Move Over America: China's Billionaires Are Taking Over

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UBS reports revealed billionaires actually made more money in 2017 than any other year recorded in history.

There were only 16 Chinese billionaires as recently as 2016, the report said, but now almost one in five billionaires worldwide was Chinese.

According to the report, there were just 16 billionaires in China 12 years ago - that number has since grown more than 2,200 percent to 373, with the country now accounting for nearly 20 percent of the world's billionaires.

'But this is just the beginning.

Meanwhile, China's ultra-rich are rapidly growing, with two new billionaires created every week.

While there were 53 new billionaires in the U.S.in 2017, China's ranks of the megawealthy grew at double that rate-or just over two a week. In fact, the number of billionaires in the region only grew by 4 percent.

Wealth transition from just five families accounted for 30 percent of the continent´s wealth expansion, the study said.

However, the report also estimated that if the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China escalates to an all-out trade war, both countries could see significantly lower economic growth before policy responses.

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'US and Asia ex-Japan equities could fall by 20 per cent from their mid-summer 2018 levels'. Today, three decades after the government first allowed the emergence of private enterprise, there are 373 billionaires, one in five from a global perspective.

Breaking it down by source for the newest entrants, 40% are from the consumer and retail sector, followed by 17% from financial services and 11% in the technology sector.

The report said billionaires have a "transformative" effect on the world, having driven 80 per cent of the 40 main breakthrough innovations in the last 40 years. In 2017, they equalled the US' level of venture capital funding for start-ups, and registered four times as many artificial intelligence-related patents, and three times as many blockchain- and crypto-related patents as their USA counterparts.

"Over little more than 10 years, they have created some of the world's largest companies, raised living standards and made fortunes at an unprecedented pace".

At the current rate, UBS and PwC expect Asia-Pacific billionaires to be wealthier than their USA peers in under three years. That was more than the total wealth of the 3.5 billion people in the planet's bottom half.

This year, however, the timing of its release and its focus on Asia generally and China specifically comes at an awkward time for the Swiss bank: A UBS wealth management banker who works in Singapore was stopped by Chinese authorities from leaving the country, Reuters reported.

He noted that the number of female billionaires was increasing overall, but highlighted a key cultural distinction between China and the West.

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