Concentration of capital: Dissecting the "Forbes 2000"

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Forbes Magazine is one of the leading magazines of the monopoly capitalist world. It recently released its latest list of the biggest 2,000 corporations. It is instructive to study the list to come up with an overall view of the current picture of the global capitalist system: who are the biggest capitalists and the level of concentration of capital in the hands of a few monopolists.

These observations reaffirm the basic characteristics of imperialism as identified by V.I. Lenin in his study of monopoly capitalism.

1. The assets of the biggest 2,000 corporations amount to US$223.4 trillion. This is more than twice the US$84.5 world gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020. This is also equivalent to 62.33% of the US$358.4 trillion total national assets of all countries in the world.

All in all, the biggest 2,000 corporations are located in only 61 countries (31% of the total number of countries). More than half of their assets are found in only three countries: US, China and Japan.

2. The number of the biggest corporations in the US is twice as big as that in China. But the assets of Chinese and Hongkong companies (US$50.2 trillion) are almost equivlent to those of the US (US$51.76 trillion) indicating a higher concentration of capital in China.

3. The three biggest sectors or industries in terms of assets are all involved in fi­nan­cial ope­ra­tions. These in­clude 289 banks, 132 diversified finan­cial corpo­ra­tions (sel­ling such products as hou­sing loans, credit cards and others) and 114 insurance com­pa­nies. The as­sets of these finan­cial cor­po­rations amount to US$156.4 trillion or 70% of the overall assets of the biggest cor­po­­ra­tions. The as­sets of banks alone amount to US$107.5 tril­lion or 48.12% of the total.

Of the big­gest banks, 44 are in China, 40 in Japan and 36 in the United States, com­pri­sing 41.52% of the total. The four biggest banks in terms of as­sets are in Chi­na: the Indus­trial & Com­mer­cial Bank of China (ICBC), China Con­struc­tion Bank, Agri­cul­tural Bank of China and the Bank of China.

Of the diver­si­fied financial cor­­po­­ra­­tions, 52 are from the US while 19 are from China, or 55.3% of the total. While 28.07% of the insu­rance com­pa­nies come from the US, the big­gest are from Ja­pan that hold 17.44% of all the sector’s assets.

4. Other sectors comprising the top ten biggest in terms of assets are Business Services and Supplies, Construction, Oil & Gas Operations, Consumer Durables, Utilities, Tele­com­munication Services and Drugs & Biotech­no­logy.

The 67 Chinese construction com­panies hold 74.9% of the total assets in the sector. Far se­cond are con­struc­tion com­­panies in Japan (19) that hold 6.74% of total assets, and the United States (17) with 3.36% of the total assets.

Companies in­volved in oil pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bution have total assets of US$6.799 trillion. The biggest 20 companies own 65.89% of the total assets in the sector. Of the biggest oil companies, 21 are from the US, seven from Russia, six from Canada, six from Japan, five from India and four each from China and South Korea.

Forbes Maga­zine ranked the big­gest oil companies as Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, Gazprom, BP, Total, Sinopec, Chevron and Rosneft. In 2020, the two Chinese companies were the biggest in terms of sales controlling 16.3% of the total.

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Concentration of capital: Dissecting the "Forbes 2000"