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Sun, 05 Dec 2021
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Study Shows Powerful Corporations Really Do Control the World's Finances

Financial Network topology
© Image from arXiv:1107.5728v1 [q-fin.GN].
Network topology with a zoom on some major transnational corporations in the financial sector.
For many years conventional wisdom has said that the whole world is controlled by the monied elite, or more recently by the huge multi-national corporations that seem to sometime control the very air we breathe. Now, new research by a team based in ETH-Zurich, Switzerland, has shown that what we've suspected all along, is apparently true. The team has uploaded their results onto the preprint server arXiv.

Using data obtained (circa 2007) from the Orbis database (a global database containing financial information on public and private companies) the team, in what is being heralded as the first of its kind, analyzed data from over 43,000 corporations, looking at both upstream and downstream connections between them all and found that when graphed, the data represented a bowtie of sorts, with the knot, or core representing just 147 entities who control nearly 40 percent of all of monetary value of transnational corporations (TNCs).

Bad Guys

Libya Revolt Helped Stop Italy Bank Collapse

UniCredit bank
Trade in shares of Italy's largest bank has been suspended - as it emerges that events in Libya have helped prevent a collapse of the Italian banking system.

UniCredit's share price has plunged in the past month because of market fears over eurozone debt - and now share dealing has been halted due to volatility.

Although it may sound far-fetched, the Libyan revolution of the past six months may have saved it and other Italian banks amid the crisis.

Eye 1

US: FOIA shows Bush administration spied on Antiwar.com

During the Bush-era, a great many Americans were swept up in the spying dragnet laid after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 by federal officials hoping to prevent another major terrorist attack -- people like pacifist Christians, liberal activists, families with members overseas and even street-level falafel sellers.

Now Americans can add another group to the list of those who were viewed as a potential threat: the staff of Antiwar.com.

Documents produced by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by an obscure conspiracy blogger show that in 2004, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assigned an analyst to dig into the website's staff and financial contributors to determine whether they were "engaging in, or have engaged in, activities which constitute a threat to National Security on behalf of a foreign power."

Newspaper

Sorry, New York Times: GMOs Still Won't Save the World

Image
© John Malta
With all due respect, Nina Federoff's New York Times op-ed reads like it was written two decades ago, when the jury was still out about the potential of the biotech industry to reduce hunger, increase nutritional quality in foods, and decrease agriculture's reliance on toxic chemicals and other expensive inputs that most of the world's farmers can't afford.

With more than 15 years of commercialized GMOs behind us, we know not to believe these promises any longer.

Around the world, from the Government Office for Science in the U.K. to the National Research Council in the United States to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N., there is consensus: In order to address the roots of hunger today and build a food system that will feed humanity into the future, we must invest in "sustainable intensification" - not expensive GMO technology that threatens biodiversity, has never proven its superiority, even in yields, and locks us into dependence on fossil fuels, fossil water, and agrochemicals.

Bad Guys

Study: High Food Prices Driving Unrest

Image
© Barry Malone/Reuters
The researchers point to two main factors driving the increase in food prices
The waves of social unrest and political instability seen recently around the world have coincided with large peaks in global food prices, US researchers have found.

They warn that unless something is done urgently to address rising food prices, it could trigger more widespread trouble in the near future.

Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of the New England Complex Systems Institute, and colleagues, correlated the dates of riots around the world with data from the United Nations that plots changes in the price of food.

They found evidence that episodes of social unrest in North Africa and the Middle East coincided closely with peaks in the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Food Price Index.

Dollar

The Scramble for Access to Libya's Oil Wealth Begins

 A truck carrying rebel fighters driving toward the oil refinery in Zawiyah, Libya, last week.
© Bob Strong

A truck carrying rebel fighters driving toward the oil refinery in Zawiyah, Libya, last week.

Houston, Texas - The fighting is not yet over in Tripoli, but the scramble to secure access to Libya's oil wealth has already begun.

Before the rebellion broke out in February, Libya exported 1.3 million barrels of oil a day. While that is less than 2 percent of world supplies, only a few other countries can supply equivalent grades of the sweet crude oil that many refineries around the world depend on. The resumption of Libyan production would help drive down oil prices in Europe, and indirectly, gasoline prices on the East Coast of the United States.

Western nations - especially the NATO countries that provided crucial air support to the rebels - want to make sure their companies are in prime position to pump the Libyan crude.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini of Italy said on state television on Monday that the Italian oil company Eni "will have a No. 1 role in the future" in the North African country. Mr. Frattini even reported that Eni technicians were already on their way to eastern Libya to restart production. (Eni quickly denied that it had sent any personnel to the still-unsettled region, which is Italy's largest source of imported oil.)

Libyan production has been largely shut down during the long conflict between rebel forces and troops loyal to Libya's leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Coffee

US: Wall Street Aristocracy Got $1.2 Trillion From Fed

Rolling Stone Bankers
© Illustration by Victor Juhasz
Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) were the reigning champions of finance in 2006 as home prices peaked, leading the 10 biggest U.S. banks and brokerage firms to their best year ever with $104 billion of profits.

By 2008, the housing market's collapse forced those companies to take more than six times as much, $669 billion, in emergency loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The loans dwarfed the $160 billion in public bailouts the top 10 got from the U.S. Treasury, yet until now the full amounts have remained secret.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke's unprecedented effort to keep the economy from plunging into depression included lending banks and other companies as much as $1.2 trillion of public money, about the same amount U.S. homeowners currently owe on 6.5 million delinquent and foreclosed mortgages. The largest borrower, Morgan Stanley (MS), got as much as $107.3 billion, while Citigroup took $99.5 billion and Bank of America $91.4 billion, according to a Bloomberg News compilation of data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, months of litigation and an act of Congress.

"These are all whopping numbers," said Robert Litan, a former Justice Department official who in the 1990s served on a commission probing the causes of the savings and loan crisis. "You're talking about the aristocracy of American finance going down the tubes without the federal money."

Arrow Up

Gold Vaults To New Record High, Shy Of $1,900

gold bars
Gold ended at a new record high amid growing speculation the U.S. won't be able to resist another round of stimulus and broader worries about the global economy.

Meanwhile, a six-month-long civil conflict in Libya is drawing towards a conclusion, re-igniting concerns about political instability in the region.

The most actively traded contract, for December delivery, gained $39.70, or 2.1%, to settle at a record $1,891.90 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract touched an intraday record of $1,899.40.

Thinly traded August-delivery gold settled at a record $1,888.70 a troy ounce, up $39.80, or 2.2%, after touching an intraday record of $1,895.00.

Dollar

Americans Don't Realize Just How Badly We're Getting Screwed by the Top 0.1 Percent Hoarding the Country's Wealth

With an unprecedented sum of wealth, tens of trillions of dollars, held within the top one-tenth of one percent of the US population, we now have the most severe inequality of wealth in US history. Not even the robber barons of the Gilded Age were as greedy as the modern-day economic elite.

As American philosopher John Dewey said, "There is no such thing as the liberty or effective power of an individual, group, or class, except in relation to the liberties, the effective powers, of other individuals, groups or classes."

In my report, The Economic Elite vs. the People, I reported on the strategic withholding of wealth from 99 percent of the US population over the past generation. Since the mid-1970s, worker production and wealth creation has exploded. As the statistics throughout this report prove, the dramatic increase in wealth has been almost entirely absorbed by the economic top one-tenth of one percent of the population, with most of it going to the top one-hundredth of one percent.

If you are wondering why a critical mass of people desperately struggling to make ends meet are still not fighting back with overwhelming force and running the mega-wealthy aristocrats out of town, let's consider two significant factors:

Evil Rays

BBC Admits Role in 1953 Iranian Coup

Iranian coup
The BBC Persian TV channel has at last acknowledged the role of the BBC Persian radio in the toppling of the democratically elected government of Iran in the 1953 coup.

The coup overthrew the government of the then Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh leading to the restoration of absolute monarchy under dictator Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi who was later toppled in the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

In a documentary aired on August 18 on the anniversary of the coup, BBC Persian channel admitted for the first time to the role of the BBC Persian radio as the propaganda arm of the British government in Iran.