Wednesday, April 4, 2012

40% of world's wealth owned by 1% of population

Two "old" news story that says we may yet learn from history. CBC News on Tuesday, December 5, 2006, published this article.

In 2011, the 1% movement began in Vancouver. Concidence or another Canadian movement taking the world by storm. So this is interesting given that we are just paying our taxes for another year.
The richest one per cent of the world's population owns 40 per cent of the total household wealth, while the bottom half of the world makes do with barely one per cent, according to a research report released Tuesday.

The study, which further underlined the continuing disparity between rich and poor, is by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research, part of the United Nations University.
'Income inequality has been rising for the past 20 to 25 years and we think that is true for inequality in the distribution of wealth.'-Canadian economist James Davies, an author of the report
It took more than $500,000 US to be among the richest one per cent of adults in the world, according to the report. The richest 10 per cent of adults needed $61,000 US in assets.

In contrast, 50 per cent of adults owned barely one per cent of the household wealth. Wealth was defined as the value of physical and financial assets minus debts. The study differentiates between wealth and income. The authors note that "many people in high-income countries — somewhat paradoxically — are among the poorest people in the world in terms of household wealth" because they have large debts.

The bulk of the wealthiest adults (almost 90 per cent) are concentrated in North America, Europe and Japan, the researchers said. For example, North America accounts for only six per cent of adults, but held 34 per cent of the globe's household wealth.

"Income inequality has been rising for the past 20 to 25 years, and we think that is true for inequality in the distribution of wealth," said James Davies, one of the report's authors and a professor of economics at the University of Western Ontario in London.

"There is a whole group of problems in developing countries that make it difficult for people to build up assets, which are important, since life is so precarious," Davies said.

Having assets worth just above $2,200 US would be enough to put an adult into the top half of the world's wealth distribution.

Canadians averaged $70,916 US in assets

Canada's net worth per capita came in at $70,916 US, putting it just ahead of Denmark.
Average net worth in the United States amounted to $143,867 per person in 2000, while it reached $180,837 in Japan.

At the bottom end of the scale were Ethiopia with per-capita wealth of $193 and Congo at $180.

Global household wealth amounted to $125 trillion in 2000, roughly three times the value of total global production, or $20,500 per person.  For more information on this story check out:

The second "old" news story is about Canada's super-rich, Last Updated March 6, 2008

If it's true that "money talks," then the bank accounts of Canada's wealthiest citizens are doing a lot of blabbing these days.

First, let's define wealthy. Are millionaires automatically wealthy? At one time, a million really meant something. But then real estate values started exploding and stock markets began soaring, and before you could say "über-rich," the ranks of Canadian millionaires began to swell.

Consultants Cap Gemini Ernst & Young estimated there were 315,000 millionaires in Canada at the start of 2001. In that survey, "millionaire" meant $1 million in investable assets, excluding real estate. The consulting firm forecast that the number of Canadian millionaires would grow to 900,000 by the year 2010.

The world's richest (billions of U.S. dollars)
1. Warren Buffet (investments) 62.0
2. Carlos Slim Helu (telecom) 60.0
3. Bill Gates (Microsoft) 58.0
4. Lakshmi Mittal (steel) 45.0
5. Mukesh Ambani (petrochemicals) 43.0
6. Anil Ambani (diversified) 42.0
7. Ingvar Kamprad + family (Ikea) 31.0
8. KP Singh (real estate) 30.0
9. Oleg Deripaska (aluminum) 28.0
10. Karl Albrecht (retailing) 27.0
Source: Forbes (March 2008)
Impressive numbers. But super-rich? In most cases, they aren't even close. No, we're talking about the tiny sliver at the very top of the money pile — the ultra-high net worth club whose members are referred to as billionaires.

Canada has 2 per cent of world's billionaires

Financial publications, which love to track the rise and fall of the super-rich, agree that the money gods have been especially generous towards this small but affluent group.

In its annual tracking of billionaires, Forbes magazine's writers and researchers declared that 25 Canadians had cracked the billionaire threshold by early 2008 (in U.S. dollars, too).

That's 25 out of 1,125 billionaires worldwide. The world's billionaires had a total net worth of $4.4 trillion US. That's more than Germany's GDP. Remember, we're talking about just 1,125 people here. Canada's share of the billionaire booty: $88.4 billion US.

Canadian Business magazine does its own annual tracking of the richest 100 Canadians. The two lists agree that the richest of the rich Canadians are the members of the Thomson family. Forbes says number two is grocery magnate Galen Weston and his family, and the Irving clan from New Brunswick is third. But Canadian Business magazine says recent rises in the value of Rogers Communications shares have vaulted Ted Rogers Jr. into second place, with a net worth of $7.6 billion.

The Thomson family's wealth simply boggles. Canadian Business pegs the Thomson fortune at $25.4 billion. Forbes magazine put it at $18.9 billion US in February 2008 - good enough for 31st place in the world. That's only $43.1 billion US behind Warren Buffett. (Net worth: $62 billion US, depending on the value of Berkshire Hathaway shares).

Money made in everything from food to circus

What can we say about Canada's billionaires? Well, they're a mixed bag. Some come from very old money; some are very new — like the co-CEOs of Research in Motion. Most of them still live in Canada. Most are in their later years, but seven are in their 40s, and steel baron Alexander Shnaider is just 39.

On the Forbes list, the Canadian billionaires are all male. But Canadian Business singles out Indigo Books & Music CEO Heather Reisman. Together with her husband, Onex Corp.'s Gerry Schwartz, the power couple is worth $1.57 billion.

Canada's richest (billions of Cdn dollars)
1. The Thomson family (media)$25.4
2. Ted Rogers Jr. (media)$7.6
3. Galen Weston (groceries)$7.3
4. Paul Desmarais Sr. (Power Corp.)$5.6
5. Irving family (diversified)$5.3
6. Jimmy Pattison (diversified)$4.52
7.Jeff Skoll (eBay)$4.48
8. Mike Lazaridis (RIM)$4.36
9. Jim Balsillie (RIM)$4.09
10. Barry Sherman (Apotex)$3.61
Source: Canadian Business (Dec. 2007)
They hail from all regions of the country. Some are big-money families; others are bachelors. And they made their money in vastly different ways. Drugs (the legal kind), media, oil and gas, food retailing, printing, money management, construction, the BlackBerry and the circus.

But the roots of some fortunes may surprise. John MacBain's fortune came one classified ad a time. MacBain is the controlling interest behind Trader Classified Media, which publishes many Auto Trader titles and hundreds of other similar publications around the world. He began it all with the purchase of Auto Hebdo in 1987. Net worth: $1.24 billion, according to Canadian Business.

Then there's Guy Laliberté. You may not have heard of Guy. But you've heard of his company. Back in 1984, it was just Laliberté and a group of street performers in Quebec. Now it's 10 dazzling companies of acrobats and artists showcasing their talents around the world. The collective name for the enterprise that Laliberté now owns: Cirque du Soleil. His almost total ownership has given him a net worth of $1.18 billion, Canadian Business says. Forbes puts his net worth even higher, at $1.7 billion US.

A final note about all this talk of money. Unlike fictional billionaires like Scrooge McDuck, the super-rich do not keep most of their fortune in cash. Their money is usually tied up in shares of the companies they started, so their fortunes rise and fall with the market. How well Canada's billionaires fare in the years to come may depend more on investor sentiment than their own business acumen. Not that this crowd is terribly short on that.

That doesn't mean that the rich don't have things to worry about. A survey by Sensus Research of 165 Canadians worth more than $10 million showed that almost a quarter are worried that lazy children or grandchildren will squander the family fortune. About a third of them worry they won't be able to maintain their lifestyle.
It's a tough world out there.

Sources: Canadian Business, Forbes, B.C. Securities Commission, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Sensus Research

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