Rank­ing The World’s Most Pow­er­ful Peo­ple 2013

ForbesWeekly - - FRONT PAGE - BY CARO­LINE HOWARD, FORBES STAFF FOL­LOW CARO­LINE HOWARD AT www.forbes.com/sites/car­o­line­howard/

There are nearly 7.2 bil­lion peo­ple on the planet. Th­ese are the 72 that mat­ter the most.

What do the pres­i­dent of Rus­sia, the new Pope and the hoodie-wear­ing CEO of Face­book all have in com­mon? They’re all fea­tured on Forbes’ 2013 rank­ing of the World’s Most Pow­er­ful Peo­ple—an an­nual snap­shot of the heads of state, fi­nanciers, phi­lan­thropists and en­trepreneurs who truly run the world.

The list rep­re­sents the col­lec­tive wis­dom of top FORBES ed­i­tors, who con­sider hun­dreds of nom­i­nees be­fore rank­ing the planet’s 72 power bro­kers—one for ev­ery 100 mil­lion on Earth. We mea­sure their power along four di­men­sions.

First, we ask whether the can­di­date has power over lots of peo­ple. Pope Fran­cis (No. 4) is the spir­i­tual leader of 1.2 bil­lion Catholics, or about 1/6th of the world’s pop­u­la­tion. Michael Duke (No. 10), CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, em­ploys 2.1 mil­lion peo­ple and is the top pri­vate em­ployer on the planet.

Next we as­sess the fi­nan­cial re­sources con­trolled by each per­son. Are they rel­a­tively large com­pared to their peers? For heads of state we used GDP, while for CEOs, we looked at mea­sures like their com­pany’s as­sets and rev­enues. When can­di­dates have a high per­sonal net worth—like the rich­est man in the world, Car­los Slim Helu (No. 12)—we also take that into con­sid­er­a­tion. In cer­tain in­stances, like Saudi King Ab­dul­lah bin Ab­dul Aziz al Saud (No. 8), we con­sid­ered other valu­able re­sources at the can­di­date’s dis­posal—like 20% of the world’s known oil re­serves.

Then we de­ter­mine if the can­di­date is pow­er­ful in mul­ti­ple spheres. There are only 72 slots on our list so be­ing pow­er­ful in just one area is of­ten not enough. Our picks project their in­flu­ence in myr­iad ways: Bill Gates (No. 6) has power be­cause he’s a bil­lion­aire, be­cause he’s a ma­jor phi­lan­thropist and be­cause he’s chair of the world’s No. 1 com­puter soft­ware com­pany.

Lastly, we make sure that the can­di­dates ac­tively use their power. Rus­sian au­to­crat Vladimir Putin scores the high­est points in 2013 be­cause he so fre­quently shows his strength at home and on the global stage—con­sider NSA whistle­blower Ed­ward Snow­den and the re­cent chess match over Syria. Barack Obama, pres­i­dent of the most dom­i­nant coun­try in the world, comes in at No. 2, fol­lowed by Xi Jin­ping, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Com­mu­nist Party of China, and Pope Fran­cis. The fifth most pow­er­ful per­son in the world also hap­pens to be the most pow­er­ful woman: An­gela Merkel, the chan­cel­lor of Ger­many, down from No. 2 last year.

To cal­cu­late the fi­nal rank­ings, FORBES ed­i­tors ranks all of our can­di­dates in each of th­ese four di­men­sions of power, and those in­di­vid­ual rank­ings are av­er­aged into a com­pos­ite score. Read­ers: Share your opin­ion about who we got right and who we missed in the com­ments be­low or on Twit­ter us­ing #Pow­er­fulPeo­ple.

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