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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

THE POWER OF BILLIONAIRES

Governments are essential to preserve peace,wage war and run the country.  However a robust private sector, with government cooperation and control, determines the nature of the economy.  

Yet, there is this gap between research and commercialization that remains hazy.  Japan supported  business conglomerates (this all started with the zaibatsus and morphed into keiretsus) with funds and other incentives, going back to the Edo period when Sumitomo and Mitsui began, followed by Mitsubishi during the Meiji Restoration.  You will see the same companies teaming on major projects around the world even today.

South Korea has a similar corporate blueprint with their chaebol, first termed, actually, in 1984.  However, the system  collapsed during the Asian financial crisis in 1997.  It was around this time that the Federal government did a very smart thing.  They targeted future technology areas to gain world leading status.  Today their smart phones, flat screen television sets and home appliances are at the top.  Swift advances are being made in biotechnology.  Their entertainment industry has gained eminence, from TV soap operas to PSY's Gangnam Style, the most popular video in the history of You Tube, now approaching 2 trillion clicks.

The United States is particularly effective when threatened.  We had to do something about Hitler and his possible Atomic Bomb, so we invented the Manhattan Project, spent $30 billion (really, only $2 billion then) just on the Bomb and won the Second World War.  Twenty years later, the Cold War and the Soviet Union inspired President John F. Kennedy to support the Apollo Project.  Sending Man to the Moon cost us $100 billion ($25 billion then).


In a how dumb can you get effort, George the Younger Bush wasted $3 trillion (that's $3,000 billion) on terrorists!  Only government can squander so much money so quickly.

All the above is backdrop to the next phase of future economic development.  The American and European governments show little interest today in doing anything inspirational.  There is a perceptible shift to the power of billionaires, who have no one to answer to than their emotions.


Forbes has an annual issue on billionaires, and on the latest cover (above) is 6' 8" Mikhail Prokorov, only #69 with a net worth of $13 billion, but he owns the NBA Brooklyn Nets and could well become the next president of Russia.  Here is their map:


Click on it to read the details.

In 1916, John Davison Rockefeller became the first American billionaire.  The top five billionaires today are:

  #1  Carlos Slim Helu          $73 billion     telecom     Mexico
  #2  Bill Gates                      $67 billion    Microsoft   U.S.
  #3  Amancio Ortega           $57 billion     Zara           Spain
  #4  Warren Buffett              $54 billion    Berkshire    U.S.
  #5  Larry Ellison                 $43 billion    Oracle         U.S.

There are 1426 billionaires worth $5.4 trillion.  The USA has the most, 422, worth $1.87 trillion, with Asia Pacific next at 386 and Europe #3 with 366.

How would they compare in history?  Inflation adjusted, not that well, actually:

  • #1 Mansa Musa I –  $400 Billion (he rule West Africa's Malian Empire in the early 1300's)
  • #2 The Rothschild Family – $350 Billion
  • #3 John D. Rockefeller – $340 Billion
  • #4 Andrew Carnegie – $310 Billion
  • #5 Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov – $300 Billion
  • #6 Mir Osman Ali Khan – $230 billion (he ruled part of what is now India, passed away in 1967 and had 149 children)
  • #7 William The Conqueror – $229.5 Billion
  • #8 Muammar Gaddafi – $200 Billion
  • #9 Henry Ford – $199 Billion
  • #10 Cornelius Vanderbilt – $185 Billion
  • #11 Alan Rufus – $178.65 billion
  • #12 Bill Gates – $136 Billion

However, these mega-wealthy today are, really, the only hope for out of the box monumental efforts to save Planet Earth and Humanity.

I have a special fascination for billionaires because I see no way the state of Hawaii can overcome our handicaps without a close partnership with a few of them.  Fortunately, several have homes here, including #5, Larry Ellison, who recently purchased the island of Lanai.  Plus, there are 386 more in the Asia Pacific region.  In the past I posted on how the University of Hawaii can become great and our one chance at bootstrapping our economy into prosperity, the Pacific International Ocean Station, advocated by Blue Revolution Hawaii.  As the end of the Cold War ended our need to spend billions in outer space, the ocean is the next frontier, and a few inspired billionaires can make the difference for knowledge and economic/environmental progress.

THIS POSTING IS LINKED TO iBlueRevolution, a blog site dedicated to stimulating financial support for the Pacific International Ocean Station.

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