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US is minting almost all of the world's millionaires

Wednesday, 9 Oct 2013 | 3:43 PM ET
Mark Williamson | Oxford Scientific | Getty Images

America may have a dysfunctional political system, but it continues to lead the world in significant wealth creation.

A new report from Credit Suisse shows that 1.7 million of the 1.8 million millionaires added to the ranks in the past year were created in the U.S., which now boasts 13.2 million millionaires. Rising stock markets, the housing rebound and a broader increase in asset values have fueled the surge.

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Surprisingly, France came in No. 2 in millionaire creation worldwide, with 287,000. That was followed by Germany (221,000,) Italy (127,000) and the United Kingdom (117,000). China generated just 90,000 millionaires in the past 12 months.

Change in number of millionaires by country (in thousands), 2012-13

Country 2012 2013 Change
USA 11,534 13,216 1,682
France 1,924 2,211 287
Germany 1,514 1,735 221
Italy 1,323 1,449 127
UK 1,412 1,529 117
Sweden 406 506 100
China 1,033 1,123 90
Spain 355 402 47
Canada 948 993 46
Belgium 231 269 38
World 29,867 31,680 1,814
Source: credit-suisse.com

Change in number of millionaires by country (in thousands), 2012-13

Country 2012 2013 Change
Japan 3,964 2,655 -1,309
Brazil 233 221 -12
Argentina 32 27 -5
S.Africa 47 43 -5
Russia 88 84 -4
Egypt 25 22 -3
World 29,867 31,680 1,814
Source: credit-suisse.com

Japan was the biggest loser, with more than 1 million erased. For the first time in at least 30 years, Japan's share of the global millionaire pie has fallen to below 10 percent. Brazil lost 12,000 and Argentina 5,000.

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The 2013 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report said that 42 percent of the world's 32 million millionaires live in the U.S., and 39 percent live in Europe.

Wealth is concentrated

It also pointed to the increasingly top-heavy nature of global wealth. Though they represent less than 1 percent of the world's population, millionaires control 41 percent of its wealth—or $98.7 trillion. That's more than 13 times as much as the 68 percent (3.2 billion people) on the bottom and three times as much as those with net worth of $10,000 to $100,000, according to Credit Suisse.

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Credit Suisse estimate that, globally, more than 2 million people are worth between $5 million and $10 million, and that 98,700 people are worth $50 million or more. It estimates that 33,900 are worth $100 million or more.

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By CNBC's Robert Frank. Follow him on Twitter, @robtfrank and see "Secret Lives of the Super Rich," a new series airing Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

(CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included a table that was incorrectly labeled. Both tables refer to the change between 2012 and 2013.)

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  • A reporter and editor, Robert Frank is a leading authority on the American wealthy for CNBC.