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Few guys rule the world's economy
  • A trio of network systems analysts at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) have traced a network of interconnected ownership among the top 1300 corporations on Earth, which collectively control an estimated 80% of the world's economy. Within this elite cabal, the top 150 mutually-vested corporations (i.e. 1%) control 40% of the wealth of the entire network:
  • 23 Replies sorted by
  • It is very interesting to note history of this "news".

    It had appeared quite long ago on good economic sources.
    But made it's way to mainstream ones only recently.

    It is quite hard to read report, and more focused on connections.
  • What I don't get is how come none of these companies make anything? They're all financials. I'd feel much better about this if it was bomb and missile makers, or oil companies perhaps. But financials? It's like being owned by Facebook.
  • @brianluce

    I suggest to dig into economic theory.
    In credit based economy all manufacturing plans in long term become owned by banks :-)
  • Interesting. What good economic sources are you referring to @Vitaliy_Kiselev ?
  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev "In credit based economy all manufacturing plans in long term become owned by banks" - excellent point, that's precisely what we have going on at the moment in the US... that and the financial derivative gambling of course. Speaking for the US specifically, not sure how similar the situation is internationally.
  • @LevlC
    Take a look at Vitaliy's link, US specifically IS the same as what is international, all those firms that own everything are US firms for the most part with tentacles the reach into every wallet of the planet, from San Diego to Manila to Paris. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, it's the usual suspects.
    When these guys own all the wealth, companies that manufacture nothing, for me that's a sign that capitalism may be running out gas. New economic models will hopefully replace it because it no longer seems viable.
  • @brianluce

    "New economic models will hopefully replace it because it no longer seems viable."

    I hope so, but it ain't that easy. Capitalism works just like we work at home. Child cries, you give him a lollipop. So while the population stays still, nothing will happen, for as long as they can get their resources in the third world, which is what can give us "wealth" (lollipops).

    After all, the world is not so much different to what it was centuries ago, it's just a little change in appearance. Slavery changed from inner to outter, and while those people have the money and so, own and rule the world, nothing seems able to change without a mass revolution, which is really difficult to happen. Just remember we all need to have bread, water and a place to live, and the ones who say "you can", are those few hundred rich ones.

    I'm from Spain, where we still have a monarchy, and money and possesions still belong to the families they belonged to hundreds of years ago. Those and the 4 "big men" here are the ones that make the rules. No matter how much people went to the manifestations asking for a change, 'cause newspapers will hide it. For real, that happens in the 21st century. We've advanced a lot, haven't we?

    Also, the owner of the biggest bank here (Santander, which is globally one of the biggest too), has hide millions of €uros in Switzerland and even though it is well known, the Government does absolutely nothing. Now, I can imagine Emilio Botin, Santander's bank owner, saying "Who's your daddy?".

    This could really be a long discussion. Let's just say, in my opinion, capitalism has never really been viable for as long as it's based more on people being poor without having options to even study and for killing the whole world if it was needed to get resources, appart from not giving a damn for environment. But, it will still be the economic model that will rule the world until we decide to bleed out for a change. Guess I'm not the optimistic kind of person.

    Cheers and excuse me for my poor English.

    BTW, as you said tentacles reach everywhere, that's the reason we are in a global crysis (can't even tell you how hard it's hitting my country, not to talk about Greece or Iceland). Not only do US firms have tentacles elsewhere, big outter companies have tentacles in US as well so it's all kind of a problem to recover from the crysis as each country is making its economical decissions based on next elections rather than what's best for the world. And while economy stays global and politics stay country-based, getting to stabilize economy will be harder and harder.

    And I just realized I belong to the so-called PIGS.
  • @brianluce
    Yea it does make sense, I guess they don't call them 'multinational' corporations for nothing : ). I wouldn't go as far as to say that capitalism will just go away, but rather just get taken down a notch or two to even the playing field a little, for the average Joe out there. Hopefully.
  • This really isn't capitalism... Owning an entire industries economy, and then planning technology/prices is more socialist and fascism than anything. Capitalism is all about individual choice and natural occurring competition... when you get too big, and simply "buy" all the competition, then you've got the socialist/capitalism bastard hybrid of 'collectivism'.

    Either way, I don't think there is a good solution right now. It's almost too late for regulated capitalism... and there is just too many dumb incapable people for socialism to work. Maybe in 100 years when the gene-pool improves we'll see what the options are. But right now, (being 100% objective, so don't get all "riled up" at the harshness) there is just no system that can be successful, capitalism or socialism, where a person of no value to society can live a life-standard equal to those who are. In a capitalist society, money does this job. In a socialist society, some master computer or bureaucracy of scientists would rate people and "do away" with those of who don't meet the quota. A positive 'production>need' ratio MUST be maintained WITH EITHER OR ANY SYSTEM. When the NEED outweighs the PRODUCTION and you "supply" that need... you WILL get failure. I chose capitalism, because right now, at least people have a choice and chance (as unfair as it may be). Do people really understand what a successful socialist society would look like? It would be something out of "Logan's Run"... where people are just killed at age 30. I don't think people really understand this. It's not just the "rich people pay for everything" free-for-all that people have in their minds.

    There is only so many times you can "re-distribute" the wealth... and that number is 1. After that, everyone loses.

  • Neo-feudalism.
  • @bwhitz
    There's actually nothing "socialist" at all about corporate hegemony. Of course, you are right to point out that it's not "capitalist" either when the global economy is dominated by an interlocked cabal of elite corporatists.
  • @LPowell

    Yea, you're right. That was a bad description actually. I just meant "socialist" in the sense that they are consorting and planning the market-place for "their own collective" success. So yea, the better description is "corporate collectivism".
  • I don't think it's a stretch to call the current global economy socialist. The business sector has near total ownership of the political system, so the private sector and government are arguable a single entity and that's essentially inverted socialism -- the private sector gets to call the shots, but the same uncompetitive oppressive malaise results -- just as it does in the classic soviet model.
  • @all - Please name a better time in human history for the average person. Also, lack of woman's rights (is there a single woman contributing to this site?) and/or slavery would be considered a minus here.

    I'm completely serious. Please name a better time.
  • @ brianluce I agree with you. What we are seeing now is the triumph of capitalism — its inevitable culmination. When everything is privatized and there is no state to keep private/individual interests withing rational limits the state and its functions are going to be eventually privatized too, which lets the genie of greed out of the bottle. No need to blame the "classic Soviet model". Socialism was just a reaction to the similarly painful conractions of capitalism in the 1900s. Witnessing how greed and corruption had been destroying their countries and leaving millions hungry and unemployed, people were pushed to look for a viable alternative. 20 years ago the alternative was proclaimed dead with the kind assistance of the "Good Empire", so now there is no USSR to blame for what is going on in the world. This IS capitalism based on the private ownership of the means of production. So fasten your seat belts. And please don't compare Socialism to nazism as fascism is the ultimate form of imperialism based on the very same capitalist ideologies. Capitalist "survival of the fittest" model is in fact pure fascism because 4/5 of the world would have to be purged under those grounds as uncompetitive. The Corporate Transnational Ultraliberal Freemarket Fascism is responsible for the bloody wars in Libya, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan etc. And every nation including the US is in grave danger because this beast knows only one objective — making more money.
  • @GOODEMPIRE - you have a good head on your shoulders. Would you mind taking a crack at my question above. It's not a cynical one. I'm genuinely curious is you or other believe there was a better time we have left behind, or if this is simply a problem that we (humanity) have not made good on the promise of what we might/could be. No flame, seriously. I'm curious what you think/feel.
  • @cosimo
    Budget surpluses, no holy wars, a less fractured political dialog, less wage disparity.
    What's so great about today? Facebook? Yeah, we have Olivia but other than that...
  • @ cosimo_bullo I think there was no era of complete happiness in the past. we were on the verge of nuclear mutual annihilation, but I would say from 1950s (when the war was over and anti-colonial movement took pace) till the end of 1970s it was way better than today. America still had its manufacturing sector and the USSR was able to recuperate from the bloodiest war that it paid for with 27 million lives. We even had that nice detente period when the two nations (and the world divided between the two) showed they can communicate. It was still undecided which model was more preferable — socialism or capitalism, but 30 years later we have no manufacturing, no jobs, no plans for the future, no "models" — just destruction, pollution, epidemics, and the growing number of full-scale wars.
  • @cosimo_bullo - "I'm completely serious. Please name a better time."

    The 80's:

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev
    >"In credit based economy all manufacturing plans in long term become owned by banks :-) "

    It's like playing monopoly for too long.
  • In the spirit of this discussion, article today saying essentially that the free stuff we get in return for our data, is focussing power in the hands of the few:

  • @Mark_the_Harp great article, thanks

    Jaron Lanier
    Instead big computers would have to earn their way by providing new kinds of value. Spying and manipulating would no longer be business plans, because the raw materials would no longer be free.

    Thymeisagainstus replies
    It’s not the data that's valuable, it’s the interpretation and use.

    Video data of me walking around is worthless until you spot I drink coffee at 11.00 and you send me a text at 10.55 telling me your shop is 100 yards away

    But where is the increased leisure time computers were going to bring us.? We now work longer hours for less money in service industries feeding computers with data.

    I think what Larnier call's raw materials is exactly that which can be of/for interpretation and use