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The World’s Richest People Lost $10 Trillion in 2022, a New Report Says

Last year's permacrisis wreaked havoc on the portfolios of the super-rich.

Wealthy man in suit John Rensten

It turns out everybody is feeling the squeeze—even the extremely wealthy.

The world’s richest people collectively lost $10 trillion (£8.3 trillion) last year, according to a new wealth report by Knight Frank. It marks the biggest annual decline in the fortunes of ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) since the annual study was first published in 2010. For context, UHNWIs have a net worth of $30 million or more, including their primary residence.

The world’s 218,000 UHNWIs saw their combined wealth drop by 10 percent from $101.5 trillion in 2021 to $91.4 trillion in 2022, as per the report. Although four in 10 wealthy individuals did see their fortune increase in 2022—we’re looking at you, Elon—the overwhelming trend was negative.

The change in aggregate wealth held by UHNWIs in 2022
Knight Frank

The firm cited a triumvirate of shocks—energy, economic and geopolitical—as the cause of the monumental drop. The year has been aptly described as the permacrisis, according to Knight Frank. The wealth shrinking also coincides with a drop in the value of residential property, commercial property, fixed income, investments of passion (like art or whiskey) and other assets. (You can watch the video below to hear experts further explain the findings.)

“The fall in wealth is unsurprising given the dramatic pivot in monetary policy that culminated in the worst performance for the traditional blended portfolio since the 1930s,” the firm said.

As for who took the biggest hit, Europe’s ultra-rich saw the largest drop in wealth, with an average decline of 17 percent. Australasia and the Americas followed, falling 11 and 10 percent, respectively. Africa saw the smallest decline with a small drop of 5 percent, while Asia also only fell by 7 percent.

The big question now is: How will 2023 play out? In a sharp reversal, 69 percent of wealthy investors expect growth in their portfolio this year amid an expected economic rebound. Here’s hoping that’s the case.

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