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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.

    • by arcite (661011) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:15PM (#37819326)
      Not unlike say, the Hudson Bay Company or East India Company. How long until the corporations get their own private armies of mercenaries and start waging wars of attrition over market share? Oh wait....
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:27PM (#37819524)

        http://theelitist.net/nypd-receives-jp-morgan-donation-mass-arrest-of-protesters-at-occupywallstreet

      • by Anonymous Coward

        We used to have Kings & Queens ruling over nearly all of the wealth until the philosophy of individual rights and property started taking hold. Corporations, as a collection of individuals, seek to create wealth, not destroy it. War is a destructive force on an economy.
        The real problem is creating governments that have excessive power, because it is those government entities that wage war and rule with force. A corporation has no power to dictate your life unless it coerces a government that is willing

        • 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 rgbatduke (1231380) <rgb@nOSpAM.phy.duke.edu> on Monday October 24, 2011 @01:47PM (#37820810) Homepage
            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

            Sort of like:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional_life_of_George_W._Bush [wikipedia.org]

            Found a company (anybody can do that, costs almost nothing). Sell shares to some investors, attract a few big names. Run it into the ground so that it fails, but...

            Sell out to a second company who wants your goodwill (those big names) plus whatever assets you managed not to squander, become CEO of second company which also fails, and...

            Sell out to a third company who still wants that goodwill, those names, the top political cover (your daddy is president, after all), get a seat on the board of directors, and y'know, damned if that company doesn't start to suck wind and fail due to mismanagement as well. Alas, now there is no sugar daddy outside corporation willing to buy, the company is out of money but the stock is still sitting up there at optimistic prices because the ordinary shareholders do not yet know that the company is down to its few days worth of operating capital.

            Borrow money from a bank. Buy into a cushy deal that manages to both suck off money from the taxpayer and screw the actual owner of the land seized for the project. Ask counsel of that failing company that bought the failed company that bought the failed company you originally founded if selling off stock right before the company is about to run out of money is "insider trading". Counsel says yes, damn skippy it is, don't do it.

            Do it anyway, pay off loan and manage to pocket a quarter of a million actual profit right before the company loses 2/3 of its book value when the running-out-of-money-with-no-income-to-replace-it shit hits the fan. Wait a few years, cushy deal pays you $15 million dollars in profits -- not bad for return on three failed companies you personally ran or helped to run (you weren't on the board of the cushy deal -- by then everybody but the voters in Texas and the United States knew you were a complete klutz who lost money on every deal you actually ran or helped run). Even on this final deal there was nothing like an actual, honest profit in the payout. The taxpayers of Texas are still paying for the actual sports dome for the Rangers; the profit Bush realized was more or less paid directly from taxpayer pockets into his own, and who knows what the landowner ever got out of the deal (probably nothing)...

            The moral of this sad tale is that it isn't just a network of companies -- it is a network of people, all born into wealthy families, owning or controlling the large corporations, looking out for each other and protecting all of the "insiders" while shooting, burning, and clubbing the dead bodies until they stop twitching of all of the outsiders that seek to break in to this tiny enclave of wealth and power. These are the people that control the Fed. They control (or are) many of the governors, senators, presidents of our country. They own huge blocks of stock in the largest and most powerful companies or they sit on the board of directors and draw huge salaries because of their political influence. Insider trading is a way of life -- a wink is as good as a nod -- and make a profit (like Bush) from every failure where the ordinary shareholders lost wads of money.

            They exist, impervious in our society, simply because we lack the will to oppose them.

            rgb
            • "They exist, impervious in our society, simply because we lack the will to oppose them. "

              It's not merely that, it's the propaganda that goes along with it. How many Americans buy into the so called 'free market' and believe these people 'earned' their money? I'd say a good number of them want just to be like them in their own sick way. The poor and middle class in america see themselves as temporarily embarrassed rich people.

              • temporarily embarrassed rich people... who just didn't happen to go to Yale, be a member of the Skulls fraternity, have the ex-Director of the CIA and President of the US for a daddy, and so on. In a way, they're right -- Sam Walton's kids are separated from the greeters that they hire and pay a pittance without benefits only by several billion dollars, a fair bit of nose candy, and the fact that sometimes the greeters are actually fairly nice people.

                But the Walton fortune is the exception. Even Gates
                • Bill Gates was a trust fund baby. His dad was a wealthy business lawyer, and Bill used those contacts to get in with IBM. Didn't you ever wonder how a fresh faced nerd boy made it with the big leagues? I'll give you Sam Walton though. Near as I can tell he was the first guy to realize Americans would prefer to buy cheap crap instead of well built merchandise.
        • 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.

          • People are confused because they think that corporations and governments are different animals. All they are is manifestations of the control.

            The key is to see to it that you are among those that control the governments and corporations. That is what democracy is about: You put the general public in control of the biggest control organization, at least when it's working as described.

            The thing people don't seem to get is that there is no 99%. There is the 1%, and the next 1%, and the 1% after that, etc. If y

        • by silanea (1241518)

          [...] War is a destructive force on an economy. [...]

          Which is why there is no money to be made in the military sector. Tanks, guns and battleship are built by philantrophs at a loss.

      • by ADRA (37398)

        Failed economies in the 1700's and 1800's could never affect the day to day lives of the common man, so having a few concentrated super companies (Though mind you, these and many like them were among the first 'corporations') wasn't as important. When you had > 50% agricultural citizenry, the only large impact on their lives would be the lack of materials / machinery to optimize their operations. Now a-days, was it something like > 50% that are now directly service oriented in the states? Those indust

        • by yurtinus (1590157)
          Failed economies or failed corporations? The economic recessions in the 1800s (called "Panics" then) certainly did effect the common man with widespread unemployment and debt. We just don't hear as much about it because the "common man" at that time wasn't a middle class homeowner in the burbs. Also - just because a citizen is in agriculture doesn't make him self sufficient. How many families lost their farms during the depression? Land and machinery needs to be purchased somehow...
        • by Jawnn (445279)
          WTF? Have you never studied, in even the most cursory fashion, history? The failing of an economy usually had a profound effect on the lives of "the common man". History is, if anything, repetitive when it comes to things economic. The move from a production-based economy to one built upon the buying and selling of currency or other things deriving their value therefrom, is a pretty reliable indicator that a society is about to fall hard. Sometimes that fall is so hard the the society, as it was predominant
    • Well the number is in companies not people.
      And I am sure that more then a few of those companies have some of the same inventors/people on the board of directors.

    • In TFA, it says that those 147 are mostly financial companies, and they are also umbrella-companies, holding stocks from a wide range of other, smaller companies. They also say that they are so interlocked, that any speck of instability hurts them all, like Bear Sterns (it's still there because the data employed is from 2007).

      What's interesting is that the authors say at the end that this is not unexpected: they are quite the way natural structures develop.

  • 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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutocracy [wikipedia.org]

    • Global Zaibutsu (Score:4, Informative)

      by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium@yaHORSEhoo.com minus herbivore> on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:58PM (#37820054)

      Although zaibatsu existed from the 19th century, the term was not in common use until after World War I. By definition, the "zaibatsu" were large family-controlled vertical monopolies consisting of a holding company on top, with a wholly owned banking subsidiary providing finance, and several industrial subsidiaries dominating specific sectors of a market, either solely, or through a number of sub-subsidiary companies.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaibatsu [wikipedia.org]

  • This should:
    "In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network," says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

    So a powerful 1% owns 40% of the global wealth...
    • by fatboy (6851)

      No, that's 40% of the wealth of the network of 43,060 TNCs.

    • 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 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 dkleinsc (563838)

        Those companies which are publicly traded have thousands of owners, but a very small number of people have majority control over those companies which are publicly traded. My 401(k) plan holds a few shares of Walmart, but if I disagree with what the Waltons want to do, the company will go with the Waltons. Even if I get thousands of small shareholders together, Walmart will still do what the Waltons want it to do.

      • "But most of those companies have thousands of owners, not just one. They're probably in your 401(k) or pension plan."

        Most people aren't rich enough to have either a 401(k) or pension plan. Of those of us with some sort of retirement investments most are probably in mutual funds where ownership of shares in Company X is less than direct. People rich enough for it to make some financial sense to own stock in Company X directly rarely own more than a few hundred or a few thousand shares. How many shares
      • They're probably in your 401(k) or pension plan.

        Thanks for the warning, better get my shotgun.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Yes, that's a nice bit of leverage for Wall Street. "Do as we say or your retirement gets it!"

      • But most of those companies have thousands of owners, not just one. They're probably in your 401(k) or pension plan.

        The owners are absent.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      So a powerful 1% owns 40% of the global wealth...

      And in America [ucsc.edu], a powerful 1% owns 35% of national wealth.

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      This should:

      "In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network," says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

      So a powerful 1% owns 40% of the global wealth...

      You mean a powerful less-than-1%... 147 companies makes up closer to .3% of the companies based on the selection criteria for their study (and certainly excludes many more). This means that those 147 are controlling at a rate of over 100x their proportion in the market. While it's probably natural (and beneficial) to have a small number of large companies at "the top" instead of a flat sea of small companies all inefficiently bickering for control, you have to wonder at what point it becomes almost unavo

    • Under the Federal Reserve system, money is only created when someone takes out a loan. If Federal Reserve Notes were truthfully labeled, they would all say This Bill Was BORROWED From Wall Street [teslabox.com]. This is why it was so important to bail out the banking system: no bankers, no money.

      Nothing says "oligarchy" like having an entire economy by its balls.

  • 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)

    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.

    • by jank1887 (815982)

      well, the article is actually pretty good (the linked arxiv.org article, that is.) there's actually a lot they did to link the interactions between all the corporations. of course, the news headline has to sound ominous, or no one would have clicked through to read it.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Yes I agree that this is a worst case look however I wouldn't dismiss the real problems that are cropping up.
      Simple truth is that the regulations on a lot of finical corporations have been decreasing over time. Even back in the 1970s and early 80s most banks where local or regional. While the regulations on them decreased government size sure didn't. The simple fact is when you have a few big corporations in any market they become too big to fail. There are advantages to having many smaller companies in a

      • 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)

  • With 147 corporations, you have a chance to watch them all.

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

    • 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) *

      you have a chance to watch them all.

      No, you have no chance. Because the people you hire to watch them will be corrupted immediately, and you will be watching only what they want you to see. You have a lot to learn about human nature.

    • by owlnation (858981)

      With 147 corporations, you have a chance to watch them all.
      With 14,700 corporations you'd have no chance.

      While that is true... it is a lot harder to do that when those corporations either directly, or indirectly, control all mainstream media (which they do). And that includes most social networking too.

  • Global Oligarchy? (Score:5, Insightful)

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

    Yes.

    Next Question: How do we topple it?

    • by mikazo (1028930)
      We could start by reforming the monetary systems that most countries operate on. Banks essentially get to print money out of thin air and collect interest on it. For more info, see http://www.positivemoney.org.uk/ [positivemoney.org.uk]
    • by gman003 (1693318)

      I'm going to need a a video camera, a terawatt laser, 40,000 liters of chlorine triflouride, a Mi-24 helicopter, Morgan Freeman, and a duck. And a lot of duct tape.

    • Most of them are banks. You topple it by removing your money from the bank and putting it in a local credit union or something. I'm not going to, I don't care.
    • 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 erroneus (253617)

      LAWS.

      You don't topple it. The French revolution thought as you do. Cut off some heads and let some new heads take their place. The result is only temporarily satisfying.

      All these people do what it natural for them to do -- even kill. We have laws against killing because without them, we would most certainly all be killing one another quite frequently. In order for a large group of humans to coexist, we have to have laws (and enforcement) which limit the harm any one human can do to another or to the ma

    • 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 oneiros27 (46144) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:18PM (#37819368) Homepage

    And The Onion was sure they'd have all merged to just form one giant corporation by now:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/just-six-corporations-remain,551/ [theonion.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AdamJS (2466928)
      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.
  • Take comfort in the fact that heavily centralized complex systems are extremely intrinsically stable, particularly if poorly understood and subject to multiple chaotic inputs, and aren't vulnerable at all to any sort of cascading failures...
    • by schwit1 (797399)

      Not me. The US government falls into this category and shows no sign of doing anything well except expanding its power over the people and its financial waistline.

  • by Oswald McWeany (2428506) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:20PM (#37819412)

    Global olivearchy.

    1% of Olive farmers control over 50% of the world's olives.

  • 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 khallow (566160)

      That's why the middle class is shrinking over most of the globe

      If on the other hand, one includes the developing world (particularly China and India), the middle class is expanding.

  • 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 mrquagmire (2326560) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:33PM (#37819632)

      Yes, I'm sure that corporations left to their own devices would never cause us any harm [businesspundit.com].

      • 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.
  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:24PM (#37819460) Homepage
    No. It does not mean there's a global oligarchy. For one thing, many of these are publicly traded companies. So individuals do have some input. They may have very little, but it does exist. Moreover, a 147 entities is actually quite a lot. And many of those companies are in direct competition with each other. So while it is true that many of these companies own stock in each other, they aren't close to controlling each other in any reasonable sense. If the various bailouts are any indication, one doesn't need a mysterious oligarchy to control governments. Old-fashioned lobbying works just fine.
    • What individuals? Most of these companies are not directly held by shareholders, but by various kinds of investment groups and institutional investors? If that's a democracy, then it's an absolutely horrible kind, rather like voting for the guy that votes for the guy who votes for thehttp://news.slashdot.org/story/11/10/24/1542240/the-147-corporations-controlling-most-of-the-global-economy# guy who votes for the guy who makes the decisions.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheSync (5291)

      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, an

    • by migla (1099771)

      I agree it may be less of an oligarchy. There doesn't have to be an explicit conspiracy. An implicit conspiracy will work too. The people/entities in power will be pulling in the same general direction without explicit agreements. They're still fucking us just about as good as if they planned it over a cognac in dimly lit rooms filled with cigar smoke.

  • They list 1318 firms, and then 147 super-connected...and then (arbitrarily) only list the top 50.

    Their report is at http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1107/1107.5728v2.pdf [arxiv.org]

    Why the top 50? Was there some discontinuity in control that made 50 a relatively discrete bunch? Is #51 significantly different than #49?

    Where's the rest of the list?

    • by Lord Grey (463613)

      They list 1318 firms, and then 147 super-connected...and then (arbitrarily) only list the top 50.

      Their report is at http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1107/1107.5728v2.pdf [arxiv.org]

      Why the top 50? Was there some discontinuity in control that made 50 a relatively discrete bunch? Is #51 significantly different than #49?

      Where's the rest of the list?

      I don't think there is any hidden purpose behind listing only the top 50. However, the paragraph preceding the list in the report says, in part:

      ... Finally, it should be noted that governments and natural persons are only featured further down in the list.

      That begs the question: Which governments, and which natural persons, are listed past that first 50?

  • by 0123456 (636235)

    Aren't most big corporations largely owned by pension funds these days? If so, the numbers aren't really surprising; when the government says 'either hand over 40% of your savings to us or we'll let you give it to our friends in the pension industry tax-free', you should expect most savings to end up in the hands of pension companies who then have to buy something with it.

  • We don't have a global oligarchy, we have a terrible case of crony capitalism where the ones that control the world are Goldman Sachs, and the Primary Dealers (the banks that sell the Treasury's debt) have an unfair leg up. The corporatism auctioning our governments and soldiers lives to the companies that fund the pockets of politicians has to stop. It is the reason the Tea Party started and the reason that #occupy is so large at this point. However, it's important to understand exactly what the problem
  • by swb (14022) on Monday October 24, 2011 @12:37PM (#37819696)

    It's probably paranoid, but I keep thinking that in 50 years it will be leaked out that the "great downturn of 2007-201x" was actually the result of a global financial war fought by Anglo-American banking interests on one side and a Sino-Arab consortium on the other side.

    The US government & Federal Reserve backed the banks not because they were too big to fail but because of the national security implications of losing control over world financial markets.

    The housing and stock bubbles were failed attempts by the banking cartels to create wealth to keep up with the growth of the Chinese economy and the spiraling income of oil producers in the face of stagnant wage growth and industry within the US and the UK.

    The war in Iraq wasn't about terrorism but about creating chaos in the center of Arabian Asia to disrupt OPEC.

    I'm making all this up, but it seems to have a strange believability to it.

  • At what point in history was global power ever not controlled by the top 1%? Even in truly socialist systems, the highest power has always been in the hands of a small minority. Even in democracy, less than 1% ever get elected to any higher office.

  • Only about 300 governments control almost 100 percent of the worlds livable land mass!

    Clearly something must be done...

    In all seriousness there probably is to much concentration of wealth in the hands of two few entities, that said its not as few as it first sounds in the context of other global hierarchies. We as a society would be served by taking the pain of letting some of these big firms fail, and they will fail without government loan grantees and bailouts. When they fail that wealth and power will

  • Try to get 50 people to agree on anything. Thinking that there's 150 corps that magically control the world is the tinfoil-hat mindset at its best. Who at those corps is controlling the world? The CEO? The chairman of the board? Some little accountant snickering in a back office? Do you really think you can get 150 people to agree 100% on what the right direction for the world? There is massive competition in the financial industry, driven by the need to have quarterly results go up and up, do you re
  • If you're like me and saw the Seattle protests against WTO and the Group of 8 on the news in 1999 and wondered "what the heck are they shouting about?" now you know.

  • Many at the top of the list are mutual fund companies. Some, like "Vanguard Group, Inc", are passive funds. Vanguard (#8) is the largest operator of index funds, so they don't even make active investment decisions. "The Depository Trust Company" and "Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan" are listed, and they're just nominal holders.

    Some of this is a consequence of banking deregulation. The US used to have a separation between mutual funds, investment banks, and commercial banks. Only commercial banks

  • The complaints of us peons don't matter. A while back I had some contact with Corporate America and one common theme I heard from their IT departments was they don't really make "democratic" changes to their infrastructure. So, if they get a lot of complaints about a feature or lack thereof, unless it's some media-driven tidal wave it's basically ignored. But, if ONE Big Fish client asks for online banking support it gets done pronto. If you look around you, you'll see this in effect everywhere.

    An examp

  • Note that most of these are banks, which means ultimately they are controlled by their depositors. I tried to look up how much each of them controls, but it isn't really clear what 'control' means, although it's really important. Remember that if you looked at it another way, the three largest countries in the world 'control' nearly half the worlds wealth (measured by GDP); but if you actually dig into that statistic, it's not as scary as it seems on the surface.

    Anyway, here's the list:
    1. Barclays plc
    2. Capital Group Companies Inc
    3. FMR Corporation
    4. AXA
    5. State Street Corporation
    6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
    7. Legal & General Group plc
    8. Vanguard Group Inc
    9. UBS AG
    10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
    11. Wellington Management Co LLP
    12. Deutsche Bank AG
    13. Franklin Resources Inc
    14. Credit Suisse Group
    15. Walton Enterprises LLC
    16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
    17. Natixis
    18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc
    19. T Rowe Price Group Inc
    20. Legg Mason Inc
    21. Morgan Stanley
    22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc
  • Stupid Headline (Score:4, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Monday October 24, 2011 @01:14PM (#37820296)

    "The 147 Corporations Controlling Most of the Global Economy"

    Then we find out that it's 147 banks that control 40% of the financial sector.

    How is this controlling most of the global economy? The financial sector is about 30% of the global economy, and these banks control 40% of that.

    It's more like the top 147 banks control 12% of the global economy.

    • by taucross (1330311)
      In order to be a part of the global economy, one must have money. Banks create money [wikipedia.org]. So whilst they may not have direct control of the money once it is in the economy, they have the power to create it and take it away. Would you consider that a form of control?
  • 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.)

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