By Selena Li
HONG KONG (Reuters) - The number of Chinese millionaires is expected to double by 2026, according to a report by Credit Suisse issued on Tuesday, despite Beijing's national drive to ease wealth inequality and a sharply slowing economy.
Total household wealth in China reached $85.1 trillion in 2021, up 15.1% or $11.2 trillion from 2020.
Beijing's 'common prosperity' push has in recent years sharply escalated in official rhetoric and a crackdown on excesses in industries including technology and private education has rattled investors.
In 2021, China had 6.2 million millionaires, up by more than a million from 2020, while globally total number of millionaires increased by 5.2 million. That number in China is expected to double to 12.2 million in five years time, the report said.
The bullish China wealth growth outlook comes even as the world's second-largest economy narrowly avoided contracting in the second quarter as widespread COVID-19 lockdowns and the slumping property sector hit consumer and business confidence.
Global household wealth expanded 12.7% in 2021, the fastest annual rate ever recorded excluding exchange rate factors, but prospects were overshadowed by heightened geopolitical and financial uncertainties.
Global household wealth reached $463.6 trillion by the end of 2021, mainly propelled by a strong rise in financial assets, which worsened inequality in 2021.
The United States, China and Canada led in household wealth expansion, the report said, noting each saw an increase of $19.5 trillion, $11.2 trillion and $1.8 trillion, respectively.
"It's probably too early to fully assess the impact of the inflation, Ukraine crisis, supply chain crisis, but probably we will see some reversals of the global wealth gains" in 2022, Axel Lehmann, the chairman of Credit Suisse's board said.
However, the Swiss private bank remains upbeat about five-year growth outlook, with global household wealth expected to increase by $169 trillion by 2026.
(Reporting by Selena Li; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Alexandra Hudson)