There are now 188,000 people in Italy who have at least a million dollars (820,000 euros) in disposable financial wealth. That means one resident in three hundred. According to the Merrill Lynch-Cap Gemini 2004 report on world wealth, as many as 22,000 of them have joined the "gold list" in the last year alone, which is a rise of 13.25%. If all Italy's millionaires were brought together in one small town, the community would have a total financial wealth of 415 billion dollars (343 billion euros), up from 2002's 366 billion dollars (300 billion euros). The average balance in the current accounts of this hypothetical town's prosperous bank would be more than 1.8 million euros (just under 1.5 million dollars).
However for Gianluca Bussolati, Merrill Lynch's head of private clients in Italy, what is driving this sudden increase is probably the impact of the "fiscal shield", which enabled wealth held abroad to be repatriated. The growth might therefore be more apparent than real.