Want the deets on the world's billionaires – their lifestyles, assets, connections, and motivations? Wealth X, an information and insight business, just published its 2015-2016 Billionaire Census, and let's just say it's "loaded" with insights into the world's rich and famous.
To access the full report with statistics, analysis, and regional focus, you have to be a client of Wealth X. But thankfully, there are some free highlights for us non-billionaires to peruse.
In 2015, there were 2,473 billionaires with a total wealth of a whopping $7.7 TRILLION! Of these billionaires, 2,179 were men and 294 were women. (C'mon ladies!) Approximately 56%, or 1,372, were self-made, which is reassuring to know. Apparently, you don't need Mommy and Daddy to invite you into this exclusive, three-comma club.
Billionaires are also keeping more cash in their pockets. Liquidity, or the portion held in cash or cash equivalents, is now at 22.2%. This means the world's ultra wealthy are holding $2.22 out of every $10 in cash — the highest level since 2010.
Why are the rich stuffing their wallets with dollar bills? One factor could be the increase in "liquidity events" in 2014 and 2015. As Wealth X explains in the report, "Global divestment M&A activity was at a new all-time high and in 2015 IPO proceeds registered a second consecutive year of the strongest performance seen since the end of the global recession."
In other words, billionaires are selling their assets, taking their companies public, and keeping the cash.
Another reason why the rich are keeping their fold-able friends close is fear. They could be concerned about world events (think Brexit, terrorism, and the U.S. election) and the effect these events have on the market. Billionaires aren't too fond of volatile markets, where their investments stand to take big hits.
"Billionaires are taking money off the table where available, while uncertainties in the economy and the historical highs found in deals have resulted in cash-flush portfolios," Wealth X explained in the report.