The latest issue of the Knight Frank World Wealth Report will not make happy reading for those of us who thought they were seeing tentative signs that Putin’s Russia was making good progress on “nationalizing” its elites (e.g. multiple wealth amnesties, local Courchevel, local Hogwarts, etc).
First, Russia’s wealth structure remains extremely lop-sided. While there are ~100 Russian billionaires (about as many as in Germany, and twice the number in the UK), there are only about 2,620 Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (>$50 million), versus 8,070 in Germany and 4,580 in the UK.
UHNWI are a much better proxy for capitalistic dynamism than billionaire plutocrats, especially in a country like Russia, where most of them are made their wealth through their political connections.
Judging by their desire to emigrate and second passport possession rates, Russian UHNWI – we can comfortably use the term, since 2,620 of the 2,870 Russia and CIS UHNWI are specified as Russian – are effectively more comprador than the culture that gave the term its name.
Russian UHNWI don’t seem to want to buy homes in their own country: Russia isn’t a top property investment source for Russian UHNWI, whereas even for Latin Americans, Brazil and Mexico are.
The luxury consumption choices of Russian UHNWI are quite telling of their human capital, thrift, and patriotic investment priorities, or lack thereof.
Most popular flight routes: Moscow/Nice, presumably for the status signalling shopping, versus New York/Washington D.C. and Los Angeles/Las Vegas in the US, presumably for business and pleasure, respectively.
Russians have more yachts than anyone else other than the US, which has 10x+ as many UHNWI.
Moreover, the list of the world’s very biggest yachts is completely dominated by Russians and Arabs. The first white person on that list is at #12.