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One billionaire created every two days in Asia, study says

  • The research said an annual increase of 17 percent among the super-rich was supported by a surge among Asia's emerging billionaire class
  • UBS also reported that while the U.S. still possessed the largest concentration of billionaire wealth, if the current trend continued, Asian billionaires would likely overtake their U.S. counterparts in four years

Total billionaire wealth soared to $6 trillion in 2016, with one billionaire created every two days in Asia, UBS reported in a study published Thursday.

The research said an annual increase of 17 percent among the super-rich was supported by a surge among Asia's emerging billionaire class as well as an uptick in growth in the materials, industrials, financial and technology sectors.

"Indirectly, you could argue and say governments, regulators and central bankers may have contributed to the wealth creation," Josef Stadler, global head of ultra-high net worth at UBS, told CNBC on Thursday.

The Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark rate four times since December 2015, although the current range of 1 percent to 1.25 percent remains historically low. And while other central banks are joining the Fed in gradually normalizing policy, several lenders have become frustrated with the somewhat glacial approach to monetary tightening from major central banks worldwide.

UBS also reported that while the U.S. still possessed the largest concentration of billionaire wealth, if the current trend continued, Asian billionaires would likely overtake their U.S. counterparts in four years.

'Bridge between capitalism and altruism emerging'

When asked whether an explosion in billionaire wealth had caused the super-rich to become increasingly disconnected from the rest of society, Stadler replied, "I think it is quite the opposite if you look at the facts… And we were surprised by those facts."

"We see a bridge between capitalism and altruism emerging. If you look at the facts, the facts are 1,500 billionaires employ directly or indirectly more than 28 million people — that is the entire workforce of the U.K.," he explained.

UBS' Stadler went on to say billionaires were becoming increasingly prominent among the tech community, and this came hand-in-hand with disruption.

"If you look at the balance of the value added by disruption versus the jobs destroyed by disruption, it is a positive balance. Studies tell us that 98 percent of the value added of tech innovation goes back to society and only 2 percent is left with the innovators… then you could argue and say billionaires are not only smart risk takers, they also contribute heavily back to the communities," he concluded.

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