There may be 147 companies in the world that own everything, as colleague Bruce Upbin points out and they are dominated by investment companies as Eric Savitz rightly points out. But it’s not you and I who really control those companies, even though much of our money is in them. Given the nature of how money is invested, there are four companies in the shadows that really control those companies that own everything.
You can see where I’m headed here. That means the real power to control the world lies with four companies: McGraw-Hill, which owns Standard & Poor’s, Northwestern Mutual, which owns Russell Investments, the index arm of which runs the benchmark Russell 1,000 and Russell 3,000, CME Group which owns 90% of Dow Jones Indexes, and Barclay’s, which took over Lehman Brothers and its Lehman Aggregate Bond Index, the dominant world bond fund index. Together, these four firms dominate the world of indexing. And in turn, that means they hold real sway over the world’s money.
The Bilderberg Group is 120-140 powerful people who meet each year to discuss policy. The meetings are closed to the public.
This graph we found on Facebook shows the members' connections to a ton of corporations, charities, policy groups and media. Everyone from Eric Schmidt to George Soros is a member. There are tons of conspiracy theories about the group, including that they control the world economy.
We took the findings with a grain of salt--after all, it's easy to trace an individual to a corporation and the graph doesn't specify what influence the member wielded.
But perhaps it's a compelling argument for why the meetings should be public.
Agribusiness is concentrated to a point that would make a Wall Street master of the universe blush. Vast globe-spanning corporations, many of them US-based, dominate the industry.
Let's start with "inputs," the stuff farmers buy before they plant their crops. As of 2007, six companies owned 75 percent of the global pesticide market, and four companies sold half of the globe's seeds, ETC Group reckons. Here's the kicker: Three of them—Monsanto, Syngenta, and Dupont—are on both lists. The agrichemical makers have transitioned into seed barons, genetically engineering their major seed lines to resist their own herbicides.
Okay, so farmers rely on a small handful of firms for their inputs. But it turns out the same thing holds true when they harvest and sell their crops. Just four companies—Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, and Louis Dreyfus—control up to 90 percent of the global trade in grain. In the United States, three of those firms process 70 percent of the soybeans and 40 percent of the wheat milled into flour. The bulk of corn and soy grown by US farmers ends up feeding animals in vast factories, and here, too, the consolidation is dramatic: Three companies now process more than 70 percent of all beef, and just four firms slaughter and pack upwards of 58 percent of all pork and chicken.
Goldman Sachs made more than a quarter of a billion pounds last year by speculating on food staples, reigniting the controversy over banks profiting from the global food crisis.
Less than a week after the Bank of England Governor, Sir Mervyn King, slapped Goldman Sachs on the wrist for attempting to save its UK employees millions of pounds in tax by delaying bonus payments, the investment bank faces fresh accusations that it is contributing to rising food prices.
Goldman made about $400m (£251m) in 2012 from investing its clients' money in a range of "soft commodities", from wheat and maize to coffee and sugar, according to an analysis for The Independent by the World Development Movement (WDM).
In 2007, then-U.S. ambassador to France Craig Stapleton conspired to retaliate against European countries for their anti-biotech policies. U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks reveal the Bush administration formulated battle plans to extract revenge against Europe for refusing to use genetically modified seeds.
In the leaked cable, Stapleton writes: “Europe is moving backwards not forwards on this issue with France playing a leading role, along with Austria, Italy and even the [European] Commission…Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voice.”
Ambassador Stapleton goes on to write: “Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory,” he wrote.
According to the High Court, Nathaniel Rothschild, scion of the banking dynasty and friend of seemingly everyone in the spheres of finance, business and politics, is indeed "puppet master" to the Baron of Hartlepool and Foy.
The banker and Bullingdon boy has lost his libel case against the Daily Mail, which he sued for "substantial damages" over its account of his and Mr Mandelson's extraordinary trip to Russia in January 2005.
Mr Rothschild claimed he was subjected to "sustained and unjustified" attacks in the May 2010 article, which portrayed him as a "puppet master", dangling his friend Lord Mandelson in front of the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to ease the passage of colossal business deals.
Less salacious, but seemingly more sordid, was an earlier dinner at Cantinetta Antinori, a fashionable Tuscan restaurant in Moscow. Mr Deripaska, the Mail had claimed, was dining with executives from the US aluminium giant Alcoa, negotiating a £250m deal to buy two of Mr Deripaska's aluminium plants, at which a stumbling block was an EU import tariff on Russian aluminium. Enter Lord Mandelson, then a lowly Mister, but at the time the EU Trade Commissioner. The deal is done, costing several hundred British jobs, and the tariffs come down.
Mr Rothschild claimed the trip was "purely recreational", and Associated Newspapers had to admit during litigation that it couldn't be sure that Mr Mandelson had joined Mr Deripaska at dinner or whether aluminium tariffs were discussed, and in fact the deal had been struck before Mr Mandelson and Mr Rothschild arrived in Moscow. But for Mr Justice Tugenhadt, recreation it was not.
"So far as Lord Mandelson was concerned the benefit was the trip and the hospitality itself. So far as Mr Deripaska was concerned it was a relationship with the EU Trade Commissioner," he said in his ruling. The judge rejected the notion that Mr Rothschild and Mr Mandelson had flown out as friends, not business associates, and said Mr Rothschild's behaviour had in part been "inappropriate". "That conduct foreseeably brought Lord Mandelson's public office and personal integrity into disrepute," the judge said.
Mr Rothschild's "different and developing" accounts of the Siberia trip were confusing, he continued, adding that on this subject the banker had not been entirely candid.
Note: Peter Mandelson's name can also be found on the Bilderberg invite list, and he has a long and sordid history of corruption in UK political circles.
The 200-year-old banks will be reunited under a single shareholding that will bring together the fortunes of the French and English sides of the renowned family as they attempt to safeguard the business against the effects of new regulation and the fallout from the global financial crisis.
Paris Orleans, the Rothschild Group's Paris-based holding company, will convert into a French limited partnership, securing the families' control of the bank against potential takeovers. The new partnership will then buy out minority investors in NM Rothschild & Sons, the UK business, as well as outstanding minority interests in the French operations.
David de Rothschild will become chairman of the partnership and said the new structure would help the bank "better meet the requirements of globalisation in general and in our competitive environment in particular, while ensuring my family's control over the long term".
Two of the most glamorous names in global finance are linking up, with the Rothschild banking dynasty agreeing to buy a stake in the Rockefeller group's wealth and asset management business to get a long-sought foothold in the United States.
The oil giant Shell claimed it had inserted staff into all the main ministries of the Nigerian government, giving it access to politicians' every move in the oil-rich Niger Delta, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.
The company's top executive in Nigeria told US diplomats that Shell had seconded employees to every relevant department and so knew "everything that was being done in those ministries". She boasted that the Nigerian government had "forgotten" about the extent of Shell's infiltration and was unaware of how much the company knew about its deliberations.
The United States, the European Union and the United Nations decided to support Haiti’s recent presidential and parliamentary elections despite believing that the country’s electoral body, “almost certainly in conjunction with President Preval,” had “emasculated the opposition” by unwisely and unjustly excluding the country’s largest party, according to a secret US Embassy cable.
A new exposé on Haiti shows how business owners and members of the country’s elite used Haiti’s police force as their own private army, giving them guns and ammunition, after the 2004 U.S.-backed coup that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. It’s part of a series of reports that draw from almost 2,000 U.S. diplomatic cables on Haiti released by WikiLeaks.
Yeah, well, the U.S. government cables are part of the 250,000 confidential and secret cables that WikiLeaks got from the diplomatic service, from the State Department. Essentially, since we were on last talking about PetroCaribe, we’ve had four major stories, which are that they were blocking the hiking of the minimum wage from a buck-seventy-five a day to $5. They wanted to $3, and that’s what they won, working with Haitian assembly industry owners.
But what happened is, Chevron and Exxon Mobil, amongst other oil companies, in conjunction with the U.S. embassy, tried to block this deal by putting enormous pressure on President Préval to stop the oil from coming in and the deal with Chávez to happen. And in fact, when Préval visited President Bush in the White House, this was the main issue of conversation, was Haiti’s relationship with Venezuela, Haiti’s attempt to get energy independence. And so, you see how they maneuver, what strings they pull, how they’re constantly applying pressure on Haiti, whether it’s to keep the minimum wage low, to stop energy independence, to have their people win the election.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) knew six years ago that law firms, telecoms giants and insurance were hiring private investigators to break the law and further their commercial interests, the report reveals, yet the agency did next to nothing to disrupt the unlawful trade.
It is understood that one of the key hackers mentioned in the confidential Soca report admitted that 80 per cent of his client list was taken up by law firms, wealthy individuals and insurance companies. Only 20 per cent was attributed to the media, which was investigated by the Leveson Inquiry after widespread public revulsion following the phone-hacking scandal.
Soca, dubbed “Britain’s FBI”, knew six years ago that blue-chip institutions were hiring private investigators to obtain sensitive data – yet did next to nothing to disrupt the unlawful trade. The report was privately supplied to the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics in 2012 yet the corruption in other identified industries, including the law, insurance and debt collectors, and among high-net worth individuals, was not mentioned during the public sessions or included in the final report.
Tom Watson, the campaigning Labour MP, said: “What is astonishing about this whole murky affair is that Soca had knowledge of massive illegal invasions of privacy in the newspaper industry – but also in the supply chains of so-called blue-chip companies.
It's not just the consumer goods industry that's become so consolidated. Ninety percent of the media is now controlled by just six companies, down from 50 in 1983, according to a Frugal Dad infographic from last year. Likewise, 37 banks merged to become JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and CitiGroup in a little over two decades, as seen in this 2010 graphic from Mother Jones.
While the BP oil geyser pumps millions of gallons of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama and members of Congress may have to answer for the millions in campaign contributions they’ve taken from the oil and gas giant over the years.
BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations come from a mix of employees and the company’s political action committees — $2.89 million flowed to campaigns from BP-related PACs and about $638,000 came from individuals.
The U.S. government paid an expert $18,000 to assess whether news stories about the Gulf oil spill were positive or negative for the Obama administration, it was revealed today.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department's criminal division, were partners for years at a Washington law firm that represented a Who's Who of big banks and other companies at the center of alleged foreclosure fraud, a Reuters inquiry shows.
The firm, Covington & Burling, is one of Washington's biggest white shoe law firms. Law professors and other federal ethics experts said that federal conflict of interest rules required Holder and Breuer to recuse themselves from any Justice Department decisions relating to law firm clients they personally had done work for.
Both the Justice Department and Covington declined to say if either official had personally worked on matters for the big mortgage industry clients. Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said Holder and Breuer had complied fully with conflict of interest regulations, but she declined to say if they had recused themselves from any matters related to the former clients.
Last week, the Justice Department announced that it will not prosecute Goldman Sachs or any of its employees in a financial probe.
Could that be because the attorney for Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was none other than Attorney General Eric Holder’s “best friend” and former personal attorney, Reid Weingarten?
Or because in 2008, Goldman Sachs employees donated $1,013,091 to Barack Obama?
Or because Goldman Sachs is the former client of Eric Holder’s and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer’s law firm, Covington & Burling?
The conflicts of interest and cronyism at Holder’s Department of Justice are so many that it took a 27-page report by the Government Accountability Institute to catalog them all.
And lest one forget: Holder's best friend Reid Weingarten--who previously represented child rapist Roman Polanski--is also the lawyer for former MF Global treasurer Edith O’Brien. On Thursday, the New York Times reported that Holder's Justice Department will not be criminally charging Jon Corzine or any MF Global executives in that case either.
Weingarten, who calls himself a “hard-core child of the ‘60s,” apparently has a soft spot for Wall Street fat cats. "I feel like I'm in the French Revolution, defending the nobility against the howling mob," Weingarten told Bloomberg in 2002.