on wealth at the top means the world now has about 3.5 million fewer millionaires, in US dollar terms, than it had in 2021, with a new total of around 60 million.

Some countries shed more millionaires than others — the United States alone lost 1.8 million of them. The US also shed the highest number (17,260) of people who count as “ultra-high net worth individuals” with wealth over $50 million. But don’t worry, the US is still winning by a country mile in terms of the number of uber-rich people who call it home. It has more than 120,000 ultra-high net worthers, while China, the No. 2 spot, is just shy of 33,000.

The combination — a boost for the median and a drain at the top — means inequality improved. Slightly, anyway. The top 1% of households still hold a staggering 44.5% of all global wealth. That’s down just slightly from 45.6% in 2021.

“The global economy is experiencing a period of astonishing economic alteration,” wrote Paul Donovan Chief Economist at UBS Global Wealth Management, in the report. (UBS acquired Credit Suisse earlier this year.)

Another silver lining: According to Credit Suisse projections, global wealth will rise 38% over the next five years, reaching $629 trillion by 2027. Crucially, that growth is likely to be led by middle-income countries.

The average wealth per adult stands at $84,718 and is projected to grow to $110,270 in that timeframe.

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