As per a report by UBS and PwC, the world's richest people's wealth fell by $388 billion globally to $8.539 trillion. The fall was a result of geopolitical turmoil and volatile equity markets which reduced the wealth of billionaires for the first time in a decade. There was a particularly sharp decline in Greater China- the second-biggest home for billionaires after the United States- and the Asia-Pacific region. The effects of US-China trade tensions and global political uncertainties have led clients last year shy away from trading and taking on debt in favour of hoarding more cash.
UBS's head of ultra-high net worth clients, Josef Stadler, said that the billionaire wealth dipped in 2018 for the first time since 2008 because of geopolitics.
As per the report, the net worth of China's richest dropped 12.8% in dollar terms. This was a result of tumbling stock markets and a weaker local currency and as growth in the world's second-largest economy slowed to its lowest level in nearly three decades in 2018. A lot of Chinese billionaires are also off the list. Yet China continues to produce a new billionaire every 2-2.5 days. It was only the American tech entrepreneurs who continued to buoy the ranks of the United States' wealthiest.
John Matthews, head of private wealth management and ultra-high net worth business for UBS in the United States said that the report showed the resilience of the US economy. The report suggests that there are only 749 billionaires at the end of 2018. Though markets picked up, later on, the world's richest families still remain concerned about global affairs from trade tensions and Brexit to populism and climate change and are continuing to keep more of their money in cash. Simon Smiles, UBS's chief investment officer for ultra-wealthy clients concluded that it is very likely that billionaire wealth will grow and that it would likely be a more muted increase than the wider financial market rally might suggest.