World's rich got richer amid '09 recession: report

Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:55pm EDT
 
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By Joseph A. Giannone

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The rich grew richer last year, even as the world endured the worst recession in decades.

A stock market rebound helped the world's ranks of millionaires climb 17 percent to 10 million, while their collective wealth surged 19 percent to $39 trillion, nearly recouping losses from the financial crisis, according to the latest Merrill Lynch-Capgemini world wealth report.

Stock values rose by half, while hedge funds recovered most of their 2008 losses, in a year marked by government stimulus spending and central bank easing.

"We are already seeing distinct signs of recovery and, in some areas, a complete return to 2007 levels of wealth and growth," Bank of America Corp wealth management chief Sallie Krawcheck said.

The fastest growth in wealth took place in India, China and Brazil, some of the hardest hit markets in 2008. Wealth in Latin America and the Asia-Pacific soared to record highs.

Asia's millionaire ranks rose to 3 million, matching Europe for the first time, paced by a 4.5 percent economic expansion.

Asian millionaires' combined wealth surged 31 percent to $9.7 trillion, surpassing Europe's $9.5 trillion.

In North America, the ranks of the rich rose 17 percent and their wealth grew 18 percent to $10.7 trillion.   Continued...