Ranking The World’s Most Powerful People 2013
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.