By Indraneel Pinnamshetty
The year 2017 has witnessed a tremendous financial ride for many of the investors and entrepreneurs across the globe. The leading end of the spectrum, comprising the richest of the lot, became a whopping $1 trillion richer in the current year. The gains recorded in 2017 is more than four times that of last year’s and opposed to the losses incurred in 2015.
Growth of billionaires in vogue
Innovation and entrepreneurship poster boy, Jeff Bezos, added the highest to his wealth among the billionaires of the world in the current year 2017. As per sources, the Amazon.com Inc. founder put on an additional $34.2 billion to his existing assets. The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, fared second to Jeff Bezos as he grew richer by $8.8 billion in the current year. Multiple donations in the pursuit of philanthropy by Bill Gates has knocked his spot out as the world’s richest person while paving the way for Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest person.
On similar lines, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has increased his wealth by $22.6 billion in 2017 while Google’s co-founder, Larry Page, has gained $12.9 billion in the current year alone.
In tandem with many other billionaires of the world, India’s Mukesh Ambani has had the most significant jump in net worth among Indian billionaires in 2017. Ambani has earned 20th spot in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a net worth increase of $17.7 billion.
New trends and shifts
For the first time in history, there are more billionaires in China than in the US. Powered by the growth of China’s entrepreneurs, the number of Asian billionaires rose by almost one-fourth to 637. This figure stands against the 563 billionaires in the US and 342 billionaires in Europe. However, the US still retains the highest amount of billionaire wealth.
The 38 Chinese billionaires on the Bloomberg index added $177 billion in 2017 which represents a 65 percent gain. This gain recorded in 2017 for the Chinese billionaires is the biggest among the 49 countries represented. According to a PwC report, if the current growth trend continues, the total wealth of Asia’s billionaires will overtake that of the US in four years. The Asian billionaires in the report opined that a combination of geopolitical stability in Greater China, rising Chinese real estate prices, infrastructure spending, the growing middle class and buoyant commodity prices have, in aggregation, led to the boost of wealth.
In another shifting pattern, the age of the billionaires of Asia averages around 59 years, while the billionaires of Europe and the US average 66 and 67 years respectively. Among all other billionaires, technology tycoons are the youngest with an average age of 47 when attaining the billionaire status.
Downfalls amidst growth
As the tide rises, not everyone’s boat will rise. The current year has once again reinforced this idea as it brought in losers along with gainers in the financial realm. French telecommunications billionaire Patrick Drahi’s wealth fell by a total of $4.1 billion, a 39 percent drop. Similarly, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the wealthiest person in Saudi Arabia, lost $1.9 billion. This downfall came in the backdrop of his detainment in a crackdown against corruption led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In all, the 58 of the 500 billionaires who saw their fortunes shrink in 2017 lost a combined $46 billion.
What lies ahead for the common man
The increase in billions of dollars for the ultra-rich comes at a time when billions of people are witnessing declining incomes or stagnating growth. The share of the top 1 percent has been on an upward path ever since the financial crisis ran its course. The millionaires and billionaires altogether account for 0.7 percent of the world’s adult population and control about 46 percent of the total global wealth.
The growing wealth of billionaires will further help in expanding their wealth and will not follow the trickle-down effect. This is inevitable unless the governments and lawmakers formulate policies such that the wealth growth of such billionaires are duly checked and at the same time conditions are made conducive to the growth of businesses.
Featured Image Source: Unsplash
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