Adonis Diaries

Filthy Rich: Less than 9,000 Lebanese, out of 4 million, own 50% of the total wealth?

Posted on: November 29, 2013

Filthy rich: 0.03% of Lebanese adults own 50% of the country’s wealth
Published this October 18, 2013

At least 48 percent of Lebanon’s privately-held wealth is concentrated in the hands of some 8,900 citizens — just 0.3 percent of the adult population — according to calculations based on a new report.

The nation’s staggering wealth inequality is detailed in Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Databook 2013, released last week.

The distorted wealth figures help to push the country’s Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality, to 86.3 percent — the fourth highest globally behind Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan (see chart, below left).*

While Credit Suisse did not directly publish how much wealth is in Lebanese millionaires’ hands, Executive was able to estimate a lower bound based on the report and Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires.

Lebanese worth more than $1 million own at least 48 percent of the country’s wealth (see chart above).

This figure, however, is a minimum estimate. It also implies that the rest of the country owns less than 52 percent of private wealth, valued at some $91 billion.

The richest Lebanese are six billionaires, all from the Mikati and Hariri families.

According to Forbes, their combined worth is $14 billion — some 15% of all private wealth.

Wealth inequality (higher Gini coefficient = less equal): Russia, Lebanon, US, Egypt, Saudi, Israel, UAE, France,

The concentration of cash in a few hands skews other figures as well.

According to the report, a Lebanese adult’s wealth averages $30,868. However, the median wealth is just $6,076 — meaning, counter intuitively, that half of Lebanese adults own less than a fifth the average wealth.

(In Beirut, renting any small apartment is up to $1,ooo per month)

Furthermore, a full two-thirds own less than $10,000, while most of the rest (almost 30%) are worth less than $100,000.

Unfortunately, while these figures provide a rough guide to the nation’s wealth distribution, the numbers cannot be trusted completely.

Credit Suisse rates the quality of Lebanon’s data as “poor”, as all other kinds of data: Transparency is terribly lacking, at least for the Lebanese common citizens.

* Executive excluded Denmark, whose Gini coefficient was reported the highest overall at 107.7 percent, due to a lack of confidence in the figure. Credit Suisse’s 2012 report assigned the nation a Gini coefficient of 70.1% per.
Note 1: Figures do not add to 100 due to rounding
Note 2: Mind you that the 18 officially recognized religious sects own more than 25% of the land. (mine note)
Source: Credit Suisse, Forbes, Executive calculations

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