Who would've known?

World's Stocks Controlled by a Select Few

WASHINGTON -- 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. This is the first clear picture of the global concentration of financial power, and point out the worldwide financial system's vulnerability as it stood on the brink of the current economic crisis.

A pair of physicists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich did a physics-based analysis of the world economy as it looked in early 2007. 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.

Sounds like these guys used a method of social network or "linkage" analysis to derive the connections. Of course, this is nothing new. It is used in fighting terrorism as well as getting a picture of criminal networks. (And for those who are interested, this is precisely the purpose of the government's attempts at monitoring phone, email, and internet activity as well as capturing credit card and ACH transactions, but I digress).

Being someone who works around this stuff, it's just nice to see when a rather intrusive technique is used on data (public or otherwise) to unmask the bad guys.