The Irish

They are now officially the richest people in Europe:
The report said the average individual net wealth of Irish people rose 19 per cent to 196,000 euro ($340,000) in 2006.

In terms of wealth per capita, Ireland remained ahead of the UK, the US, Italy, France, Germany and Canada but lagged behind Japan.

The report said the past 13 years of rapid economic growth had been of greatest benefit to Ireland's wealthiest people.

The report's author, Pat O'Sullivan, senior economist at the bank's Private Banking unit, said a 20 per cent growth in the value of residential property underpinned last year's surge.

While household debt rose 20 per cent to 161 billion euro ($290,000), this was more than offset by a 15 per cent gain in cash savings, a 26 per cent gain in privately held stocks and an 11 per cent gain in the value of pensions.

Mr O'Sullivan said the Irish were saving about 14 per cent of their disposable income, the highest rate in Europe with Germans coming second on 10 per cent.

By comparison, the British saved just five per cent and Americans just one per cent.

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