Magazine article Multinational Monitor

Corporate Goliaths: Sizing Up Corporations and Governments

Magazine article Multinational Monitor

Corporate Goliaths: Sizing Up Corporations and Governments

Article excerpt

Corporations are now bigger than countries and governments.

Thanks to the work of Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh of the Institute for Policy Studies [see "Corporate Empires," Multinational Monitor, December 1996], the factoid that 51 that of the 100 largest economic entities in the world are corporations is now commonplace.

But this statistic, which compares the revenues of corporations with the gross domestic product of countries, exaggerates the power of nations and minimizes the power of corporations.

As a measure of economic power, comparing corporate revenues with the GDP of nations is misleading because most wealth represented by GDP remains in private or corporate hands - not in the hands of government or any single decision-making body, and thus is not available as a counter to corporate power.

A better measure of corporate power compares government budgets with gross corporate revenues. This comparison concludes that of the world's 100 largest corporations and national governments, 66 are corporations and only 34 are national governments. Only 7 national governments outrank the richest corporations, not 22, as in the Anderson/Cavanagh study.

The giant corporations have greater economic power than all but a few of the world's governments. Each of the top three, Exxon-Mobil, General Motors and Ford - has more annual revenue than all but 7 of the 191 national governments of the world.

The top 6 companies - Exxon-Mobil, General Motors, Ford, Mitsui, Daimler-Chrysler and Mitsubishi - together have more annual revenues than any national government except the United States. The top six have bigger gross receipts than the combined budgets of 64 governments representing 58 percent of the world's population. …

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