Corporate wealthThey are the 5%

Nov 1st 2011, 15:22 by The Economist online

Corporate wealth is becoming more evenly spread

WRITING in "Das Kapital" in 1867, Karl Marx observed that in the capitalist system competition "ends in the ruin of many small capitalists, whose capitals partly pass into the hands of their conquerors". This way, he posited, capital would become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few. Out of the 6,000 or so companies whose primary listing is on an American stock exchange, the top 5% accounted for 70% ($10.6 trillion) of the market value and 90% ($765 billion) of the total profit in 2010. In 2000, the profit from the top 5% of companies was greater than 100%, offsetting the huge losses by the bottom 50%. The figures are remarkably similar for listed companies in Western Europe. Confounding the view of the "Occupy" protests taking place across the globe that the world is run by increasingly rapacious corporations, those proportions have declined since 2000 (the earliest year for which robust data are available). At the very top, the largest 1% of listed companies in America and Western Europe accounted for 53% and 48% of market value in 2000. In 2010, those proportions had declined to 40% and 28% respectively. 



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