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The World's Most Powerful People

There are 7.1 billion people on the planet. These are the 71 who matter

Published: Jan 21, 2013 12:01:37 AM IST
Updated: Jan 21, 2013 02:08:38 PM IST
The World's Most Powerful People
Image: Gary Cameron / Reuters

1. Barack Obama
President, United States of America
Age: 51

The decisive winner of the 2012 US presidential election on all counts: Obama took the popular vote, the electoral college and seven out of seven toss-up states. Now, he gets four more years to push his agenda past weakened Congressional Republicans. Still, he faces major challenges, including stubbornly high unemployment and renewed unrest in the Middle East. But Obama remains the commander-in-chief of the world’s greatest military and head of the sole economic and cultural superpower—literally the leader of the free world.

2012 HIGHLIGHT  In June, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of ObamaCare’s ‘individual mandate’—and a conservative Chief Justice cast the deciding vote.

The World's Most Powerful People
Image: Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

2. Angela Merkel
Chancellor, Germany
Age: 58

The world’s most powerful woman is the backbone of the 27-member European Union and carries the fate of the euro on her shoulders. Merkel’s hardline austerity prescription for easing the European debt crisis has been challenged by both hard-hit southern countries and the more affluent north, but it, and she, are still standing. Merkel has served as chancellor since 2005, but one of her biggest challenges still lies ahead: Bolstering her government’s sagging popularity before the 2013 German general election.

2012 HIGHLIGHT  The European Union  won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The World's Most Powerful People
Image: Reuters
3. Vladimir Putin
President, Russia
Age: 60

Re-elected for a third six-year term as president in March after a few years swapping posts with Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, Putin officially regains the power that no one believes he truly gave up. This October, the ex-KGB strongman—who controls a nuclear-tipped army, a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and some of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves—turned 60. That’s Russia’s retirement age, but who’s got the nerve to tell him to quit?

2012 LOWLIGHT Global condemnation after the March jailing of anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot.

The World's Most Powerful People

4. Bill Gates
Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Age: 57

The world’s second-richest man is worth $65 billion—and that’s after giving away more than $28 billion. Gates’ post- Microsoft mission includes eliminating many infectious and deadly diseases: By his own estimates, that could translate into eight million lives saved by 2020. But the quintessential activist billionaire doesn’t stop there: Gates continues to persuade his peers to sign the ‘Giving Pledge’, promising to give away half their wealth or more.

2012 HIGHLIGHT  Twenty-three more tycoons signed the Giving Pledge this year, bringing the total to 92.

The World's Most Powerful People

5. Pope Benedict XVI
Pope, Roman Catholic Church
Age: 85

How’s this for a job description? According to the doctrine of Papal Supremacy, the Pope enjoys ‘supreme, full, immediate, and universal power’ over the souls of
1.2 billion Catholics around the world. They turn to the Vicar of Christ for the final word on life’s most personal decisions, including birth control, abortion, marriage and euthanasia. Of course, the Pope faces dissent anyway—recently from ‘radical feminist’ American nuns. As the leader of Vatican City, he’s also a head of state.

The World's Most Powerful People
6. Ben Bernanke
Chairman, US Federal Reserve
Age: 59

Big Ben has been on a buying spree: In a third round of quantitative easing, the Fed is now snapping up $40 billion a month of mortgage-backed securities and $45 billion of Treasurys. Result: Modest economic recovery and a near-record $2.9 trillion on the Fed’s balance sheet. The American economy’s ‘adult in the room’ recently warned that there is only so much the
Fed can do; politicians are the ones with
the power to keep us from going over that fiscal cliff.

2012 LOWLIGHT  Recently admitted the financial crisis may have “reduced the potential growth rate of our economy”.

The World's Most Powerful People

7. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud
King, Saudi Arabia
Age: 88

The absolute monarch of the desert kingdom controls 20 percent of the world’s known oil reserves and guards Islam’s holiest cities. The Arab Spring didn’t shake the ruling family’s control of the kingdom, but out-of-control youth unemployment remains a threat. Ageing Abdullah lost his second heir apparent in two years when his brother Crown Prince Nayef died in June; he’s been replaced by another brother, 76-year-old Crown Prince Salman, the former governor of Riyadh.

The World's Most Powerful People
Image: Alessandro Garofalo / Reuters

8. Mario Draghi
President, European Central Bank
Age: 65

With the euro lurching constantly from crisis to crisis, the European Central Bank is more important than ever. As chief banker of the world’s largest currency area—the euro zone’s collective GDP is now more than $17 trillion—Draghi faces the Herculean task of trying to maintain financial unity across 17 countries. But if anyone can wrangle the interests of nations as diverse as Germany and Greece, it might be the man who navigated the minefield of Italian politics so deftly that he earned himself a nickname: “Super Mario”.

The World's Most Powerful People
Image: Ed Jones / Reuters

9. Xi Jinping
General Secretary, Communist Party of china
Age: 59

The man who is likely to lead China for the next decade was recently promoted to the Communist Party’s top position; Xi also took over as chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission, putting him in control of the world’s largest army. His rise to power will be complete in March, when he takes over from Hu Jintao as president and head of state. Xi’s only half of a Chinese power couple: His wife, Peng Liyuan, is a superstar folk singer.

The World's Most Powerful People
10. David Cameron
Prime Minister, United Kingdom
Age: 46

Two years into office, the Tory PM has gone from being called the second coming of Margaret Thatcher to standing in the shadow of Europe’s new Iron Lady, Angela Merkel. Cameron has rejected the German chancellor’s call to increase the EU budget and threatened to veto anything but a spending freeze. At home, he faces a sustained economic downturn, a disillusioned electorate and rumblings from his own party over Britain’s future.
Image: Peter Macdiarmid / Reuters

11. Carlos Slim Helú
Chairman, Carlos Slim Foundation
 Age: 72

The richest man in the world (net worth: $72 billion) made his fortune in telecom but didn’t stop there. Slim also owns mining and real estate companies and a stake in the New York Times. This year, he added soccer to the mix, buying into Mexico’s Leon and Pachuca clubs and Spain’s Real Oviedo.

The World's Most Powerful People
Image: Adnan Abidi / Reuters

12. Sonia Gandhi
President, Indian National Congress
Age: 66

As leader of India’s ruling political party, Gandhi has the reins of the world’s second-most-populous country and tenth-largest economy. Son Rahul is next in line to take over India’s most famous political dynasty.

13. Li Keqiang
Vice Premier, People’s Republic of China
Age: 57

The number two man in the Chinese communist party will become premier after Wen Jiabao steps down in March. Li worked on a commune and has developed a reputation as an advocate for the working class.

14. François Hollande
President, France
Age: 58

Defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in May elections, but since then the first Socialist Party president in two decades has seen his popularity plummet to 36 percent. Bland Hollande’s nicknames include ‘Flanby’ (a pudding brand) and ‘Mr Normal’.

The World's Most Powerful People
Image: Rick Wilking / Reuters

15. Warren Buffett
ceo, Berkshire Hathaway
Age : 82

The billionaire investor stepped up his philanthropy: In July, he donated $1.5 billion to the Gates Foundation, bringing his lifetime total giving to $17.3 billion; in August, he pledged $3 billion in stock to his children’s foundations. Buffett also continued his campaign for higher taxes on the rich: “We need Congress, right now, to enact a minimum tax on high incomes.”

16. Michael Bloomberg
Mayor, New York City
Age: 70

The King of New York—and the 15th-richest man in the world—rules over multiple spheres of influence: Politics, media and philanthropy. The mayor has one year left in his third and supposedly final term, but no one expects him to disappear after leaving office. After a star turn navigating NYC through Hurricane Sandy, a high-profile endorsement of President Obama proved his influence extends beyond the city’s borders.

2012 HIGHLIGHT  Advanced fight on obesity by pushing through ban on oversize sugary soft drinks.

17. Michael T Duke
ceo, Wal-Mart
Age: 63

Chief of the world’s largest retailer (projected sales of $470 billion in 2012) and biggest private employer (2.1 million employees). Wal-Mart can make or break a company simply by deciding to stock its product. Duke was re-elected to his board position in June with just 70 percent of non-Walton family votes—a distinct drop from last year’s 99 percent.

 Employees hold pro-union protests at US stores during Thanksgiving holiday.

The World's Most Powerful People

18. Dilma Rousseff
President, Brazil
Age: 65

The former revolutionary sits atop the world’s sixth-largest economy (GDP $2.4 trillion). Now at the midpoint of her first term, Rousseff’s emphasis on entrepreneurship has inspired a new generation of startups.

The World's Most Powerful People
19. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister, India
Age: 80

Oxford- and Cambridge-educated economist is the architect of India’s economic reforms, but Singh’s quiet intellectualism is increasingly seen as timid and soft.

The World's Most Powerful People
20. Larry Page & Sergey Brin
Co-Founders, Google
Ages: 39

Page, the CEO, runs the company; Brin, now the director of special projects, says he spends more than half his time on Google Glass, the wearable computer due to hit the market in 2014. Together, they’ve helped build the world’s most visited website—surpassing 1 billion visitors each month—and one of the world’s most valuable technology companies.

21. Ali Hoseini-Khamenei
Grand Ayatollah, Iran
Age: 73  

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Khamenei is the America-hating, nuke-hungry country’s top decision maker. Soon he gets to anoint the successor of controversial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who hits a term limit in June.

2012 HIGHLIGHT  Acquitted Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who faced execution for apostasy.
Image: 18. Remy de la Mauviniere / Reuters; 19. Thierry Roge / Reuters 

The World's Most Powerful People
22. Rex W Tillerson
ceo, Exxon Mobil
Age: 60

Exxon Mobil boasted $41.1 billion in profits last year and has long been the world’s biggest producer of oil and natural gas, wielding significant political power in countries where it drills.

23 . Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister, Israel
 Age: 63

The leader of one of the world’s most religiously and geopolitically fraught nations, Netanyahu is a central player in nearly every Middle Eastern crisis. Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons; its Iron Dome missile defence system proved highly effective in 2012, intercepting more than 400 rockets fired from Gaza over the course of the year.

24. Jeffrey R Immelt
ceo, General Electric
Age: 56

As head of the third-largest      company in the world, Immelt oversees one of the most diverse businesses on the planet: GE produces aircraft engines, lightbulbs, amusement parks, medical devices and much more. A second-generation GE employee, Immelt also serves as head of the President’s Council on Jobs & Competitiveness.

25. Mark  Zuckerberg
ceo, Facebook
Age: 28

In May, investors were giddy when the world’s biggest social media site went public: ‘How high will it go?’ But Facebook’s IPO was a debacle, and its stock remains far below the original $38 a share. Zuck’s personal fortune declined from $17.5 billion to less than $14 billion. But the man still pulls in impressive numbers: Facebook hit one billion monthly users in October.

 2012 HIGHLIGHT  Married longtime girlfriend Priscilla Chan in May.

26. Rupert    Murdoch
ceo, News Corp
Age: 81

With News of the World’s phone hacking scandal in the rearview mirror, the octogenarian billionaire and his $34.2-billion-in-sales comp-any came through 2012 with a sharp rise in profits, and plans to split up its entertainment and publishing businesses. But Murdoch has found a new way to stir up controversy:          On Twitter.

Why is Jewish owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis?
Watch Katie Holmes and Scientology story develop. Something creepy, maybe even evil, about these people.
Seems impossible to have civilised debate on Twitter. Ignorant, vicious abuse lowers whole society, maybe shows real social decay.
Tweeters who don’t like particular newspapers don’t have to buy them. Thousands of crappy blogs available.

27. Jeff Bezos
Age: 48

Founder and chief of the biggest retailer on the web, the biggest mover in the rapidly evolving publishing industry, and the biggest threat to companies like Netflix and Wal-Mart. Next, Bezos is looking to disrupt feature film production and the database software business.

2012 HIGHLIGHT  In October, the Kindle Fire was the No. 2 bestselling tablet in the world, behind Apple’s iPad.

28. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
chief of Army Staff, Pakistan
Age: 60

The most powerful man in an unstable country; Pakistan’s de facto leader controls nuclear weapons and one of the world’s largest standing armies. Despite tension over drone strikes, Kayani remains a key ally in the war on terror.

2012 LOWLIGHT His own Supreme Court issued a series of rulings holding the military accountable for human rights abuses and political meddling.

29. Mario Monti
Prime Minister, Italy
Age: 69

Appointed to lead the country with the world’s eighth-largest GDP in 2011, after three-time PM Silvio Berlusconi was forced to resign. In just one year, Monti pushed through tough austerity measures and saved the country from default; now he says he may not serve past the end of his term next spring.

2012 HIGHLIGHT  Silvio Berlusconi said he won’t run next year, either.

30. Ban Ki-moon
secretary-General, United Nations
Age: 68

As head of the 193-member international organisation, the secretary-general helps promote peace, fight hunger and protect millions of refugees worldwide. Recently headed to Israel and the West Bank to plead for peace with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials. His term continues through 2016.

31. Li Ka-shing
Chairman, Hutchison Whampoa
Age: 84

The richest man in Asia, nicknamed “Superman”, has a personal fortune of $27 billion. Li’s private tech investment company was early into Facebook, Skype and Spotify: He says, “A person investing in technology will feel younger.” A noted philanthropist, he’s given out, through his foundation, over $1.6 billion in grants to education, health care and cultural organisations.

The World's Most Powerful People

32. Ali Al- Naimi
Oil Minister, Saudi Arabia
Age: 77

Started at Saudi Aramco at age 12 and will celebrate his 30th year as president in 2013. The state-owned oil and gas company is by far the largest oil company in the world, with proven crude oil reserves of more than 260 billion barrels.

2012 HIGHLIGHT  Upped crude oil output to record levels.

Image: 22. Robin Marchant / Getty Images

The World's Most Powerful People
Image: Remy de la Mauviniere / Reuters

33 .  Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
President, United Arab Emirates
Age: 64

One of the world’s wealthiest monarchs, with a net worth of $15 billion. It’s not all from oil, although he does control 97.8 billion barrels of proven reserves: Al Nahyan also runs the world’s second-largest sovereign wealth fund, with reported assets of $627 billion.

2012 HIGHLIGHT  Students at UAE’s three major universities were given free iPads.

34. James Dimon
ceo, JPMorgan Chase & Co
Age: 56

Since taking the reins in 2005, Dimon shepherded the $2.2-trillion-in-assets company through the global financial crisis and on to fiscal 2011 profits of $19 billion.

2012 LOWLIGHT  An employee nicknamed “the London Whale” made huge gambles on complex  derivatives—and lost $6 billion.

The World's Most Powerful People
Image: Getty Images

35. Timothy Cook
ceo, Apple
Age: 52

A year after he succeeded Steve Jobs as CEO, Apple is not only the most valuable company in the world but a bigger-than-ever player in design, technology, publishing, Hollywood and music.

2012 HIGHLIGHT  Stock hit all-time high in September, rising above $700 a share: That’s up more than $300 from the day Steve Jobs died in October 2011.

36. Lloyd C Blankfein
Chairman and ceo,  Goldman Sachs
Age: 58

The indomitable investment bank had some rough spots last year, including a rare quarterly loss; 2012 is shaping up to be better, with profits expected to exceed $4 billion.

 2012 LOWLIGHT  London exec Greg Smith resigns and then slams the company in a New York Times op-ed entitled ‘Why I am leaving Goldman Sachs’.

The World's Most Powerful People

37. Mukesh Ambani
Chairman, Reliance Industries
Petrochemical billionaire is India’s richest and Reliance Industries the nation’s most valuable company. Ambani also owns the world’s most expensive private residence.

 Defended Rajat Gupta after he was found guilty of insider trading in the Galleon Group case: “I respect Rajat for his selfless dedication and humility, and he will always be a friend.”

The World's Most Powerful People

38. Christine Lagarde
Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
Age: 56

The first woman to run the 188-country financial organisation spent much of her first year on the job battling the debt crisis in Europe. In April, Lagarde secured an additional $430 billion in funding from G-20 countries, almost doubling the IMF’s lending capacity.

39. Lou Jiwei
Chairman, China Investment corp
Age: 62

The man charged with stewarding one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds has vowed to invest more of his $482 billion in neighbouring Asian nations, in order to support regional growth. Also staying away from European bonds: “The risk is too big and the return too low.”

40. Masaaki Shirakawa
Governor, Bank of Japan
Age: 63

The chief banker of the world’s third-largest economy ($5.8 trillion GDP) announced this autumn that he’ll inject an additional $128 billion into monetary easing programmes, pushing Japan’s total spent on asset-buying programmes past the $1 trillion mark.

Image: 37. Getty Images; 38. Charles Platiau / Reuters

The World's Most Powerful People
Image: Getty Images

41. Charles & David Koch
ceo, Executive vP, Koch Industries
Ages: 77, 72

The country’s richest brothers (worth $31 billion each) head the nation’s second-biggest private company, with $115 billion in sales, and interests ranging from oil pipelines and refineries to paper towels, building materials and cups.

The World's Most Powerful People

42. Laurence D Fink
ceo, BlackRock
Age: 60

BlackRock’s $3.6 trillion in assets may actually understate the influence of the world’s largest money manager: Fink is often the first phone call for governments or businesses in trouble, with clients including Germany, Greece and AIG. Fink’s decisions impact the retirement savings of millions of workers; 60 percent of BlackRock’s total long-term assets under management are for institutional investors, including pensions.

43. Akio Toyoda
ceo, Toyota Motor
Age: 56

The grandson of Toyota Motor’s founder. The company is now the world’s top automaker, with $228 billion in revenues versus Volkswagen’s $222 billion. The feat is particularly impressive given the severe impact on business caused by 2011’s earthquake and tsunami.

2012 LOWLIGHT  The company had to issue multiple waves of recalls, affecting millions of vehicles worldwide.

The World's Most Powerful People

44. Kim Jong-Un
Supreme Leader, North Korea
Age: 29

The youngest son of “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il took over leadership of the Hermit Kingdom after father’s December 2011 death, but some outside observers wonder if uncle Jang Song-thaek is pulling his strings. In theory, “Brilliant Comrade” Kim Jong-Un has absolute control over the 24 million citizens in his reclusive, rusting nuclear state; satellite photos reveal a newly-constructed, half-kilometre-long message of praise carved into a hillside in Ryanggang Province.

45. Jim Yong Kim
President, World Bank
Age: 53

Head of the World Bank doles out cash and development advice to the world’s poorest nations: “This is not about charity. This is a commitment to the global economy of the future.”

46. Steve Ballmer
ceo, Microsoft
Age: 56

Microsoft Windows and Office remain the defaults for business and consumers; now the company is a key player in home entertainment (Xbox), plowing forward with a new tablet (Surface) and pushing a radical update of its OS (Windows 8).

The World's Most Powerful People

47. Lakshmi Mittal
Chairman, ArcelorMittal
Age: 62

The steel tycoon (net worth: $16 billion) has lots of headaches, including S&P and Moody downgrades of his company’s debt to junk status.

 2012 HIGHLIGHT  A longtime London resident, Mittal carried the Olympic flame in the 2012 Torch Relay.

48. Hugo Chávez
President, Venezuela
Age: 58

In October, Venezuela’s bad-boy ruler won a fourth term: Six more years to pester the West, implement socialist policies and develop some of the world’s largest proven oil reserves. But only weeks after declaring victory, he travelled to Cuba to seek medical treatment for the pelvic cancer he’s been fighting for years.

49. Sebastián Piñera
President, Chile
Age: 63

Billionaire, entrepreneur, economist, head of state. The Chilean Renaissance man made an early fortune through credit card giant Bancard. Now halfway through a four-year term.

The World's Most Powerful People

50. Bill Clinton
Chairman, Clinton Global Initiative
Age: 66

The unusually active ex-prez hit the campaign trail for Obama in 2012 and cemented his status as a kingmaker. Clinton’s non-partisan Global Initiative has raised $73.1 billion in commitments from major philanthropists, CEOs and heads of state to fund charitable action around the globe.

51. Bill Gross
Co-Founder, Pimco
Age: 68

The most powerful man in the bond market and counsellor to the world’s financial elite. Gross manages the world’s largest mutual fund, Pimco’s Total Return, which has more than $260 billion in assets.

2012 HIGHLIGHT  Donated $20 million to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for a new biomedical research and clinical care pavilion.

52. Zaheer  ul-Islam
Director-General, Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan
Age: 56

The new head of Pakistan’s notorious intelligence service took command in March. The ISI has played both sides in the war on terror and, as US troops draw out of Afghanistan, will be hugely influential in determining the region’s future.

2012 HIGHLIGHT  First official visit to US as spy chief in August for talks with then counterpart in CIA General David Petraeus.

41. Getty Images; 42. Juan Naharro Gimenez / Getty Images; 50. Kena Betancur / Reuters

The World's Most Powerful People
53. Masayoshi Son
ceo, SoftBank
Age: 55

The second-richest man in Japan founded and runs a dominant force in global telecom. In October, SoftBank announced it will acquire 70 percent of Sprint Nextel for $20.1 billion.

54. Enrique Peña Nieto
President, Mexico
Won election in July; just took office in December as leader of one of Latin America’s dominant powers.
The World's Most Powerful People

55. Terry Gou
ceo, hon hai Precision Industry
Age: 62

Hon Hai—better known as Foxconn— manufactures the world’s favourite gadgets, including the iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Xbox, PlayStation and Wii. Gou’s factories assemble around 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronic products, but at a cost—extensive allegations of unfair and unsafe labour practices.

56 . Bernard Arnault
Chairman, LVMH
Age: 63

The world’s arbiter of good taste—and one of the richest men in Europe— controls fashion companies such as Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Bulgari. This year, LVMH bought a stake in Chinese casual-wear company Trendy International Group.

 After the Parisian billionaire applied for Belgian citizenship, tongues wagged that he was making the move in order to dodge French President Hollande’s new taxes on the wealthy.

57. Rostam Ghasemi
President, Opec
Age: 48

Former commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps serves as the country’s oil minister and as president of Opec.

 Iraq has overtaken Iran as Opec’s second-largest oil producer.

58. Margaret Chan
Director-General, World Health Organization
Age: 65

The most powerful person in public health care is the sole person with the authority to call a worldwide pandemic; her recommendations on drugs and treatments direct countries battling major diseases and viruses like malaria and HIV.AIDS.

2012 HIGHLIGHT Appointed to a second term, which will run through 2017.

59. John Roberts
Chief Justice, US Supreme court
Age: 57

Only seven years into his lifelong tenure as the Supreme Court’s top judge, Roberts has consistently assembled conservative majorities to support property rights and undermine tort lawyers, but proved a surprising swing vote the other way on ObamaCare.

60. Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister, Japan
Age: 55

Heads the world’s third-biggest economy, with a nearly $6 trillion GDP. He’s up for re-election in December and will struggle to keep his job.

61. Dmitry  Medvedev
Prime Minister, Russia
Age: 47

The junior member of Russia’s ruling duopoly swapped jobs with Putin and returned to the lower-profile PM gig.

2012 HIGHLIGHT  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg put on a suit for a 20-minute meeting in Moscow with Medvedev in October.

62. Jiang Zemin
Former General secretary, Communist Party, China
Age: 86

The retired party chief and president is China’s biggest behind-the-scenes power broker. Jiang is said to have picked many of the new members of the Central Politburo Standing Committee, representing the top leadership of the Communist Party.

63. Joaquin Guzman Loera
Drug Trafficker, Sinaloa Cartel
Age: 55

The world’s most powerful drug trafficker, billionaire “El Chapo” is responsible for many of the illegal narcotics imported into the US from Mexico each year.

LOWLIGHT  The murders continue—70,000 estimated dead in the ongoing Mexican drug war.

The World's Most Powerful People

64. Robin Li
Co-Founder and ceo, Baidu
Age: 44

One of China’s richest, with a net worth of $7 billion, Li is the man behind his nation’s largest search engine.

The World's Most Powerful People
Image: Yuri Gripas/ Reuters
65. John  Boehner
Speaker, us house of Representatives
Age: 63

His party lost the presidential election and seats in Congress. But the GOP still controls the House, and Boehner is the party’s man in the crucial battle over the ‘fiscal cliff’.

66. Elon Musk
ceo, spaceX
Age: 41

The billionaire entrepreneur behind PayPal and Tesla Motors is the most powerful man in space: His company SpaceX is a leader in the private space industry. Cash-strapped Nasa has retired its Space Shuttle fleet and will use SpaceX vehicles to haul cargo to and from the International Space Station. With commercial business in space ready to boom, Musk stands to make out like a 19th-century railway tycoon.

The World's Most Powerful People

67 . Alisher Usmanov
Oligarch, Russia
Age: 59

One of the richest men in Russia has his paw in many pots: Got rich in metals (iron and steel), now has interests ranging from telecommunications (MegaFon, Russia’s second-largest cellphone operator) to media (Kommersant, the country’s largest business daily).

68. Kathleen  Sebelius
Secretary, us Department of Health & Human Services
Age: 64

As head of Health & Human Services, the former governor of Kansas is the person in charge of implementing ObamaCare. Sebelius’ decisions will shape American lives—and the insurance, medical and pharmaceutical industries—for decades.

69. Joseph Blatter
President, Fifa
Age: 76

The four-term chief of the International Federation of Association Football runs the world’s most popular sport—and unofficial religion.

 2012 LOWLIGHT  Calls for internal investigation into his unopposed 2011 election.

70 . Alexey Miller
ceo, Gazprom
Age: 50

Runs Russia’s largest company ($149 billion in sales) and world’s biggest natural gas producer. Friends in high places: Worked under Vladimir Putin in the St Petersburg mayor’s office.

71. Reid Hoffman
Venture Capitalist
Age: 45

The world’s most powerful venture capitalist and the most-connected man in Silicon Valley can make or break a startup and shapes the future of tech. Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn, and its IPO made him a billionaire; he’s now a partner at VC firm Greylock Partners and a prominent angel investor in his own right.

Notable Drop-Offs

Kim Jong-il, Supreme Leader, North Korea

Jill Abramson, Executive Editor, the New York Times


  • Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister, Italy
  • Nicolas Sarkozy, President, France


  • Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State Timothy Geithner, US Secretary of the Treasury
  • Wen Jiabao, Premier, People’s Republic of China
  • Hu Jintao, President, People’s Republic of China

There are now nearly 7.1 billion people on the planet. To select the 71 who matter the most, we looked at hundreds of candidates, whittling them down to a short list of 103 people. That list was distributed to 10 Forbes editors, who ranked each in four categories: The number of people they have power over, the resources they control, the spheres in which they wield their power and how actively they use it. Ranking the world’s most powerful is a slippery business, and this list is by no means definitive. It is meant to spark debate, even an argument or two—so share your thoughts at:

Edited by David M Ewalt, Caroline Howard and Michael Noer Research: Kelly Appleton, Vanna Le and Kate Pierce

Check out our Festive offers upto Rs.1000/- off website prices on subscriptions + Gift card worth Rs 500/- from Click here to know more.

(This story appears in the 25 January, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Sathish

    i think putin is only person ,who is best competitor to obama

    on Mar 2, 2013
  • Santhosh Nair

    The Congress Party Prez is much above Indian Prez and PM of India. This can happen only in India? Isn\'t it a shame??

    on Feb 1, 2013
  • Soundar

    ahh this was awesome

    on Jan 29, 2013