WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The world's wealthiest riches fell slightly last year as geopolitical tensions and stock market volatility reduced their wealth for the first time since 2015, a report by UBS Financial Services showed.
According to the billionaires report, prepared by the foundation in collaboration with the professional services group BWC, the wealth of the world's billionaires fell by $ 388 billion to $ 8.539 trillion. There has been a sharp decline in wealth in Greater China, the second largest billionaire center after the United States, and the wider Asia-Pacific region.
Private banks, including UBS, the world's largest wealth manager, have felt the effects of trade tensions between the United States and China and global political volatility. Last year, customers distanced themselves from trading and debt instruments and preferred to save more liquidity.
The net wealth of China's richest people fell 12.8 percent in US dollars on the back of stock market turmoil, a weakening domestic currency and a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy to its lowest level in nearly three decades in 2018, removing dozens of billionaires, the report found.
Despite the drop, China still shows a new billionaire every two or two and a half days, Joseph Stadler, head of the net wealth unit at UBS, said in a report released on Friday.
Globally, the number of billionaires has declined in all regions except the Americas, where technology poles remain among the richest in the United States.
Although the recovery of stock markets from the sharp decline at the end of 2018 has helped wealth managers increase their assets, the world's wealthiest households remain concerned about international problems including trade tensions, Britain's secession from the EU and climate change, prompting them to retain more liquidity.
"Billionaires' fortunes are likely to rebound this year again," said Simon Smiles, director of UBS's highly wealthy client investments, adding that the increase would be more modest than the strength of the broader financial market might suggest.
The wealth of the world's billionaires is falling for the first time since 2015
According to a report by UBS Financial Services, the wealth of the world's richest people has fallen slightly last year as geopolitical tensions and stock market volatility reduced their wealth for the first time since 2015.