Business Week magazine just published a list of the number of millionaires by country. No shocker that the US still outpaces any other nation (Japan was #2, and China has vaulted to #3), but there was something about the distribution of wealth that I found interesting. In addition to listing the number of millionaires, the list also included what percent of the nation’s wealth is held by those millionaires. That was astounding:
1. Hong Kong (73%)
2. USA (56%)
3. People’s Republic of China (50%)
4. Switzerland (44%)
5. Republic of China (37%)
6. Italy (27%)
7. UK (23%)
8. Germany (22%)
9. Japan (21%)
10. France (19%)
What I am not surprised about: the nanny states of continental Europe have likely driven away a lot of the rich and their assets, allowing the wealthy to control little of the country. The good news is that the wealthy control less, the bad news is that you have to wonder what percent of the wealth marched over the border with them? The noted exception is Switzerland and its creative banking laws.
What shocked me: Despite claims of communism and socialism spreading the wealth, it appears that there is something to the Orwellian precept about communism making everyone equal, just some more equal than others. Hong Kong, under its special arrangement is not unbelievable, but that China has emerged this way is remarkable. It seems that China is almost as capitalistic as the US, and that Taiwan is more socialist than the mainland (at least as far as one limited indicator could assess).
Of course, one wonders how long it will be before the Beijing government steps in and starts collecting on that … I suppose as long as their economy grows, the rich are safe.