The World’s Billionaires Became 20% Richer in 2017

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More than three new billionaires were minted weekly in Asia previous year, and China led the way by creating two new billionaires a week, the report found.

Collectively, their wealth increased by $1.4bn past year to $8.9bn - the largest absolute increase in billionaire wealth in history.

Unsurprisingly, the wealth of Chinese billionaires helped drive the growth, with their net worth up 39% to US$1.12 trillion, according to the UBS/PwC Billionaires Report 2018.

"People have become very wealthy with this [impact of innovation]", John Mathews, head of ultra-high net worth Americas at UBS Global Wealth Management, said.

"But this is just the beginning".

During a year in which so much of the world faced deep poverty, the corrosive effects of austerity, and extreme weather caused by the worsening human-caused climate crisis-from devastating hurricanes to deadly wildfires and floods-one class of individuals raked in more money in 2017 than any other year in recorded history: the world's billionaires.

In 2006, there were just 16 Chinese billionaires. "Today, as the "Chinese Century" progresses, they number 373, almost one in five of the global total".

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.

'They are developing new business models, seizing opportunities, moving rapidly between business sectors'. Asia, as a whole, created three new billionaires per week. "Women tend to foster family values and want to invest more into the sustainability area, whereas males are more value creators and leave it then to their females or to their officers and family officers or foundation officers to basically give back to society".

The United States created 53 new billionaires in 2017, down from 87 five years ago.

The U.S. and China are likely to see slower economic growth in the coming period as Donald Trump's trade war bites.

Equities in the United States and Asian countries excluding Japan may fall by more than 20 percent from their levels in mid-summer of 2018, the report warned.

The rise in collective wealth was powered by growth in China.

North and Latin America lagged the world's growth rates, with an increase in assets of 12 percent - reaching a total of $3.6 trillion.

The 30 richest septuagenarians or older have a combined net worth of more than Dollars 1 trillion. "There are 701 billionaires over the age of 70, whose wealth will transition to heirs and philanthropy over the next 20 years, given the statistical probability of average life expectancy".

Currency appreciation saw European billionaires' wealth grow by 19 percent although the number of billionaires rose by just 4% to 414.