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Wealth inequality is so absurd that Credit Suisse will take a yacht as collateral

February 7, 2022, 10:47 PM UTC

Inequality in the U.S. and worldwide has reached new heights, exacerbated by a global pandemic but don’t worry—your yacht might just cover whatever loans you need

Banking giant Credit Suisse has tied some of its loans to “ultra-high-net-worth” customers to their yachts and private jets, according to a new report by the Financial Times. Now it’s selling those yacht-backed loans to big hedge funds. 

The lending company has expanded its lending against yachts since 2014, according to the FT report. The company’s outstanding loans on yachts exceeded $1 billion last year. 

But the unusual business has become precarious in recent years and defaults on those loans have abounded. Credit Suisse saw 12 defaults on its yacht and aircraft loans in 2017 and 2018, and about a third of those came from U.S. sanctions against Russian oligarchs, according to the FT. 

In an attempt to offload some of the risk associated with those loans, the bank appealed to a group of hedge funds to securitize a portion of their $2 billion in loans backed by “jets, yachts, real estate and/or financial assets.” They offered an 11% interest rate to mitigate the high-risk of default associated with them, according to an investor presentation for the deal.

The move comes as wealth inequality has reached new highs around the world. Rising inequality now affects more than two-thirds of people worldwide, and is growing for more than 70% of the global population, according to a recent UN report. At a global level the average income for an adult is $23,380, and the richest 10% of the global population currently take home 52% of the income. 

The poorest half of the global population earn just 8% of the total global income. And when it comes to wealth held in assets (which would include yachts and private jets) the poorest half of the global population owns just 2% of the global total, and the richest 10% own 76% of all wealth, according to The World Inequality Report, produced by the World Inequality Lab.

Jeff Bezos, the world’s second wealthiest man, recently purchased a large sailing yacht for an eye-popping $500 million—enough to pay the average annual global salary of 21,386 people.

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