Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Above, I show which countries have the largest sovereign wealth funds, and below, I show how these countries’ funds rank on a per capita basis. Data about the funds comes from the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Rankings, and I calculated per capita values primarily by using World Bank population data. It’s interesting to note that:
- Oil rules. These sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) are more or less oil-based except for a few Asian tigers and Australia. And out of the countries with the fifteen largest funds–as measured by the combined assets of all the funds whose amounts are listed–the Middle East and North Africa occupy six spots.
- That being said, the biggest SWFs by either absolute or per capita measures are not located in the MENA region. The estimated combined total of China’s SWFs is more than $1.2 trillion, almost 50 percent larger than the UAE countries’ combined $817 billion in listed SWF assets. However, on a per capita basis, China’s combined SWFs are in last place at $904 for every citizen; Norway leads with over $144,000 in assets for every citizen.
- The United States makes an appearance as a result of Alaska’s substantial SWF. The funds associated with the U.S. are the Alaska Permanent Fund (“Oil”, established 1976), the Texas Permanent School Fund (“Oil & Other,” established 1854), the New Mexico State Investment Council (“Non-Commodity,” established 1958), the Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund (“Minerals,” established 1974), the Alabama Trust Fund (“Oil & Gas,” established 1985), and the North Dakota Legacy Fund (“Oil & Gas,” established 2011). Alaska has approximately the same per capita SWF value as Qatar.