The unexpected has happened: Billionaires on average became poorer last year, a study by PwC and UBS revealed. Does that herald the end of two decades of unabated fortune creation, or is it just a lull?
The world's billionaires saw their collective wealth shrink in 2015, a fresh survey by consultancy PwC and wealth manager UBS pointed out Thursday.
The study found that transfers of assets within families, plummeting commodity prices and a stronger greenback were some of the root causes for the total wealth of billionaires to drop by $300 billion (272 billion euros) to $5.1 trillion last year.
According to the survey, there were 1,397 billionaires in 2015, marking a net gain of 50 over the previous year, with China cranking out a new one nearly every three days.
But the average billionaire was worth only $3.7 billion, the study said which looked into 14 big markets.
The US only added a net five billionaires last year, with 41 joining and 36 dropping out of the ranks of the ultra-rich.
The study noted that two decades of unparalleled wealth generation were about to make way for the largest wealth transfer in history.
It estimated that fewer than 500 people would hand over $2.1 trillion to their heirs in the next 20 years - that's the size of India's economy.
hg/jd (Reuters, PwC)