Even as workers in the US and other countries have seen their incomes plummet, the combined net worth of the world’s billionaires has doubled since 2009, according to a report published Tuesday by UBS and Wealth-X, a consultancy that tracks super-rich individuals.
The collective wealth of the world’s billionaires hit $6.5 trillion, a figure that is nearly as large as the gross domestic product of China, the world’s second-largest economy. The number of billionaires has grown to 2,170 in 2013, up from 1,360 in 2009, according to the report.
The vast enrichment of this social layer has been driven by surging stock markets, fueled by the “easy money” and money-printing operations of the US Federal Reserve and other central banks. This process is intensifying. Last week the European Central Bank, responding to a deterioration of economic conditions in Europe, cut its benchmark interest rate in half, from 0.5 to 0.25 percent, sending a new wave of cash into financial markets.