The rich just got richer. At least that's what the latest wealth survey by leading consulting firm BCG seems to be telling us. It also tells us how good it is to be a millionaire. The reason being they control 39% of the world's wealth! The enormity of the point that we are trying to make truly sinks in when one considers the fact that millionaire households represent just 0.9% of all households in the world.
Put the two together and you will get an idea of the lopsided nature of the world that we seem to be living in. The consulting firm has more numbers to throw at us. It points out that the number of millionaire households increased by 12.2% in 2010. Furthermore, even after seeing its economy go nowhere in the past few years, the US continues to lead the world in millionaires with a total of 5.2 m millionaire households.
There is some good news for India as well. Or should we say for the broader Asia Pacific region. The region has reported highest growth rate in family wealth across the world during 2010.
How can we leave without making a mention of the world's fastest growing economy, China. As per the report, China's millionaires jumped past the 1 million mark to 1.11 million. This translated into a very strong growth rate of 31%. The dragon nation is now ranked third, behind the US and Japan.
What more, wealth in privately held businesses and property is not accounted for in the survey. Had that been taken into account, China's numbers would have looked even better. For that matter, even India would have scaled up a few notches we believe.
It is in the nature of a market system or capitalism that gains from economic growth cannot be uniform. There will always be a certain group of people that will manage to grow its wealth at a rate much faster than the average citizen of the country. What is important though is the fact that living standards improve for the entire population as a whole.
While we cannot say about other countries, India does need to tighten up a great deal if it wants all its citizens to enjoy the fruits of a rapidly growing economy. We certainly don't mind few people getting much richer than others in the process. But what we would also not like to see is the fact that a small minority getting rich at the expense of the large majority. This can certainly happen if the society under consideration is not capitalistic but instead mostly crony capitalistic. And with cases of rampant corruption across all strata of society flying thick and fast, there is a real danger that we could slip into the latter mode.
Thus, we certainly need to get our act together and see to it that we enhance the number of our millionaires in the most appropriate way possible.