Where’s the best place to be born in 2013?

Warren Buffett, probably the world’s most successful investor, once said that anything good that happened to him could be traced back to the fact that he was born in the right country (the United States) at that time (1930).
Of course what he says is true – back then America was the place to be. But where is the best place to be born in 2013?
Well…according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s where-to-be-born index the answer is Switzerland, followed in very close second place by Australia.

The index attempts to measure which country will provide the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life in the years ahead up till 2030, which is roughly when children born this year will reach adulthood.

In all, 11 indicators were taken into account, including quality of life, social and cultural characteristics, and forecast GDP. The Economist says that it found being rich helped with people’s happiness, but was not the only reason. Crime, trust in public institutions and the health of family life matter too.

Interestingly small economies dominate the top ten, half of these are European, but only one, the Netherlands, is from the euro zone.

Across the ditch New Zealand comes in seventh place.  America, where babies will inherit the large debts of the boomer generation, languishes back in 16th place. Among the 80 countries covered, Nigeria comes last: it is the worst place for a baby to enter the world in 2013.

What about now?
By the way we don’t have to wait until 2030 – we’re living in the lucky country right now and it’s about to get a whole lot better.

This was confirmed in the Credit Suisse 2012 Global Wealth Report which showed that the average Australian is sitting on a nest egg of nearly $200,000 making us the richest people in the world.

America still has the largest number of millionaires – more than 11million – three times higher than its nearest rival Japan, but the report forecasts that the number of millionaires in Australia will jump from 905,000 millionaires to 1.6million over the next five years.

That’s a staggering 82 percent increase!

With plentiful land, sparse population, natural resources and high home prices, Australia’s proportion of individuals with wealth above $100,000 is the most of any country and eight times the world average. And very few Australians had a net worth of less than $10,000, reflecting the relatively low level of poverty here.

The report explains that Australia’s financial standing has been boosted by our strong currency and that most of our wealth is held in property assets.

Now that’s interesting isn’t it!
Our affluence is further boosted by the $1.2 trillion superannuation regime.

But that’s not all…the report also shows that for the first time Asia-Pacific has overtaken Europe as the world’s richest region, which places Australia well for future growth.

If we play our cards right, not only will we be providing these emerging nations with natural resources, but with education, health and technology. And there is the real opportunity for our tourism industry to flourish again as we become the playground of a rich new middle class in Asia, just as we were one of the preferred holiday destination for the Japanese in the 1980′s.

Our Mojo is returning
Over the last few years Australians and particularly property investors lost their mojo. Consumer confidence was low and many potential property investors are sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone to ring the bell confirming the market has bottomed.

Well… no one rang the bell, but our property markets bottomed in the middle of last year and consumer confidence is slowly returning, as is business confidence.

Looking forward, the International Monetary Fund sees us outperforming every other advanced economy over this coming year. And over the next five years we’re going to grow our economy faster than USA, Canada and the UK. In fact we’re likely to grow at double the rate of Japan, France and Germany.

If you asked me I think we should also get bonus points for our low rate of unemployment. While some complain when this creeps up a fraction of a percent, it’s still around five and a half percent. Compare that to Spain where a quarter of Spaniards are out of work or the US where around 12 million people are jobless.

The bottom line:
Australians tend to take many things for granted. Yet despite the global economic crisis, times have in certain respects never been so good for us.

Our economy is performing well, our political system is solid and our banking system is sound. Income levels are at or near historic highs and our life expectancy continues to increase steadily.

We should feel very lucky for the situation we find ourselves in and naturally being a great place to live is strongly positive for our housing markets.

Quibblers will, of course, find more holes in my arguments than there are in a chunk of Swiss cheese – there will always be the property pessimists around.

However, the fact is, as Australians we have every reason to be proud of where we live and excited about our future, including the long term health of our property markets.


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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who help their clients grow, protect and pass on their wealth through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's once again been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and one of Australia's 50 most influential Thought Leaders. His opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit Metropole.com.au

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