Mar 072013

The 2013 Forbes list of the world’s billionaires shows that the world’s 1,426 billionaires (an all-time high) share a record net worth of $5.4 trillion. The four countries with most billionaires are the USA (442), China (122), Russia (110) and Germany (58).

Fifteen Mexican individuals or families make the 2013 list, also a record number. The fifteen super-rich Mexicans are:

World rank / Name / Estimated wealth according to Forbes / Main business interests

#1 Carlos Slim Helú and family, $73.0 billion, making him the richest man in the world. Fixed line telephone provider Telmex, cell phone provider América Móvil, Grupo Carso, Inbursa. [Slim Helú remains the world’s richest man for the fourth consecutive year]

#32 Alberto Bailleres González and family, $18.2 billion. Mining giant Peñoles, department store El Palacio de Hierro and Grupo Profuturo.

#40 Germán Larrea Mota Velasco and family, $16.7 billion. Grupo México –mining for copper and other minerals, railways.

#111 Ricardo Salinas Pliego and family, $9.9 billion. Television company Televisón Azteca, domestic appliance store Elektra, bank Banco Azteca, and cell phone company Iusacell.

#179 Eva Gonda Rivera and family, $6.6 billion, soft drinks (FEMSA)

#248 Maria Asunción Aramburuzabala and family, $5 billion, beer (Grupo Modelo)

#329 Jerónimo Arango and family, 4 billion dollars. Founder of Aurrerá supermarket chain and Grupo Cifra which controlled VIPS and El Portón restaurant chains, Suburbia department stores and tourist developments in Baja California Peninsula and Acapulco

#589 Emilio Azcárraga, $2.5 billion. Television and media conglomerate Televisa, and Nextel cell phones

#613 Rufino Vigil González, $2.4 billion; steel (Industrias CH)

#641 José and Francisco Calderón Rojas (brothers), $2.3 billion, beverages (Coca-Cola Femsa)

#792 Carlos Hank Rhon and family, $1.9 billion, banking

#831 Roberto Hernández, $1.8 billion. Banker, one of main shareholders of Citigroup, and tourist developments in the Yucatán Peninsula

#974 Alfredo Harp Helú and family, $1.5 billion. Shareholder in Citibank, telecommunications firm Avantel

#1031 Max Michel Suberville, $1.4 billion, retail (Coca-Cola Femsa)

#1107 Juan Gallardo Thurlow, $1.3 billion, beverages (organización Cultiba)

Conspicuous by his absence from the list (for the first time in several years) is Joaquín Guzmán Loera (aka “El Chapo”) who Forbes has consistently claimed has a net worth of about $1 billion, but whose assets the magazine now declares “impossible to verify”. Guzmán Loera is Mexico’s most wanted man, head of the Sinaloa drugs cartel, the main supplier of cocaine to the US market.

The combined total wealth of these fifteen individuals is a staggering $148.5 billion (compared to an equivalent total of $125.1 billion in 2012). The 2013 figure is equivalent to more than 6% of Mexico’s GDP.

The average earnings of Mexican workers registered in IMSS (Mexico’s Social Security Institute) in 2012 was about 260 pesos ($20 dollars) a day. The combined wealth of Mexico’s fifteen richest individuals/families is therefore equivalent to the total annual salaries of more than 20 million Mexicans earning this average salary! Note that this equivalence has risen steadily over recent years. For example, in 2010 the combined wealth of Mexican billionaires was equivalent to “only” 14.3 million Mexicans earning the then average salary.

Clearly, there are a handful of extremely wealthy individuals living in Mexico, alongside millions of Mexicans who are living at or below the poverty line. These income disparities have existed for a very long time, and are examined in detail in chapter 14 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. That chapter also analyzes the spatial patterns of wealth in Mexico, and discusses whether the gap between rich and poor has widened or narrowed in recent years.

Chapter 29 discusses Gender inequities in Mexico and  Oportunidades, a poverty reduction program (links are to excerpts from that chapter).

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