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China leading the way in UBS billionaire report 2018



billionaires wealth redistributionShutterstock

  • The total number of billionaires reached 2,158 last
    year, up 9% from 2016, according to a new report from UBS and
  • The growth was fastest in Asia, with China minting
    roughly one new billionaire every three days.
  • Asian billionaires will be wealthier than their
    American peers in less than three years. 

The rich are getting richer and more numerous.

The world added 332 billionaires last year, with their cumulative
wealth increasing 19% to a record $8.9 trillion, according to an
annual survey from UBS and PwC. 

What’s behind this phenomenon? Explosive wealth creation in

“China is where we’re seeing unbelievable and unprecedented
growth,” said John Mathews, head of ultra high net worth
Americas for UBS Global Wealth Management. For the first time
ever, billionaire growth in Asia Pacific outpaced that of the US
last year.

In 2006, there were just 16 Chinese billionaires. But in 2017,
the tally hit 373 – a fifth of the global total. The US still
leads regionally, with 585 billionaires, but wealth creation in
the region is slowing. The US created 53 billionaires in 2017,
compared with 87 in 2012. 

In China, 106 people became billionaires in 2017 (although a
number dropped off the list from 2016). That comes out to roughly
one new billionaire every three days. 

If current trends hold, Asian billionaires’ wealth will surpass
that of their American counterparts in three years. 


UBS billionaire chartSamantha Lee/Business Insider


That growth has been driven by self-made entrepreneurs in China,
particularly in the technology industry. 

More than 300 Chinese companies went public last year, unlocking
what UBS deems “stealth wealth,” the difficult-to-measure wealth
of individuals in private markets with little transparency. 

About 97 percent of Chinese billionaires are self-made, and, at
56 years old on average, they’re about a decade younger than
their North American counterparts.

US entrepreneurs could play catch-up next year, though. Mathews
said major anticipated initial public offerings in 2019,
, could reveal more stealth wealth, potentially adding
more billionaires to the US’s count. Of the 53 new billionaires
in the US last year, 30 were self-made. 

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