World financial markets have been topsy-turvy recently. In countries where billionaires have made the bulk of their fortunes in the past decade or two, the impact is more extreme, with China as a prime example. The 60 percent plunge in the Chinese stock market has cut the number of Chinese billionaires from 66 in 2007 to just 24 this year. The final number could have been even lower were it not for the strength of the yuan against the dollar. The wild drop wiped hundreds of millions of dollars off the biggest fortunes. The top 40 richest lost a huge proportion of their wealth, 57 percent, according to Forbes magazine.The biggest loser is Yang Huiyuan, a property heiress who topped the Forbes list least year. She lost $14 billion, leaving her with a meager $2.2 billion and a third place rating on the rich list. The head of China’s largest packaging maker, Yan Cheung, was previously one of 10 self-made female billionaries worldwide. Her fortune is now only $265 million. Another billionaire, Larry Yung, stunningly lost more than $500m in a single day. One success story during the country’s difficult economic period is Zhou Chengjian, who climbed 351 places on the list to fifth place after his fashion firm worth became $2 billion.
Those who lost their money are hopeful that the tide will turn and they will move back up through the ranks of the richest soon. Considering that two years ago there were only 15 Chinese billionaires, these aspirations are not unrealistic and the easy-come easy-go attitude might serve the Chinese wealthy well.