Billionaires’ wealth falls for the first time in a decade



The world’s richest people became a little less well off last year, according to a report UBS and PwC, as geopolitical turmoil and volatile equity markets reduced the wealth of billionaires for the first time a decade.

Billionaires’ wealth fell 388 dollars globally to 8.539 trillion dollars, the UBS and PwC Billionaires Report found, with a particularly sharp decline Greater China – the second-biggest home for billionaires after the United States – and the Asia-Pacific region more broadly.

Private banks including the world’s largest wealth manager UBS have felt the effects of U.S.-China trade tensions and global uncertainties, as clients last year shied away from trading and taking on debt favor of hoarding more cash.

“Billionaire wealth dipped in 2018 for the first time since 2008 because of geopolitics,” UBS’s head of ultra- net clients, Josef Stadler, said in the report published on Friday.

The net of China’s richest dropped 12.8 per cent in dollar terms on the back of tumbling stock markets and a weaker local currency and as growth in the world’s second-largest economy slowed to its lowest level in nearly three decades in 2018, the report found, knocking dozens off the billionaires list.

In spite of the drop, China continues to produce a new billionaire every 2-2.5 days, Stadler said.

Worldwide, the of billionaires fell everywhere except in the Americas, where tech entrepreneurs continued to buoy the ranks of the United States’ wealthiest.

“This report shows the resilience of the U.S. economy,” where were 749 billionaires the of 2018, said John Matthews, head of private wealth management and ultra- net business for UBS in the United States.

While a stock market recovery from a steep drop in late 2018 has helped wealth managers increase their assets, the world’s richest families remain concerned about global affairs from trade tensions and to populism and climate change and are continuing to keep more of their money in cash.

“It likely that billionaire wealth will go up again this year,” said Simon Smiles, UBS’s chief investment officer for ultra-wealthy clients, adding it would likely be a more muted increase than the wider financial market rally might suggest. (Reuters/NAN)

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