China produced the most billionaires last year (55) and along with India it had three-quarters of the world’s newly minted dollar billionaires, a report released Friday by Switzerland’s UBS bank and international services network PwC showed.
The United States, which followed China, produced 53 billionaires in 2017, said the report.
Globally there are 2,158 billionaires worth a combined $8.9 trillion.
“In a landmark year, the number of Asian billionaires on our database exceeded US billionaires for the first time,” the report said.
“Powered by the rise of China’s entrepreneurs in an exceptional year, the number of Asian billionaires rose by almost a quarter to 637,” it said.
By comparison, the US is home to 563 billionaires and Europe to 342.
The US, however, retains the greatest amount of billionaire wealth as the wealthiest individuals live there.
The report noted that great wealth in Asia remains relatively volatile in a climate of rapid economic development and erratic stock markets that forge fortunes fast, but that can equally undo them.
“Some 45 people (34 of them from China) dropped below the billionaire wealth band,” said the report.
Many of Asia’s young fortunes are just above the billion-dollar mark, making them vulnerable to reversals of fortune, whether in the form of falling stock prices, political changes or personal difficulty, the report noted.
According to the report, the assets of the 36 Swiss billionaires increased by 19 percent last year to $123.5 billion, driven by bullish financial markets.
While UBS does not mention names due to banking secrecy, the Swiss billionaires are mainly active in the fields of health, financial services and retail trade.