The number of millionaires is exploding worldwide – and that's a great thing!
They also control a sizable share of global wealth though which makes some cry foul play. Before the wealth gap agitators pull out their playbook for government redistribution, it’s notable that here in the United States, government action is actually a driver of wealth disparities.
Up from 15 million in 2013, there were 17 million millionaires in 2014, according to the new Global Wealth report from Boston Consulting group. Even more, the world’s wealthy control 41 percent of the $164 trillion in global wealth and by 2019, that is expected be to grow to 46 percent of global wealth. (The report defines millionaires as households with $1 million in easily monetized wealth-cash, stock and securities, pension funds and other financial assets, but excludes real estate, business ownership and collectible and consumer goods.)
The U.S. is the leader in millionaires with 6.9 million up nearly 5 percent from 2013. China follows in a distant second place with 3.6 million millionaries and Japan third with 1.1 million.
The report highlights that rising stock markets and asset prices around the world is driving this boom in wealth. Nearly three-quarters of the gains in global private wealth last year came from market performance rather than newly created wealth or businesses. That means if you have investments you’ve seen your money make money for you in impressive ways.
However, households without wealth seem to be falling behind their rich neighbors because wages have remained relatively flat. With no cash or investments tied to the stock market, these households aren’t reaping the benefits of a hot stock market. Financial experts point to this as the reason behind the growing gap between the wealthy and non-wealthy. Even more it’s not such a bad thing.
As CNBC contributor explains:
… wealth inequality is a healthy and necessary component of a growing economy. An economy that has no wealth inequality will, most certainly, stagnate and die leaving widespread poverty behind. We want and need the right amount of wealth inequality to fuel the creative ambition that leads people to seek a better financial future.
What these politicians mean to say is "exaggerated wealth inequality." It may seem like a subtle difference, but it isn't. If a body doesn't get enough water in a couple of days, it will die. If a body gets too much water in a couple of minutes, it will die… Those of us whose job depends on paying close attention to Federal Reserve policy have noticed growing evidence that the economy may have been overserved its low rate policy.
Long-term easy money has clearly boosted the assets that the wealthy hold, like stocks and property, while also raising the costs of things that eat up disposable incomes of the middle class, like food and energy. …
There was a recent paper published by Philadelphia Fed economist Makoto Nakijima, in which he suggests that years of accommodative Fed policy may have exacerbated wealth inequality. Here's the part that makes me a crazy: The Fed's words make it seem like their involvement — maybe, just maybe — made a growing problem a tiny little bit worse. Nothing to really blame them for, of course, because it was just a little bit more. The problem is that their part in this process is the very thing that moved the needle from healthy levels of wealth inequality to a toxic corrosive level that's accompanied by a potential to polarize a society.
The moral of the story is that government trying to fix the economy leads to unintended consequences – surprise surprise. When the Federal Reserve artificially keeps rates low, it discourages savings and rewards investing. That snot bad for short-term stimulation, but as we're seeing it has long term effects.