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Ricardo B. Salinas Headshot

Globalization and Human Capital

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In a globalized world, it is natural and desirable for all resources to flow freely: capital, goods, technology and people. Truly liberal minds do not question this principle. However, in the United States, there is a disturbing trend to try to blame the current economic crisis on immigrants, particularly Hispanics.

The anti-immigrant arguments could not be more wrong -- and even hypocritical. In fact, the truth is just the opposite: the U.S. economy has long maintained its dynamism thanks to the constant flow of labor from abroad, at least until last year.

People, the most valuable resource, still don't not have the freedom that capital, goods and technology enjoy. We Latin Americans continue to export ourselves despite all the non-tariff barriers such as the Migra and the border wall. It is perfectly normal for people to look for jobs where their work is the most profitable. That is the spirit of the free market. Our neighbor to the north has a flawed immigration policy, but that is something that neither we nor our politicians can fix.

The United States has enjoyed an abundance of capital, first thanks to internal savings and now due to the entry of external financial resources. But even an economist knows that capital lacks value if it is not complemented by human resources.

Thanks to abundant human resources of all kinds and skill levels, financial capital continues flowing in from abroad, even if more slowly. Today factories and call centers are leaving the United States in search of the human capital present in other latitudes. It is false that Latino immigrants take jobs away from others; it is exactly the opposite. Latino labor complements that of others; the labor market is not a zero-sum game.

It is very probable that the anti-immigrant neurosis will have a serious future impact on the ability of the U.S. economy to recover from the current crisis. In California and other states, innumerable crops have gone unharvested because of the lack of workers; in central states, meat and poultry plants have closed for the same reason. It is noteworthy that important growers have decided to close their U.S. operations and move them to Mexico, where skilled labor for this kind of work is plentiful. I don't blame them: it is clear to me that the main challenge as a businessman is finding and training skilled workers who are committed to their jobs. This is the most important task we have given the executives at Grupo Salinas.

The economies of Mexico and the United States complement each other because of their respective abundant labor and capital. It is absurd to close our eyes to this reality. The Hispanic community creates enormous value for U.S. society, and soon they will have to take measures to take care of these people: far from excluding and mistreating them, they should acknowledge them, open their doors to them and treat them fairly. This must happen; hopefully it will be soon.