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Global stocks rally boosts private wealth worldwide

Statistically, people around the world were richer than ever in 2012, says the German insurer Allianz. Its study of private wealth in 50 nations attributes the surge mainly to a a stocks rally since crises in 2008.

In 2012, the global population held a combined wealth worth 111.4 trillion euros ($150.3 trillion), German insurance company Allianz said in its Global Wealth Report released Tuesday.

Counting only assets which could be easily liquidated such as shares and bonds, as well as bank accounts and entitlements from insurance policies, Allianz said the total value of those assets rose 8.1 percent last year compared with 2011, jumping to their highest level ever recorded.

The pace of growth in global wealth was the highest in six years, Allianz added, surpassing the last record of 7.1 percent growth recorded in 2010.

Real estate and material assets such as cars and artworks were not counted by Allianz.

According to the Allianz report, the rise in global wealth took place in all world regions and was mainly driven by rising share prices.

Asset 'gap' in eurozone

The Allianz study says the trend cannot, however, hide "deep rifts" among asset holders within the eurozone.

The average net holding in Greece fell to only 28 percent of the eurozone average, compared to well over 50 percent beforehand.

In Spain average net assets fell from 61 percent to 44 percent.

The growing asset disparity in the eurozone is a result of the crisis, said Michael Heise, Allianz's chief economist.

"If this gap between north and south widens it could undermine cohension in Europe," Heise said, adding that further reform measures were needed to provide a "clear perspective" for growth and prosperity.

Richer in Asia

The Allianz study says last year's stock market rally in Asia made people living in the region about 16 percent richer on average.

Asset holders in Latin America and Eastern Europe enjoyed double-digit growth, too.

Cheap central bank money in North America and western Europe boosted their stock markets, increasing holdings by 8.3 percent and 5.3 percent respectively, the report said.

Shares contributed most to the rise in wealth with about 10 percent, and were followed by bonds and insurance entitlements, up 7.4 percent, and bank accounts, which grew just 6.7 percent due to persistently low interest rates in 2012.

The Allianz figures showed that the wealth of Germans increased 4.9 percent to a total of 4.9 trillion euros last year. However, neither for Germany nor for the rest of the world did the insurance giant provide data about how evenly this wealth was spread among the population as a whole.

uhe/ipj (dpa)