Richest Countries in the World

Wealth has besotted people since time immemorial. It’s accrued, amassed, hidden, stolen and we would even die sometimes for it, or at least knock someone off more than likely to get what they have. Wealth: the abundance of valuable assets and material possessions, the mainstay today of our consumer societies. Wealth became a target when we left nothing untouched by consumer valuing of resources. Everything has a price today in the world. Everything can be bought and sold, whatever it is; and it doesn’t just come out of factories or from the fields, it could be you or me that have a price on our heads.

Wealth Measures

Wealth of a country is measured in two ways. The first is the Gross Domestic Product of a country. But, the problem with that is that it only measures the size of the economy. Per Capita Gross Domestic Product can give us an average of what that wealth works out to per person in the population. Again, however that is inadequate, since averages are just that. They don’t give us the full picture of what the country is actually experiencing. They are just half-way lines that give some gauge of the situation. Anyhow, using GDP per capita or GDP alone means that currency fluctuations will always come into play as they will be shown in the currency of the country in question.

But, Gross Domestic Product at Purchasing Power Parity (GDP PPP) will take into account the standard of living of a population and the relative cost of living in a country. A hypothetical international dollar known as the Geary-Khamis Dollar is therefore used as the unit of comparison, with the same purchasing power as the US Dollar and the year 2000 is the benchmark year for that comparison.

Wealth Ranking – TOP 5

So here are the rankings. The world’s top 5 countries according to data compiled by the International Monetary Fund.

1. Qatar

  • GDP PPP per capita of Intl. $102, 211.
  • Just 250, 000 Qataris and the rest of the 1.8-million population are immigrant workers.
  • Oil accounts for 60% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product today.
  • Qatar Petroleum, the state-owned and run oil company is currently the third largest company in the world that exploits, produces and refines oil as well as transporting and storing it.
  • Qatar has the third largest natural gas reserves today in the world.
  • The country has attracted major investors.
  • US investment alone there has exceeded $100 billion.
  • Branches of 6 US universities (Weill Cornell Medical College, Carnegie Mellon and Georgetown University amongst others) are located there.
  • Public-sector Qatari workers got pay increases of 50-120% in 2011.

2. Luxembourg

  • GDP PPP of Intl. $79, 785.
  • Half a million people in terms of population.
  • Thanks to the fact that it had secret banking laws and was able to transform itself into a tax haven in the world.
  • But, for how long will that last as the US starts putting pressure on Swiss banks for doing exactly that (making it illegal now for a US citizen to open an account in the country without having had the US authorities informed prior to it).
  • But, despite their apparent wealth, the country still had a budget deficit of 5% in 2009, reduced to 1.4% a year later.
  • In 2009 Luxembourg had nearly 30, 000 people working in the banking sector and there were 152 different banks located in the country.
  • It was added to a list of ‘grey’ countries in the world by the G20 concerning worries over secrecy laws.

3.       Singapore

  • GDP PPP of Intl. $60, 410.
  • The country has the lowest tax rate (14.2% of GDP) in the world.
  • The Singaporean economy is largely considered as the most open economy in the world (also the least corrupt).
  • Perhaps there is food for thought as to opening up economies and doing away with corrupt administrations and authorities.
  • The Singaporean economy depends on exports (electronics and semiconductors (11% of the world’s output)).
  • It also produces 10% of foundry wafer output in the world.

4.       Norway

  • GDP PPP of Intl. $55, 009.
  • Largest natural gas reserves in Europe and also oil reserves.
  • Petroleum accounts for nearly 50% of the exports of the country and it is a major component of the GDP of the country (21%).
  • One of the world’s biggest exporters of gas (2nd largest after Russia).
  • Although oil was only discovered in 1969.
  • They produce 2 million barrels per day on average.
  • They set up a unique system to ensure that there was management of the revenue from oil and in 1990, for example, the Government Pension Fund was established (Global (GPFG)) for surplus oil revenues. It is worth $700 billion at least today.
  • Oil profits get taxed at a rate of 78%, bringing in $36 billion in 2011.

5.       Brunei

  • GDP PPP of Intl. $54, 389.
  • Cashing in on natural gas and the benefits of petroleum.
  • The 3rd largest oil producer in Southeast Asia.
  • Brunei produces 180, 000 barrels per day.
  • 4th largest natural-gas producer in the world.
  • Mean wages in Brunei stand at US $25.38 per man-hour.
  • New companies (that meet regulations) are exempt from income tax for five years.
  • The energy sector brings in 94% of government revenue.
  • It also accounts for 96% of exports from the country.
  • But, by 2045, those oil reserves and natural gas reserves will have run out completely.

The other countries are as follows in the ranking:

6.       Hong Kong

  • GDP PPP of Intl. $51, 494.

7.       United States

  • GDP PPP of Intl. $49, 922.

8.       United Arab Emirates

  • GDP PPP of Intl. $49, 012.

9.       Switzerland

  • GDP PPP of Intl. $45, 418.

10.   Canada

  • GDP PPP of Intl. $42, 734.

11.   Australia

  • GDP PPP of Intl. $42, 640.

12.   Austria

  • GDP PPP of Intl. $42, 409.

So, the wealth of the world is concentrated in the Gulf, Europe and North America which seems of little surprise when it boils down to it. Luxembourg is way behind the State of Qatar and yet is in second position. Norway is in 4th place but still has just a little more than half of the GDP PPP of Qatar. But in the top countries it’s natural resources that are exploited to make it to the highest echelons of the ranking for the main part.

Really Rich?

Without the poor, the rich wouldn’t be rich and those poor countries are maintained in their positions some might say of inferiority to make sure that those at the top are there to stay. Money can buy everything. It can even by exploitation and it can certainly buy poverty somewhere else to be used and abused. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the poorest nation in terms of Gross Domestic Product at Purchasing Power Parity per capita in the world with only $369 for 2012

When we look at the list of the world’s top wealthy countries are we proud of finding our place on that list? Do we have the impression that we are that rich really in the world.

The US is 7th in the list, but how many of the 7.4%-unemployed actually believe that they are living that dream of wealthy abundance and opulence. How many of the people that are nearing 15% that are either unemployed or are on contracts that see them working for just a few hours a week and that are underemployed actually participate in that wealth that has made the US get to the top ten of the richest nations on the planet? Few of them it would seem. The thing with averages that are calculated is that they are not true when the majority of the wealth of a nation is held in the hands of the minority few. Wealth distribution is concentrated wherever that may be and being the richest nation means very little else than the fact that the few have even more than others.

Wealth and income are concentrated not just in the top 1% of the country, but mainly in the top 0.1% of the United States.

  • The top 1% of households owns roughly 35% of all private wealth.
  • The next 19% hold 53.5% of US private wealth.
  • 11% of the wealth only is owned by the rest of the 80% of the population of the country.
  • In a study carried out in 2010 (Norton & Ariely), 90% of US citizens believed that the top 20% of the US own just 60% of the private wealth in the country, whereas it is closer to 80% or more.
  • They had no idea either that the bottom 40% of the country owns nothing more than 0.3% of private wealth.
  • Wealth needs an overhaul and needs to be redistributed from the eager tops somewhere down the scale to those that surely need it more.

Being in the 7th place in terms of GDP PPP might well mean something for the guys at the top, but for the rest of the populations of those countries in the list, it’s nothing more than marketing to show the others that we can do what we want if needs be.

Don’t mess with rich countries. They have the economic power and clout to knock you for six. 

About The Author

tothetick

Professional team of writers/analysts analyzing the financial markets.

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