Powerful transnational corporations “Super Entity”

In the first such analysis ever conducted, Swiss economic researchers have conducted a global network analysis of the most powerful transnational corporations (TNCs). Their results have revealed a core of 737 firms with control of 80% of this network, and a “super entity” comprised of 147 corporations that have a controlling interest in 40% of the network’s TNCs.

When we hear conspiracy theorist talk about this or that powerful group (or alliance of said groups) “pulling strings” behind the scenes, we tend to dismiss or minimize such claims, even though, deep down, we may suspect that there’s some degree of truth to it, however distorted by the theorists’ slightly paranoid perception of the world. But perhaps our tendency to dismiss such claims as exaggerations (at best) comes from our inability to get even a slight grip on the complexity of global corporate ownership; it’s all too vast and complicated to get any clear sense of the reality.

But now we have the results of a global network analysis (Vitali, Glattfelder, Battiston) that, for the first time, lays bare the “architecture” of the global ownership network. In the paper abstract, the authors state:

“We present the first investigation of the architecture of the international ownership network, along with the computation of the control held by each global player. We find that transnational corporations form a giant bow-tie structure* and that a large portion of control flows to a small tightly-knit core of financial institutions. This core can be seen as an economic “super-entity” that raises new important issues both for researchers and policy makers.”

TNC21

TNC21

Data from previous studies neither fully supported nor completely disproved the idea that a small handful of powerful corporations dominate much or most of the world’s commerce. The researchers acknowledge previous attempts to analyze such networks, but note that these were limited in scope to national networks which “neglected the structure of control at a global level.”

What was needed, assert the researchers, was a complex network analysis.

“A quantitative investigation is not a trivial task because firms may exert control over other firms via a web of direct and indirect ownership relations which extends over many countries. Therefore, a complex network analysis is needed in order to uncover the structure of control and its implications. “

To start their analysis, the researchers began with a list of 43,060 TNCs which were taken from a sample of 30 million “economic actors” contained in the Orbis 2007 database [see end note]. TNCs were identified according to the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) definition of a transnational corporation [see end note]. They next applied a recursive search algorithm which singled out the “network of all the ownership pathways originating from and pointing to these TNCs.”

The resulting TNC network includes 600,508 nodes and 1,006,987 ownership ties.

Bow-tie structure of the largest connected component (LCC)

In terms of the connectivity of the network, the researchers found that it consists of many small connected components, but the largest one (encompassing 3/4 of all nodes) “contains all the top TNCs by economic value, accounting for 94.2% of the total TNC operating revenue.”

Two generalized characteristics were identified:

1] A strongly connected component (SCC), that is, a set of firms in which every member owns directly and/or indirectly shares in every other member. The emergence of such a structure can be explained as a means of preventing take-overs, reducing transaction costs, risk sharing and increasing trust between “groups of interest.”

2]

The largest connect[ed] component contains only one dominant, strongly connected component (comprised of 1347 nodes). This network, like the WWW, has a bow tie structure. What’s more, they found that this component, or core, is also very densely connected; on average, members of this core have ties to 20 other members. “Top actors” occupy the center of the bow tie. In fact, a randomly chosen TNC in the core has about 50% chance of also being among the top holders, as compared to, for example, 6% for the “in” section. [emphasis added]

“As a result, about 3/4 of the ownership of firms in the core remains in the hands of firms of the core itself. In other words, this is a tightly-knit group of corporations that cumulatively hold the majority share of each other.”

In examining the details of this core, the analysis also showed that only 737 top holders accumulate 80% of the control over the value of all TNCs (in the analyzed network). Further,

“…despite its small size, the core holds collectively a large fraction of the total network control. In detail, nearly 4/10 of the control over the economic value of TNCs in the world is held, via a complicated web of ownership relations, by a group of 147 TNCs in the core, which has almost full control over itself. The top holders within the core can thus be thought of as an economic “super-entity” in the global network of corporations.” [emphasis added]

Concerning the implications of this super entity, the researchers asked two fundamental questions: First, what are the implications for market competition, and, second, what are the implications for economic stability?

Regarding the first question, the authors  assert that no matter the origin of the SCC, due to its high degree of TNC network control, “it weakens market competition”.

Regarding the first question, the authors  assert that no matter the origin of the SCC, due to its high degree of TNC network control, “it weakens market competition”.

It is clear just from the history of anti-trust laws in this country (the U.S.) that concentrated ownership stifles free market competition and innovation, reduces over-all employment, and leads to excessive pricing.

some major TNCs in the financial sector.(source: Orbis 2007)

In regards to the second question, the researchers note that “the existence of such a core in the global market was never documented before and thus, so far, no scientific study demonstrates or excludes that this international ‘super-entity’ has ever acted as a bloc.

However, there is historical data — such as within the airline, auto and steel industries — supporting this possibility.

“…top holders are at least in the position to exert considerable control, either formally (e.g., voting in shareholder and board meetings) or via informal negotiations.”

Additionally, recent studies (Stiglitz J.E., 2010, Battiston S. et al, 2009) have shown that densely connected financial networks are highly susceptible to systemic risk. Despite the fact that such networks may seem robust in good economic times, in times of crisis however, member firms tend to enter ‘distress mode’ simultaneously. This was seen recently in the 2008 (“near”) financial collapse (note: 3/4 of the network core in this analysis are financial intermediaries).

Calling their findings “remarkable”, they suggest that because “international data sets as well as methods to handle large networks became available only very recently, [this] may explain how this finding could go unnoticed for so long.”

While the researchers acknowledge that verifying whether the implications of their findings “hold true for the global economy” is beyond the scope of their current research, they assert that their unprecedented attempt to uncover the structure of corporate control is “a necessary precondition for future investigations.”

 

Source:  Planetsave.com

Corporations Block Access from Miracle Drugs to Science Research

Corporations Block Access to Everything from Miracle Drugs to Science Research:

Corporations Block Access to Everything from Miracle Drugs to Science Research

Corporations Block Access to Everything from Miracle Drugs to Science Research

Should a company be able to patent a breast cancer gene? What about a species of soybean? How about a tool for basic scientific research? Or even a patent for acquiring patents?

Intellectual property rights are supposed to help inventors bring good things to life, but there’s increasing concern that they may be keeping us from getting the things we need.

In this wild and contested jungle of the law, which concerns things like patents and copyrights, questions about the implications of allowing limited monopolies on ideas are making headlines. Do they stifle innovation? Can they cause the public more harm than good? Trillions of dollars are at stake. Companies known as “patent trolls” are gobbling up patents, then going on lawsuit sprees and extracting fees against infringement. Corporations are using intellectual property law to squash competitors and block our access to things as vital as lifesaving drugs, to place restrictions on things as intimate as parts of the human body. Third World countries are kept from accessing essential public goods related to everything from food security to education.

Surely, the producers of new ideas should be able to profit from their creations. But furious debates over what should be protected and who should profit are calling attention to the many things that are going wrong in this area. For example, a recent front-page story in the New York Times detailed how diabetics are being held hostage in America by companies that follow Apple’s playbook to lock patients into buying expensive, patented products that quickly become obsolete. If you don’t buy the product, you don’t miss getting the new iPhone. You may die.

Source:  alternet.org

Deadly Corporations

 

 

 

15 of the Deadliest Corporations:

15 of the Deadliest Corporations

15 of the Deadliest Corporations

 

 
These corporations, if they were individual human beings, would be locked up for life. Instead, they continue raking in the big bucks. Human rights abuses, murder, war, eco disasters, and animal exploitation keep these evil companies raking in the green. Prepare to be disgusted.
 

Chevron

 

 
Several big oil companies make this list, but Chevron deserves a special place in Hell. Between 1972 to 1993, Chevron (then Texaco) discharged 18 billion gallons of toxic water into the rain forests of Ecuador without any remediation, destroying the livelihoods of local farmers and sickening indigenous populations. Chevron has also done plenty of polluting right here in the U.S.: In 1998, Richmond, California sued Chevron for illegally bypassing waste water treatments and contaminating local water supplies, ditto in New Hampshire in 2003. Chevron was responsible for the death of several Nigerians who protested the company’s polluting, exploiting presence in the Nigerian Delta. Chevron paid the local militia, known for its human rights abuses, to squash the protests, and even supplied them with choppers and boats. The military opened fire on the protesters, then burned their villages to the ground.  

 

 

 

 
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend — unless she lives in the Ivory Coast.  “Blood” or “conflict” diamonds are the name given to minerals purchased from insurgencies in war-torn countries.  Prior to 2000 when the U.N. finally took a stand against the practice, DeBeers was knowingly funding violent guerrilla movements in Angola, Sierra Nevada, and the Congo with its diamond purchases. In Botswana, DeBeers has been blamed for the “clearing” of land to be mined for diamonds — including the forcible removal of indigenous peoples who had lived there for thousands of years. The government allegedly cut off the tribe’s water supplies, threatened, tortured and even hanged resisters.

Tyson

 

Even if you don’t care about the horrendous animal abuse that has been documented in Tyson’s factory farms, you have to flinch at Tyson’s appalling environmental abuses and workers’ rights violations, as well as the fact that on several occasions, Tyson has allowed e coli tainted beef to enter the food supply. A recent study showed that Tyson’s chickens were the most salmonella-and-campylobactor filled poultry of all the major suppliers. As if that wasn’t gross enough, Tyson has been sued repeatedly for illegally dumping untreated wastewater into Tulsa’s water supply; after they were sued the first time, they simply paid the fine and continued the practice. Tyson has made people seriously ill with the ammonia from their factory farms. Tyson is infamous for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and has even been accused of human trafficking to supply themselves with cheap labor.  

Smith and Wesson

 

 
As the largest manufacturer of handguns (and sub machine guns) in the U.S., Smith and Wesson is indirectly responsible for uncountable shooting deaths — not just by the police and government agencies to which these guns are issued, but by criminals and by “accident.” In a study of the top ten guns involved in crime in the U.S., the first was the Smith & Wesson .38 Special.  Numbers 6 and 7 were also Smith and Wessons. Statistically, studies have shown that guns are used more often in crime than in self-defense. Of course, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” And frequently, they use Smith and Wesson guns to do so.   

Phillip Morris

 

 

 
Phillip Morris is the largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the U.S. Cigarettes are known to cause cancer in smokers, as well as birth defects in unborn children if the mother smokes while pregnant. Cigarette smoke contains 43 known carcinogens and over 4,000 chemicals, including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, nicotine, ammonia and arsenic. Nicotine, the primary psychoactive chemical in tobacco, has been shown to be psychologically addictive. Smoking raises blood pressure, affects the central nervous system, and constricts the blood vessels. Discarded cigarette butts are a major pollutant as smokers routinely toss their slow-to-degrade filters on the ground. Many of these filters make their way into salt or fresh water bodies, where their chemicals leech out into the water. Then again, cigarettes make you look cool.

Haliburton

 

 

 
Any corporation that has Dick Cheney as a CEO has got to be evil. Haliburton, a huge “oilfield services” company, profited big time from the U.S.’s invasion of Iraq when Cheney called in his boys to quell burning oil wells — and to “help” the Iraq oil ministry pump and distribute oil. Haliburton has also been implicated in countless oil spills, including the BP disaster of 2010.   

Coca Cola

 

 

 
America’s favorite soft drink, deadly? Well, even if you choose to overlook the childhood obesity epidemic and how soft drinks market to children to get them to buy something really, really bad for them, Coca Cola corporation has wrought devastation in India, where its factories use up to one million liters of water per day, leaving tens of thousands of nearby residents dry during the drought months. Then the factories dispose of the wastewater improperly, contaminating whatever water is left.  A lawsuit in 2001 accused Coca Cola of hiring paramilitaries in Columbia which suppressed unionization in the cola plant there through intimidation, torture and murder.

Pfizer

 

 

 
Big Pharma gets rich when you get sick. Pfizer, the largest pharmaceutical corporation in the U.S., pleaded guilty in 2009 to the largest health care fraud in U.S. history, receiving the largest criminal penalty ever for illegally marketing four of its drugs. It was Pfizer’s fourth such case. As if Pfizer’s massive use of animal experimentation wasn’t heart wrenching enough, Pfizer decided to use Nigerian children as guinea pigs. In 1996, Pfizer traveled to Kano, Nigeria to try out an experimental antibiotic on third-world diseases such as measles, cholera, and bacterial meningitis. They gave trovafloxacin to approximately 200 children. Dozens of them died in the experiment, while many others developed mental and physical deformities. According to the EPA, Pfizer can also proudly claim to be among the top ten companies in America causing the most air pollution.

ExxonMobil

 

 

 
Another oil company that makes the list, ExxonMobil is perhaps best known for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill which resulted in 11 million gallons of oil contaminating Prince William Sound. But they have also been responsible for a huge oil spill in Brooklyn and for aiding in the decline of Russia’s critically endangered grey whale because of drilling in its habitat. The Political Economy Research Institute ranks ExxonMobil sixth among corporations emitting airborne pollutants in the United States. ExxonMobil counters not by cleaning up its act, but by funding scientific studies  which refute global warming. ExxonMobil was targeted by human rights activists in 2001 when a lawsuit alleged that ExxonMobil hired Indonesian military who raped, tortured and murdered while serving as security at their plant in Aceh.

Caterpillar Company

 

 

 
Caterpillar sells all kind of tractors, trucks and machinery — including many of the vehicles, ships and submarines used by the U.S. military. Caterpillar also supplies the Israeli army with bulldozers which are used to demolish Palestinian homes — sometimes with the people still inside. In 2003 a Caterpillar bulldozer ran over and killed Rachel Corrie, an American protesting in Gaza who stood in front of the tractor to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian home.

Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey

 

 

 
“The Cruelest Show on Earth” is famous for its abuse of wild animals. In July 2004, Clyde, a young lion traveling with Ringling, died in a poorly ventilated boxcar while the circus crossed the Mojave Desert in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Circus elephants are routinely confined for days at a time and beaten with bullhooks and electric prods, and when they’ve had enough, they lash out. In one famous case in 1994, an elephant named Tyke killed her trainer and injured 12 spectators before being gunned down on the streets of Honolulu.  Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Baily Circus also has an impressive dead human headcount because of a fire under the big top in 1944 which killed a hundred spectators — the canvas was illegally non-flame-retardant.

Monsanto

 

 

 
Big Agra makes the list with Monsanto, pushers of genetically modified foods, bovine growth hormones, and poison. Monsanto’s list of evils includes creating the “terminator” seed which creates plants which never fruit or flower so that farmers must purchase them anew yearly, lobbying to have “hormone-free” labels removed from the labels of milk and infant milk replacer (through bovine growth hormone is believed to be a cancer-accelerator) as well as a wide range of environmental and human health violations associated with use of Monsanto’s poisons — most notably “Agent Orange.” Between 1965 and 1972, Monsanto illegally dumped thousands of tons of highly toxic waste in UK landfills. According to the Environment Agency the chemicals were polluting groundwater and air 30 years after they were dumped.  Alabama sued Monsanto for 40 years of dumping mercury and PCB into local creeks. Plus, Monsanto is infamous for sticking it to the very farmers it claims to be helping, such as when it sued and jailed a farmer for saving seed from one season’s crop to plant the next.

Nestle

 

 

 
Sticky-sweet image aside, Nestle’s crimes against man and nature include massive deforestation in Borneo — the habitat of the critically endangered orangutan — to grow palm oil, and buying milk from farms illegally-seized by a despot in Zimbabwe. Nestle drew fire from environmentalists for its ridiculous claims that bottled water is “eco-friendly” when the exact opposite is true. Nestle attracted worldwide boycott efforts for urging mothers in third-world countries to use their infant milk replacer instead of breastfeeding, without warning them of the possible negative effects. Supposedly, Nestle hired women to dress as nurses to hand out free infant formula, which was frequently mixed with contaminated water, or the children starved when the formula ran out and their mothers could not afford more and their breast milk had already dried up from disuse. Nestle, of course, denies contributing to the death of thousands of infants.     

British Petroleum

 

 

 
Who can forget 2010’s oil rig explosion in the Gulf Coast which killed 11 workers and thousands of birds, sea turtles, dolphins and other animals, effectively destroying the fishing and tourism industry in the region? This was not BP’s first crime against nature. In fact, between January 1997 and March 1998, BP was responsible for a whopping 104 oil spills. Thirteen rig workers will killed in 1965 during one explosion; 15 in a 2005 explosion. Also in 2005, a BP ferry carrying oil workers crashed, killing 16.  In 1991, the EPA cited BP as the most polluting company in the U.S..  In 1999, BP was charged with illegal toxic dumping in Alaska, then in 2010 for leaking highly dangerous poisons into the air in Texas. In July 2006, Colombian farmers won a settlement from BP after they accused the company of benefiting from a regime of terror carried out by Colombian government paramilitaries protecting the Ocensa pipeline. Clearly, there is no way BP will ever “make it right.” 

Dyncorp

 

 

 
This privatized military company is often hired by the U.S. government to protect American interests overseas — and so the government can claim no responsibility for Dyncorp’s actions.  Dyncorp is best known for its brutality in impoverished countries, for trafficking in child sex slaves, for slaughtering civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for training rebels in Haiti. Among some stiff competition, mercenary Dyncorp may be the deadliest and most evil corporation in the United States.