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The number of billionaires in the world ballooned in 2018, even as their collective fortunes dipped for the first time in three years, according to a new study.
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There are now 2,101 billionaires globally, according to UBS' 2019 Billionaire Insights report. That means 589 individuals have become billionaires since 2013, increasing the population by 38.9 percent over five years. In the U.S. alone, the number of billionaires rose by 33, or 3.8 percent, to a total of 749.
During that same period, billionaire wealth swelled by more than 33 percent, reaching a staggering total of $8.5 trillion, $2.2 trillion higher than it was in 2013, despite taking a slight hit in 2018. Billionaires’ wealth dropped by 4.3 percent, or $388 billion, last year as a result of the strong U.S. dollar, the U.S.-China trade dispute, economic jitters and stock-market volatility, the Swiss bank said.
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Asia was hit the hardest, with the continent’s wealthiest people experiencing an 8 percent drop in their fortune, largely because of high interest rates in the U.S. and slowing Chinese growth. In the U.S., billionaires’ wealth still nudged up by 0.1 percent, or $4.4 billion, to $3.6 trillion.
Notably, women made big strides, according to the report, which found that women became billionaires at a faster pace than men over the five years to the end of 2018. In that period, the number of ultra-rich women increased by 46 percent, from 160 to 233. Comparatively, the number of billionaires who were men ticked up by 39 percent.
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The report comes amid increased anti-Wall Street and anti-billionaire rhetoric from Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — who’ve both called for a tax to be imposed on the wealthiest Americans — and pushback from the wealthy.
“Billionaires should not exist,” Sen. Sanders, I-Vt., tweeted in mid-September.
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