Billionaire Carlos Slim, Mexico’s richest person, said Americans have more to worry about under Donald Trump than Mexicans because the president-elect could cost the U.S. its place as the world’s leader.
“I would be more worried if I were an American,” Slim said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “If you are going to close the economy, it is bad. He has the risk to lose the international leadership of the United States.
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“You are the leaders in technology, but there are other countries moving there — China, Israel — and everyone wants to improve,” Slim said. “I think that is a main issue.”
Mexicans, meanwhile, will benefit if Trump meets his goals for adding jobs and improving U.S. economic growth, Slim said. He said he doesn’t know Trump and hasn’t spoken with him.
Slim has felt the effects of Trump’s election personally. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates the dollar value of his fortune at $48.1 billion, down from more than $55 billion in the days before Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton sent the peso nosediving.
Mexico, which counts the U.S. as its biggest trade partner, needs to spend on public and private infrastructure projects like airports and ports, Slim said separately at a Bloomberg summit in Mexico City.
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“What is happening with this shock is that Mexico needs to turn back to Mexico,” Slim said. “Now we need to get back to Mexico and focus on the internal economy and try to get back to the economy we have forgotten for many years.”
Slim was joined on a panel at the event by Michael R. Bloomberg, the majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP. Bloomberg said he did talk to Trump by phone this week and gave him advice on how to select the right people for his team.
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Slim, 76, was chauffeured to the event on a motorcycle, making up for lost time after his car got stuck in heavy Mexico City traffic.
While the biggest chunk of Slim’s fortune comes from his telecommunications company, America Movil SAB, he has also invested in infrastructure projects in Mexico, Latin America and Spain through other companies.
While he noted that Trump lost the popular vote, Slim said Trump’s election was related to a decline in high-paying manufacturing jobs in the U.S., replaced by work that requires few skills and pays little.
“This shock will make us realize things have been changed,” he said. “There will be a lot of unemployment in young people and lack of opportunity because of the changes in the economy that is moving traditional jobs out of the economy, and we are not moving to solve all these problems.”
Trump said during his campaign that Slim, a top shareholder in New York Times Co. and a Clinton Foundation donor, was working alongside Hillary Clinton’s campaign to help generate negative coverage of him. At the time, a Slim spokesperson said the billionaire had never met Trump and was not interested in U.S. politics. While Slim is the biggest holder of New York Times Class A shares, with 12 percent, the Ochs-Sulzberger family holds Class B shares with special voting rights that give them control of the newspaper publisher.
Days before the election, Slim told reporters at an event in Mexico City that Trump would destroy the American economy if he imposed tariffs like the 35 percent levy the presidential candidate proposed for Mexican-made cars. Such costs would lead to higher, disruptive prices, Slim said.