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The Almighty Buck Businesses

The 147 Corporations Controlling Most of the Global Economy 572

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the free-markets-for-the-rest-of-us dept.
rubycodez writes "Researchers at the Swiss Federal Technology Institute in Zurich have identified a 'Capitalist Network' [PDF] of well-connected companies that control most of the global economy. They further identified the 147 'super-connected' companies that control forty percent or more of the global financial network. If one believes the mega-corporations have most governments of the west in their pockets, does this mean we have a global oligarchy?"
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The 147 Corporations Controlling Most of the Global Economy

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:12PM (#37819268)

    I bet you could easily whittle that down to less than 50 who effectively control just about everything in the first-world--when you factor in subsidiaries, companies they invest in or who invest in or depend on them, companies they partner with extensively, etc. Just look at the web of control that the major banking companies alone exert. When a handful of companies in a single industry are so powerful that if they fail, your ENTIRE ECONOMY (and that of many other countries) collapses, I would say they effectively own you. That's way more powerful than any mere group of individual citizens could ever hope to be.

  • Correction. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Noryungi (70322) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:14PM (#37819294) Homepage Journal

    We have a global plutocracy, which the government of the richest, for the richest and by the richest.

    See here: []

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:14PM (#37819308) Homepage

    Does this mean we have a global oligarchy

    I know it was meant to be rhetorical, but "YES." These statistics merely reinforce the intuition that we have all had for decades. In the modern day, oligarchy == democracy. Companies that are "too big to fail." This is why there are people flooding the streets with with signs saying "We are the 99%." Because it isn't the 99% that count.

  • Facts (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:15PM (#37819328)

    Facts are beautiful aren't that? Distortable into implying anything you want.

    There will always be a 'The XXX corporations controlling most of the global economy', just like there will always be 'kills the most people in this group'.

    And for reference, 'most' to me, is more than half.

  • Global Oligarchy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hellfire (86129) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <vdalived>> on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:18PM (#37819364) Homepage


    Next Question: How do we topple it?

  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imric (6240) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:20PM (#37819384)

    "It seems as soon as someone gets elected to Congress, they are immediately bought by the wealthy elite to represent their interests."

    They can't get that far without being bought and paid for in the first place.

  • by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:23PM (#37819440)

    ...does this mean we have a global oligarchy?

    Of course it does! That's why the middle class is shrinking over most of the globe - those who have power and money are doing their damnedest to concentrate both in their own hands, and the most efficient way to do that is to co-operate among themselves and work together to achieve world domination. And the fastest route to domination is via absolute economic control.

  • by AdamJS (2466928) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:23PM (#37819444)
    Give it time. As an above poster mentioned, it's quite surprising that there's such a high number. It's very likely that the power is really consolidated into a fractional few, especially with all the collusion going on.
  • by TonyXL (33244) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:23PM (#37819446) Journal

    A corporation alone cannot harm or control you. It can only do that with the help of government.

  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:24PM (#37819484) Homepage
    But most of those companies have thousands of owners, not just one. They're probably in your 401(k) or pension plan.
  • by khallow (566160) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:32PM (#37819604)

    With 14,700 corporations you'd have no chance.

    A remarkably dumb thing to say. Concentration of wealth and power is far more of a problem than the modest complexity of having more businesses to regulate.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:35PM (#37819660)

    But most of those companies have thousands of owners, not just one.

    Someone who owns 0.000000000000000001% of a company because he has 100 shares is not an "owner", but an investor. The owners are the banks and the founders, that hold real percentages of the corporation. The little guys just exist as a convenient way to raise capital, and they are the first to take the fall, getting wiped out first if the company goes south. Once in a while the company will throw them a bone in the form of dividends. And once in a while, depending on the company and the share type, these "owners" will be given the illusion of a vote. In the most free case they can choose between pre-determined agenda #1 or pre-determined agenda #2. When they get too annoying their ownership share simply gets diluted. However they certainly do not get to choose what the CEO has for dinner tonight on the company credit card, or what luxury hotel suite he stays in.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:43PM (#37819802) Journal
    Nice in theory. But once you shrink the government small enough to be drowned in a bath tub, the first thug who could will drown it. Then who is going to defend you, individual? Time to take your head off the clouds and talk some real sense.

    Already corporations have been ruled people, except they don't need visa and they can't be executed or imprisoned, and they can be created out of thin air to be saddled with the liabilities while the CEO and his gang walk away with all the assets in their personal portfolio.

  • by TheSync (5291) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:43PM (#37819818) Journal

    For one thing, many of these are publicly traded companies.

    More importantly, what can corporations really control?

    Could Microsoft "control" you into buying Zune?

    Was it Apple's "control" of the global capitalist infrastructure that made the iPhone popular, or did they just meet the needs of their customers?

    At the end of the day, customers control these companies more than anything else.

    Certainly organized special interest groups of all kinds (AARP, NRA, AFL-CIO, etc.) do exert an influence on government, and I'd argue that most attempts to "regulate" industry are captured by incumbents to make it easier for them by making it harder for new entrants in the markets. This also applies to campaign finance "reform".

    But at the end of the day, if you don't have a product or service that customers want to buy, your company is dead, regardless of how much of the global capitalist infrastructure it controls.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:44PM (#37819828) Journal

    Corporations, as a collection of individuals, seek to create wealth, not destroy it.

    Corporations seek to control wealth, by any means necessary.

    A corporation has no power to dictate your life unless it coerces a government that is willing to do so.

    We've all got to eat. Those who control the means of production control who eats. Those who control the finance system control who works and who doesn't, and who has a home to go to at night. That is every bit as coercive as any governmental power.

    That is why government can never be allowed an excess of power and why government's sole purpose should be defend the rights of individuals

    Defend individuals, mainly from corporations. Unfortunately, our government is wholly owned by those very corporations we need to be protected from.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:50PM (#37819940) Journal

    If you create minimalistic governments, then power is simply there to be taken. There is a balance of interests that must be maintained. Simply cutting down the government to nothing would not solve the problem.

  • Re:Facts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcmonkey (96054) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:54PM (#37819998) Homepage

    I have tried in the past to suggest this and no one seemed to get it. Frankly I think we need to dump the Occupy and the Tea Party and bring back the Bull Moose party. Just read up and Teddy Roosevelt and his square deal. Take his basic concepts and goals and update them for the 21st century. He as far from perfect but he had some good ideas about limit the power of big business the betterment of the nation. Frankly if you think that what one of the greatest Republican presidents did 100 years ago is too liberal.... Well you have issues.

    That's a tall order, considering the folks now in control of the Republican party think what a Republican president did 40 years ago is too liberal. (Nixon and the EPA and Clean Water Act)

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:59PM (#37820072) Homepage Journal

    Which means instead of lampooning organizations like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street we need to take from them the best of their ideas and act on it.

    It means for Americans doing your best to get candidates who do not have a D or R next to their name some traction.

    It means for those in Europe figuring out how to get out from under Brussels - best of luck, I don't know your politics.

    Whatever it is, you won't do it through tax laws so please no, they need to pay more, corporations merely hide the heavy taxation the population is under, see indirect taxes.

    So, anytime you see a politician wanting to expand your benefits be wary, the money comes from somewhere and if its not paid its owed and those to whom we owe call the shots.

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Monday October 24, 2011 @01:07PM (#37820190)

    And not the Keynesian cargo cult economics which is so prevalent.

    To start with, go find out what money is.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday October 24, 2011 @01:14PM (#37820308) Journal
    I think the point is that a company by itself is relatively harmless, but when it gets the power of government behind it, it can cause huge problems.

    This is similar to individuals. Sure, a single person can stab you, but the damage he can do is limited. It's only when he gets the full backing of government that he can cause real problems (think of any corrupt police chief, or Sheriff Joe).

    When a company gets the backing of government, it becomes a predatory company, without accountability, because the government who is supposed to be watching it is motivated to make it succeed.
  • Re:Correction. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday October 24, 2011 @01:28PM (#37820524)

    We are? Huh, I wonder why the EPA still exists, then.

    Or maybe the richest of the rich, for that matter. You know, after paying about 35% of all income taxes in the US [], you'd think the top 1% would try to get that changed. I could give a dozen other examples, like corporate regulation, anti-trust laws, etc.

    I am really, really sick of this meme on /. The world is not a plutocracy or an oligarchy or any of those things. The wealthy have a vast amount of power, yes, because you know what? They always have, and they always will. Because power money. Always. Even in states that try to establish communism, or in ancient Sparta (which didn't even have real money), the rich are powerful and the powerful are rich. It's a fact of life, and it will never change. The solution is not to get rid of rich people (which a lot of people seem to want now a days) because again, you can't.

    What is the solution? Make it in the rich people's best interest to have everyone else moderately well off. And this is capitalism, by (part of) Adam Smith's definition. It's a simple syllogism: people can only buy stuff from capitalist corporations if they have money. Corporations only make money if people buy their stuff. Therefore corporations (and by extension rich capitalists) need to make sure people have money. Doesn't always work perfectly, and government involvement if not careful can fuck it up royal, but I'd say living in the wealthiest period of human history is pretty damn good. Why the hell should I care if people get rich off it?

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Monday October 24, 2011 @01:31PM (#37820554)

    Trotting out a list of financial companies and then doing a pseudo-technical analysis to establish that they 'control' the economy seems like nothing but an effort at demagogy. For example, stockbrokers ALWAYS exercise a measure of control because most of their clients choose to have the stockbrokers retain their shares and vote them on their behalf. Similarly, every bank always exercises 'control' of the funds that you have on deposit so what would be suspicious is if there was a large bank that was NOT on the list. Everyone wants to hate financial companies when they have less wealth than they feel like they are entitled to. There will always be a few large financial companies in 'control' of the economy unless we enact legislation that limits the maximum size of financial companies in which case we would have more financial companies exercising control of the economy but nothing else otherwise much different. The alternative to having financial companies in 'control' of the economy is to have everyone keep their money in the form of gold bullion in their mattress (been there, done that) which would result in a shrunken world economy driven by barter or to have a huge government apparatus in 'control' (been there, done that too.)

  • by fredrated (639554) on Monday October 24, 2011 @01:34PM (#37820598) Journal

    Except of course that we are the most lied-to, manipulated population on the planet. When the corporations can contribute unlimited funds to lying to and manipulating the public before an election, just how do you expect to get a fair election, i.e., an election based on the truth?

  • by gknoy (899301) <> on Monday October 24, 2011 @01:50PM (#37820870)

    I'm not sure I like the idea of telling the average citizen "you can protect yourself by being/hiring a bigger thug". We already saw how well that worked in the middle ages, and the ability to fly in Highly Paid and Well Armed mercenaries to squish locals makes the potential even worse now.

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Monday October 24, 2011 @02:02PM (#37821032)
    they threatened to take our economy with them. I suppose the gov't could have let them die, then stepped in to keep the economy going. But you wouldn't have liked that either, would you?
  • by sjames (1099) on Monday October 24, 2011 @02:29PM (#37821354) Homepage

    Can Monsanto control you into wanting to eat food?

    Can you teach them a lesson by refusing to eat food?

"Well I don't see why I have to make one man miserable when I can make so many men happy." -- Ellyn Mustard, about marriage