Business and Finance

Corporate Influence on the Global Economy

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How influential are multinational corporations in today’s global economy? One way of answering the question would be to analyze the nature and extent of corporate influence in mainstream media, on governments and public policy, and on international institutions and agreements – such as at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Today, however, we  take a simpler, but nonetheless revealing, approach: comparing the economic size of corporations with the size of national economies.

The map below pairs South American countries (measured in terms of aggregate GDP) with equivalently sized corporations (measured in terms of annual revenue). Hover your mouse over a country to see how the figures compare (view large map).

If Paraguay, Guyana, Bolivia or Suriname were corporations, they wouldn’t make Fortune’s list of the Global 500.  Indeed, the GDP of those four countries combined is smaller than the annual revenue of Vinci – a construction company you’ve probably never heard of (unless you’re French).

Brazil is the only South American country whose economy clearly outsizes any of the world’s corporations. With a GDP of 2.1 trillion, its economy is roughly five times the size of Wal-Mart, the world’s largest corporation. Wal-Mart’s revenue in 2011 (~421 billion) falls between the GDPs of Saudi Arabia and Norway respectively – and exceeds the  GDPs of the next 170 countries. Maybe the G20 should consider inviting CEO Mike Duke to their next summit.


Valerie joined the ISN in April 2011. She holds a master's degree in political science from Leiden University. Valerie previously worked for an information and communication technology consultancy and served as Voter Education Officer and Political Affairs Officer for the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste. She speaks German, English, French and Bahasa

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