Lists of the world's richest people can tell you a lot about the changing economic zeitgeist. The rise of gambling executives in the 2006 list was a good indicator of the global appetite for risk and speculation. For many years, the top spot has gone to Bill Gates, whose fortune was based on the ubiquitous desktop computer. But it's being reported today that Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim has passed Gates and taken over the top position. Slim's rise is indicative of a few different trends. The fact that he's not an American is further evidence (as if any were needed) that the US' days as the sole economic powerhouse are numbered, if not gone. And the fact that he's in telecom, wireless specifically, is a reminder that the phone is the central tech item for most of the world. Still, you can't feel too sorry for Mr. Gates. His fortune remains at a comfortable $59.2 billion.
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