UBS reports huge wealth generated by China, warns against trade tensions

Other billionaires in Asia did well too.

The world's richest person is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who has an estimated net worth of Dollars 146 billion, more than any one person in history.

At the current rate, UBS and PwC expect Asia-Pacific billionaires to be wealthier than their USA peers in under three years. And Anbang's CEO has been sentenced to 18 years in prison, and forced to give up $1.65 billion, for embezzlement and insurance sales violations. "We're combining the digital world with the material world with the biogenetics world and everything's starting to come together", said John Mathews, Head of Ultra High Net Worth Americas at UBS Global Wealth Management.

According to the 2018 "Billionaire Insights" report by PwC and UBS, there were 2,158 billionaires in 2017 having an average wealth of $4.1 billion, with overall wealth increasing $1.4 trillion to $8.9 trillion. There are fewer billionaires in Britain but their accumulated wealth has soared to more than £200 billion. The growth rate in the whole of Apac was 32 percent.

In 2006, there were just 16 billionaires in China.

But Chinese billionaires expanded their wealth at almost double that pace, growing by 39 percent to $1.12 trillion.

China's ultra rich are mostly "self-made" entrepreneurs, with some 97% building their own fortunes rather than gaining it through inheritance, compared with 69% in the US, the report said.

If the existing US/China trade-war escalates, UBS foresees lower economic growth in both countries before policy responses.

'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'.

China's 400 wealthiest people have already lost a combined US$130 billion from their fortunes in the past year, according to Forbes' 2018 China Rich List, published on Thursday.

'But this is just the beginning.

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. "This cohort is overwhelmingly self-made and determined to capitalise on one of history's greatest moments for new enterprise".

"The past 30 years have seen far greater wealth creation than the Gilded Age", the report reads.

Billionaires from Asia, especially in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, are now challenging the traditional dominance of Americans as technology entrepreneurs.

In particular, China added 55 billionaires a year ago, increasing its total to 373, with combined wealth jumping 39 percent to 1.12 trillion dollars, primarily driven by robust e-commerce and promising technology businesses.

However, UBS and PwC also highlight "the risks of doing business in China", as well as the opportunities.

  • Wendy Palmer