Health of wealth

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SummaryThere are the rich and there are the super rich. Now, here’s the breaking news. Despite the ongoing global economic crisis, the monetary threshold to make it to either category keeps on rising, as do spending habits.

There are the rich and there are the super rich. Now, here’s the breaking news. Despite the ongoing global economic crisis, the monetary threshold to make it to either category keeps on rising, as do spending habits. In fact, a recent TV programme on CNBC in America showed that wealth is being created more quickly, dramatically, and controversially than ever before, fueling what’s been described as a “New Gilded Age.” Led by Russian oligarchs, business tycoons with dubious backgrounds and a newly rich political class, new age billionaires are keeping cash registers at luxury outlets ringing even as the less fortunate desperately juggle with their monthly household budget. That trend is reflected in the Wealth Report, 2012, an annual exercise conducted jointly by international property consultants Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank. In its research on trends in luxury spending, the Report notes that global spending on luxury goods actually rose 17% to exceed levels that prevailed prior to the economic crisis. A key area of that increased spend is investing in prime real estate, and not necessary in the country where wealthy individuals are based. Of the top ten international real estate property hotspots listed, Mumbai figures fairly prominently, presumably south Mumbai, where sea-facing luxury flats are in great demand.

Indeed, the super rich, defined by having a minimum average net worth of $100 million over the past 10 years, are investing heavily in art and jewelery, apart from real estate which basically means having a second home, and not property as investment. Bonds and stock markets have slid down the list of investments as have the United States and the United Kingdom as locations for a second home, with Singapore, Shanghai and Dubai emerging as the most popular. India, of course, has different parameters for measuring wealth, with high net worth (HNW) individuals defined as those with an average net worth of over R25 crore, but that figure is misleading since the 8,200 HNW individuals in India include 115 who are members of the billionaires’ club and worth a great deal more. The report also shows that more HNW individuals are investing in things that define the good life, like vintage wines, expensive art and skiing holidays.

Danny Quah of the London School of Economics predicts that by 2050, the world's economic centre of gravity will be somewhere between India and China. In 1980, the global economic centre lay in

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