Revealed: the capitalist network that runs the world – New Scientist

I recently wrote "If you think "ruling elites" are a fantasy…think again" and have been boring regular readers about complexity and the threat of excessive complexity, particularly when the inter-connections are "closely coupled" (see below). Amongst others, the World Economic Forum have attempted to highlight the issues.

Financially “influential” firms SHOULD BE, as they have historically been, sources of “systemic resilience”. Instead, in a turbulent, debt-laden, global economy they can, effectively, act as “superspreaders”…hubs of systemic risk:

The 1318 transnational corporations that form the core of the economy. Superconnected companies are red, very connected companies are yellow. The size of the dot represents revenue <i>(Image: </i>PLoS One<i>)</i>AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters’ worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

The study’s assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.

….Concentration of power is not good or bad in itself, says the Zurich team, but the core’s tight interconnections could be. As the world learned in 2008, such networks are unstable. "If one [company] suffers distress," says Glattfelder, "this propagates."

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Updated:: Networked Networks Are Prone to Epic Failure

Image: From left to right, a failure cascades through an Italian power network (overlaid on the map) and the internet nodes that depend on it (above the map)./Nature.

Networks that are resilient on their own become fragile and prone to catastrophic failure when connected, suggests a new study with troubling implications for tightly linked modern infrastructures.

Electrical grids, water supplies, computer networks, roads, hospitals, financial systems – all are tied to each other in ways that could make them vulnerable.

“When networks are interdependent, you might think they’re more stable. It might seem like we’re building in redundancy. But it can do the opposite,” said Eugene Stanley, a Boston University physicist and co-author of the study, published April 14 in Nature.

via Networked Networks Are Prone to Epic Failure | Wired Science |

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