Monday, October 24, 2011

Only 147 Corporations Control > 40% of Global Economy

Research is backs up the claims of Wall Street protestors OccupyWallStreet, as scientists find that 147 corporations control more than 40% of the global economy (full PDF). And even more curious: of the top 50 corporations, 49 are in the financial industry.

The research is based on data from 2007, and since then there has been some "consolidation" in several industries - meaning that the list is probably much shorter in 2011.

In the current economic environment, the questions that arise from this are serious and with far-reaching consequences. Consider the following situation where we have:

Firstly, a highly interconnected network of financial institutions, with a high reliance on a small number of nodes. Such a network is vulnerable and unstable.

Secondly, consider that Europe might be facing a wave of sovereign defaults. You might not believe it until it is confirmed by Netcraft, but a default in Greece seems pretty much inevitable at the moment. Such a default would probably force some players in the financial industry into default.

And what happens when one or more of the main nodes in such a highly interconnected graph disappears? At the same time as many other nodes are weakened by the same factor? The network will need to change heavily, which essentially represents a restructuring of the global economy.

Looking beyond the current state of the global economy, what hahs historically happened when so much power is concentrated in the hands of so few? Could OccupyWallStreet grow into a kind of global variety of the French revolution?

Most would probably agree that the concentration of power in the hands of so few is not good, regardless of their political affiliation. It is bad for competition, it is bad for the distribution of wealth, and the resulting system is vulnerable and unstable. If a large restructuring of the global economy is imminent, how would it be possible to avoid such a concentration of economic activity from just happening all over again?

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