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Crashing markets thinned the ranks of America’s millionaires last year as global wealth shrank for the first time since 2008

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Private yachts docked in front of a yacht club.

Marielle Descalsota/Insider

Global wealth declined in 2022 for the first time since 2008, UBS and Credit Suisse economists said Tuesday.
Americans were hit hardest as stocks and bonds tumbled throughout the year, the banks said. 
Roughly 1.7 million US adults lost their status as millionaires. 

Global wealth declined last year for the first time since 2008, and Americans in particular took the biggest hit as stocks and bonds sold off and currencies fluctuated, according to a wealth report from UBS and Credit Suisse economists.

Notably, about 1.7 million US adults lost their status as millionaires in 2022. Plus, 17,260 fell out of the ultra-high net worth bracket of those worth $100 million or more. 

The S&P 500 crashed by 19% in 2022, and it was one of the 10 worst years for the stock market in nine decades. The losses erased most of the meteoric gains seen in 2021, when the market grew by more than 26% and wealth surged.

“[F]inancial assets contributed most to wealth declines in 2022 while non-financial assets (mostly real estate) stayed resilient, despite rapidly rising interest rates,” the economists wrote. “But the relative contributions of financial and non-financial assets may reverse in 2023 if house prices decline in response to higher interest rates.”

According to the report, in total dollar terms, global wealth slipped 2.4% to about $454.4 trillion, and much of that was due to shifting currency values. Europeans felt the bite from weaker currencies, while Russia and Latin America benefitted from the shifts. Russia, amid its war in Ukraine, added 56,000 millionaire amid a strengthening of the ruble.

Meanwhile, Switzerland and Hong Kong boasted the highest level of wealth per adult. 

On a country by country basis, the US saw the biggest losses in 2022, as the country shed $5.9 trillion, compared to its $19.5 trillion rise the prior year. Japan, China, Canada, and Australia also saw losses exceeding $1 trillion.  

The banks project that global wealth will rise by 38% over the next five years to hit $629 trillion by 2027.

“Growth by middle-income countries will be the primary driver of global trends,” the economists maintained. “We estimate wealth per adult to reach USD 110,270 in 2027 and the number of millionaires to reach 86 million while the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) is likely to rise to 372,000 individuals.

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Private yachts docked in front of a yacht club.

Marielle Descalsota/Insider

Global wealth declined in 2022 for the first time since 2008, UBS and Credit Suisse economists said Tuesday.
Americans were hit hardest as stocks and bonds tumbled throughout the year, the banks said. 
Roughly 1.7 million US adults lost their status as millionaires. 

Global wealth declined last year for the first time since 2008, and Americans in particular took the biggest hit as stocks and bonds sold off and currencies fluctuated, according to a wealth report from UBS and Credit Suisse economists.

Notably, about 1.7 million US adults lost their status as millionaires in 2022. Plus, 17,260 fell out of the ultra-high net worth bracket of those worth $100 million or more. 

The S&P 500 crashed by 19% in 2022, and it was one of the 10 worst years for the stock market in nine decades. The losses erased most of the meteoric gains seen in 2021, when the market grew by more than 26% and wealth surged.

“[F]inancial assets contributed most to wealth declines in 2022 while non-financial assets (mostly real estate) stayed resilient, despite rapidly rising interest rates,” the economists wrote. “But the relative contributions of financial and non-financial assets may reverse in 2023 if house prices decline in response to higher interest rates.”

According to the report, in total dollar terms, global wealth slipped 2.4% to about $454.4 trillion, and much of that was due to shifting currency values. Europeans felt the bite from weaker currencies, while Russia and Latin America benefitted from the shifts. Russia, amid its war in Ukraine, added 56,000 millionaire amid a strengthening of the ruble.

Meanwhile, Switzerland and Hong Kong boasted the highest level of wealth per adult. 

On a country by country basis, the US saw the biggest losses in 2022, as the country shed $5.9 trillion, compared to its $19.5 trillion rise the prior year. Japan, China, Canada, and Australia also saw losses exceeding $1 trillion.  

The banks project that global wealth will rise by 38% over the next five years to hit $629 trillion by 2027.

“Growth by middle-income countries will be the primary driver of global trends,” the economists maintained. “We estimate wealth per adult to reach USD 110,270 in 2027 and the number of millionaires to reach 86 million while the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) is likely to rise to 372,000 individuals.

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