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Movin’ on up…

11 April 2007

I had a draft post of the Counterpunch article below, but never got around to posting it. Just as well, there’s an update from AFP that needs to be added:

A Mexican telecoms tycoon has become the second richest man in the world, pushing US investment guru Warren Buffett into third place and breathing down the neck of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Carlos Slim Helu quietly slipped past Buffett at the end of last month thanks to his rising stock, and was valued at the close of trade Wednesday at 53.1 billion dollars, 700 million dollars more than Buffett, reported Wednesday.

Now only Gates, valued as the richest man in the world for the last 13 years, is ahead of Slim.

He did it the old fashioned way, according to James Petrus in “Meet the Global Ruling Class” (Counterpunch 21-March-2007) — with a few minor updates:

The principal cause of poverty in Latin American is the very conditions that facilitate the growth of billionaires. In the case of Mexico, the privatization of the telecommunication sector at rock bottom prices, resulted in the quadrupling of wealth for Carlos Slim Helu, the third second richest man in the world (just behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffet) with a net worth of $49 53.1 billion . Two fellow Mexican billionaires, Alfredo Harp Helu and Roberto Hernandez Ramirez benefited from the privatization of banks and their subsequent de-nationalization, selling Banamex to Citicorp.

Privatization, financial de-regulation and de-nationalization were the key operating principles of US foreign economic policies implemented in Latin America by the IMF and the World Bank. These principles dictated the fundamental conditions shaping any loans or debt re-negotiations in Latin America.The billionaires-in-the-making, came from old and new money. Some began to raise their fortunes by securing government contracts during the earlier state-led development model (1930’s to 1970’s) and others through inherited wealth. Half of Mexican billionaires inherited their original multi-million dollar fortunes on their way up to the top. The other half benefited from political ties and the subsequent big payola from buying public enterprises cheap and then selling them off to US multi-nationals at great profit. The great bulk of the 12 million Mexican immigrants who crossed the border into the US have fled from the onerous conditions, which allowed Mexico’s traditional and nouveaux riche millionaires to join the global billionaires’ club.

Buffett, of course, has given a lot of his fortune away. And his money comes mostly from buying and selling companies, not creating new stuff, or selling stuff.  Slim — outside of TelMex — has poured money into roads, real estate, computer businesses (including the U.S. brand name “CompUSA”) and prefers to keep his loot, arguing that “Poverty isn’t solved with donations,” and — besides — “Building businesses does more for society than going around playing Santa Claus.”

I’ve met Santa Claus. I’ve met Carlos Slim. Slim is fat and bearded, but he ain’t no Santa Claus. Unless Santa’s elves are all about 2 meters tall and carrying machine guns.

Oh well… he has made some sizable charitable donations to Mexico, and INVESTED in social change (infrastructure and urban revitalization in Mexico City, especially).  And, his business activities probably do bring more money into Mexico than they send abroad.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 12 April 2007 12:18 pm

    Take one look at your TelMex bill. Afterwards, none of this news about Carlos Slim will come as a shock.

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