France: the land of wine, cheese, and millionaires

PARIS -- Global report by Credit Suisse counts more French millionaires than in other European nations as French individuals hold more wealth than most
Written by Bryan Pirolli, Correspondent (Paris)

PARIS – France can boast more millionaires than any other European nations, falling just behind the US and Japan on a global scale according to the second annual Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report.  Researchers for the report studied the global adult population, 4.5 billion people in 2011, to asses and visualize their personal net worth based on a variety of factors including income, assets, and debt.

The study included most nations ranging from the poorest to the riches, and mapped the present-day situation of wealth distribution.  The Global Wealth Report provides financial portraits of some of the most influential nations in the world including China, the US, Switzerland, and Singapore.

As the European Union struggles with its ongoing debt crisis, French president Nicolas Sarkozy will be meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel today to discuss a solution.  On a national level, however, the Credit Suisse report suggests that France isn’t doing too badly financially.

France, unlike other major western nations, had one of the more flattering portraits.  While the US boats 34% of the world’s millionaires and Japan 11%, France trails just behind with 9%, more than in any other European nation.  Most of these French millionaires, however, are not classified as “ultra high net worth,” or possessing more than $50 million US dollars.  So while there are more millionaires in France, they are on the whole less wealthy than the millionaires in Germany or Switzerland, for example.

In line with the lavish Champagne drinking and foie gras eating stereotypes conjured by the culture, France has the highest wealth per adult of any G7 nation.  On average, adults in France have a net worth just over $290,000 per adult compared to $248,395 in the US or $257,881 in the UK.

While the UK's financial outlook was labelled "uncertain" and Japan was "continuing to stagnate," the report named France “robust and resilient,” with low debit levels and higher than average assets among the 48 million French adults.  Still, unequal wealth distribution throughout France, as in most countries, continues to be a problem.

While countries like France will continue as power players in the global economy, the researchers are paying special attention to up and coming economies in Brazil, China, and India that will need to be studied even more carefully as they develop.  “Wealth is a vital, but a relatively under-researched cog in the economic system,” the authors write in the report.

Photo: Global Wealth Report

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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