We've all heard about Uncle Sam but now it's time to learn about Uncle Slim. In a world of rising inequalities between rich and poor, Mexico is one of the most unjust countries—a place where a small political and economic elite controls much of the power while more than half the population lives in poverty. The main protagonist in this club of power brokers is Carlos Slim Helú who, according to Forbes Magazine’s annual rankings, is the world’s wealthiest person.
Called a quiet investor by some and a robber baron by others, Slim more than doubled his net worth between 2008 and 2010 from $35 billion to $75 billion. While Slim’s financial girth was swelling, Mexico’s GDP shrank by 6.1% in 2009 alone. In the ten years to 2010, Slim’s wealth grew by an amazing 585% catapulting him to the top of the list of the world’s richest people. During the same decade, the average personal income in Mexico only grew by 0.6% a year, one of the lowest rates in the world. If he were a country, Slim’s wealth would place him 64th on the list of national GDPs between Libya and Sudan.
He has been able to amass an empire of at least 222 companies around the world employing an estimated 250,000 people with combined annual revenues topping $386 billion. The size of this empire is so extensive that Slim is hesitant to confirm the number people his companies employ. One puzzling factor is that this wealth has been accumulated by a man who retains relative anonymity outside the world of financial observers and the geographic areas of Mexico and Latin America. Unlike Bill Gates, Slim is not associated with a single product or corporation, so how has the world’s richest person been able to generate such astounding wealth and power without broader public scrutiny?