Corporate power: exposing the global 1%

by ROAR Collective on January 29, 2013

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In these infographics, the Transnational Institute offers a visual insight into who dominates our planet at a time of economic and ecological crisis.

Did you know that less than 1% of the world’s transnational corporations, mostly banks, control the share of 40% of global businesses? Did you know that 0.001% of the world’s population (corresponding to roughly one pixel on your computer screen) controls assets worth $14.6 trillion — or over 20% of global annual GDP? In its State of Power 2013 report, the Transnational Institute breaks down the concentration of wealth and power of the world’s plutocracy into a series of powerful infographics.

TNI President and scholar-activist Susan George provides this introduction:

Towards the end of 2011, three young, very smart and tenacious mathematicians specialising in complexity theory at the Zurich Polytechnic published the paper the rest of us had been waiting for—except, to be truthful, we didn’t even know we’d been waiting for it. Nobody had ever assumed it might be possible to put the powerful structures of corporate control in an unarguably rigorous scientific framework.

That is what Stefano Battiston, James Glattfelder and Stefania Vitali, or BG&V, did with their Network of Global Corporate Control and TNI is gratefully borrowing from them in this pamphlet. Naturally we had good sources for our infographics series before and we’re using them again—lots of lists of the Biggest and the Richest had been published earlier from reliable sources such as the UN or major corporations themselves (e.g. Merrill-Lynch) or magazines serving that very clientele like Forbes.

But BG&V skewered the Davos Class—my name for those who personify the interconnected nature of the world’s most powerful corporations; interchangeable individuals with common interests and goals that make them a genuine international, nomadic social class.

The mathematicians did it by mapping the topography of the corporate universe just as astronomers map the suns, planets, constellations and supernovae of the night sky and they demonstrated how they are interconnected through direct and indirect ownership.

> View TNI’s report: State of Power 2013

Coordinator: Nick Buxton
Research: George Draffan
Design: Ricardo Santos

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

jkelvynrichards January 30, 2013 at 13:31

It is excellent that this report has confirmed the facts about the distribution of wealth and economic power in the hands of the global plutocracy. Do not forget that the World Wealth Reports of capgemini, and the reports from FORBES, have been doing so for quite some time now.
What is more, sites like Global Issues, and Garden Earth, along with my web site, have been declaring the inequality and injustice of a capitalist system that enables 1226 people and their families to be billionaires, with direct access to $5 trillion. Furthermore, 11 million out of 7.3 billion, are millionaires and control $42+ trillion…………3.5 million in North America; 3.5 million in Europe and Russia; 3.6 million in China and India/South Asia.
What can one say in favour of a global system in which the vast majority of people live in poverty? Not only that, but also the debates about wealth and poverty of the sort carried out in Davos recently and on the media, such as BBC World and CNN, are carried out in terms of the fortunes of this plutocracy. There is absolutely no understanding of what it is like to live on $2 dollars a day! or even $10 a day. Capitalism means that poverty is the norm. Capitalism means that power is in the hands of an elite. Capitalism is Plutocracy. Democracy is a fantasy. I wish to suggest that the current civil war in Syria is a battle to hold power by the Assad tribe.

go to http://www.kelvynrichards.com A Discourse: Social Ecology

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Nirava Prabhodi January 30, 2013 at 19:05

It was very difficult to believe that we have 165.000 Brazilian citizens that are a part of these 11 milion world milionaires… I thought we were just an average undeveloped country… And most astonishing is to realize that my wife and I are part of this bunch… It is sad that somehow we are contributing to this reckless World… We will begin to think on how can we increase our efforts to change that for the better, altough we have, up to now, already done our best effort not to consume and spend in a havock fashion, and trying to help others come out of poverty level..

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jkelvynrichards January 31, 2013 at 14:05

Nirava, believe it. It is well recorded that 5.5 billion survive on $10 a day while 1.5 billion die of hunger on $1 a day. If it is difficult to imagine what it is like to exist on $1 a day, think about what you could buy. 3 Apples, or some tomatoes or some oranges or some peanuts and live in a cardboard hut, and wear clothes you scrounge from someone else.

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DeanSWalsh January 31, 2013 at 20:41

It really is shocking when you see it all laid down together in such simple terms. I already pretty much knew most of this information, but just seeing it all like this still raises my hackles.

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Cedrick May 29, 2013 at 09:25

Although the Royal Dutch Shell is the most grossing one, US still holds the great economic power for the most influential companies are within its premises.

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Fred May 15, 2014 at 01:50

The key ending this concentration of wealth is to end the way central banks are allowed to use debt, with interest paid by taxpayers, to create and control the money supplies of our nations. This debt is unnecessary and causes the illegal transfer of national labor production and the growth of our economies to these transnational banks who also control the currency exchanges. The system is corrupt and has been made so by the actions of the bankers who have created it in order to take control of our money and in doing so, our government. This effectively enslaves all the peoples of the world by means of this debt creation.

Banks also leverage our assets into free money used for lending and because these central banks control the regulation, the risks taken are transferred onto the taxpayers when massive failures disrupt the economy. This system creates the inflation that consumes our wealth with currency devaluation resulting from this leveraging that the asset owners receive very little in return. Nations need to end this free money system for private banks and require them to pay for the money they create with leverage. All investors recognize the cost of leverage we must pay brokers. Banks should do the same and compete for the use of our assets. This would allow investors to choose the level of risk they wish to participate in and receive a share of the benefits. This would result in better risk management, more interest paid to investors and to nations when leverage is used to leverage deposits in the creation of lending capital. Such changes would allow better oversight of bank money management, lower overall risk-taking and a more stable monetary system with less inflation. The people whose assets are being used in this leveraging scheme would be taxes less on their earning because nations would gain interest income from the lenders using leverage. The amount of interest income for nations is likely to equal or exceed the total interest now paid to the global bankers by taxpayers for the sovereign debt being used to create the money supplies.

When this corrupt monetary/banking system is fixed then, there will be no interest paid for the creation of money supplies but interest will be received from economic growth that has been financed with money borrowed by these lending institutions from government and/or investors. A double benefit for both government and taxpayer/investors. Moving central banks into the states and provinces would help improve money distribution so that demand in the economy becomes the driver of money creation via lending. This avoids the cost added to the money supply when its source begins with bonds issued in the investment banks.

The central bank system used in our nations needs to be made democratic so that each states and provinces can own a local reserve bank where the bank manager is also a board member of the new central bank. These state-owned banks would then receive local oversight by voters and taxpayers. The board of the new central bank would vote on the money supply management decisions and avoid the influence of federal/parliamentary politicians desiring more spending and borrowing.

To make these changes work properly, nations need a balanced budget requirement in their constitution that mandates every deficit be repaid in the following budget term. Preventing the accumulation and growth of debt used to avoid the wrath of taxpayers is paramount in proper long-term budget management. This change would provide taxpayers with choices on spending by government that are likely to prevent this risky use of debt by nations and improve individual wealth accumulation and its distribution throughout the economy.

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