The 12 Most Powerful Financial People on the Global Stage

By Shepherd, Bill | Global Finance, November 1997 | Go to article overview

The 12 Most Powerful Financial People on the Global Stage


Shepherd, Bill, Global Finance


Readers of our l0th anniversary issue last month are berating us for not ranking the 600 Most Powerful People in Finance according to how powerful they are.

As we pointed out, power is tough to define, let alone measure. Some financial people are powerful because they wield mammoth sums of capital, while others shake markets with words and policy measures. Some people are powerful because of the force of their character or the depth of their intellect, the accuracy of their insights, their ability to solve problems. Some are powerful because of their contacts, their ability to open doors, their talents at raising money-or because they run big institutions that can do so.

Many of the GF600 are extraordinarily powerful in a particular field of finance-or in a particular country. For instance, Vladimir Potanin may be Russia's dominant empire builder now, but not elsewhere. Gerhard Randa clearly dominates Austrian banking, while Warren Buffett and Sanford 1. Weill are unquestionably superstars, but only in America. Others, such as Malaysia's Robert Kuok, Hongkong's Philip Tose, and Chile's Alvaro Saieh, exercise their clout across regions.

Despite this diversity, we decided to take a crack at identifying the most powerful financial players on the world stage-those whose clout is truly global. Then, knowing that the results would stimulate a great deal of controversy, we decided to rank the top 12. Call them the Dreaded Dozen.

Top of the list is, unsurprisingly, US Federal Reserve Governor Alan Greenspan, whose cryptic comments and interest rate moves affect markets just about everywhere. Number Two is the man we believe will have the greatest impact on world finance in the coming years-China's economic czar, Zhu Rongji, who masterminds every financial development in China and who will become prime minister next March. Under Zhu's hand, China's productive overcapacity, low-wage exports, and deflation are already shaking Asia, and the impact may ultimately spread to the rest of the world. Hans Tietmeyer, Greenspan's central banking counterpart in Germany, came in sixth-chiefly because his impact is not quite as widespread.

Number Three is a controversial choice: We decided to go with Stanley Druckenmiller, who actually runs the Soros funds' investments and who conceives and executes the daring currency raids, over the more famous George Soros, who has become more preoccupied with his network of foundations.

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