Millionaire ranks cut by 19%

The financial crisis knocks 1.5 million people out of the club in 2008. U.S. still home to 28.7% of world's millionaires.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all RSS FEEDS (close)
By Ben Rooney, staff writer

Have you seen stimulus-funded construction projects in your neighborhood?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Don't know

NEW YORK ( -- The global financial crisis took a heavy toll on the world's wealthiest individuals last year, with the number of millionaires falling by a record amount, according to a report released Thursday.

The number of high net worth individuals, those with assets of $1 million or more, plummeted by a record 19.5% in 2008 to 8.6 million worldwide, a survey by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini showed. In 2007, the millionaire ranks totaled 10.1 million worldwide.

Millionaires saw the value of their collective assets cut to $32.8 trillion, down 19.5% from $40.7 trillion in 2007, as world stock markets and property values plunged. According to the survey, last year's losses wiped out all of the gains from the previous two years.

"2008 ushered in an unprecedented global downturn," the report said. "What started as a financial crisis soon expanded into the larger economy, affecting mature and emerging markets alike."

The number of millionaires in the United States fell 18.5% last year to 2.5 million. But the U.S. remains the single largest home to millionaires, accounting for 28.7% of the global millionaire population, the report said.

Ileana van der Linde, principle of Capgemini's wealth management practice, said millionaires with exposure to the financial services industry and commodities, particularly crude oil, were among the biggest losers last year.

However, "there was no asset class that really was safe in 2008," she added.

While the world's population of millionaires is still concentrated in the United States, Japan and Germany, the survey showed that the ranks are beginning to shift to other regions.

For example, China now has more millionaires than United Kingdom, the report said. The firms now expect millionaires in the Asia-Pacific region to outnumber those in North America by 2013, in part because of strong economic growth in China.

Millionaires in Brazil, another developing economy, also moved up on the list despite last year's turmoil. Brazil surpassed Australia and Spain to reach 10th place among millionaire populations globally.

Looking ahead, millionaire's financial wealth is forecast to grow to $48.5 trillion by 2013, advancing at an annualized rate of 8.1%. This compares with annualized growth of 10.4% from 2005 to 2007.

"We're going to have slower growth over the next two years but it will ramp up again," van der Linde said. "China and the U.S. are going to be the engines of growth going forward."

Still, the world's millionaires remain defensive when it comes to their investments. The report showed that millionaires have half of their investment portfolios in cash and fixed-income instruments.

"Investors were looking for safety in a multitude of ways last year," van der Linde said. "A lot of trust and confidence was shaken." To top of page

They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
10 of the most luxurious airline amenity kits When it comes to in-flight pampering, the amenity kits offered by these 10 airlines are the ultimate in luxury More
7 startups that want to improve your mental health From a text therapy platform to apps that push you reminders to breathe, these self-care startups offer help on a daily basis or in times of need. More
5 radical technologies that will change how you get to work From Uber's flying cars to the Hyperloop, these are some of the neatest transportation concepts in the works today. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.