Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world

Updated 13:15 24 October 2011 by Andy Coghlan and Debora MacKenzie Magazine issue 2835. New Scientist Magazine  
Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world

  AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters' worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy. The study's assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable. 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). "Reality is so complex, we must move away from dogma, whether it's conspiracy theories or free-market," says James Glattfelder. "Our analysis is reality-based."
 Previous studies have found that a few TNCs own large chunks of the world's economy, but they included only a limited number of companies and omitted indirect ownerships, so could not say how this affected the global economy - whether it made it more or less stable, for instance. The Zurich team can. 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. John Driffill of the University of London, a macroeconomics expert, says the value of the analysis is not just to see if a small number of people controls the global economy, but rather its insights into economic stability. Concentration of power is not good or bad in itself, says the Zurich team, but the core's tight interconnections could be.
As the world learned in 2008, such networks are unstable. "If one [company] suffers distress," says Glattfelder, "this propagates." "It's disconcerting to see how connected things really are," agrees George Sugihara of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, a complex systems expert who has advised Deutsche Bank. Yaneer Bar-Yam, head of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), warns that the analysis assumes ownership equates to control, which is not always true. Most company shares are held by fund managers who may or may not control what the companies they part-own actually do. The impact of this on the system's behaviour, he says, requires more analysis. Crucially, by identifying the architecture of global economic power, the analysis could help make it more stable. By finding the vulnerable aspects of the system, economists can suggest measures to prevent future collapses spreading through the entire economy. Glattfelder says we may need global anti-trust rules, which now exist only at national level, to limit over-connection among TNCs. Sugihara says the analysis suggests one possible solution: firms should be taxed for excess interconnectivity to discourage this risk. 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.

When this article was first posted, the comment in the final sentence of the paragraph beginning "Crucially, by identifying the architecture of global economic power…" was misattributed. The top 50 of the 147 superconnected companies

 1. Barclays plc 2. Capital Group Companies Inc 3. FMR Corporation 4. AXA 5. State Street Corporation 6. JP Morgan Chase & Co 7. Legal & General Group plc 8. Vanguard Group Inc 9. UBS AG 10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc 11. Wellington Management Co LLP 12. Deutsche Bank AG 13. Franklin Resources Inc 14. Credit Suisse Group 15. Walton Enterprises LLC 16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp 17. Natixis 18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc 19. T Rowe Price Group Inc 20. Legg Mason Inc 21. Morgan Stanley 22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc 23. Northern Trust Corporation 24. Société Générale 25. Bank of America Corporation 26. Lloyds TSB Group plc 27. Invesco plc 28. Allianz SE 29. TIAA 30. Old Mutual Public Limited Company 31. Aviva plc 32. Schroders plc 33. Dodge & Cox 34. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc* 35. Sun Life Financial Inc 36. Standard Life plc 37. CNCE 38. Nomura Holdings Inc 39. The Depository Trust Company 40. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance 41. ING Groep NV 42. Brandes Investment Partners LP 43. Unicredito Italiano SPA 44. Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan 45. Vereniging Aegon 46. BNP Paribas 47. Affiliated Managers Group Inc 48. Resona Holdings Inc 49. Capital Group International Inc 50. China Petrochemical Group Company * Lehman still existed in the 2007 dataset used

Save the Bees

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 World-wide save the Bees campaign ! Breaking news!! Europe’s leaders could move to ban bee killing pesticides in 48 hours. Click to sign and send this to everyone — let’s build a 2-million-strong swarm and make our voices heard before they meet Dear friends, Bees around the world are dying off and Europe’s food watchdog just said certain pesticides are part of the problem. We’ve got 48 hours before key meetings — let’s get a 2-million-person swarm to save the bees. Sign the petition.
Quietly, globally, billions of bees are dying, threatening our crops and food. But in 48 hours the European Union could move to ban the most poisonous pesticides, and pave the way to a global ban that would save bees from extinction. Four EU countries have begun banning these poisons, and some bee populations are already recovering. Days ago the official European food safety watchdog stated for the first time that certain pesticides are fatally harming bees. Now legal experts and European politicians are calling for an immediate ban. But Bayer and other giant pesticide producers are lobbying hard to keep them on the market. If we build a huge swarm of public outrage now, we can push the European Commission to put our health and our environment before the profit of a few. We know our voices count! Last year, our 1.2 million strong petition forced US authorities to open a formal consultation on pesticides — now if we reach 2 million, we can persuade the EU to get rid of these crazy poisons and pave the way for a ban worldwide. Sign the urgent petition and send this to everyone — Avaaz and leading MEPs will deliver our message ahead of this week’s key meeting in Brussels: http://www.avaaz.org/en/hours_to_save_the_bees/?bPcFmcb&v=21421 Bees don’t just make honey, they are vital to life on earth, every year pollinating 90% of plants and crops — with an estimated $40bn value and over one-third of the food supply in many countries. Without immediate action to save bees, many of our favourite fruits, vegetables, and nuts could vanish from our shelves. Recent years have seen a steep and disturbing global decline in bee populations — some bee species are already extinct and some US species are at just 4% of their previous numbers. Scientists have been scrambling for answers and now the European Food Safety Authority is saying that toxic chemicals called neonicotinoid pesticides could be responsible for the bee deaths. France, Italy, Slovenia and even Germany, where the main manufacturer Bayer is based, have banned one of these bee-killing pesticides. But Bayer continues to export its poison across the world. Now the issue is coming to a boil. EU parliamentarians are stepping up their pressure on the European Commission and key governments to push new legislation to ban the deadly pesticides, and we can offer them the public support they need to counter the powerful pesticide lobby. Sign the urgent petition to Europe’s leaders, then forward this email widely: http://www.avaaz.org/en/hours_to_save_the_bees/?bPcFmcb&v=21421 Our world is beset with threats to what makes it habitable, and to what fills it with wonder. The Avaaz community comes together to defend both — large or small. Whether winning a battle to keep the International Whaling Commission from sanctioning the murder of these giants, or saving bees, the tiny creatures upon which so much depends, we will come together and stand up for the world we all want. With hope, Avaaz team SOURCES Pesticides pose danger to bees (European Voice) http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2013/january/pesticides-pose-danger-to-bees/76158.aspx Crop pesticides are ‘killing our bees’ – says MEP (Public Service Europe) http://www.publicserviceeurope.com/article/3007/crop-pesticides-are-killing-our-bees-says-mep#ixzz2JGICse6a Death knell for nerve agent pesticides in move to save bees (Independent) http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/death-knell-for-nerve-agent-pesticides-in-move-to-save-bees-8454443.html Give Bees a Chance! (The Greens European Free Alliance) http://www.greens-efa.eu/give-bees-a-chance-9012.html Studies fault Bayer in bee die-off (Christian Science Monitor) http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0406/Studies-fault-Bayer-in-bee-die-off Posted by John MacHaffie at 4:20 PM

Monday, 14 January 2013

this will change your life.

making petrol out of air

Making petrol out of fresh air? Engineers have found a way to synthesise everyday vehicle fuel from air and water, in a revolutionary breakthrough. Aberdeen, Scotland - With one of the world's most famous railway lines, Stockton-on-Tees has already given birth to one transport revolution. On September 27, 1825, it carried the first ever passenger rail service along its 40km route through industrial north-east England - changing the world forever. Today, it is at the centre of another technological breakthrough that some scientists and engineers believe could be just as significant as steam locomotion. A small company working in two converted shipping containers says it has found a way to make petrol from fresh air and water. Air Fuel Synthesis Chief Executive Peter Harrison says the process could help curb climate change by providing a cleaner alternative to oil. "We've taken carbon dioxide from air and hydrogen from water and turned these elements into petrol," he told Al Jazeera. "For a country like the UK it means we could create all the fuel you want from renewable energy." The 58-year-old civil engineer, who used to work in the offshore oil industry, describes it as an amazing project to be involved with. Harrison explained that they use a 30 foot tower on top of their first container to capture CO2 from the air. The process of separation involves combining the air with sodium hydroxide and passing it through an electrolyser. A similar method is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The CO2 and hydrogen are then synthesised to make methanol, and eventually petrol. It cost them around $800,000 to build the plant. Since the mini-refinery was switched on in August, they have made 15 litres of fuel that could be used to power any normal car. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/01/2013110111039373166.html

make money with facebook

Thursday, 10 January 2013

are you hoodwinked

"When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, 'This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know,' the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything—you can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him." --- Robert A. Heinlein, If This Goes On, 1940