The figures reported by Merrill Lynch do not reflect the true number of millionaires in the world, as counted by traditional methods.
The numbers only represent the money that passes through world stock and other financial markets - and in particular the banks.
Practically this means that someone who owns a house worth a million dollars is not on the list. Since it is quite common in Israel, and the rest of the world, to invest in real estate - and many Israelis have a house worth at least a million dollars, it is clear that the real number is much greater.
Merrill Lynch also does not count owners of privately held firms, which are not traded on the stock markets. Therefore, many very rich Israelis have been left off the list, unless they have other liquid assets worth at least a million dollars.
Finally, the figures are for the end of 2005, when stock markets were nearing their heights. Since then markets have fallen heavily, and it is not clear how many millionaires have dropped off the list. (O.C.)