Wealth Distribution for Dummies – 3 poor people needed to balance one poor person in debt

Global wealth distribution has been in the news.

The Oxfam report is based on the credit suisse wealth report which is based upon the James Davies, Rodrigo Lluberas , and Anthony F. Shorrocks global wealth distribution analysis.

The bottom 10% have a collective negative $1.05 trillion net worth (-0.4% of $263 trillion). Each of the poorest 720 million people have an average of -$1450 in net worth per individual in the bottom 10%.

The poorest owe more than they own.
It takes three people who are almost as poor to make up for that debt.

Poorest in bottom 10%  -$1450
Poor but in 11-20%     +$250
Poor but in 21-30%     +$350
Poor but in 31-37%     +$850

wealth = real assets + financial assets – debts

The income of the poorest had very little change from 2011 data.
The wealth data changed from 2011 for the bottom 10% where the estimate went from -0.4% of $263 trillion in overall world wealth from -0.2% of 240 trillion. The top billionaires increased wealth by about 8% from 2011 to 2013.

Chart based upon 2013 wealth distribution data from Davies, Lluberas and Shorrocks

Over the last 100 years in the US there was the Great Depression, top tax rates at over 90% and two world wars

The history of the share of top 1% wealth has been relatively stable in the USA. Great events like depressions and world wars were needed to move the wealth share. Are those who want to rebalance by going after the rich willing to go hard enough to really grab that wealth.

Communist China grabbed a lot of wealth back in the early 20th century. But many wealthy escaped to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Now Li Ki Shing has globalized his wealth. Look at history to sanity check those fantasies of wealth redistribution.

China, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong did rise as a population

China used to look even worse than India. But now China has almost no one in the bottom 20% of wealth. Almost no one without about $300 more asset than debt. Average net worth is at $20,000. Well above the global median of about $3650.

It should be achievable to get everyone in the world over about $3 per day or $1095 per year and get the lowest net worth to about $3000 with a median (50 percentile) of about $10,000 by 2035.
If the bottom 50% average were raised to $5000 in net worth, then those 4.2 billion people would have $21 trillion in collective net worth. Now the bottom 50% have a collective $1.8 trillion (0.7% of $263 trillion).

World wealth is expected to increase to $360 trillion by 2020 from $263 trillion in 2024.
By 2035 world wealth could be $700 trillion.
The top 1% could have 55% of it instead of 48% now.
The top 1% would have $385 trillion instead $126 trillion now.

$126 trillion to $1.83 trillion is almost 69 times more for the top 1% versus the bottom 50% in 2013.
$385 trillion to $21 trillion would be 18.3 times more for the top 1% in 2035

The poorest can relatively catch up to the wealthiest and their lives would be far better. The poorest places in the world need to move up closer to the 50% level in India today.

This can be achieved with better agricultural production, clean water (which would make health better), better nutrition, and cheap solar power and LED lighting, smoke free cooking, cheap mobile phones and internet.

Those are achievable improvements that exist today but need more rapid deployment.

SOURCES- Forbes, Wikipedia, James Davies, Rodrigo Lluberas , and Anthony F. Shorrocks global wealth distribution analysis, Credit Suisse, Oxfam