Summary: Figures for UK share ownership in 2012 were released this week, and they showed that individuals and groups not based in the UK owned the majority (53.2%) of the market value of shares for the first time ever.
What does the chart show? The chart below by the Economics Research Council shows the annual total market value of all UK shares in billions of pounds, adjusted for inflation (in 2012 prices), held by various groups. The blue line shows the value held by international owners, the red line the value held by individuals within the UK (the second largest single group), and the green line shows the value held by all the other groups combined (including a wide range of entities, from pension funds to non-financial organisations to the public sector, which all hold a relatively small percentage of the total value). The black line shows the total value (the sum of these three groups).
Why is the chart interesting? International ownership of UK shares has grown steadily over the past twenty years, at the expense of UK-based groups. In the early 1990s, international groups held between 10% and 15% of the total value of shares (less than UK individuals, who held over 20%). In 2012, they owned over half of the total market value (almost £1 trillion). This has primarily been due to the process of globalisation, particularly in the financial markets. Also of interest is the fact that the total market value peaked in 2000 at over £2.5 trillion (in 2012 prices), and despite a smaller peak in the mid-2000s, has been on a downward trajectory since.