golden steps leading up, made of stacks of dollar coins in increasing height
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Ending five years of growth, the collective wealth of global billionaires declined in 2018, says a new report from UBS AG and PwC.

Combined billionaire wealth dropped by 4.3% last year, or $388 billion, to $8.5 trillion (all figures are in U.S. dollars).

The number of billionaires globally declined by 2.6%, “with especially sharp falls in wealth in China and India,” the report said.

The decline in combined wealth followed five years of consecutive growth, which saw billionaire wealth rise by 34.5%, or $2.2 trillion. Over the same period, the billionaire population increased by 589 to reach 2,101.

According to the report, the decline in billionaire wealth in 2018 came as equity markets “suffered their worst correction since the 2008 financial crisis” amid “a strong U.S. dollar, trade friction, fears of lower economic growth and financial market volatility.”

“The billionaire boom of the past five years has now undergone a natural correction,” said Josef Stadler, head of ultra-high net worth at UBS Global Wealth Management. “The stronger dollar, combined with greater uncertainty in equity markets amidst a tough geopolitical environment, has created the conditions for this dip.”

The report also noted that the population of female billionaires has grown by 46% over the past five years, outpacing the growth in male billionaires, albeit from a much lower starting point.

Since 2013, the number of female billionaires has risen from 160 to 233. Their assets have grown by 26% in that period, to $871.2 billion, driven mainly by progress in Asia.