Anyone born in the last 50 years can easily confirm that no matter what you’ve been told by some insipid reality show or obnoxious website, we’re all just waiting for the day when someone we know starts screaming ‘SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!’ as a harbinger for the end of life as we know it.
Call it paranoia, post Cold War dementia or the inevitable decline of optimism in the face of consistently depressing and increasingly pessimistic examples of human depravity gone mad, but the idea of the world eventually being commandeered and co-opted by ruthless big business has been the order of the day for some time, and the human race has yet to come to terms with it.
Ever since 1984, Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’ in the form of faceless, soulless corporations have been biding their time, lulling us into a false sense of security before ingesting us into their nefarious maw of corruption and bedevilment; where do you think the whole idea for ‘baby’ monitors came from? Think about it people.
Multinational corporations now control most of the current global economic parameters which supersede governments and countries, treaties and borders, philosophies and ideals even Khloes and Kourtneys. Profit is where it’s at, Daddio, and baby needs a new pair of shoes. So on the down side, civilization has succumbed to the evils of pure greed, but on the plus side, chicken sandwiches are now made without bread; can you say ‘win-win’ Batman?
So who are these giant conglomerate mega overlords you may ask? Just posing the question has probably put you on their radar, so dress in muted colors and stay indoors. Nothing to worry about; strictly a precaution. It’s not like these twisted, corrupt, paranoid entities would be monitoring any and all criticism of their perverse machinations…Shh…you’ve said too much already. This conversation never happened…
By way of passing, these are currently the ten richest corporations on Earth by company assets…but you didn’t hear it from me…
10) Royal Dutch Shell – Company Assets: $357.5 billion
In 1985, America’s Shell Chemicals acquired both Britain’s Shell Transport and the Netherlands’ Royal Dutch petroleum to become Royal Dutch Shell. The company is a leader in the research and development of both petrochemical and alternative energy sources, and since the turn of the century has made enormous investments in massive Chinese and Russian oil fields. Based in The Hague, the corporation is number ten on the list with assets of $357.5 billion.
9) PetroChina – Company Assets: $386.9 billion
One of an increasing number of Chinese corporations to crack the top ten this year, PetroChina is the nation’s largest petrochemical producer, distributor and transporter. Both a developer and marketer of crude oil and natural gas, they are also a leader in the chemical and petro-derivatives industries. The company went public on the NYSE in 2000, and has since racked up assets of nearly $387 billion.
8) Berkshire Hathaway – Company Assets: $493.4 billion
After acquiring 49% of Berkshire Hathaway in 1963, current octogenarian and one time North Pole Elf Warren Buffet has grown the business from its roots in textiles into one of the world’s largest insurance and investment firms. You gotta like a guy who says of himself, ‘I buy expensive suits. They just look cheap on me.’ Relying on a legendary strategy of patiently outlasting competitors until the last moment before investing in undervalued opportunities, BH has become an industry monster, number 8 on the list with almost $500 billion in assets and a fierce reputation emboldened by its Gandalfian owner.
7) General Electric – Company Asstes: $646.6 billion
Good ol’ Thomas Edison could scarcely have believed that the little Edison Electric Light Company he founded in 1878 would eventually become the leviathan we know today as General Electric. Merging a series of his and other enterprises, Edison formed Edison General Electric Company in 1889. Originators of the vacuum tube, wireless radio, motion pictures and television, x-ray photography, the electric range and toaster, the refrigerator, the microwave oven and even the massive water-wheel generators at Niagara Falls, GE is among the largest corporations on Earth. They rank a respectable 7th on the list with assets of almost $650 billion.
6) Wells Fargo – Company Assets: $1,543 billion
When in 1852 Henry Wells and William Fargo established WF as a banking, investment and overland mail service, they might as well have written in a role for John Wayne, since the company is as synonymous with America’s old West as the Duke himself. In 1888 they became the nation’s first transcontinental express service, but had already long entered the public’s consciousness. They will forever be associated with the taming of the Wild West and have been a fixture on the nation’s financial pulse virtually from its inception. From stagecoaches to boardrooms, the company has emerged as an industry powerhouse, with assets of over $1.5 trillion in 2014.
5) Bank of China – Company Assets: $2,291.8 billion
Founded as the Bank of Great Qing in 1908 after the country’s revolution and establishment of the People’s Republic of China and renamed BOC in 1912, the corporation is the country’s oldest banking institution. After being replaced as the nation’s central bank in 1928, Bank of China became a wholly commercial enterprise and has remained one of the nation’s most successful companies. In 1949 it split into a mainland entity (BOC) and a Taiwanese based subsidiary (the International Commercial Bank of China) which later became MICB (Mega International Commercial Bank). BOC is comfortably holding down fifth place with nearly $2.3 trillion in assets.
4) Agricultural Bank of China – Company Assets: $2,405.4 billion
According to the company website, ‘The predecessor of Agricultural Bank of China is Agricultural Cooperative Bank established in 1951. Since the late 1970s, the Bank has evolved from a state-owned specialized bank to a wholly state-owned commercial bank and subsequently a state-controlled commercial bank.’ Whatever the Confucius that means in politburo-speak, AGB must be doing something right, because they have become one of the world’s largest financial companies including investments, fund management, life insurance and leasing. They sit fourth on the list with assets of over $2.4 trillion.
3) JP Morgan Chase – Company Assets: $2,435.3 billion
The firm can trace its origins to 1799, making it among the oldest financial institutions in the Americas. Named after John Pierpont Morgan, one of the original U.S. robber barons, it has been a New York icon for over 150 years. The current incarnation is the result of the 2000 merger of JP Morgan and Company Inc. and the Chase Manhattan Corporation. Today, JPMC is one of the largest investment and financial services companies on the planet. As of 2014, its holdings were valued at nearly $2.5 trillion.
2) China Construction Bank – Company Assets: $2,449.5 billion
Dating from 1954, CCB was originally a state owned bank known as the People’s Construction Bank of China when it was under the direction of the Ministry of Transport as a distributor of national construction project funds. By 1979 it had evolved into more directly commercial endeavors, finally becoming a full service commercial bank in 1994 and re-named China Construction Bank in 1996. The company has rapidly grown to become the largest banking institution in China, with current assets of almost $2.5 trillion.
1) ICBC – Company Assets: $3,124.9 billion
Established in 1984 as a limited company, the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China has evolved to become the world’s most valuable financial corporation by total assets. With a focus on Treasury Operations (dealing with derivatives, foreign currency exchanges, money market transactions and investment securities), Personal (individual customer financial products and services) and Corporate Banking (including corporate intermediary services, wealth management, loans, and trade financing) as well as a host of other market holdings, ICBC comes in at number one on the list with assets totaling almost $3.125 trillion dollars.