There are 7.2 billion people on the planet. These are the 72 who rule the world.
What do the president of Russia, the richest man in China and the first woman ever to head a Big 8 automaker have in common? They’re all featured on Forbes’ 2014 ranking of the World’s Most Powerful People – an annual snapshot of the heads of state, CEOs, financiers, philanthropists and entrepreneurs who truly run the world.
The list represents the collective wisdom of FORBES editors and advisors, who consider hundreds of nominees before ranking the planet’s 72 power brokers — one for every 100 million on Earth. We measure their power along four dimensions.
First, we ask whether the candidate has power over lots of people. Pope Francis is the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, or about 1/6th of the world’s population. As another example, Doug McMillon, new CEO of Wal-Mart, employs 2.2 million people and is the top private employer on the planet.
Next we assess the financial resources controlled by each person. Are they outsized compared to their peers? For heads of state we reference nominal GDP, while for CEOs, we measure their company’s revenues and market value. If a candidate is a billionaire — this year there are 29 – we also take that into consideration. In certain instances, like Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud (No. 8), we consider other valuable resources at the candidate’s disposal. In his case, a sizable portion of the world’s known oil reserves.
Then we determine if the candidate is powerful in multiple spheres. There are only 72 slots on our list, so being powerful in just one area is often not enough. Our picks project their influence in myriad ways: Bill Gates (No. 7) has power because he’s a billionaire, a major philanthropist, and, most recently, “technology advisor” to the world’s No. 1 computer software company, which he cofounded nearly 40 years ago.
Lastly, we make sure that the candidates actively use their power. It’s not just a matter of having power but to what degree a person is actually and effectively wielding it. To that point, nominees get bonus points if they created their power themselves and not just through a title or key to the corner office. Mark Zuckerberg has no term limit; no one can dethrone Gates or dismiss Bill Clinton.
Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin scores the highest points in 2014, followed by U.S. President Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China and chief of the world’s largest economy, and Pope Francis, the spiritual leader to 1.2 billion souls. The fifth most powerful person in the world also happens to be the most powerful woman: Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany.
Ranking The World's Most Powerful People 2014
Reviewed by sambasivan srinivasan