MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Despite falling to second in rankings of the world’s richest people, Carlos Slim Helú’s fortune still packs a fierce punch. Forbes reported his net worth as $69 billion in October 2013, just below Bill Gates’ $72 billion. Slim’s wealth stems largely from his telecommunications company, América Móvil, but he also owns mining, financial, industrial and real estate companies as well as 3 soccer clubs in Mexico and Spain. His charitable endeavors range from educational scholarships to the Carlos Slim Institute of Health to an art museum to international aid. Slim’s presence extends globally; Techcrunch.com recently reported he is giving Mobli, the Instagram competitor started in Israel, $60 million to create a visual search engine.
What, then, is Carlos Slim Helú’s annual income? It is estimated he rakes in over $2.147 billion each year. Theoretically, leaving out $147 million for Slim to survive on, what might he be able to personally finance with the remaining $2 billion?
1. U.S. Assistance to Mexico in 2012: $330.1 million
The Congressional Research Service estimated all obligations from United States agencies to Mexico would equal $330.1 million in 2012. This is actually projected to decrease for 2013, but was almost a 100 percent increase since 2011. Mexico accounts for approximately 45 percent of U.S. aid to all of Latin America and in 2012 was the eighth greatest recipient of U.S. aid, mostly due to U.S. support fighting international drug crime. The $330.1 million goes towards law enforcement, technology, environmental issues, water sanitation and education. With $2 billion, Carlos Slim could supply the same amount of monetary aid for six years.
2. Damage from Hurricane Ingrid and Tropical Storm Manuel: $6 billion
September brought two massive storms to Mexico, hitting opposite coasts on the same day. Hurricane Ingrid swept in on the Gulf coast while Tropical Storm Manuel hit on the Pacific coast, combining to cause an estimated $6 billion in damages and killing at least 150 people. Mexican officials reported over one million people were affected, and over a month later over 5,000 people were still living in temporary shelters in Acapulco. Not only could Carlos Slim foot one third of the total damages bill, but his $2 billion yearly income could provide the over 1 million people affected with $2,000 each, not to mention give the 5,000 living in shelters about $400,000 each.
3. Mexico spending on HIV/AIDS 2009: $376.480868 million
In 2009, Mexico spent over $375 million combating HIV/AIDS. This included prevention, treatment, awareness, social services, administration needs, research and care for orphans. While the number of individuals living with HIV/AIDS is impossible to pinpoint, known cases top 170,000 in Mexico. Most spending goes towards awareness and treatment, specifically $269.358499 million, yet only 85.1 percent of those eligible actually receive anti-retroviral therapy, indicating there is much more to be accomplished. With $2 billion dollars Mexico’s current spending on HIV/AIDS would be entirely covered with over $1.5 billion to expand efforts and treatment. A years’ worth of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) costs about $588 per person. Carlos Slim’s annual income would pay for 20 years of ART for 170,000 people.
4. Urban Mexico’s poverty threshold: $183 per month
Slightly under half of Mexico’s total population lives in poverty. As defined by the government, the poverty line in urban areas is $183 per month and $115 per month in rural areas. The 11.5 million people living in extreme poverty earn less than $87 per month in urban areas and $61 in rural areas. Even though the percentage of individuals living in poverty in Mexico has decreased slightly, the actual number of individuals has increased. Carlos Slim’s monthly income is over 900,000 times greater than the city person living on the poverty line. He could hand each of the 11.5 million individuals in extreme poverty over twice their monthly income.
The possibilities for Carlos Slim’s wealth are countless. With his stakes in over 100 companies and his vast personal estate, the second richest man in the world has the ability to personally alter the four specified, serious issues. The discrepancy between Slim’s yearly income and government spending, impoverished salaries, and disaster relief needs is vast. It begs the question: where is the world’s money going?
– Katey Baker-Smith