Content - Swiss top wealth ranking, Japanese third

  • November 21, 2017

Swiss top wealth ranking, Japanese third

Tokyo (SCCIJ) – Switzerland kept the top spot in global wealth ranking, whereas Japan again had the most equal wealth distribution of any major nation, according to the 2017 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report. Average wealth of a Swiss citizen was close to ten times the global average, placing Switzerland in the lead. Much of Switzerland’s rise to the top would be down to a strong currency, though, the report said. At the same time, the recent yen depreciation relegated Japan to third place in the global rankings of aggregate wealth, behind the United States and China.

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Global wealth grew at fast pace

Ten years from the onset of the global financial crisis, global wealth has grown by 27 percent and reached a new record high of USD 56,540 per adult, according to the eight edition of Credit Suisse Research Institute’s Global Wealth Report. In the 12 months to mid-2017, global wealth grew at a faster pace than in recent years, with mean wealth per adult reaching a new record high.  

In the year to mid-2017, total global wealth rose at a rate of 6.4 percent, the fastest pace since 2012 and reached USD 280 trillion, a gain of USD 16.7 trillion. This reflected widespread gains in equity markets matched by similar rises in non-financial assets, which moved above the pre-crisis year 2007’s level for the first time this year. Wealth growth also outpaced population growth.  

What the Wealth Report says about Switzerland

Average wealth per adult was USD 56,540 globally. In Switzerland, the same figure was USD 537,600 (CHF 533,000). Over two thirds of Swiss adults are among the top 8.6 percent of the world’s wealthiest, where the entry ticket is net wealth of USD 100,000. Financial assets continue to make up 54 percent of gross wealth in Switzerland, which is less than in Japan or the United States. Debts average USD 140,500 per adult, one of the highest absolute levels in the world, and represent 21 percent of total assets.  

“Measured in Swiss francs, domestic household wealth rose by 35 percent since 2000, which corresponds to an average annual rate of 1.8 percent”, wrote Urs Rohner, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Credit Suisse Group, in the foreword of the report. Switzerland today accounts for 1.7 percent of the top 1 percent of global wealth holders. “On the worrying end, among the ten countries for which long series of wealth distribution are available, Switzerland is alone in having seen no significant reduction in wealth inequality over the past century”, Rohner added.  

What the Wealth Report says about Japan

Japanese wealth fell 6.1 percent to mid-2017, but only because of exchange-rate depreciation. In yen terms, total wealth rose 2.8 percent, and wealth per adult rose 2.9 percent. This represents a growth rate of wealth about equal to the average for the period since 2010. Long-term trends remain unimpressive. Japan’s wealth per adult was USD 191,100 in 2000. Today, average wealth is just 15 percent higher when measured in yen.  

The slow underlying growth is due to the combined effects of the unsteady performance of the stock market and real estate, low interest rates, and a lower saving rate than in earlier years. As a consequence, the relative importance of financial assets in household portfolios has changed little, and remains at the fairly high level of 61 percent of gross assets.

Debts have been declining, and are modest by international standards, at 13 percent of total assets. Japan has a more equal wealth distribution than any other major country, as reflected in a Gini coefficient of 61 percent. Together with its high average wealth, this relative equality means that few adults have assets below USD 10,000.  

The proportion of the population with wealth above USD 100,000 is six times the global average. At the turn of the century, Japan was a close second to the USA regarding the number of residents in the top 10 percent and top 1 percent of global wealth holders. Japan still retains second place, but the gap has widened considerably.  

The complete report can be downloaded for free (in English) here.      


Text: Excerpts from Credit Suisse Research Institute’s Global Wealth Report 2017; Photo: Credit Suisse

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