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Friday, Oct 3, 2014

World

European households richer than pre-crisis peak

AFP | Friday, Oct 3, 2014

ZURICH - European households are richer than before the global financial and economic crisis battered their continent, though the picture is uneven, a new study by the Swiss bank Julius Baer shows.

For example, in general people in Switzerland have grown rapidly far wealthier, but in Spain they have suffered badly.

The cumulative wealth of Europeans exceeded the pre-crisis peak in 2013, hit an all-time high of 56 trillion euros ($70.6 trillion), up 1.7 per cent on the previous year, the bank said.

Before the crisis struck in 2007, the total had been 54.5 trillion euros.

However, Julius Baer noted in a report released late on Thursday, that the evolution of wealth has varied across Europe.

The likes of Switzerland and Germany last year respectively added over 1.1 trillion euros and 2.0 trillion euros in net wealth.

That was equivalent to a net increase in household wealth of 68 per cent in Switzerland, and 18 per cent in Germany, since 2007.

But over the same period, wealth contracted in crisis casualties such as Spain, down by 28 per cent, and Greece, where the fall was 23 per cent.

That amounted to a reduction of private wealth of 1.4 trillion euros in Spain and 170 billion euros in Greece.

The study showed that the 10 per cent of richest European households possess more than half of the continent's wealth.

A full 27 per cent is held by the top one per cent.

Wealth concentration rising

The concentration was highest in Austria and Germany, with 40 per cent and 35 per cent of total private wealth owned by the richest one per cent.

Britain, Greece and the Netherlands had the lowest concentration, with 15 per cent of total private assets owned by the richest one per cent.

"New long-term datasets referenced in the report suggest that the concentration of wealth in Europe is on the rise again, after much European wealth was destroyed in the 20th century due to the two World Wars and the Great Depression of 1929," said Julius Baer.

In order to paint a complete picture, the study did not only consider shares, bonds and funds, but also assets such as property.

It found that four countries have more than two-thirds of Europe's net wealth: 13.2 trillion euros in Germany, 9.6 trillion in Britain, 9.5 trillion in France and 8.3 trillion in Italy.

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