27 October 2011

Capitalists really do run the world—science says so

Science, it seems, is confirming the Occupy movement's concerns about capitalists running the world. A trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology combined the mathematics used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world's transnational corporations (TNCs). They discovered that less than one per cent of the corporations controlled 40 per cent of the wealth in the system.

Starting with the world's 43,060 TNCs, they constructed a model of which corporations controlled others through shareholding networks, combined with their operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power. The model revealed a core of 1,318 corporations with interlocking ownerships. Each had ties to at least two others with an average of 20. This group represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, but in addition they collectively owned the majority of the world's large blue chip and manufacturing firms, representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

Further untangling the ownership web, the team found much of it tracked back to a "super-entity" of 147 even more tightly knit corporations that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. Most were financial institutions.

This may not represent a conspiracy, but it does represent a disturbing concentration of wealth and power. The group shares common interests and extraordinary means to influence governments toward satisfying those interests. Thus the democracy yields to the plutocracy, which is of course essentially what the Occupy movement is protesting.

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