Most powerful person in the world? Putin! Or so sez Forbes in its new rankings. At least, it wasn’t Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been throwing her weight around recently when she found out that her Handy, as it’s called in German, had been bugged by the NSA, just like our cellphones. But we have to take it; she gets to make a big stink about it and gripe to Obama on the (bugged) phone.
Speaking of which…. The “handcuffed commander in chief of the most dominant country in the world” was demoted to second place. A familiar position. In 2010, Forbes had lifted China’s top honcho Hu Jintao to No. 1.
Why suddenly the Russian President?
“Putin has solidified his control over Russia while Obama’s lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president – latest example: the government shutdown mess. Anyone watching this year’s chess match over Syria and NSA leaks has a clear idea of the shifting individual power dynamics.”
The list of the 72 characters “who truly rule the world” includes only 17 heads of state. In 3rd place, Chinese President Xi Jinping. Merkel is No. 5. And her “equal partner,” French President François Hollande? No. 6? Nope! You have to go way down the list, to 18th place. Not very “equal.”
But after only a year and a half in office, Hollande is the most despised French president since polls have been taken – while Merkel has just won a third term and remains immensely popular. His administration, mostly known for trying to inflict new taxes on the hard-working people of France, is mired in an economic quagmire, insists on making as many missteps in a single day as possible, and is facing several revolts, even from the coddled and highly-paid soccer players. Hollande is losing grip at home and is being ignored in the rest of the world.
His fate is not nearly as crummy as that of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who invented Abenomics, was able to slap his name on it, decreed to enrich Japan Inc. and its megabanks, and in turn douse the people of his country with higher prices and taxes. Media darling in the West, saber-rattler in China, head of the third-largest economy and the second richest people in the world, democratically elected, he barely squeaked into 57th place.
Then there’s a pope (No. 4) – that’s got to be a typo – corporate moguls, such as Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-Hee (No. 41) or Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn (No. 49), assorted financiers, and of course philanthropists. Leading that lofty philanthropist category: Bill Gates (No. 6) whose true calling is therefore to “rule the world.” Well, after Microsoft’s long-standing collaboration with the NSA, and the sizzling success of Windows 8, hasn’t he already accomplished that?
Then another tidbit, which says a lot about the world we live in: the list includes “28 billionaires” – that’s 25.7% of the total – “valued in excess of $564 billion.” Among them, the avuncular face of Wall Street, Warren Buffett (No. 13), Big Data gurus and corporate surveillance masters such as Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (I mean, come on, only in 24th place?).
Zuck is also among the “Youngest Most Powerful People,” where he shares the stage with Tesla’s hype-master Elon Musk (No. 47), Kim Jong-Un, Supreme Leader of North Korea (No. 46), and other illustrious luminaries.
Already: Janet Yellen, in spot No. 72, though her promotion to Fed Chairman hasn’t even been nodded through the Senate yet. OK, she’s at the very bottom of the list. Lame-duck Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke still rules in 7th pace. Fellow money-printer Mario Draghi, despite all his efforts at the ECB, is relegated to 9th place. Sandwiched between them? Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda? Nope. Oil tycoon and King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud.
And Mr. Kuroda? He who is desperately trying to water down the yen, who is pushing money-printing harder than any other current central banker, who presides over the lowest-yielding governments bonds anywhere though they’ve been through serious downgrades and can never be paid back – with all these glorious accomplishments, where the heck is he? You have to go down to the very bottom of the list, to Yellen in spot No. 72, but there the list ends, and you fall off the list, and you still can’t see him. Turns out, our fave Haruhiko is NOT on the list!