More Millionaires Than Ever

Boston Consulting Group, in its Global Wealth 2014 report, said that the total number of millionaire households reached 16.3 million worldwide in 2013, up strongly from 13.7 million in 2012 and representing 1.1 percent of all households globally (an almost literal 1 percent).

Boston Consulting Group, in its Global Wealth 2014 report released this week, said that the total number of millionaire households (in U.S. dollar terms) reached 16.3 million worldwide in 2013, up strongly from 13.7 million in 2012 and representing 1.1 percent of all households globally (an almost literal 1 percent). The U.S. had the highest number of millionaire households (7.1 million), as well as the highest number of new millionaires (1.1 million), most of that because of the steady gains in equities markets last year.

Robust wealth creation in China was reflected by its rise in millionaire households in that country from 1.5 million in 2012 to 2.4 million in 2013, thus surpassing Japan. In fact, the number of millionaire households in Japan fell year-over-year from 1.5 million to 1.2 million, but that was largely a function of currency movements, not a slump in Japan; namely, the 15 percent fall in the yen against the dollar.

The millionaire boom comes against a backdrop of increasing aggregate wealth worldwide, according to BCG. Globally, the amount of wealth held privately rose by $19.3 trillion in 2013, nearly twice the increase of $10.7 trillion seen in 2012. As usual, North America (at $50.3 trillion) and Western Europe ($37.9 trillion) remained the wealthiest regions in the world, followed closely by Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) at $37 trillion. Asia-Pacific, which in 2008 had 50 percent less private wealth than North America, has since closed that gap by half.

Leading economic indicators rise

The Conference Board reported on Thursday that its Leading Economic Index for May increased 0.5 percent in May to 101.7 (2004 = 100), following a 0.3 percent increase in April, and a 1 percent increase in March. The organization’s Coincident Economic Index was up 0.3 percent in May to 109.0 (2004 = 100), following a 0.2 percent increase in April.

In fact, recent data suggest the U.S. economy is finally moving from a 2 percent growth trend toward a more robust expansion, the Conference Board asserts. The Coincident Index shows the pace of economic activity continued to gain traction in May, while the trend in the Leading Index remains positive.

“May’s increase in the [leading index], the fourth consecutive one, was broad based,” Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist at the Conference Board, notes. “Housing permits held the index back slightly but the [leading index] still points to an expanding economy and its pace may even pick up in the second half of the year.”

Unemployment claims drop

The U.S. Department of Labor reported on Thursday that for the week ending June 14, the annualized rate of initial unemployment claims was 312,000, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average was 311,750, a decrease of 3,750 from the previous week’s revised average. Rates this low are consistent with periods of reasonably normal employment growth.

Wall Street ended the day mixed on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 14.84 points, or 0.09 percent, and the S&P 500 gaining 0.13 percent. The Nasdaq dropped a scant 0.08 percent.