Wednesday, September 2, 2009

World's Stocks Controlled by a Select Few

If a pair of physicists could make the arguement that the world finances are held in the hands of a select few, would you finally wake up and smell the coffee?

Because a pair of physicists, doing a physics based analysis did just that. The conclusion the worlds finances are firmly held in the hands of a few players.

Largest concentration? The US, Britian and Australia.

Inside Science News Service-- A recent analysis of the 2007 financial markets of 48 countries has revealed that the world's finances are in the hands of just a few mutual funds, banks, and corporations. This is the first clear picture of the global concentration of financial power, and point out the worldwide financial system's vulnerability as it stood on the brink of the current economic crisis.

A pair of physicists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich did a physics-based analysis of the world economy as it looked in early 2007. Stefano Battiston and James Glattfelder extracted the information from the tangled yarn that links 24,877 stocks and 106,141 shareholding entities in 48 countries, revealing what they called the "backbone" of each country's financial market. These backbones represented the owners of 80 percent of a country's market capital, yet consisted of remarkably few shareholders.

"You start off with these huge national networks that are really big, quite dense," Glattfelder said. “From that you're able to ... unveil the important structure in this original big network. You then realize most of the network isn't at all important."

The most pared-down backbones exist in Anglo-Saxon countries, including the U.S., Australia, and the U.K. Paradoxically; these same countries are considered by economists to have the most widely-held stocks in the world, with ownership of companies tending to be spread out among many investors. But while each American company may link to many owners, Glattfelder and Battiston's analysis found that the owners varied little from stock to stock, meaning that comparatively few hands are holding the reins of the entire market.


  1. No ? Rilly ? Check out: The Rich and The Super-Rich ('68) by Ferdinand Lundberg. If you have the time....

  2. I have heard of that book!
    But not read it. It is out of print isn't it?