A practically unheard-of billionaire, Amancio Ortega, just blew past household name Warren Buffett to be the second-richest man in the world, according to Bloomberg. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who is worth $85.5 billion, remains first.
Oretega, who has amassed a net worth of $71.5 billion, is the founding chairman of the Inditex fashion group, the world’s largest apparel retailer. Inditex is best known for its chain of Zara clothing and accessories shops, which had sales of $19.7 billion in fiscal 2014.
Worth noting is that Warren Buffett, whose net worth of $70.2 billion puts him at third place, would be in second-place if not for his philanthropic giving.
A native of Spain, Ortega refuses almost all interview requests and until 1999, no photograph of him had ever been published. However, Zara is not so low-profile. The world’s biggest fashion retailer operates over 6,600 stores in more than 88 countries.
Inditex has shown strong growth year over year. In March, it reported net profit up 5 percent from the previous fiscal year. In addition, the company said it planned to open up 480 more stores this year.
Key to Ortega’s success has been keeping Zara’s manufacturing close to its home base in the ancient port city of La Coruña, rather than outsourcing production to China to cut costs. This allows Zara to act quickly on new trends and put new products into stories right away. Zara shops receive new shipments of clothing twice a week, virtually unheard of among retail stores.
If Inditex brands continue to grow and Zara’s popularity extends to millennials and beyond, the mysterious billionaire’s wealth could eventually push him to number one on the list.
Politico’s Tim Alberta and Rachael Bade drop a blockbuster: “Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with President Donald Trump, Ryan has made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker. … He would like to serve through Election Day 2018 and retire ahead of the next Congress. This would give Ryan a final legislative year to chase his second white whale, entitlement reform, while using his unrivaled fundraising prowess to help protect the House majority—all with the benefit of averting an ugly internecine power struggle during election season.”
Speculation has been swirling that Ryan could step down once “he’s harpooned his personal white whale of tax reform,” as HuffPost put it.
When asked at his weekly press conference whether he’ll be quitting anytime soon, Ryan chuckled and said, “I’m not, no.”
The finance ministers of Europe’s five largest economies — Germany, France, the U.K., Italy and Spain — warned that the Republican tax plan could have “a major distortive impact” on international trade and may violate international treaties. "The inclusion of certain less conventional international tax provisions could contravene the U.S.'s double taxation treaties and may risk having a major distortive impact on international trade," the ministers wrote in a letter to Mnuchin.
Politico reports: “The White House is quietly preparing a sweeping executive order that would mandate a top-to-bottom review of the federal programs on which millions of poor Americans rely. And GOP lawmakers are in the early stages of crafting legislation that could make it more difficult to qualify for those programs. … The president is expected to sign the welfare executive order as soon as January, according to multiple administration officials, with an eye toward making changes to health care, food stamps, housing and veterans programs, not just traditional welfare payments.”
President Trump signed a short-term continuing resolution today to fund the federal government through Friday, December 22.
Bloomberg called the maneuver “a monumental piece of can kicking,” which is no doubt the case, but at least you’ll be able to visit your favorite national park over the weekend.
Here's to small victories!