UBS and PwC’s recent report on billionaire wealth highlights some interesting trends about the global economy and global wealth.
- Billionaire wealth in mainland China is now second to only the United States, having grown by about 1146% from 2009 to 2020, compared to 170% in the US. As of the middle of this year, it was sitting at about USD 1.7 trillion in China, compared to USD 3.6 trillion in the US.
- Hong Kong remains a force with only 1,105 square kilometers of land (not all of which is developable). Billionaire wealth grew by about 208% to USD 356 billion over the same time period as above. That puts it ahead of the United Kingdom, Canada, and Brazil in total dollars.
- About half of all billionaires seem to have a significant amount of their wealth invested in real estate. Somewhere between 21-40% of their net worth.
- At the same time, the report identifies the real estate industry as having the fewest number of “innovators & disruptors.” Only 17% of billionaires (whose wealth is primarily derived from real estate) are classified in this way. The report calls out the sector as being “especially slow to embrace technology to boost efficiency.”
- Perhaps the most interesting takeaway is that, even within the rarified billionaire community, tech is driving polarization. For most of the last decade, the sector didn’t matter all that much. The rich were getting richer. Now it’s more so the tech rich. And COVID-19 seems to be accelerating this trend.
This is not to say that I think people are particularly worried about billionaires who maybe aren’t getting as rich as they used to. That’s like complaining about being too good looking. But it is clear that tech is driving a bunch of macro shifts in the global economy and this is just another example of that playing out.
Image: UBS and PwC