China is churning out a new billionaire every 5 days

China luxury carBy erinohara73 on flickrShe may or may not be a billionaire.
  • A new report by UBS and PwC found the total wealth of the world’s billionaires grew by 17% in 2016 to $US6 trillion.
  • The reports says that growth is being driven by Asia, with three quarters of all new billionaires coming from India and China.
  • China had the highest number of new billionaires, adding one every 5 days.

The US might be the wealthiest country in the world, but it’s not churning out the most billionaires.

That title goes to China, which added 67 new billionaires in 2016, or one about every five days, according to a report on billionaires by UBS and PwC released Thursday.

“According to the Asian billionaires we interviewed for this report, a combination of geopolitical stability in Greater China, rising Chinese real estate prices, infrastructure spending, the growing middle class and buoyant commodity prices all joined together to boost wealth,” the report said.

For the first time ever, Asia had more billionaires (637) than the US (538), the report found. Still, the US maintained a higher concentration of billionaire wealth, but Asia top that measure in the next three to four years.

The major driver of wealth in Asia, according to the report, was technology. John Matthews, the report’s coauthor, told Business Insider that Asian countries are better at deploying and integrating new technology, which for the most part is first conceived of by companies in the US.

“Asia is the land of implementation and integration,” Matthews said. For instance, the US gave birth to new finance apps like Venmo and PayPal, but it’s in Asian countries where such apps have scaled the most.

“People don’t use cash or credit cards in China, they use apps,” Matthews said.

Still, billionaire wealth in Asia, Matthews noted, is very volatile because it is so closely linked to the public markets.

“So they can be a billionaire one day, but not the next,” he said. “Only 40% of billionaires [in the US] have their wealth tied to public markets, compared to 70% in Asia.”

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