How big is the crazy rich Asian wealth gap?

September 12, 2018


Pablo
Robles

Adolfo
Arranz
Hollywood recently propelled Asia’s super-wealthy into the spotlight with a certain movie striking box office gold. But the region’s riches go beyond the big screen - Asia this year surpassed North America as home to the most billionaires. The snowballing wealth has also focused attention on inequality, with the worldwide gap between the haves and have-nots bigger than ever. Last year the richest 1 per cent of the population accounted for 82 per cent of global wealth generated.

The gap between the super-rich and the rest of the world continues to grow. Data from Credit Suisse indicates that, in 2017, the world’s wealthiest 42 people owned the equivalent net wealth of 3.7 billion people. The number of people each with a net worth equivalent to the bottom 50 per cent of the world’s 7.6 billion population grew from eight to 61.

The global billionaire population rebounded strongly in 2017, rising by almost 15 per cent to an all-time high of 2,754 individuals. The fastest rate of growth was among ultra-high-net-worth individuals, people worth US$30 million or more, according to a report by research firm Wealth-X.

GLOBAL BILLIONAIRE WEALTH
Currently, most of the world’s wealth is concentrated in three regions. North America accounts for about US$3,272 billion and has grown by 22.8 per cent since 2016, while Asia’s US$2,365 billion share increased by 49.4 per cent, and Europe expanded 4.9 per cent to US$2,441 billion.

THE THREE-COMMA CLUB
Top 10 billionaires in the world

NOTE: POSITION BY FORBES 2018 RANKING NOT REAL TIME

THE 10 CITIES WITH THE MOST BILLIONAIRES

TINY GIANT
Asia has surpassed North America in terms of the number of billionaires for the first time in modern history, driven in part by Hong Kong’s new super-rich. Hong Kong has long been one of the world’s most expensive cities, and its richest residents continue to get richer. The city’s billionaire population increased by almost a third thanks to a strong domestic economic performance as one of the world’s largest financial centres.

In 2017, Hong Kong created 21 new billionaires, bringing its total count to 93 — just 10 fewer than New York, according to Wealth-X's latest Billionaire Census. Almost all the richest people in Hong Kong owe their fortunes to real estate.

RICHEST PEOPLE IN ASIA
Led by China, Hong Kong and India, the total number of billionaires in Asia rose to 784, overtaking North America for the first time, which has 727.

JET OWNERSHIP BY REGION
North America has by far the most private jet owners, who in 2017 took more than two million flights.

HOME SWEET HOME
The proportion of the super-rich planning to buy a first or second home in 2018

GLOBAL SUPER-YACHT FLEET
There are 4,795 so-called super-yachts registered around the world. Here are the top five countries where the super-rich own boats longer than 40 metres:

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WHAT RICH PEOPLE WEAR
Dress them up and see how much it costs

Money spent
$129 USD

La Perla Bra $82
La Perla Lace Thong $47

La Perla Bra $82
La Perla Lace Thong $47

Taro Ishida Pumps $4,715

Jeans GUCCI Embroidered distressed high-rise straight-leg jeans $1,300

Bulgari Serpenti Necklace $688,000

VALENTINO The Rockstud embellished cotton-jersey T-shirt $880

ALAÏA Laser-cut leather mini skirt $5,400

DELVAUX Alligator bag $33,200

GUCCI Embroidered cotton-velvet baseball cap $1,010

Loro Piana jacket in baby cashmere and mink $34,285

TEMPLA Hooded tech-jersey and quilted leather down jacket$2,7025

Elie Saab embellished gown $11,727

Total money spent $784,378

Money spent
$80 USD

CDLP Three-Pack Stretch-Lyocell
Boxer Briefs $80

CDLP Three-Pack Stretch-Lyocell Boxer Briefs $80

BERLUTI Leather Oxford Shoes $2,675

Brunello Cucinelli sweatpants about $1,030

ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA White Cutaway-Collar Cotton And Silk-Blend Shirt $660

Cartier cuff-links $4,400

ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA Slim-Fit Perforated Suede Overshirt $5,620

Patek Philippe 5204/1R-001, Split-Seconds, Perpetual Calendar, Black Dial, Rose Gold Bracelet $300,000

Z ZEGNA TECHMERINO Wool and Linen-Blend T-Shirt $740

GUCCI Ace Watersnake-Trimmed Appliquéd Leather Sneakers$812

PRADA- Burnished-Suede Jacket $4,390

Total money spent $320,407



INEQUALITY IN ASIA
Most of the world has become more unequal in recent years, with the trend set to continue. Oxfam has calculated that the US$762 billion in the pockets of the world’s billionaires would be enough to end extreme poverty seven times over.

Seventy-nine per cent of the wealth in China, 73 per cent in India and 96 per cent in Thailand is owned by the richest 1 per cent in each country. The Gini coefficient – statistician Corrado Gini’s index of how evenly income is distributed on a scale from zero to one, where zero means equality – shows an inequality increase in the Asia-Pacific region from 0.37 to 0.48 between 1990 and 2014.

In Hong Kong, the Gini coefficient for household income rose to 0.539 in 2016, partly due to demographic changes such as an ageing population and a decrease in household sizes. According to a report by the city’s Census and Statistics Department, in 2016 the wealthiest 10 per cent of households earned nearly 44 times more than the poorest 10 per cent, which earned an average of HK$2,560 (US$328) per month.

This wealth gap is particularly high for a developed economy and is seen by some as a key contributing factor to the city’s political polarisation. The growth in the number of super-rich people was largely a result of rising stock and property markets last year.

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