Count 'Em! Asia Eclipses N America in Wealthy Folks

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 7/21/2016 06:42:00 PM
Come to where the money is: the Asia-Pacific region.
With the world's center of economic gravity heading eastwards, it was perhaps inevitable that the region with the most high net worth individuals (HNWI)--defined as those with $1 million investible wealth or more--would be Asia instead of North America as of 2014. What's more, Asia's HNWI also collectively hold more than their North American counterparts. This happened just last year according to Capgemini's World Wealth Report. Note that unlike the Boston Consulting Group compilation, this one includes Japan:
Asia Pacific raced past North America in 2015 to become the region with the greatest number of wealthy people holding the most amount of wealth on Earth - $17.4 trillion. Capgemini’s annual World Wealth Report, released today, shows Asia’s ranks of high-net-worth individuals popped 9.4% in 2015 to 5.1 million, widening a lead over the ranks of North America’s rich, which grew only 2% to 4.8 million.

That Asia Pacific would top the world was anticipated in 2014 when the region, including Japan, edged out North America to have the most people with at least $1 million in investable wealth. Japan plays a big role in Asia’s leap as together with China it powered nearly 60% of global high-net-worth population growth in 2015, Capgemini says. Japan’s stronger economy, and stronger markets, in 2015 helped buoy the ranks of its rich by nearly 11%, more than double the rate of a year earlier.

China may have had a tumultuous year, but its stock markets ended strong, and the country still had the highest GDP and real estate market growth of all major markets. Japan and China join the United States and Germany as the four wealthiest nations, home to more than 60% of the world’s richest. 
Further, Forbes reckons that there are more billionaires now in Asia than in North America:
The U.S., the world’s largest economy, had more billionaires than any other nation on the new 2016 Forbes Billionaire List unveiled Tuesday, but the Asia-Pacific region taken as a whole easily surpassed America’s total.

The Asia-Pacific had 590 members of the new Forbes list, compared with 540 from the U.S. and 489 for Europe. Last year, the U.S. had 536 members, second to the Asia-Pacific’s 562 billionaires.
The Asia-Pacific this year was led by mainland China’s 251 members, including a world-leading 70 new names.   That new blood –combined with a similarly world-leading 42 dropoffs from the 2015 list – underscores the structural flux in China’s economy and gradual opening up of its capital markets to more businesses.
Aside from the greater volatility in wealth in China--it's easier come, easier go in a less mature region--there is another caveat which I believe should be pointed out: Asia's population is about 4.4 billion, while that of North America is 567 million. Given such a discrepancy, North America with less than 13% of Asia's population obviously still has a higher number of HNWI and billionaires per capita. Put it down to the greater innovative potential of those in the region, especially the United States. Still, this caveat does not cancel out the broader phenomenon of global wealth's shifting geography.