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Forbes magazine has just released its annual list of billionaires, and you may be a bit surprised at who ended up in first place. The richest man in the world is actually Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim, with total assets equivalent to $69 billion U.S. dollars. Coming in second is Bill Gates with $61 billion, followed by Warren Buffet at $44 billion.

But things are also getting better for those significantly lower on Mexico’s economic totem pole. A growing middle class with more disposable income has already fueled the transformation of Tijuana and Ensenada into modern cities with vibrant local cultures; a characteristic that has also managed to attract many national and international businesses that had previously shunned the region.

As a matter of fact, it was not that long ago when there was no such thing as being middle class in Baja California. A family was either very poor or very rich and there was not too much room for anything in between. Today, several large housing projects have been built within the Tijuana to Ensenada corridor that are presently targeting employed and increasingly prosperous Mexican families, as opposed to potential buyers from the U.S. looking for residential investments.

Unfortunately, while these positive economic changes are slowly taking place in Baja Norte, Americans north of the border are now being forced to undergo their own socioeconomic adjustments ...but sadly in the opposite direction.

The rich who managed to survive the economic crisis with their assets intact now find themselves to still be comparatively wealthy. While at the same time, increasing numbers of middle income Americans find themselves sliding backwards into a much lower economic strata where being middle class is almost a thing of the past. In fact, many of the Americans who now call Baja California their home are refugees from that very same disappearing American middle class.

What will happen economically in regard to these two neighboring countries remains to be seen; but it is now safe to say that, while many of its areas may still be quite poor, with its expanding educational opportunities, infrastructure development and growing middle class, Mexico no longer fits the description of a Third World nation.

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READ MORE ABOUT BAJA: http://www.countrymanpress.com/titles/HookedBaja.html

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