Who Really Owns the World

Toxic Corporate Pollen
The organisation of global capital (Image: PLoS One)

Next time someone blithers antisemitic, wild accusations about Jews running the world, here’s an article to which you can refer them.

‘The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York’s Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere (see photo). But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world’s transnational corporations (TNCs).

From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, they pulled out all 43,060 TNCs and the share ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company’s operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.

The work, to be published in PloS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “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.’

It’s the banks and associated money launderers who do own the lion’s share of the world’s wealth, and these are owned by their shareholders, who are largely other banks and money launderers, an interconnectivity which has serious implications for global economic stability. Still,

One thing won’t chime with some of the protesters’ claims: the super-entity is unlikely to be the intentional result of a conspiracy to rule the world. “Such structures are common in nature,” says Sugihara.

Newcomers to any network connect preferentially to highly connected members. TNCs buy shares in each other for business reasons, not for world domination. If connectedness clusters, so does wealth, says Dan Braha of NECSI: in similar models, money flows towards the most highly connected members. The Zurich study, says Sugihara, “is strong evidence that simple rules governing TNCs give rise spontaneously to highly connected groups”. Or as Braha puts it: “The Occupy Wall Street claim that 1 per cent of people have most of the wealth reflects a logical phase of the self-organising economy.”

So, the super-entity may not result from conspiracy. The real question, says the Zurich team, is whether it can exert concerted political power. Driffill feels 147 is too many to sustain collusion. Braha suspects they will compete in the market but act together on common interests. Resisting changes to the network structure may be one such common interest.

Occupying Hastings Street
Occupying Hastings Street - sun, surf and sand as you occupy
#OccupyHastingsStreet notes that Noosa is so dense with rich people that it is known as the Monaco of Australia thus making it an ideal, strategic target for the Occupy movement.

Western hegemony relies on exploitation and oppression of indigenous people – time to challenge capitalism, end colonialism and dismantle the new feudalism. The colonisation of Australia is ongoing – before migaloos arrived there was no need to #OccupyHastingsStreet – time for a treaty and compensation to Australian Aboriginals. Give it back!

Related Links

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The social relationship constituted by value is only complete, its domination over labor is only really free, if the power of property is no longer a requirement fulfilled by previous accumulation, but a function of its future expansion. This reversal is the great motor of growth and the source of capitalism’s legendary dynamism.

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This is also what has happened with Israel’s own Basic Laws. The people with clout, who were represented in the Knesset by ostensibly independent research institutes, lobbyists and Knesset members on their behalf, are the ones who dictated the sanctification of property rights and the exclusion of welfare rights. It is not by chance that the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom was passed in the middle of the night by a minority of Knesset members and without public debate, even for the sake of appearances. A constitution of this sort is one of the main means for the preservation of control by the elite groups.

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Today, the wealthiest 20% of Australians own 61% of the nation’s wealth; the poorest 20% own just 1%. Although the income disparities are less marked, they too have been growing. While we are collectively wealthier than we have ever been, that wealth is spread less evenly than in the ’60s and ’70s and we are now a good deal less equal than countries such as Japan, Sweden and Norway. We are one of the most unequal developed countries, keeping company with the US and Britain.

For a Global Parachute : Revising Marxian Economics

Professor Richard D. Wolff: This four part course provides a working foundation in the core concepts of Marxian economic theory – necessary and surplus labor, labor power, surplus value, exploitation, capital accumulation, distributions of the surplus, capitalist crises, and the differences between capitalist and other class structures. In addition, these core concepts will be systematically used to understand current social problems (including political and cultural as well as economic problems). The goal is to enable students to apply Marxian economics in their own efforts to analyze society and to strategize politically today.

Palestine / Israel Links

The ruined village Palestinians will never forget

For many Palestinians, Lifta is a symbol of the Nakba, literally the “catastrophe”, of 1948 in which 700,000 people were dispossessed. It embodies their longing for their land, and their bitterness at their continued refugee status. It is, wrote Palestinian author Ghada Karmi in a letter to the Los Angeles Times, “a physical memory of injustice and survival”.

Bob Geldof preaches about Africa to Israel, breaks the boycott and fails to recognise the plight of Palestinians courtesy of apartheid and occupation. Hypocrite.

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The Israeli police are ramping up arrests and attacks against Palestinian children.

Targeting of children is nothing new in West Bank villages like Nabi Saleh and Bil’in. This afternoon, Israeli police raided the house of 8 year-old Ali Siyam in the Occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

Siyam’s arrest comes days after Israeli soldiers broke the arm of a 9-year-old Palestinian child in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Soldiers, in violation of Israeli army rules of conduct, fired a tear gas canister directly at the child from a range of ten meters. Another 14 year old child was injured from a tear gas canister before the demonstration was over.

Israeli forces raid Information Center again, director Siyam summoned and detained
Netanyahu asked Canada PM to thwart G8 support for 1967 borders
British PM removes his name from list of Jewish National Fund patrons – time constraints?

In its last open letter to Cameron, sent two weeks ago, Stop the JNF characterized the JNF’s British Park in Israel as one that was planted “in order to cover over the remains of the Palestinian villages of Ajjur and Zakariyya, destroyed in 1948, and to prevent the original population and their descendants from returning.”

Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Sarah Colborne said in a statement that Cameron’s decision “reflects the fact that it is now impossible for any serious party leader to lend their public support to racism.” She added: “The Jewish National Fund plays a critical role in facilitating the continued dispossession and suffering of Palestinians.”

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The Canberra School

The Canberra School

Economists are extremists
of irrational faith,
acolytes of daily newsprint
parsing icons of inflation and recession
with fringe benefits
doctrines of gain through pain,
while wealth breeds wealth by stealth.

Keynes, Smith and Friedman –
Thatcher, Keating, Reagan,
the pedantic pantheons
and sacrifice of certainty.
Economists as pampered disciples,
their J curved recursive credos of trade and ego
hardening malleable hearts to stone,
resounding hollow in
less speculative souls.

I’d like to turn the tables in the temple,
and for every new presumption,
make them reimburse the poor.

Jinjirrie 1992

To our sisters on #IWD2011 – equal rights : stand with the oppressed not the oppressor : end imperialism : capitalism is not woman-friendly

Australia Links

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Ms Gillard will become the first foreign dignitary to address the new US congress and only the fourth Australian prime minister to ever do so.

Her speech is expected to commemorate 60 years of the ANZUS alliance.

The other big moment will be a meeting with Mr Obama, where the exit strategy for the Afghan war and the global economic recovery will be likely topics.

But Ms Gillard has already indicated she will steer clear of difficult territory, including Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

She will also discuss global security during talks with other senior administration figures, including secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the CIA director.

The global economy will dominate discussions with Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and the head of the World Bank.

There will also be dinner with former Labor leader and now US ambassador Kim Beazley, lunch with News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch and talks with UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Palestine / Israel Links

Egyptian diplomat says new leaders could ease travel restrictions on Gaza Palestinians
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Kevin Rudd’s Jerusalem Press Conference

Steve Weizman, AFP: Without going into details Minister, did you in your talks with the Prime Minister raise your concerns about settlements.

Mr Rudd: I don’t go into those details, because my relationship with the Israeli Government is longstanding, with the Prime Minister it’s longstanding in various positions he and I have held over a long period of time. Therefore I leave those deliberations to themselves.

Of course, the wider question of settlements is a continuing issue in the international debate, as are the broader questions concerning the final status issues which I referred to before.

Libya Links

SAS and MI6 officers released by Libya’s rebel commanders
White House chief of staff sceptical about Libyan no-fly zones
Obama’s Libyan Abdication

Wikileaks Links


Other Links

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America Is Not Broke : just morally bankrupt
Put merchants of death out of business

Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, is pushing for the arms embargo slapped on China after the Tiananmen Square massacre to be scrapped on the grounds that relations with Beijing need to be nurtured for strategic reasons. Proving that she suffers from the same lack of scruples as other top players in New Labour, she is more concerned with drumming up business for the arms industry than in China’s oppression of Uighurs in Xinjiang or Buddhists in Tibet. Proving, too, that mollycoddling the arms industry transcends party lines in British politics, David Cameron toured the Persian Gulf last month with a few of his country’s leading arms traders. Critics of the trade are “completely at odds with reality”, the prime minister thundered.
It is right that a fresh ban on weapons sales to Libya has now been introduced. But we know that such bans can be lifted on the flimsiest of pretexts.