If you could map the connections between the world’s most powerful corporations, you could work out which ones were the most important, and which ones were critical to the functioning of the whole – the infamous ‘too big to fail’ companies.
That’s what three systems analysts from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have done, and the result looks like this:
This image shows the connections between the 1,318 biggest companies in the world, mapped according to share ownership out of an original 43,000 companies. At the core are 147 super-connected companies, the ones in red. That group, less than one percent of the whole, effectively controls 40% of global revenue. No prizes for guessing which sector dominates that core group. At the top of the tree is Barclays, with JP Morgan Chase, UBS and Merrill Lynch all in the top ten.
This, says the New Scientist, gives credence to the Occupy movement’s claim that the world is run for the benefit of the richest one percent. According to this particular exercise in systems theory, that’s entirely correct.
If you want to check out the methodology, the study is online here (pdf).