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TheStreet Open House

Europe, Latin America Gain on U.S. in Wealth

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- North America is no longer the world's richest region, dragged down by the financial crisis that began in New York and rippled across the country.

The U.S., Canada and Mexico were deposed by Europe, which had tighter controls on credit lending and securities trading. Latin America was the only region in which wealth increased.

Americans had more than $1 trillion erased from their retirement accounts from the stock-market crash, and esteemed global banks including Citigroup (C), Bank of America (BAC), Goldman Sachs (GS) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) accepted government bailouts as the Obama administration tripled the nation's debt to pull the country out of the worst economic slump in more than seven decades.

Boston Consulting Group's findings are detailed in Delivering on the Client Promise: Global Wealth 2009, a report released Sept. 15, one year to the day of Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy. The credit crunch coincided with a recession that started about 10 months earlier, delivering a punch to the banking, real estate, automotive and retail industries, and prompting a doubling of the unemployment rate over two years.

Boston Consulting Group estimates that global wealth fell from $104.7 trillion in 2007, measured in individuals' assets under management, to $92.4 trillion in 2008, a decline of 11.7%. It was the first drop since 2001, also a year in which a recession and stock-market freeze occurred at the same time.

Europe had $32.7 trillion in assets under management at the end of last year, down 5.8% from 2007, followed by North America, with $29.3 trillion, a decrease of 21.8%. Latin America, buoyed by a commodities boom, was the only region where wealth increased, by 3%.

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