By Vanessa Lu, Toronto Star, October 25, 2011
Those 99 per centers who are occupying Wall St. may be right after all.
The banks really do own the world — or at least much of it.
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, also known as ETH, set out to figure out who controls the world’s wealth, and whether the belief that it’s in the hands of a few powerful corporations is true.
Their study says it’s been hard to prove because many companies “exert control over other firms via a web of direct and indirect ownership relations which extends over many countries.”
They began with a list of 43,060 transnational corporations identified, according to the OECD definition, using a sample of about 30 million individuals and companies.
And using complicated mathematical models, they developed a network of ownership pathways originating from and pointing to the companies.
The result is a list of the 50 top global firms, and not surprisingly financial institutions make up almost the entire list though no exact figures are included.
“Many of the names are well-known global players,” says the report. “The interest of this ranking is not that it exposes unsuspected powerful players. Instead, it shows that many of the top actors belong to the core.
“This means that they do not carry out their business in isolation but, on the contrary, they are tied together in an extremely entangled web of control.”
Barclays tops the list and financial institutions in the top 10 include Capital Group Companies Inc., State Street Corp., JP Morgan Chase & Co., UBS AG and Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc.
The list is dominated by U.S. and European companies including British, German, French and Swiss firms. The only Canadian company on the list is Sun Life Financial Inc., ranked at 35.
And all this time, we actually thought that the news from each of our capitals had import, was important to the daily lives of our people. There is a risk, in the skimpy details of thsi story, that the ordinary people of the world, those struggling with their mortgage, with their retirment, with their individual health and the economic health of their country may already have fallen hostage to the "wealth and power" of the major corporations whose grip on the money circulating around the globe is so strong and so final that only their interests will be listened to by the people acting as their puppets, the politicians.
It was only a few days ago that Chris Matthews, of MSNBC, commented on his program, Hardball, that the reason no politician is fully embracing the Occupy Together (or Occupy Wall Street) movement is that those people are directly dependent on the big corporations and the banks for their campaign funds.
Power (including the power of money) is an extremely seductive mistress.
She dresses in the latest fashions, drives the most sleek convertibles, eats at the most chic and expensive dining rooms, flies on her own private luxury jet, sails on her own private luxury yacht, hosts conversations and parties where only 'her own kind' are invited, and only those on the inside of her network have legitimacy, a coveted laurel that is removed at the earliest sign of a soiled reputation, a drop in status, a shift in personal, political, economic or even geopolitical health. And she is the mistress whose every glance, and flick of the ashes from her long cigarette holder, and most innocuous and trivial "need" is the command of her many suitors, lovers, gamblers, and hunters of both genders whether they are in capitals in the Middle East, North American or Europe.
She can make or break any cause or issue and most corporations will follow her digital, daily symptom drill that crawls along the base of most television screens with her latest pulsations, both positive and negative (they're called "market reports") and while a veneer of social consciousness envelopes her public motives, her core interests are the extremely focussed pursuit of more money and power, for its own sake.
And every school child in every country is shown her glamorized picture on her own magazine pages, television channels, digital platforms and even behind the research in most universities.
We have a new global religion, dedicated to the elevation of the majesty of her magnificence, and the thinly veiled promise (never to be attained) that all people aspire to own a piece of her magnificence. And it is all a lie, and we all know it is a lie and nevertheless we continue to act is if it were the holy grail.
We are all members of her "congregation" and her "cult" and her "miltitary" and her political movement, and only those actually sitting in Zucotti Park, and in Confederation Basin in Kingston Ontario, and in city squares around the world have the counrage to remove her phoney clothes, and with them her phoney mask of the ultimate quest for all men and women. And we need to say a loud and resonating "thank you" to those courageous enough to remove the veil from her face and show her for what she truly is, a fraud.