Global billionaire club gets bigger and richer

Global billionaire club gets bigger and richer”

There are now 637 USA dollar billionaires in Asia, compared to 563 in the US.

Billionaires across the world piled on more riches with the ultra-wealthy in Asia now outnumbering the traditional leaders, the USA, according to research published today.

In fact, a new billionaire was created "every other day" in Asia, the report said, as the region continues to expand economically amid surging real estate prices and fluctuations in the USA dollar. Overall wealth grew modestly by 5% to just over $1.3 trillion, with 24 new billionaires and 21 dropping off the list, a third of them due to death.

Asian billionaires compared to 563 of the super-rich in the United States, though the total wealth of American billionaires is still higher at $2.8 trillion compared to $2.0 trillion in Asia, said a report published on Thursday by UBS and PwC that tracks 1,542 billionaires globally. The biggest economic contributors included a commodity price rally and industrial upgrade investments that paid off.

"Virtually all Chinese wealth has been self-made in the past two decades", said James Chang, partner with PwC China. China added a net new 67 billionaires a year ago compared with 25 net new billionaires in the U.S.

But Asian billionaires still lag behind the wealthiest individuals in the USA, who were worth a combined US$2.8 trillion previous year. There were 342 billionaires in Europe by the end of the year, but growth remained static.

On the other hand, Chang said, a Chinese billionaire's wealth can fluctuate as government policies can change quickly and the nation is awash with aggressive entrepreneurs.

In China, where the rich list is growing at the fastest pace, the average age of billionaires was 55 - younger than the average of 67 in the USA, and 66 in Europe.

But the gains far exceeded setbacks for fortune-makers in China past year.

UBS China's Andy Ho, who serves as the firm's acting president, sees strong potential for future wealth accumulation in China.

Billionaire wealth grew at double the rate of the MSCI World Index, one of the broadest measures of global company performance, suggesting that the ultra-rich are amassing wealth at a faster rate than the less well off.

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