World’s Stocks Controlled by Select Few

Stumbled upon an interesting article that refers to an even more interesting piece of research by J. B. Glattfelder and S. Battiston using social network analysis. The abstract is included below as well as the conclusions drawn from the study.

We present a methodology to extract the backbone of complex networks based on the weight and direction of links, as well as on nontopological properties of nodes. We show how the methodology can be applied in general to networks in which mass or energy is flowing along the links. In particular, the procedure enables us to address important questions in economics, namely, how control and wealth are structured and concentrated across national markets. We report on the first cross-country investigation of ownership networks, focusing on the stock markets of 48 countries around the world. On the one hand, our analysis confirms results expected on the basis of the literature on corporate control, namely, that in Anglo-Saxon countries control tends to be dispersed among numerous shareholders. On the other hand, it also reveals that in the same countries, control is found to be highly concentrated at the global level, namely, lying in the hands of very few important shareholders. Interestingly, the exact opposite is observed for European countries. These results have previously not been reported as they are not observable without the kind of network analysis developed here.

Following is a top-ten list, comprised of the company’s name, activity, country the headquarter is based in, and ranked according to the number of times it is present in different countries’ backbones:

Capital Group Companies – investment management, US, 36

Fidelity Management & Research – investment products and services, US, 32

Barclays PLC – financial services provider, GB, 26

Franklin Resources – investment management, US, 25

AXA – insurance company, FR, 22

JPMorgan Chase & Co. – financial services provider, US, 19

Dimensional Fund Advisors – investment management, US, 15

Merrill Lynch & Co. – investment management, US, 1
Wellington Management Co. – investment management, US, 14

UBS – financial services provider, CH, 12
Next to the dominance of US American companies they found:

Barclays PLC – GB,

AXA  – FR

UBS – CH,

Deutsche Bank – DE

Brandes Investment Partners – CA

Société Générale – FR

Credit Suisse Group – CH

Schroders PLC – GB

Allianz – DE

in the top 21 positions.

The government of Singapore is at rank 25.

HSBC Holdings PLC – HK – GB , the world’s largest banking group, only appears at position 26.

In addition, large multinational corporations outside of the finance and insurance industry do not act as prominent shareholders and only appear in their own national countries’ backbones as controlled stocks. For instance, Exxon Mobil, Daimler Chrysler, Ford Motor Co., Siemens, and Unilever.

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