The Tell: The 1% own more than half the world’s wealth for the first time ever

This will surely come as no surprise to those families struggling to make ends meet while watching the stock market bang out records, but the richest 1% now own more than half of the world’s total wealth, according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report published on Tuesday.

And the future looks even brighter. For some.

“The outlook for the millionaire segment is more optimistic than for the bottom of the wealth pyramid,” the report noted, to the surprise of nobody.

Back at the peak of the 2008 financial crisis, the world’s richest owned 42.5% of the wealth, but their piece of the pie has steadily risen since then.

“Global wealth inequality has certainly been high and rising in the postcrisis period,” Credit Suisse said in the annual report. In fact, the number of millionaires around the world has jumped to 36 million, tripling from the 2000 figure.

The millionaires represent less than 1% of the world’s population but control 46% of the wealth. Compare that to the poorest 3.5 billion, who make up 70% of the working age population — they account for just 2.7% of global wealth.

Credit Suisse is looking for a 22% rise in millionaires within five years to 44 million. At the same time, the number of those with less than $10,000 will only shrink by 4%, further exacerbating the problem.

While the number of millionaires has shown rapid growth, it’s the $50-million-plus set that’s really burgeoning, rising fivefold since 2000.

This year, the rise has been particularly pronounced, especially in the U.S., as Credit Suisse’s Michael O’Sullivan points out.

“So far, the Trump presidency has seen businesses flourish and employment grow, though the ongoing supportive role played by the Federal Reserve has undoubtedly played a part here as well, and wealth inequality remains a prominent issue,” he said.

Credit Suisse reported that, overall, global wealth has increased by 6.4% from last year — the fastest rate since 2012 — as rising equity and house prices continue to enrich those fortunate to own them. Of course, not everybody is riding that wave.

The report pointed to the millennials as having a particularly rough go of it due to a “run of bad luck.”

“They faced the rigors of the financial crisis… and have also been widely hammered by high and rising house prices, rising student debt and increasing inequality,” Credit Suisse said. “Millennials are not only likely to experience greater challenges in building their wealth over time, but also greater wealth inequality than previous generations.”

The report explains that millennials, in terms of income and home ownership, are well behind where their parents were at the same age.

“On the whole, they are not what one would call a lucky generation,” Credit Suisse said.

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