The Global Super-Rich Got Less Super-Rich in 2015

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Hard times.Photo: Tim Clayton/Corbis

For the first time in seven years, the global population of super-rich people — individuals whose net, nonresidential assets exceed $30 million — declined in 2015. According to the Wealth Report 2016 by Knight Frank, slow growth and turbulence in world financial markets cost roughly 6,000 members of the ruling class their claim to “Ultra-High Net Worth” status. Now the world is home to only 187,468 people whose personal fortunes exceed $30 million.*

If you’re worried that the decline of the not-quite-super-rich will put us on a path to full communism, fear not! Knight Frank predicts that the ranks of the global plutocracy will only swell in the coming decades. By 2025, the Wealth Report predicts that the number of Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI) will grow by 41 percent, with 19,714 new megamillionaires in the United States alone.

Still, $30 million ain’t what it used to be. Even among the UHNWIs, there’s a huge gap between the top one percent and the rest of the pack. According to an Oxfam report released in January, the wealthiest 62 billionaires on the planet now own as much wealth as the entire bottom half of humanity.

*Correction: This post originally contained an analogy that drastically understated the GDP of Paraguay.