A recent analysis of the 2007 financial markets of 48 countries has revealed that the world's finances are in the hands of just a few mutual funds, banks, and corporations. Stefano Battiston and James Glattfelder extracted the information from the tangled yarn that links 24,877 stocks and 106,141 shareholding entities in 48 countries, revealing what they called the "backbone" of each country's financial market. These backbones represented the owners of 80 percent of a country's market capital, yet consisted of remarkably few shareholders. Glattfelder and Battiston's analysis found that the owners varied little from stock to stock, meaning that comparatively few hands are holding the reins of the entire market.
Based on their analysis, Glattfelder and Battiston identified the ten investment entities who are “big fish” in the most countries. The biggest fish was the Capital Group Companies, [ one of the world’s largest investment management organizations with assets of around one trillion USD under management ,a figure the company will not confirm because it eschews publicity.] , with major stakes in 36 of the 48 countries studied. In identifying these major players, the physicists accounted for secondary ownership -- owning stock in companies who then owned stock in another company -- in an attempt to quantify the potential control a given agent might have in a market. Glattfelder added that the internationalism of these powerful companies makes it difficult to gauge their economic influence. "With new company structures which are so big and spanning the globe, it's hard to see what they're up to and what they're doing,” he said.
In 1998 ,the United Nations produced a report that the world's 225 richest people now have a combined wealth of $1 trillion. That's equal to the combined annual income of the world's 2.5 billion poorests people.The wealth of the three most well-to-do individuals now exceeds the combined GDP of the 48 least developed countries.
As of 1995 , Federal Reserve research found that the wealth of the top one percent of Americans is greater than that of the bottom 95 percent.Microsoft CEO Bill Gates has more wealth than the bottom 45 percent of American households combined.
In 1998, weekly wages were 12 percent lower than in 1973 on an inflation-adjusted basis. Productivity rose 33 percent over that period. Had pay kept pace with productivity, the average hourly wage would now be $18.10, rather than $12.77. That translates into a difference in annual pay of $11,000 for a full-time, year-round worker. Between 1970 and 1990, the typical American worked an additional 163 hours per year. That's equivalent to adding an additional month of work per year - for the same or less pay. [ from here ]