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The 147 Corporations Controlling Most of the Global Economy

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the free-markets-for-the-rest-of-us dept.

The Almighty Buck 572

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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was gonna say first post, but i'm over it. (-1, Offtopic)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819250)

asdf

Re:was gonna say first post, but i'm over it. (0)

mykie242 (2449478) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819332)

I, for one, am tired of the elite 1% in control of the "first" posts on the majority Internet forums world wide. It's time for revolution! Take back the "first" posts! We are the 99%!

I'm actually suprised it's that many (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:I'm actually suprised it's that many (4, Interesting)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#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....

Re:I'm actually suprised it's that many (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819524)

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

Re:I'm actually suprised it's that many (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819674)

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 to do so. 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. Current political winds are blowing away from a corporate world and back to the realms of Kings & Queens.

Re:I'm actually suprised it's that many (5, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819802)

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.

Re:I'm actually suprised it's that many (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819828)

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.

Re:I'm actually suprised it's that many (2)

ADRA (37398) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819856)

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 industries seem a lot more reflexive based on the health of a global economy.

Re:I'm actually suprised it's that many (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819642)

The 147 are so interconnected, they are in some sense 1 company. And these are banks and insurers which received government bailouts. the "too big to fail" group.

Re:I'm actually suprised it's that many (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819812)

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.

Re:I'm actually suprised it's that many (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819834)

Unfortunately there is no way out of this situation. It would the same as Hitler ruling the world, we are all being controlled and lied to by a few individuals!

Re:I'm actually suprised it's that many (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819934)

The top 50 have revenues that dwarf the total annual revenue of the US government. When you control that much money, you're a world superpower without the national defense burden.

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/global500/2011/full_list/ [cnn.com]

Correction. (5, Insightful)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819294)

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]

Re:Corporate Government owns most of the Corporati (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819616)

Actually, the Governments (States, Towns, Cities, etc) own a majority of the publicly traded corporations. These governments themselves are also corporations.
The government corporations create the rules, laws, and regulations. Then, they own the publicly traded corporations and see to it they do exactly what the government wants (ie Big Brother).

If that doesn't put it in perspective (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819296)

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...

Re:If that doesn't put it in perspective (1)

fatboy (6851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819476)

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

Re:If that doesn't put it in perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819892)

Many of those on the list are investment banks. TFA does not account for shares held by the bank in its "street name" as fiduciary for its customers. The authors are either fools not to mention this, or are intentionally deceptive. Either way, we still not know who run Bartertown.

Re:If that doesn't put it in perspective (4, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819484)

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

Re:If that doesn't put it in perspective (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819626)

Yeah, my .0000001% share of those companies is really going to turn things around

Re:If that doesn't put it in perspective (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:If that doesn't put it in perspective (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819874)

Pension plans are bigger than you think. Perhaps you missed a relevant slashdot article detailing the power that pension plans toy with. [slashdot.org]

More than a few pension plans are individually bigger than Apple in terms of net worth. Combined the pension plans probably rival the combined wealth of the fortune-500's... in other words they are not to be shrugged off like you are attempting to do.

Re:If that doesn't put it in perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819672)

And who looks after that pension plan?

The companies in the top 20?

Who appear to have major holdings in so many blue-chip companies?

Hmmm ....

Let's redo the analysis without pension plans.

Re:If that doesn't put it in perspective (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819726)

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.

Re:If that doesn't put it in perspective (1)

Bowling Moses (591924) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819890)

"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 of Company X do you have to own for the board of directors to have to listen to you? What percent ownership does a member of the board of directors have? On what other boards of directors do they sit, and how many such people would it take to effectively control the companies that control that 40% of the wealth? I hope that's an upcoming part two of the study.

Re:If that doesn't put it in perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819900)

And this is the solution to the evil of many corporations. You have to get enough people of like mind to all buy as much as they can of the voting stock of a corporation and then vote as a block. For example, many people think of Wal-mart as evil. If enough like minded people bought a voting majority of Wal-mart stock they could pass a motion to wind the company up and put it out of business.

Problem is that in the process of handling all those shares and waiting to get enough to force the wind up of the company they may find that they'd be shutting down a good investment.

I've often heard is better to own shares of a bank than put your money in an account in the bank if you're taking about saving and getting a good return.

goddammit, down another 25% this year (no F'in jk) (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819906)

They're probably in your 401(k) or pension plan.

Thanks for the warning, better get my shotgun.

Re:If that doesn't put it in perspective (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819914)

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

Re:If that doesn't put it in perspective (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819498)

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

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

Re:If that doesn't put it in perspective (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819732)

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 unavoidable that they will collude with each other to maintain dominance at the sacrifice of the free market at large.

Do we have a global oligarchy? (5, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819308)

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.

Re:Do we have a global oligarchy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819850)

The 99% do matter. Stop buying their shit. Get everyone around you to do the same.

OWS has it way wrong, if they really wanted to make a difference, they would protest with their wallets.

ALL HAIL OUR GLOBAL CORPORATE OVERLORDS!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819310)

Hah. I got to say it first.

Haven't you been watching your Glenn Beck? (1)

Millennium (2451) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819322)

It's spelled "OLIGARHY".

Absolutely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819324)

You know it's bad when 1% of America's population controls 50% of the wealth. I cannot understand why in a Representative Democracy we allow this to occur. It seems as soon as someone gets elected to Congress, they are immediately bought by the wealthy elite to represent their interests.

No. (5, Insightful)

imric (6240) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Absolutely. (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819410)

I cannot understand why in a Representative Democracy we allow this to occur

Because the majority of us would rather be allowed to make our own way in the world and don't want to be subsidized by the rich. Some of us accept that there will be people who are capable of more and have more stuff in their lives even though we are not in that position. We want to have the ability to become filthy rich ourselves and don't have any ill will against those who were capable of doing so.

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

This is an entirely different issue, which while it does exist in the same system, its not directly linked, but it is a bad attribute the system lends itself too.

We can stop this, without stopping the rest of it and without turning into a welfare state.

Re:Absolutely. (3, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819730)

If someone is getting filthy rich by corrupting the political system and through financial trickery to game the system in their favor, that doesn't strike me as the same thing as making your wealth via the sweat of your hands. The problem is that a good portion of those at the top of the food chain are not making their vast wealth via the poetic "sweat of the brow" that is such a big part of the American mythos, but are doing it by cheating and stealing, and buying off the political classes, or at the very least overawing them with notions of "too big to fail."

At some point big money and liberty will inevitably collide, and by basically just jumping over the issue by making believe that a fair number of the most extremely wealthy are in fact making that wealth through nefarious means, you're allowing ideology to lead you by the nose, straight into the abyss.

In the olden days, it was recognized that there was were aristocratic and noble classes, and from there could stem some degree of control. The West, by essentially eradicating those classes, has basically allowed them to be recreated, but now philosophically and ideologically seems incapable of applying the same rules that once applied. The idea of noblesse oblige, at least created an underlying idea that those of wealth and privilege owed the lower classes something for their labors, even if it was frequently ignored.

Now essentially we have an aristocracy built on pure greed, that speaks the language of economic egalitarianism, in fact feel themselves quite independent of society. They have encouraged economic and social libertarianism simply because it improves their bottom line. It is essentially a sociopathic aristocracy, and just how long do you think that can go on? At some, as the French Revolution showed, you'll break too many backs, and all these quaint notions of economic and social liberty, of getting rich the old-fashioned way, and offering empty platitudes like "in American you can be whatever you work to accomplish" will no longer sell. Do you think the West has become invulnerable to class warfare?

Right now, it's just crazy hippies and college students bitching about Wall Street. But if there isn't found a way to wrest some political control from the new aristocracy, it will get ugly, and then we'll end up with an awful system like Communism that nobody wants.

Re:Absolutely. (1)

epine (68316) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819886)

Because the majority of us would rather be allowed to make our own way in the world and don't want to be subsidized by the rich. Some of us accept that there will be people who are capable of more and have more stuff in their lives even though we are not in that position. We want to have the ability to become filthy rich ourselves and don't have any ill will against those who were capable of doing so.

I've heard this sermon before. I don't subscribe to the smooth garden path of deserving. It goes hand in hand with evolution denial. In order for complexity on the scale of life to arise from a hot, uncaring universe, you need a mechanism of symmetry breaking--there has to be some detour on the rapid descent to maximum entropy.

Once you accept that symmetry breaking is a powerful force in the universe, it becomes easier to understand the diffuse relationship between merit and prosperity. Of those who try equally hard and well, the lucky marbles go up, the rest go down; tiny ratchets of winner-take-all determine the distribution of mass and money in the known universe.

Many wealthy people will concede that their spectacular success once hung by a thin thread of caprice.

Warren Buffet distinguished himself though his feats of acumen (and petty monopoly), but none so great as to surmount having parents of Eritrean nationality. If you put two ants on an elastic string heading left to right and then pull the ends apart with equal motion, the determined ant on the left for all his local progress still falls backward.

How much is the ant and how much the elastic? There's more to this story than virtuous ant sermons.

Facts (1, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Facts (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819560)

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.

Re:Facts (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819742)

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 market segment than very few super large ones. It can offer more innovation. Now they do not all have to Mom and Pop sized but as a rule more is better then less.

Hey I am a life long Republican as was my mother and father so I am no bleeding heart liberal. I am also not a big supporter of the Occupy because the seem like a mob of people that are all mad about different things and are not offering any good solutions, just like the Tea Party to be honest.
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.

Better that it's fewer (2)

concealment (2447304) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819344)

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

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

Re:Better that it's fewer (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Better that it's fewer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819644)

ants have a chance to watch over 147 elephants?
Yeah, right.

Re:Better that it's fewer (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819702)

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.

Re:Better that it's fewer (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819830)

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.

News at 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819358)

The majority of the world's money is controlled by banks, and investment banks.

Re:News at 11 (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819930)

It's one thing to say it and believe it. It's another to prove it and present the findings in detail. They aren't saying "there is a god because everything is overwhelmingly complex and beautiful." They are collecting facts and data and presenting it.

More interesting is that it also kind of defeats any conspiracy theory as to how/why. It simply points out there are factors of nature at play here and I tend to agree. What is happening isn't "a few bad apples" conspiring, but rather many natural inclinations coming together. But this is why we have government and rule of law. We use law as a means to overcome our human desires for power and control and to limit our ability to cause problems for the rest of the world. This is PRECISELY what law is there to do. Unfortunately, the "typical ordinary humans" who have acquired power and control have been using it to buy new laws and to remove certain older limiting laws. So now "rule of law" doesn't mean so much any more.

The facts by themselves are interesting, but it leads to the wrong conclusions and the wrong actions when people fail to understand how it came to be and what really drives it all to happen. In short, there is a lot of human nature at play and human nature need to be limited so that we can all get along on the same planet.

Global Oligarchy? (5, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819364)

Yes.

Next Question: How do we topple it?

Re:Global Oligarchy? (0)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819382)

That statement presumes the existence of such a thing.

Re:Global Oligarchy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819506)

Assuming it doesn't is either naive or malicious. Some of these corporations have more power over some first-world countries than their citizens.

Re:Global Oligarchy? (2)

mikazo (1028930) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819556)

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]

Re:Global Oligarchy? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819600)

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.

Re:Global Oligarchy? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819888)

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.

We still have more than 100? (3, Funny)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819368)

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:We still have more than 100? (3, Insightful)

AdamJS (2466928) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

I, for one... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819400)

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...

Re:I, for one... (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819680)

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.

Global Olivearchy (4, Funny)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819412)

Global olivearchy.

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

So what's the solution? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819428)

Have 20 governments cease the property of billions of investors so the assets of 147 companies reside ultimately in even fewer hands? Hands that didn't work for any of that wealth. Hands that only claim it because they put a gun in the face of the corporation and said "your money or your life?"

I don't know what the point of this article is in the first place.

To what end? Yes, the world isn't equal... thanks for the news flash. There are reasons for that that have nothing to do with corruption however. And I've seen no solution to fix it lately that wouldn't make any corruption worse as well as introduce entirely new problems such as competence.

Say what you will about the corporations but most of them know their business. They know what they're doing and how to do it and how to keep doing it.

If the government took any of their businesses over how confident are we that quality, productivity, and cost wouldn't slip as well as innovation die? I'm not confident at all. Politicians make poor business people, engineers, prospectors, investors, traders, and really everything beyond politicians. They're frequently not even very good lawyers despite that often being their only other qualification.

I don't know... I'm not claiming the world isn't messed up... I just don't see how this observation helps anything and I see no rational suggestions as to how to fix it. First idea that isn't crazy I'll back... but so far everyone is either offering no solutions or insane solutions.

What a silly question! (3, Insightful)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:What a silly question! (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819666)

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.

Re:What a silly question! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819820)

Support the Tea Party, who started as a protest against the bailouts and too big to fail attitude.

Corporations alone can't hurt or control you (3, Insightful)

TonyXL (33244) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819446)

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

Re:Corporations alone can't hurt or control you (1)

AdamJS (2466928) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819508)

Uh...what? Unless you're talking about how governments gave corporations a form of personhood and thus protection for their 'masters', corporations can easily harm you without government interference. There are just way too many examples to even bother listing one. Perhaps you are talking about how a Government's creation of the construct known as "money" or "wealth" enables an entity called a Corporation to consolidate and control said powers and use them in harmful ways? Or how a government allows the creation of a society which could even bear a corporation's existence, thus allowing an entity that can harm to even exist? Other than that, I cannot ascertain what you're getting at.

Re:Corporations alone can't hurt or control you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819614)

Tell that to all those who died of cancer in San Jose, CA from contaminated groundwater or to those who breathed poison gas in Bhopal, India. Just to pick a couple...

Re:Corporations alone can't hurt or control you (4, Informative)

mrquagmire (2326560) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819632)

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

Re:Corporations alone can't hurt or control you (0)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819736)

mod parent up, this is the truth.

Re:Corporations alone can't hurt or control you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819754)

And corporations have been telling us the best way for government to help them is to eliminate regulations.

You are welcome to complete the syllogism yourself.

No, it doesn't mean there's a global oligarchy (2)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819460)

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.

Re:No, it doesn't mean there's a global oligarchy (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819770)

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:No, it doesn't mean there's a global oligarchy (2, Insightful)

TheSync (5291) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819818)

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.

Re:No, it doesn't mean there's a global oligarchy (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819866)

That seems to be not the case. Look at the car bailout. The Big Three were not making cars anyone wanted to buy. So instead they made the taxpayers pay them anyways. If you have sufficient influence then you don't necessarily need to sell a product or service.

Re:No, it doesn't mean there's a global oligarchy (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819898)

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.

...Huh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819494)

* Lehman still existed in the 2007 dataset used

Are you telling me this list is 4 years old?

Zionist Control (0)

earls (1367951) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819514)

See!! All Jews!

the rest of the list? (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819546)

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?

Re:the rest of the list? (1)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819918)

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?

HEAD! PANTS! NOW!! (1)

realmojo (62898) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819584)

Stuart Mackenzie: Well, it's a well known fact, Sonny Jim, that there's a secret society of the five wealthiest people in the world, known as The Pentavirate, who run everything in the world, including the newspapers, and meet tri-annually at a secret country mansion in Colorado, known as The Meadows.
Tony Giardino: So who's in this Pentavirate?
Stuart Mackenzie: The Queen, The Vatican, The Gettys, The Rothschilds, *and* Colonel Sanders before he went tits up. Oh, I hated the Colonel with is wee *beady* eyes, and that smug look on his face. "Oh, you're gonna buy my chicken! Ohhhhh!"
Charlie Mackenzie: Dad, how can you hate "The Colonel"?
Stuart Mackenzie: Because he puts an addictive chemical in his chicken that makes ya crave it fortnightly, smartass!

Uggggggh. (0)

cornface (900179) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819592)

What is this crap. Wikileaks, Ron Paul, and global oligarch conspiracy all at once.

Stop it.

Re:Uggggggh. (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819814)

I agree, the ramblings of slashdot lately remind me of those nuts who believe in the new world order conspiracy that there's some secret group out there that conspires to rule the world, and they rig elections, caused 9/11, etc.

All that's missing is a link to Alex Jones' prisonplanet.com website.

147 is almost = (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819594)

Dunbar's Number [google.com]

global subconsciousness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819618)

what's interesting to me is that these are the offspring of our global subconscious minds when dealing with scarcity. we might as well be" just another failed mutation" Carlin

Hmm (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819640)

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.

How long before Brawndo buys out everything? (1)

BMOC (2478408) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819678)

Then it gets interesting.

Re:How long before Brawndo buys out everything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819746)

ASS!

interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819688)

to see 2 Chinese companies that are controlled by the chinese gov. up there. 10 years ago, they were not even in the top 150, let alone top 50.

32 percent of global revenues? (1)

CerealSam (642129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819690)

147 companies hold 40% of the network that holds 80% (20% + further 60%) of the global revenues for ... ? Those 37 million companies worldwide?

Crony Capitalism (2)

caffinatedmouse (2492666) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819694)

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 is and why. That's why Ron Paul is doing so well. He's the only guy that understands economics. Unfortunately, he's not a good looking shiny figure on stage that will appeal to the "Access Hollywood" obsessed populace. These 147 institutions have pushed the risk from the corporate balance sheet to the sovereign balance sheet under the guise of systemic risk. Unfortunately, unless meaningful change is brought, not partisan bullshit, it will likely bring the end of a country or two, and definitely a bunch of currency systems.

Who is to blame? Well about every president, senator and congressman over the last 30 years, with few exceptions.

Steve Wynn Epic Rant Part II - Full Audio And Transcript With Complete #OccupyWallStreet Thoughts [zerohedge.com]

Watch this:Fear the Boom and Bust [econstories.tv] [econstories.tv]
then this: Fight of the Century [econstories.tv] [econstories.tv]

Global financial war (2)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

I'm sorry, I just had to laugh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819700)

#33. Dodge & Cox

Pronounce it out loud if you don't get the humor.

I'm trying to figure out (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819756)

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.

The Future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819774)

Jonathon! Jonathon!

Before everyone gets to worked up (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819800)

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 get spread around to at least more hands than the single hand of the failed entity. Yes it might be very painful short term but long term its better, we must end the moral hazard.

Also I would point out many of these corporations are public and buy purchasing a few shares of voting stock you can probably have a lot more influence then you can have in international politics going the government route!

   

The Corporation Nation (2010) : Clint Richardson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37819816)

The Corporation Nation (2010) : Clint Richardson
You've got see it. Google it.

Really? (1)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819884)

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 really think that all of these corps would hop in bed with the competition?

This is what "globalization" means (1)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819896)

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.

Some of those don't do much; some should do less. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819902)

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 were insured by the FDIC and backed by the Federal Reserve. That changed when Glass-Stegall was repeated in 1999, and it took less than ten years for the banking industry to screw up badly and break the economy.

That's why one of the demands of the Occupy Wall Street movement is to return to Glass-Stegall.

It's the Big Fish philosophy that's the problem (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#37819936)

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 example of what I'm talking about: There was a piss-ant town bordering KC that really wasn't big enough to be incorporated, but since it sat on a major highway the town would use cops to prey on traffic passing through to the city. People where getting all sorts of BS tickets, a couple miles over the speed limit, driving too slow, crossing lines, etc. Whatever they could to generate revenue for their piss-ant town.

Now, of course people complained and complained a lot. But nothing ever got done. Until, the morons in this little town decided to pull over and ticket a state congressman for crossing the white line (which he said he never did). Said congressman takes it up with his colleagues and passes a bill that says towns may only make a certain percentage of revenue from traffic tickets. Offending incorporated town can no longer fund itself or it's police force, then dissolves; problem solved. Years of public complaints didn't do a damned thing.

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