Fortunes Made, Fortunes Lost The Great Shift of '09

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Every once in a while, we stumble upon a chart or table that says it all… here’s one hot off the press:

Oh my, where do we begin? This beast calls for bullet points:

  • Obviously, Wal-Mart is no longer No. 1. That title now goes to Royal Dutch Shell. The American consumer is out, and a global oil conglomerate is in… ’nuff said
  • There’s a clear sea change in American business. AIG, Lehman and Bear Stearns fell off the list from 2008–2009. Tomorrowu2019s Gold: A... Marc Faber Best Price: $23.24 Buy New $43.00 (as of 10:10 EST - Details) Nike, Google and Amazon moved up
  • The world is increasingly less Amero-centric. An American company is not No. 1 for the first time in over a decade. In the whole list for 2009, 140 companies are American, the lowest number on record
  • The world is increasingly more Sino-centric. Look at China National Petroleum and Sinopec. Both Chinese companies are by far the biggest movers up from 2008–2009. Sinopec, an oil and gas company, also marks China’s first foray into Fortunes’ top 10. China now has 37 companies in the list of 500, its largest presence ever
  • Oil is still where it’s at. In spite of all the price drama over the last year, seven of the top 10 firms are oil companies
  • In the face of the worst global economic environment of our lifetimes, the world’s biggest companies are still making lots of money. The 2008 top 25 pulled in $4.88 trillion in revenue. This year, they made $5.38 trillion
  • And freakin’ GE… what a black box. The world’s producer of everything was one of very few companies to retain the same position from 2008–2009. And despite the infamous GE Capital, the finance arm that apparently threatened to torpedo the whole company, GE ended up increasing revenues by nearly $7 billion. Hmmm…

July 11, 2009

Ian Mathias is managing editor of The 5 Min. Forecast and Since working for Agora Financial, respected media outlets including, the Associated Press, Yahoo, and MSN Money have syndicated his writing. He received his BA from Loyola College in Maryland and is currently studying writing at the graduate level.