It is safe to say, and scary to believe, that the entire world economy depends on the decisions made by a handful of people. Including top government officials and wealthy businessmen, these people wield a disproportionate amount of power on the future of the world. Although some names are easily recognizable and one could easily predict their dominance in the world scene, others are less well known but can easily impact the lives of many.
I. Lawrence Summers
One of the most brilliant economists in the United States, Secretary of Treasury during Clinton’s presidency, and the President of Harvard University, he is the current head of the National Economic Counsel and had major input in the passing of the stimulus package, emphasizing tax cuts over infrastructure. Summers will be a major force in Obama’s administration in the coming years.
II. Jean-Claude Trichet
As the President of the European Central Bank, he has been caught up in the spiraling downfall in 2008 and has been a major force in dealing with the spread of the financial crisis to the weaker of the EU countries, especially those in Eastern Europe. His policies in the upcoming months will dictate the future of these countries, the strenght of the EU, and the future of trade between US and the EU block.
III. Warren Buffet
Buffet’s status as a legendary investor was hurt, but not tarnished, during the financial crisis. He spent billions investing in Goldman’s Sach and GE, and although he lost some money, his financial portfolio has been more sturdy than anyone’s. The “Oracle of Omaha’s” investments seem to influence the market and carry more weight than anyone in the world.
IV. Abdallah Salem el-Badri
Secretary General of OPEC, his decisions are going to be vital in the survival of many international corporations after the recession. Companies that were on the verge of collapse during the oil price peak got life breathed into them as prices dropped, but will be under heavy stress as OPEC begins to cuts production to deal with excess oil.
V. Ben Bernanke
Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke has already lowered interest rates to near zero percentages and has pumped billions into the financial sector. Bernanke needs to come up with creative ideas on how to deal with a federal budget that has neared the $2 trillion mark.
VI. Lou Jiwei
After a few big losses in American financial firms, Lou is taking money out of American companies and investing in China. His investment firm is worth hundreds of billions of dollars, meaning that those companies will be losing out in tons of liquid investments.
VII. Eric Schmidt
The CEO of Google is leading a changing dynamic of the Internet where advertising and searches are shifting from traditional powerhouses Yahoo and Microsoft to Google, which is now the most viewed website on the Internet. Google has been competing online with social networking, webmaster tools, blogs and offline in the smart phone realm. As the head of main medium of information exchange, he has a major influence on the spread of finance information.
VIII. Vladimir Putin
As the former President and current Prime Minister of Russia, he has strong popular approval and a strong circle of friends, ranging from billionaire nuclear physicists to oil moguls. His control over vast land resources, natural gas, and oil gives him formidable power in the upcoming years.
IX. Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Taro Aso
As the Chancellor of Germany, the biggest economy in Europe, Merkel has decisive power over the healths of other European countries as Germany could be the key to saving almost 12 countries from bankruptcy. Merkel has used her power to change the business laws of some countries on the receiving end of stimulus packages- Hungary, Austria, etc.
Barack Obama’s power as the President of the largest economy in the world is undeniable. He pushed for the passing of the stimulus, which could make or break the future of the United States as the economic powerhouse of the world.
Taro Aso, the Prime Minister of Japan, leads a country in the midst of the worst economic plummet of the late 2000 recession. Real GDP estimates show that Japan’s economy will plummet 9% in 2009, worse than all developed countries in the world. He needs to make wise decisions in the face of a changing population structure in Japan to save his country.
X. Paul Krugman
The Nobel Prize winning economist is a leader in international economists and together with Lawrence Summers, the academic mind behind today’s economic policies. While Summer seems to make more right-winged decisions, Krugman has repeatedly emphasized building up the nation’s infrastructure as a way to get America out of the recession.
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