Saturday, 17 August, 2019

China leads the way as world’s billionaires get even richer

Founder of Microsoft Bill Gates Founder of Microsoft Bill Gates
Russell Knight | 27 October, 2018, 16:59

This year's survey, based on interviews and financial data, widened its scope to include 2158 individuals from 43 countries, compared to 1550 billionaires from 14 countries cited in last year's report.

The annual Billionaires Insights report lists people whose wealth has reached US$1 billion (NT$31 billion).

If the ongoing trade tensions were to develop into an "all-out" trade war, "an abrupt change in economic conditions would have knock-on effects on billionaires' interests and investments", said Philip Wyatt, Asia-Pacific economist at UBS Global Wealth Management.

The report said that at the end of 2017, the world had 2,158 billionaires, 332 more than in 2016, and their total worth amounted to $8.9 trillion, 19% more than the previous year, well below the 39% increase reported among Chinese billionaires.

Josef Stadler, head of ultra high-net-worth at UBS Global Wealth Management, said: "Over the last decade, Chinese billionaires have created some of the world's largest and most successful companies". The U.S. added 53 billionaires past year, a 4% increase, bringing the total to 585.

UBS and PwC's report, "New visionaries and the Chinese century", highlights the speed with which new billionaires are emerging in China.

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The report said the Americas region was still home to the largest concentration of billionaire wealth, but wealth creation was slowing.

Billionaires from Asia, especially in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, are now challenging the traditional dominance of Americans as technology entrepreneurs. Rates will be higher; we expect the Federal Reserve to hike rates three times next year, so the risk premium is higher.

Meanwhile over the next 20 years, an estimated US$3.4 trillion in wealth is expected to be handed over to a new generation.

In 2006, there were just 16 billionaires in China.

About 97% of China's billionaires are self-made, with the majority working in sectors such as tech or retail.

In the wider Asian continent the number of billionaires also surpassed those in the United States, with their collective wealth also set to be more in the next three years, according to the data. "The reality of it is the impact and the way we live our lives with the wealth being created, not just with the billionaires themselves, but with everyone associated with it, has just accelerated at a pace I'm not sure we were even ready for".

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