Australians are world's wealthiest

Australians have comfortably the highest median wealth of any country for the second year running, according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report.

Australia's median wealth of US$194,000 was well ahead of countries such as Japan, Italy, Belgium and the UK, which fell in the US$140,000-US$110,000 range.

In terms of average wealth Australians fell to second behind Switzerland, which averaged US$468,000 to Australia's US$355,000.

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The median rankings favoured countries with lower levels of wealth inequality, according to Credit Suisse.

The report also found global household wealth fell by 5.2 per cent or US$12.3 trillion (in current dollar terms) to US$223 trillion in the 12 months to mid-2012.

Credit Suisse forecast household wealth in the Asia Pacific region would rise 55 per cent to US$115 trillion by 2017 from its current level of US$74 trillion, contributing 38 per cent of the net new increase in global wealth in the next five years.

Since last year's report the number of dollar millionaires in Australia, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden has diminished as a proportion of the global total, but has risen in the United States and Japan, while the number of millionaires in Australia is forecast to increase by 82 per cent to 1.6 million by 2017, the report found.

Comparatively few Australians have a net worth less than US$10,000, which Credit Suisse said reflected factors such as relatively low levels of credit card and student loan debt.

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