In yet another sign that the global wealth gap is expanding, millionaires are set to possess nearly half the world's wealth by 2019. BostonConsulting Group's annual Global Wealth report says that in 2014 there were 17 million millionaires in the world, up from 15 million in 2013, and they now account for 41% the world's $164 trillion in private wealth, which is expected to rise to 46% share by 2019. The report defines wealth as fairly liquid assets like cash, stocks, securities, bonds or pensions, and excludes real estate or business ownership.
"The wealthier are getting more and more wealthy," BCG partner and managing director Anna Zakrzewski told MSNBC. "They have a much larger share of their wealth invested in equity markets and last year was a good year for market performance."
In another indication that those gaining wealth are making money from money itself, the report says 73% of the world's gains in private wealth in 2014 came from gains on existing assets rather than the creation of new wealth or business. This echoes predictions of economist Thomas Piketty’s "Capital in the 21st Century", predicted that inherited wealth — all those "existing assets" — would be the basis of ever-more-unequal wealth distributions concentrated upwards.
North America accounted for $50.8 trillion in private wealth, while the Asian Pacific region (excluding Japan for the purposes of BCG's report) had $47 trillion, and Europe weighed in with $39.6 trillion.
In all, the world gained over 2 million millionaires last year, and more than half of those were created in China alone. The United States still has the highest number of millionaires — with 6.9 million, but even though that number grew by 4.7% last year. China came in second, with 3.6 million millionaires. Japan, the UK and Switzerland (which had most millionaires per capita) rounded out the Top 5. Bahrain had the second highest concentration of millionaires, followed by Qatar, Singapore and Kuwait.