New Millionaires Defy Down-Economy Odds

Compiled By Deborah Austin Worldwide, millionaires' ranks expanded during 2001 -- despite volatility and downturns -- concludes the 2002 World Wealth Report by financial management firm Merrill Lynch, New York, and management consultancy Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Paris. Globally, almost 200,000 people joined the list of high-net-worth individuals (HNWI's) for a total 7.1 million, their combined wealth climbing 3% to U.S. $26.2 trillion. It's the slowest growth since the report's 1997 inaugural publication, yet it highlights underlying market strength, says Kelly Martin, president, Merrill Lynch's International Private Client group. In less-developed nations, HNWI wealth actually climbed 4.7% -- versus 1.9% in G-7 nations (the world's seven wealthiest). HNWI's are people with financial assets of at least $1 million, excluding real estate. Some analysts have identified a "stealth bull market." For example, although the U.S. S&P500 index dropped 11.9% in 2001, more than 40% of its stocks rose in value. Anecdotal evidence suggests HNWIs were quick to recognize and benefit from such developments, says Martin.

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