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July 3, 2007

Reuters: Mexican Slim surpasses Gates as richest

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 9:17 AM

A Reuters report, citing analysis in the online financial publication Sentido Comun, says Bill Gates is no longer the richest person in the world. His wealth was surpassed by that of Mexican magnate Carlos Slim after shares in one of Slim's biggest holdings increased 27 percent in the second quarter.

Reuters reports that shares of America Movil, the largest cellphone company in Latin America, increased during the period, making Slim $8.6 billion wealthier than Gates, according to Eduardo Garcia, founder of Sentido Comun.

Here's the Sentido Comun article, en espanol, that lists the wealthiest Mexicans and pegs Slim's stockpile at more than $67.8 billion.

Garcia estimated that Gates is worth $59.2 billion, according to Reuters.

That compares with the widely quoted Forbes ranking and estimate of the world's billionaires, which this year put Gates on top with $56 billion. The magazine reported in April that Slim had overtaken Warren Buffet for second place on the list as of March 29 this year, pegging his fortune then at $53.1 billion.

Sentido Comun adds some interesting perspective on the magnitude of the rich-poor gap in Mexico, via Reuters:

Garcia's Sentido Comun, which translates as "common sense," reckons Slim and his family own a fortune equivalent to 8 percent of Mexico's gross domestic product.

For Gates to be worth 8 percent of the U.S. economy, his fortune would have to grow to more than $13 trillion, 17 times his current wealth, according to Sentido Comun.

Update: Reader JJ Rathvon correctly points out that the math in that last comparison is "screwy." Gates' estimated wealth would have to be increased about 220 times to approach the $13 trillion figure cited.

Another update: Thanks to reader Jonathan G., who helps us get to the bottom of the erroneous comparison above. He provides a link to the latest Bureau of Economic Analysis report on U.S. gross domestic product, which was about $13.6 trillion in the first quarter of 2007. So for Gates' to match Slim's 8 percent of GDP for one quarter, he would have to be worth about $1.09 trillion, or about 18 times Garcia's estimate. But then again, that would only be 8 percent of one quarter's GDP.

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Tricia Duryee
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