The population of rich Russians has grown by 21.3 percent to 117,700 in 2009 — the world's second-best result — and the outlook remains optimistic, according to a report on world wealth released this week. The number of high net-worth individuals — people with investable business assets worth upward of $1 million — in Russia was boosted by surging stock market capitalization, which rose 103.6 percent in 2009 despite a 7.9 percent shrinking of gross domestic product, according to the annual report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini Group. The dismal 2008 saw a decrease of 28.5 percent in the number of wealthy individuals in Russia, but now the situation has rebounded, and the trend is expected to continue as long as the ongoing global recovery keeps commodities prices high.
Britain led the way in 2009 with a 42.7 percent surge that brought the number of its high net-worth individuals to 448,000, and the United States remained the leader in absolute figures with 2.86 million (a growth of 16.5 percent). But the Asia-Pacific region is expected to display the fastest growth in the number of wealthy individuals over the coming years, mainly because of China and India, which will continue their economic expansion. Brazil is also expected to show strong growth, the report said. The total number of high net-worth individuals in the world climbed 17.1 percent to 10 million, returning to 2007 levels. Their assets are worth $39 trillion, up 18.9 percent from 2008.