Forbes Magazine published its annual rich list last week. According to Forbes, the number of billionaires has risen from 1,210 in 2011 to 1,226 this year – an increase of one per cent.
In the past, we have noted a striking correlation between the global population of billionaires and fine wine prices as demand for blue-chip wines is closely linked to wealth creation. This year, however, the correlation has weakened. Fine wine prices fell rapidly in 2011, while the number of billionaires held steady. This can be seen from the chart below, which tracks Forbes data against the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 Index. (We have converted the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 Index to dollars to remove the effects of currency movements.)
If we dig a little deeper, a new picture emerges. The number of Chinese billionaires on the Forbes list has declined 17 per cent in the last 12 months from 115 to 95. This almost matches the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100's year-on-year fall of 19 per cent. As you can see, fine wine remains closely correlated to wealth creation in its most important market: China.