Zurich (AFP) – China produced two new billionaires a week last year as the fortunes of the world’s ultra-rich soared by a record amount, Swiss banking giant UBS and auditors PwC said Friday.
Billionaires’ wealth enjoyed its greatest-ever increase in 2017, rising 19 percent to $8.9 trillion ($7.8 billion euros) shared among 2,158 individuals, said the report.
But Chinese billionaires expanded their wealth at nearly double that pace, growing by 39 percent to $1.12 trillion.
“Over the last decade, Chinese billionaires have created some of the world’s largest and most successful companies, raised living standards,” said Josef Stadler, head of Ultra High Net Worth at UBS Global Wealth Management.
“But this is just the beginning. China’s vast population, technology innovation and productivity growth combined with government support, are providing unprecedented opportunities for individuals not only to build businesses but also to change people’s lives for the better.”
The report said China minted two new billionaires a week in 2017, while Asia as whole produced more than three billionaires a week.
In the Americas region, the wealth of billionaires increased at a slower rate of 12 percent, to $3.6 trillion, with the United States creating 53 new billionaires in 2017 compared to 87 five years ago.
Currency appreciation saw European billionaires’ wealth grow by 19 percent although the number of billionaires rose by just 4.0 percent to 414.
The study also warned of lower economic growth in the United States and China if the trade war between the two countries escalates.
But for China’s young billionaires “the country’s fundamentals of a huge population and rising technology will continue to offer fertile conditions for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses,” it said.