Asia-Pacific sheds the most billionaires in 2018: census

A bevy of factors, led by the impact of the trade war on Chinese wealth, bode negatively on the region’s billionaire populace

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The global billionaire population and its wealth declined in 2018, led by Asia-Pacific, according to the Billionaire Census 2019 by intelligence provider Wealth-X.

The billionaire populace in Asia-Pacific fell by 13 percent in 2018, following dynamic growth a year earlier.

The region also recorded the largest decline in billionaire wealth, sliding nine percent annually due to a weak equity market performance on the back of slowing growth, tariff disputes and emerging-market volatility.

There are now an estimated 2,604 billionaires worldwide, down 5.4 percent in the year to 2018. This is only the second time the billionaire populace posted an annual drop since the financial crash a decade ago.

Billionaire wealth stands at USD8.6 trillion globally, an annual decline of seven percent.

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All major Asia-Pacific billionaire countries declined in population and total wealth, with substantial falls in China, Hong Kong, India and Singapore.

There are now 677 billionaires in Asia, with their combined net worth declining by 8.5 percent. Asia accounts for 26 percent share of global billionaire wealth.

“China’s tariff conflict with the US was a major factor, weighing on demand, sentiment and returns across Asia, which were compounded by a cyclical slowdown in growth, capital outflows, a lending clampdown in China’s banking sector and currency weakness against the US dollar,” Wealth-X explained.

“This deteriorating economic environment more than offset support for wealth creation from ongoing policy reforms and higher infrastructure spending, underlining the importance of asset and currency markets to the development of billionaire wealth.”

China’s billionaire populace dropped 16 percent to 285, placing second worldwide behind the United States with 705. It has more billionaires than Hong Kong and Singapore combined, however, which have 87 and 39 billionaires, respectively. Home to 82 billionaires, India is ranked eighth worldwide.