Carlos Slim Tops 'Forbes' Billlonaires List

The Mexican telecom magnate and his family are worth $73 billion. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is ranked No. 2. The list boasts 442 Americans, including the founders of Google, Facebook and Amazon.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Pretty good chunk of change. But it's not clear if he'd have enough money to get on the Forbes List.

The latest rundown of the richest people in the world is out, and Carlos Slim is number one. The Mexican telecom magnate and his family are worth $73 billion, we're told.

NPR's Wendy Kaufman has more.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: Forbes counts 1,426 billionaires around the globe. Their collective net worth, about $5.4 trillion. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is number two on the list, with Spain's Amancio Ortega, the founder of Zara, the well-priced fashion retailer, ranking third.

LUISA KROLL: I think what struck me was just how much of the growth, the record wealth, was tied to consumer spending.

KAUFMAN: Luisa Kroll, of Forbes, has been editing the magazine's list of billionaires for a long time. She suggests a bit of irony in this years compilation. While many consumers are struggling financially, the companies that sell them stuff are doing just fine.

The stock price of Zara, for example, climbed about 50 percent last year. And its founder's wealth increased a stunning $19 billion. Individuals tied to Wal-Mart, Nordstrom and Diesel Jeans benefited mightily too.

The Forbes list boasts 442 Americans, founders of Google, Facebook and Amazon, along with Steve Job's widow are all there. Kroll says a couple of new hedge fund managers made the list too.

KROLL: It's really kind of money begets money. You know you don't really see that in other parts of the world to the same extent.

KAUFMAN: In Europe, for example, fortunes are often linked to fashion retail, and in Asia, lots of money is tied to real estate.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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