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The World’s Ultra-Wealthy Population Shrunk Last Year, but Billionaires Are Still Cleaning Up

The number of people making $30 million-plus decreased by 4 percent in 2022, but that trend could reverse drastically in the future, a Knight Frank report says.

FUYANG, CHINA - MAY 4, 2023 - Photo taken on May 4, 2023 shows US dollar bills, Fuyang city, East China's Anhui Province. The US Federal Reserve announced on May 3 that it raised the target range of the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 5% to 5.25% at the end of its two-day monetary policy meeting, in line with market expectations. This is the 10th time in a row that the Fed has raised interest rates by 500 basis points. (Photo credit should read CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images) Future Publishing via Getty Images

Rich people had sort of a bad year in 2022.

The international population of the ultra-wealthy—defined as those worth $30 million or more—shrunk by nearly 4 percent in 2022, Barron’s reported citing an annual report released by Knight Frank. The number of people with that amount of wealth fell by almost 23,000 to 579,625, a figure that included 2,629 billionaires. However, the decline was small considering that 2021 saw a 9 percent increase in the ultra-wealthy population.

The region with the biggest drop in this most fortunate population was Europe, which saw its ultra-wealthy population decrease 8.5 percent. France, Germany, Spain, and other countries experienced double-digit declines. Knight Frank reportedly attributed this to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has led to tumult in financial markets globally. 

The report noted that not every region experienced such a decline. Individuals with at least $30 million increased nearly 17 percent in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates due to economic and real estate growth. Although China’s turbulent economy caused a drop in Asia’s overall ultra-wealthy population, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore saw their numbers increase 7 percent to 9 percent. 

The U.S. only experienced a 1 percent drop in its own $30 million-plus population. But the world will likely see the population grow dramatically in the future, with Knight Frank’s forecast expecting the global ultra-wealthy population to grow by 28.5 percent through 2027. 

Knight Frank also detailed how much an individual’s net worth would have to be in 25 countries in order to be considered in that nation’s 1 percent. There was a wide spectrum across the globe: In the United States, a person would need $5.1 million to meet the threshold, while in the Philippines you would need just $57,000. 

As for an even more exclusive financial tier, billionaires appear to be having a pretty good 2023. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index found that the 500 richest people internationally have collectively gained more than $600 billion just this year. Being in the 10-figure club has its perks, it seems.

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