According to the “Riding the storm - Billionaires Insights 2020” report issued by UBS and PwC, as of July 2020, the sum of billionaires’ wealth reached USD 10,200 billion. This is a new high after the V-shaped rebound in asset prices this year. This figure increased sharply compared to USD 8,000 billion at the beginning of April and exceeded the previous peak of USD 8,900 billion in 2019.
The number of super-rich people, whose total net worth of USD 1 billion and more, also rose from 2,158 in 2017 to 2,189 as of July 2020. According to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, the richest person in the world is still Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos with a net worth of USD 202 billion, followed by Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg with USD 127 billion, USD 108 billion, and USD 104 billion, respectively (as of October 14th, 2020).
The United States is the country with the highest billionaire wealth of USD 3,600 billion. Mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) is ranked second with USD 1,600 billion in billionaire wealth. However, the total wealth of Chinese billionaires saw the highest increase in the world over the past decade, with a growth rate of 1,146%.
The wealth of billionaires in the industrial, technology, and healthcare sectors saw a record increase. During 2018, 2019, and the first seven months this year, the total wealth of technology billionaires increased by 42.5% to USD 1,800 billion, thanks to the rise in tech shares. The total wealth of healthcare billionaires saw an increase of 50.3% and reached USD 658.6 billion. This can be explained by innovations in medical technology and diagnostics, new drug discovery, and recently, Covid-19 treatments and equipment.
Meanwhile, the wealth of billionaires in real estate, materials, entertainment, and financial services sectors were lagged behind, increased by only 10% or less.
The months from April to July is the peak period when countries around the world imposed a blockade to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Millions of people have been unemployed and lived on government subsidies.
“Technology companies performed well during the pandemic because of the increased demand for these goods and services, and benefits from a low-interest-rate environment”, the report explains. Securities went up leading to the increased billionaire wealth.
Approximately 50% of the world's billionaires, regardless of the business sector, invest 21 - 40% of their wealth in real estate. According to the PwC and UBS report, 209 of 2,189 billionaires globally announced to donate USD 7.2 billion to support the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and relieve the economic and social impacts of this pandemic.
With 831 billionaires, accounting for 38% of the world's billionaires, Asia continues to be the continental with the largest number of billionaires. In the past four months, the total wealth of Asian billionaires increased by 36% to USD 3,300 billion. As of July 2020, 17% of Asia's billionaires were in the retail and consumer goods sectors, 16% in technology, and 14% in the materials sector.
Asia's billionaires have dealt with macroeconomic instability better than global ones. From the end of 2019 to the beginning of April 2020, when the sell-off wave on the stock market occurred, the wealth of Asian billionaires decreased by only 2.1%. Meanwhile, during the same period, the decline in the wealth of billionaires in America and Europe - Middle East - Africa (EMEA) was 7.4% and 10.1%, respectively.
Asian billionaires in creative sectors also experienced a 23% increase in wealth from 2018 to July 2020. In contrast, the wealth growth of billionaires in traditional businesses only reached 13%.
In Singapore, billionaires mainly come from traditional businesses such as banking, real estate, accommodation services, food and beverage, and tourism. However, more and more billionaires here are emerging in new sectors, including technology and medical care, according to Anurag Mahesh, Head of Global Family Office Group, Asia Pacific at UBS. He also said that traditional billionaires in Singapore are putting effort to digitalize their businesses.