The CeMiSS (Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, Rome, Italian MoD) is publishing in Englsh the Outlook already published in Italian (http://www.difesa.it/SMD_/CASD/IM/CeMiSS/Pubblicazioni/OsservatorioStrategico/Documents/OsservatorioStrategico2012/Cemiss_Prospettive_2013.pdf).
Following is the preview of the English document with the Global Outlook 2013 regarding the world.
General Outlook 2013
The next two years will
be marked more by power vacuums and gaps than by a reassuring graceful
degradation of the world order or by the rise of new power constellations. For
this reason it is necessary to change the traditional geographic subdivision
still built around the borders of nation states into a new vision more adapted
to present and future realities. In fact one should conceive global
relationships as wide area geopolitical and geoeconomic networks (i.e.
geonetworks) crisscrossed by shaping flows.
The Pacific Geonetwork is dominated by the shift of the strategic
centre of gravity towards the Chinese Sea as focus of acute maritime
controversies. The backdrop is provided by the ambiguous and controversial bond
between China and the United States, who are connected by the dynamics of the
economic global crisis. The banking sector is a particularly critical area
because on one hand the US banks are still very vulnerable to higher interest
rates (no stress tests have been carried out regarding this emergence) and on
the other the Chinese shadow financial system risks to cause another financial
crisis with €1,4 billion outstanding wealth management products. There is a
serious recovery effort by the USA in the Pacific Ocean, but for the time being
military action will be ruled out (Korean crises apart) because the whole
American continent is witnessing major political reorganization in all leading
countries (USA, Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil).
The Indian Geonetwork is
characterised by a strategic China-India rivalry that is moving away from the
traditional confrontation along the mountainous arc of Himalaya; the fight for
influence is now centred on increased air-sea presence in the Indian Ocean,
despite the fact that Washington is the dominant naval power. At the same time
a fluid relationship between China, India and the USA is emerging around a
tangle of rather converging interests that could, once the military part of the
intervention in Afghanistan will end, in the medium term isolate Pakistan. The
country itself will concentrate more on its internal transition due to the
coming 2013 parliamentary polls.
The African Geonetwork is
marked by the paralysis of the three leading countries (Egypt, Nigeria, and
South Africa) due to internal tensions or to post-revolutionary processes. This
situation is contrasted with the diffusion of political and economic actions by
China, USA, India, Brazil and Turkey. The continent is expected to grow (with
an aggregated GDP in the Sub-Saharan area similar to a BRIC-country) and
probably conflicts in the Horn of Africa, especially Somalia, will wane. On the
other hand it will be difficult to terminate the long conflict for the control
of key mining resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo or the control
about oil economies along the White Nile.
Regarding the Atlantic Geonetwork, one can clearly
discern a double void of political and strategic initiative vis-à-vis the
management of the global economic crisis and the possible choices in supporting
the outcomes of the Arab Revolutions. It is clear that the two major actors,
Europe and United States are very concentrated on their internal front. The EU
is defending the Eurozone against a financial assault, that is one of the
fronts of the global crisis (the other being the Pacific), whereas Washington
is still stuck in inconclusive negotiations by a paralysed Congress on the
fiscal cliff. Also two main regional actors like Russia and Turkey have
difficulties in playing a significant role due either to persistent internal deficiencies
or to the loss of their primary foreign policy vectors.
Each issue represents a
shaping flow that influences geonewtorks across the board, structuring
relationships and power balances. Many of these issues are effective in the
medium-long term, but it is useful to draw attention on some of them in the
short-term as indicators of future developments:
– the accelerated melting of the Arctic ice cap opens opportunities (new
alternative commercial routes, exploitation of fishing and mineral resources,
countries enjoying the status of autonomous region or independence) and risks
(rising of the seas, pollution, hard strategic competition). In general one
should not overlook that the stress of the long economic crisis (2006-2018)
could dangerously couple with an increased environmental stress, that would put
under pressure public spending and the private sector due to heavy adaptation
and recovery costs;
Drinking water – if in the short-term the long feared “water wars” are considered less
probable, the global water stress, scarcity and unequal distribution remain
critical and are well known. Less debated, but not without serious uncertainties,
is the issue of the privatisation of water sources: 13% of the global
population already depends from private services, whose prices keep generally
Food/Agrotech – already during this decade a scarcity of arable land at global level
is emerging. This is stimulating the so called land grab practice, that is
affecting especially the territories of Sub-Saharan Africa and tropical Latin
Real/Virtual Migrations – In a seven billion people world, in the next 2-3 years, according to
the most recent demographic and market estimates, two phenomena are unfolding that
merit to be explored: 1) African populations will grow at a higher rate than
the rest of the world, while illegal immigration will overtake legal
immigration by a still unknown delta; 2) during the same period mobile internet
will have more customers than fixed networks, bringing global connectivity to a
total of 5,5 networked people. It is evident that both the provision of
de-localised services and the inflow of people towards low-fertility countries
will increase. A sizeable part of human transfers will be carried out by
transnational organized crime trafficking. Here one should take note of: the
strong growth of Mexican narco-cartels, the penetration in the USA by the South
American maras, the consolidation and
expansion of Chinese triads through global diasporas and the entrenchment of
Russian speaking mafias;
Conventional/Non conventional Energy – in the short term a framework based on
conventional fossil energies will persist, despite the fact the in different
economies a grid parity has been reached between renewable and fossil energies.
The decision of some countries to exit the nuclear sector, counting initially
on gas supplies, confirms this trend as well as the news regarding a strong
production increase of shale oil and gas in the USA. This does not exclude
major price fluctuation due to production volumes or speculations or political
risks (Iran and Iraq). There is still room for the development of alternative
nuclear thorium-based sources.
Financial and invested capitals – there are the first signals that
governments, under pressure to fill the deficits of the balance sheets in the
banking sector, will combine three different approaches: the already ongoing
“austerity”, in order to pump more guaranteed money into banks that have low
value derivatives; higher inflation (2-4%) as indirect taxation and debt
reduction means; reduce the independence of central banks, because their
budgets are just too big to be left without political control. The overall scenario
shows a strong contrast between advanced economies, that are heavily indebted
and highly financialised, and emerged economies (typically BRICS and TIMBIS),
that have often strong financial surpluses and sovereign wealth funds, but that
in terms of transnational shareholding control are much less relevant. If the
global trade system has some of its all encompassing impetus, the problem is
not given by the possible investment opportunities in the three great real
economy sectors. The substantial dilemma is if the advanced economies decide to
reduce and control the excesses of scarcely guaranteed financial leverages or
induce the new global partners to take part in profits and losses of the
financial system. Anyhow, without an effective control over the financial
system, criminal groups will find new trafficking opportunities due to its
previous successful infiltration. In the very end the question revolves around
the sustainability of this financial system: most probably it is not and it
could deeply transform in the medium term.
Knowledge in its wider sense – During the next two years decision makers
have to face the issue of the race against time between the legal/illegal
spread of technologies and the
continuation of the “Western” technological edge. It is still strong in the
Euro-Atlantic area and in the Western Pacific pro-American countries, but it
constantly undermined by the economic crisis during which precisely the R&D
investments are cut. Not surprisingly the countries struggling to emerge are:
China, India, Brazil, Turkey, Mexico, Indonesia, South Africa and Israel. One
aspect of this technology diffusion in the cybersecurity
domain are APT (Advanced Persistent Threats) which can be carried out both by
private or public entities, in most cases in collaboration. Not surprisingly
four out of five BRICS have established cyber-commands for defensive/offensive
purposes, although it is difficult to ascertain if they are of real useful to
counter cybercrime, which the real threat
in terms of overall system reliability and commercial viability. Taking the
view point of religions, while at
global level one can set aside the vision of a clash of civilisation, it is
interesting to observe that after Christians (31,5%, 50,1% of which are
Catholics) and Muslims (23,2%), the third biggest group is non-religious (16,3%
unaffiliated persons) and that the
majority of them are in China, while Hindus are 15% of the world
population. According to data collected by 2010, there are few confessions that
are keeping up with an estimated +1,19% demographic growth: Christian
Independents (2,04%, 5,4% of world population); Protestants (1,48%, 6,1%), Muslims
(1,79%). Education and culture are, unsurprisingly, experiencing major
stresses in advanced and indebted countries. Higher education is still marked
by a class cleavage in OECD countries like USA, Italy, Portugal and Turkey,
with low social mobility/education indicators. One response has been to move
massively courses on line opening the era of “glocal students”. Moreover cuts
in public expenditure push institutions to self-sufficiency, with all the
attendant unknowns in matter of quality, equality, social sustainability and
competence, as it is starkly shown from the Chilean case. This has also brought
to three significant mergers in the so called cultural industry
(Penguin’s-Random House, Universal-EMI, Walt Disney-Lucasfilm) that ensure
business viability, but also tend to the creation of merchandising and
potentially stifling oligopolies, entailing possible negative consequences for
cultural freedom and diversity.
Outlook by Geonetwork
The Pacific area is marked by an
ambiguous and copetitive twinning of China and USA and by the shift of the
strategic centre of gravity (Schwerpunkt) towards the Western Pacific and more
precisely towards the Chinese Seas. The
group of contested islands (Spratly, Scarborough, Kuriles, etc.) is the symbol
of a rivalry that was commercial and globalization-oriented and is now becoming
geostrategic in order to gain control of the commercial and energy access
points along the great Chindoterranean Belt.
Among the containment actions
vis-à-vis China’s rise can be numbered also the political steps to revitalise
ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, US Security Treaty), a
60-year old pact that has also overcome the old crisis provoked by New Zealand
regarding its anti-nuclear stance on nuclear armed warships (1985).
The concrete risk is
that during the next two years the stage may be set for an escalation that will
be not financial, as now, but political. This may be caused by a combination of
perceptions, errors, and reactions that could make credible even military
scenarios featuring a China-US confrontation over the economic control of the
Pacific theatre seen as an exit strategy from the long global economic crisis.
Until now, despite
contingency plans and musings on a future conflict with Beijing, there is no
political will from both sides to contemplate such possibility and, at least in
the very short term, the policies regarding currencies try to defuse potential
tensions. It is significant to see that the yüan appreciated at historic
heights over the dollar, that in turn continues to exploit the inflationary
effects of its quantitative easings, injecting new money in the financial
Nevertheless the banking
sector in both countries is a particularly critical area. On one hand, in fact,
the US banks are still very vulnerable to higher interest rates (no stress
tests have been carried out regarding this emergence) and on the other the
Chinese shadow financial system risks to cause another financial crisis with
€1,4 billion outstanding wealth management products.
The current year could
be very difficult because the mismanagement of a number of negative factors (US
fiscal cliff, possible recession of the Eurozone, China’s sharp economic decrease
and reduction in dollar reserves, a probable Israel- Iran conflict, among
others) could bring to a new worsening of the situation and a new economic
In this context the increase
of domestic consumption of the two Chinas (PRC and Taiwan) could have a double
function: an economic driver for the economic recovery (if the world trade
system remains open and Beijing’s protectionist lobbies do not gain the upper
hand) or act as logistic reserve if the strategic situation deteriorates
Looking at the US side
it is rather clear that the fiscal cliff can be reasonably avoided through a
combination of progressive tax raises, defence spending cuts (already five
important programmes are at risk), otherwise the risk of an economic and
political tempest will increase.
On the Chinese side,
domestic consumption is more than just an economic measure, it is one of the
strong appeals the CPC (Communist Party of China) because its ideological
position is much more fragile than in previously similar countries. Differently
from Russia, where the collapse of Communism did leave a nationalist sentiment
and identity reinforced by a national religion, China does not have any more a
national religion as culturally reinforcing element.
On the background one
can observe important weak signals of erosion of the North Korean regime:
unregulated internet access, temporary migrations via China, a 20-year
development of semi-clandestine markets. These phenomena can prepare the
collapse of the regime and offer either a fuse for a war or a precious
“humanitarian” distraction vis-à-vis the mentioned Pacific storm.
However no one in the
short term is interested in the collapse of Pyöngyang, whereas the dynamics of
the rapprochement between the Burmese generals and the United State are
offering interesting fresh precedents for a political liberalisation under
tutelage, similar to the Chilean in the late ’Eighties.
Changing to the Latin
American area, the next two years will witness a general re-organization of all
continental power arrangements because all four major powers are involved in an
USA have to work to save themselves from the double deficit crisis and from the
possible loss of the dollar’s seigniorage;
will probably enter a tacit agreement with a major criminal cartel (probably
Sinaloa) in order to keep stable the inflow of white and laundered investments
favouring an economic recovery and a limited social reallocation;
needs to reduce political and social costs while approaching the international
sporting deadlines in 2014. It is a particularly complex operation because it
needs on one hand an adequate state control (whereby the state is an effective impartial
decision maker and not mere a laissez-faire regulator; a heresy for today’s
mainstream) and on the other a social redistribution policy allowing at the
same time the inflow of much needed foreign investments;
Venezuela where the two political camps have to face the post-Chavez era.
In the meantime three
crises are at various stages of development: Argentina (political, budget and
energy policy credibility), Cuba (economic viability of the regime) and
Colombia (opportunity to end by negotiation the long civil narco-war, if the
issue of land reform will be solved).
Indian Ocean Geonetwork
The strategic focal
points from East to West are: Afghanistan and the Stan’s Wedge; India-Pakistan;
Iran-Arabian Peninsula; Iraq and the Levant.
In Afghanistan had begun
the race for the division of the whole Central Asiatic space after the long
US-UN- NATO interval. All countries in the region are involved, while Iran,
India, Russia and China are placing their geopolitical ore geoeconomic assets.
Pakistan hopes to come
back on the scene through the political weight of the Talebans in Afghanistan
thanks also to a protracted stall in negotiations that is damaging NATO’s
interests and is favouring the idea in Kabul of realigning the government
around the slogan of “reconciliation”. These
schemes are favoured by such an internal instability that it could lead to a
multi-level civil war, stimulated by people controlled from foreign countries.
India and Pakistan will
continue their slow rapprochement, marked by propagandistic missile experiment.
The real problems pertain both the
internal sphere and the relationship with China. Both countries indeed have to
face the fragmentation of their political landscape, complicating any decision
on crucial dossiers. The competition between China and India has shifted in
from the Himalayan divide (Tibet and Nepal, despite strong crisis signals, are
not a bone of contention) to the more important Indian Ocean.
In this competition are
included: the fight for influence over the Maldives (connected with the
strategic Sino-Pakistani port of Gwadar) or the developments in Burma. Here the
USA and, more discretely the UK, are scheming to reduce China’s influence. At
the same time India proposes the re-opening of the strategic Ledo-Stilwell Road
from India to China via Burma. Beijing has reacted since 2008 by renewing and
hardening its territorial pretentions over part or all the state of Arunachal
Pradesh, supported form Taipei too.
Of course the ambiguous
development of the Indo-American relationship can be seen essentially as
anti-Chinese (following the normal China-Pakistan or India-USA dynamics). And
yet one cannot fail noticing that when the three big partners are negotiating
even with more than a contradiction, Islamabad (the junior partner) risks to be
marginalised and becoming a pawn for much more important agreements precisely
between India and China.
India itself will
concentrate more on its internal transition due to the coming 2013
parliamentary polls and to the necessity of passing the last reforms before a
period of probable instability.
This year should be
decisive for the denouement of the long Irano-American confrontation. There is
a disquieting amount of indicators pointing at a probable Israeli attack
against major nuclear sites of an alleged military programme: increase of Western
air and naval fleets in the area, covert operations campaigns (recce, targeted
assassinations, cyber attacks), preparation of air bases at striking distance;
US military preparations in order to sustain eventually the consequences of an
And yet there are weak
signals regarding a possible turnaround of the diplomatic situation (direct
Iran-USA contacts for the sale of grain, new progress in the IAEA negotiations)
that would benefit both contenders. Israel should take into account that there
is a clear Chinese, Russian and Indian opposition to the strike, possibly
together with the US aversion, where the Jewish community is much more prudent
on the matter and prefers to wait the Iranian electoral results (June 2013) and
where the US administration would have problems in offering satellite, logistic
and intelligence support to Tel-Aviv.
Shunning the limelight
is the evident Saudi Arabian unpredictable succession crisis and its cracks in
the clerical-monarchic system (opening of the Shura to women, limitations to
the religious police and enlistment of Mutawwa'în policewomen). Anyhow the link
between ar-Riyadh and Washington is more political than energy-based: major
income derives from Asiatic customers, while less than 5% of crude oil is
exported towards the United States.
Finally, beyond the
results of the Syrian civil war and looking forward to a more or less deep rearrangement
of this state, a heavy competition is emerging around Kurdish political
entities. At stake is a future network of cross-border Kurdish autonomous
governments revolving around the resources of the Iraqi KRG.
Behind the scenes the
fight is between Baghdad, Ankara, Tehran and the Syrian Kurdish groups together
with other diaspora groups, with the more or less discreet support of the
powers involved in the Syrian crisis, who are in a wait-and-see attitude. The
linkage between different Kurdish interests increases the risk of a new civil
war in Iraq for the future of the Kurdish Regional Government.
The Black Continent is
an area free of recession and finally there is the possibility to keep
satisfactory growth rates (+4,1% of
continental GDP, +7,9% of forecasted
exports in 2013, but with a global competitiveness still rated at 0,1), while
the aggregated GDP in the Sub-Saharan area similar to that of a BRIC-country.
But it must be kept in
mind that this is the place where local, regional and transnational interests
will clash on the unsolved questions of regional and state reconfiguration. So
the Continent will have to face in the coming two years an accelerated rush for
The three traditional
leading countries (Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa) will be paralyzed also this
year by internal conflicts be it to manage post-revolutionary processes, be it
to rebalance the distribution of national wealth between Northern and Southern
regions, be it for the explosion of long
delayed sharp social conflicts in the mining and agricultural sectors.
The visible protagonists
of this geopolitical and geoeconomic asymmetric competition continue to be
China and the United States. The first expands in the energy, agro-business and
infrastructure sectors, whereas the second bet on the reorganization of the
strategic space and on energy security.
It seems that China has
reached the zenith of its influence and thus one of its priorities is to keep
the acquired positions, keeping the local elites and population consensus. The
USA, despite the expansion of their activities during the long Bush presidency,
exploiting the Global War on Terror and the creation of AFRICOM, must make up
for the lost time vis-à-vis the Chinese competitors.
India is the third
competitor, trying gradually to establish its own hegemony in the Indian Ocean,
not just in the maritime spaces where the Chinese “pearl string” has been put
in place, but also opening new trade in Africa. New Delhi enjoys an advantage
in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and tries to assert itself with other members of the
Indian Ocean Rim - Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC, initially
born in 1995 as Indian Ocean Rim Initiative). But India is behind China in
coherence and organization of commercial and political penetration.
Since 2009 Turkey is
carrying out a strong expansion in the arc of Islamic countries that stretches
from Nigeria to Senegal via North Africa by opening 14 new embassies. Brasilia
was active even before that date and, beyond its obvious interests in the
Lusophone area, it has expanded its presence in Southern Africa and in the
group of countries between Guinea and Libya
At the same time it is
necessary to follow the shift of the conflict focus from the Horn of Africa
strictu sensu (there are some chances for peace) to Central Africa for the
control over strategic raw material (energy, precious minerals, rare earths).
There are two critical troublespots
the enduring one in Congo (Kivu-Ruanda-Burundi) and the one that seemed to be
peacefully solved between Sudan and South Sudan. The latter risks to worsen
because of the stubborn will of Khartoum to control the future of Juba
(although a new oil and demilitarisation agreement has been finalised by mid
March) and because there is a serious internal political crisis in Sudan. The government
is worn out and so its credibility and national cohesion, in fact during the
past year there has been the possibility of a military coup d’état.
The Mali crisis will be
still an issue for the next two years because the mopping up of armed groups is
more difficult than foreseen and because the state has to be rebuilt from its
foundations. By mid-March 2013 the political situation features a weak and not
legitimised civil political élite under military tutelage with little interest
of rebuilding Northern Mali.
The other complicating
factor is that Algeria, whose regional role was reinforced by the weakening of
Libya, Morocco and Mauritania, is wary about an African ECOWAS and French
military presence on its Southern border and would like to control better
Bamako. If Algeria’s influence was neutralised this could have some
unpredictable effect on the perpetuation of the Algerian political system,
already under pressure from the society for more political participation and
fairness and shaken by political scandals that are preparing the end of the
The Atlantic area will
have to handle the effects of a global crisis that can be reasonably expect it
will last in the medium term. The origin is in the structural blocking in the
financial system caused by a shadow monetary mass that is still incalculable
and that is scarcely guaranteed by underlying assets. Despite liquidity
injections in more or less indebted banks, this money is not put back onto the
economic system, creating in turn a credit and liquidity crunch.
There will be four
actors (Russia, European Union, United States and Turkey) that will try to
recover their stability in the short-medium term and hence the strategic
initiative, indispensable to recover freedom of action and economic growth.
Russia, despite the
re-election of Putin as president, is unable neither to get out of its “energy
monoculture”, nor to solve its 12-year old socio-economic problems.
Particularly worrying are: the delayed exploitation since September 2012 of the
Arctic off shore fields (Shtokman oilfield, planned for the US market), the
delayed study activity to exploit shale oil fields, the difficult
rationalisation of the oil giant Rosneft and a 59% yearly increase in military
If prices were to
diminish significantly, due to the abundant inflow of conventional and
non-conventional hydrocarbons into the market, the Russian state’s problems
risk to become very serious in the medium term, forcing the government to dig deeply
into the past financial surplus.
The European Union is
fully absorbed in defending the Eurozone against a highly co-ordinated
financial assault led by private groups. Generally known under the “Euro
crisis” misnomer, this is one of the two fronts of the global crisis together
with the Pacific area.
Without a clear,
consensual and unitary political direction at European level, the different
austerity measures will exclusively work in favour of financial speculative
schemes whose goal is to raise fresh money, guaranteed by governments and from
the selling-off of common and public goods.
Starting from this
premises the European Council of 2013 should give a concrete direction to the
Common Foreign and Security Policy, which until now has been hampered by narrow
national interests, the same that have jeopardised the European External Action
Service. It appears rather unlikely that the Irish presidency will accomplish
some concrete result.
The next 24 months will
be crucial because Germany, seemingly the pivot of fiscal austerity measures,
risks to be severely attacked in its political and economic credibility after
having lost half of its European markets under the very same austerity
oversight authorities have revealed that there are at least 12 great German
banks that are at high risk if they do not redress their balance sheets within
2013. It is not by chance that Berlin, following the example set by the Chinese
Dagong rating agency, is trying to set up its own rating company through the Bertelsmann publishing group.
The positive aspect in the European political landscape is ECB’s Single
Supervisory Mechanism which provides an unprecedented degree of control over
the great European banks. On the other hand, to be effective, it needs serious
inspective procedures including also regional banks (Germany’s Achilles heel,
and not only of this country) and a smooth co-ordination with the London-based European
Germany was also forced
to slow economic contacts with Russia (exception made for energy) and to defer
a tacit dream nurtured since the first Obama presidency. Berlin, while the
UK-USA special relationship had become rather irrelevant, has tried to set up
its own acting as a bridge between the USA and Russia. In the meantime the Baltic,
Nordic and Balkan states are hold off their accession to the Euro, waiting for
If Europe is in dire
straits, the United States are in a similarly embattled because Washington is
still paralysed by an inconclusive Congress in negotiations on the fiscal cliff,
whereas the need is to find a compromise between a cut in entitlements/defence
expenditure and raising taxes with a progressive system.
The leadership, despite
being adequate, is divided between the schizophrenic management of the debt due
to Beijing and the idea of containing more or less strongly its creditor and
this will mean a relative power vacuum in the Euro-Mediterranean area with
clear repercussions on the actual crises.
Fourth actor out of
kilter is Turkey. Ankara has lost its “neo-Ottoman” foreign policy orientation
and the possibility to enter the EU; now it is less effective in the area than
other regional competitors or external powers. Countries like Iran, Qatar,
Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran and China are essentially extending the conflict to
their advantage and Turkey has to defend its positions in the Levant and the
Gulf, even against new competitors (Qatar and Egypt).
The war itself could
possibly end by the year either with a negotiation supported by Russia or due
to collapse of the governmental forces, but the post-war period could be long
and unpredictable in terms of Syria’s and regional stability.
Unfortunately the next two
years will have undesirable consequences for the countries along the Northern
shore of the Mediterranean. The double Euro-American power vacuum will leave
much more space for rather unpredictable local developments among which can be
counted a possible Israeli attack against Tehran’s nuclear sites, renewed
tensions along the Sinai and the Lebanese borders and increased frictions
created by an unsettled Turkish foreign policy, that must still find its
balance between priorities and ambitions, particularly concerning its Islamic
Quali sono le ultime sulle imprese transnazionali?
finanziario all'Europa ed all'Euro, convenzionalmente e
convenientemente (per alcuni) soprannominato crisi, ha assunto
un'ampiezza e profondità spettacolari dallo scorso ottobre 2011. In
appena un trimestre siamo giunti al punto in cui Standard & Poor’s
prima ha minacciato di degradare le valutazioni del debito sovrano di
tutti i paesi dell'Eurozona, se la situazione non cambiava nel 90 giorni
successivi, e poi lo ha fatto anticipando di 70 giorni la valutazione
Nonostante alcuni segnali rassicuranti da Bruxelles,
Berlino, Parigi e Roma, il panico sta inesorabilmente prendendo non solo
gli operatori d'alto bordo, ma anche le persone ordinarie appena vedono
scorrere per internet le orribili notizie sulla povertà in Grecia, a
dispetto della censura larvata dei media.
Proprio adesso vale la
pena di dare un'occhiata più da vicino al mercato globale per capire il
Truman Show in cui abbiamo vissuto per 30 anni: abbiamo un grande
mercato globale di almento 30 milioni d'attori (banca dati Orbis 2007),
ma solo un nucleo blindato controlla le entrate delle maggior parte
delle ditte transnazionali.
L'oligarchia all'interno del pluralismo economico
Svizzera ci arriva un interessantissimo articolo che ci da un quadro
assai più chiaro dell'oligopolio de facto in un mercato che si suppone
sia libero. (1)
Gli autori hanno fatto la seguente operazione "Cominciamo
da una lista di 43.060 compagnie transnazionali (CTN) identificate
secondo la definizione OCSE, prese da un campione di circa 30 milioni di
attori economici inclusi nel database Orbis 2007 (vedi ...). Eseguiamo
poi una ricerca ricorsiva (Figura ...), che individui, per la prima
volta a nostra conoscenza, la rete di tutti i percorsi di proprietà che
partono e che arrivano a delle CTN (Figura ...). La rete risultante di
CTN include 600.508 nodi e 1.006.987 nodi di proprietà".
milione circa di nodi di proprietà sembra tanto, ma anche partendo
dall'assunto che ogni nodo di proprietà coinvolga, per esempio 7
persone, abbiamo un risultato di appena 7 milioni di persone su una
popolazione mondiale di 7 miliardi, il che significa 1 ogni 1.000
persone che può profittare dell'economia mondiale messa in piedi dalla
macchina del capitalismo finanziario.
Il passo successivo vede
l'utilizzo degli strumenti di analisi delle reti e qui si scopre questa
rete di CTN ha la forma di un papillon e che:
- Le sue
componenti con le maggiori connessioni contengono tutte le CTN ai
vertici della classifica per valore economico, quantificabili per il
94,2% dell'intero reddito operativo delle CTN;
- Il centro di
questo papillon è fatto da una componente con legami forti dove tutte le
compagnie hanno legami reciproci, con il risultato che i 3/4 della
proprietà non escono mai dal nodo del papillon.
interessante dell'articolo è che misura il controllo aziendale non per
eventi di voto nei consigli d'amministrazione, ma attraverso "quanto valore economico nelle imprese un singolo azionista riesce ad influenzare",
osservando la misura di controllo che ogni azionista esprime sul
proprio intero portafoglio delle imprese possedute direttamente ed
indirettamente, in modo tale che azionisti con un alto livello di
controllo sono quelli che sono potenzialmente in grado d'imporre la loro
decisione su molte imprese ad alto valore economico.
lettore si ricorda, nel precedente saggio
abbiamo liquidato la nozione dei "mercati", osservando che questa è
un'ingannevole espressione semplificatoria che occulta un fatto
lampante. L'OCSE ha osservato che, dopo decenni di fusioni e
acquisizioni, nel 2011 solo 10 grandi attori economici controllavano
oltre il 90% del mercato dei derivati (CDO, CDS, exchange rate swaps) e
ancora quest'anno sono sempre:
• J.P Morgan, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC USA;
• Deutsche Bank, UBS, Credit Suisse, BNP-Paribas, Société Générale (SG).
adesso la tavola delle 50 imprese transnazionali controllanti nel
mondo, fornita da Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattfelder e Stefano
Battiston, con i nostri 10 attori di vertice nel settore dei derivati.
poi la fondiamo questo dato con una nuvola illustrativa ed
esemplificativa delle strutture azionarie incrociate di Vitali et al.
sempre relativamente ai soliti 10 noti all'OCSE.(2)
quadro che emerge è francamente sorprendente. Tutti i grandi attori che
controllano il 90% dei mercati dei derivati appartengono a quel cuore
di componenti strettamente connesse dove il 3/4 della proprietà non
escono mai fuori. E' una nuvola d'imprese interconnnesse ed a
partecipazione incrociata che è praticamente inaccessibile dall'esterno.
Anche se non tutte le 10 sono al vertice, 8 sono tra le prime 25 con
una quantità di controllo impressionante.
Se guardiamo a questi
dati con occhi geoeconomici, vediamo che nelle prime 10 posizioni c'è un
gruppo americano-svizzero, allargato ad un altro conglomerato
finanziario svizzero nelle prime 15 posizioni ed alla Deutsche Bank. La
famosa Goldman Sachs si trova al 18° posto nelle prime venti, mentre
entrambi i grandi gruppi finanziari francesi e la Bank of America sono
in una posizione più marginale.
Questo non significa che la
Francia è totalmente fuori dal gioco delle grandi CTN, perché Axa è una
ditta assicuratrice e finanziaria di vertice e perché Natixis è il
braccio finanziario del Groupe BPCE (Banques Populaires et Caisses
d'Epargne), ma le posizioni fanno scattare un allarme sul perché la
Francia prima ha avuto una AAA traballante e adesso l'ha persa [peraltro
potrebbe esser vista anche in quest'ottica la posizione di Unicredit e,
in situazioni più critiche di scontro tendente all'assoluto, anche
quella della Deutsche Bank e della Commerzbank].
Conseguenze a livello sistemico e geopolitico
livello sistemico abbiamo chiare indicazioni che questa rete di
relazioni è pluralista, ma non è un mercato libero. E' un'oligarchia in
rete che essenzialmente serve gl'interessi privati di un piccolo gruppo
di grandi azionisti e di manager finanziari, ma non i piccoli azionisti,
i cui interessi dovrebbero essere curati dagl'investitori istituzionali
(che sono a loro volta gestiti dagli stessi maghi finanziari).
mercato, come si vede dalle crisi e bolle sempre più devastanti in
questi ultimi trent'anni, non è una macchina che si autoregola e non ha
un suo naturale intrinseco equilibrio. (3) E' invece un sistema che
produce caos e che è pienamente equipaggiato con strumenti
computerizzati (p.e. derivati, contrattazioni algoritmiche, automazione
dei modelli di rischio, ecc.) che garantiscono la produzione
automatzzata del caos.
Se ci siamo preoccupati con Lehman Brothers
del problema di una banca troppo grande per fallire, si è trattato solo
dell'antipasto rispetto ai problemi futuri. Vale la pena di citare le
conclusioni del citato articolo Vitali et al.
"Questa significativa scoperta pone almeno due domande che sono fondamentali per capire il funzionamento dell'economia globale.
quali sono le conseguenze per la stabilità finanziaria globale? Si sa
che le istituzioni finanziarie concludono contratti finanziari, come i
derivati di prestito o di credito, con molte altre istituzioni. Ciò
permette di diversificare i rischi, ma, al contempo, le espone al
contagio. Sfortunatamente le informazioni su questi contratti non sono
divulgate per ragioni strategiche. Tuttavia in diversi paesi l'esistenza
di questi legami finanziari è connessa con relazioni di proprietà.
Perciò, nell'ipotesi che la struttura della proprietà di una rete sia
una buona approssimazione di quella di una rete finanziaria, questo
implica che la rete finanziaria globale è anche molto intricata.
Ricerche recenti hanno dimostrato che, quando una rete finanziaria è ha
un'altissima densità di connessioni, è esposta ad un rischio sisemico.
Ed in effetti, mentre nei tempi di prosperità la rete sembra
apparentemente robusta, in tempi difficili le imprese vanno
simultaneamente in crisi. Questi legami sul filo del rasoio sono
visibili proprio durante il recente sconvolgimento finanziario.
secondo luogo, quali sono le conseguenze per la competizione del
mercato? Poiché molte CTN nel cuore del sistema hanno campi d'attività
intersecanti, il fatto che sono connesse da rapporti di proprietà
potrebbe facilitare la formazione di blocchi, i quali potrebbero
ostacolare la competizione di mercato. Va osservato che l'esistenza di
questo nucleo ristretto nel mercato globale non era mai stata
documentata sinora e che, al momento, nessuno studio scientifico
dimostra o esclude che questa "superentità" abbia mai agito come un
blocco. Tuttavia, alcuni casi suggeriscono che questo non è uno scenario
improbabile. Per esempio, studi precedenti hanno fatto vedere che anche
piccole strutture a partecipazione incrociata, anche a livello
nazionale, possono influenzare la competizione del mercato in settori
come aerolinee, automobili ed acciaio, così come in quello finanziario
[l'Italia può senz'altro offrire interessanti esempi sia industriali che
finanziari: le vecchie partecipazioni statali, FIAT, Mediobanca,
Mediaset per esempio n.d.t]. Al tempo stesso le istituzioni antitrust
nel mondo (p.e. l'Office of Fair Trade del Regno
Unito) scrutano attentamente complesse strutture di proprietà
all'interno dei loro confini nazionali. Il fatto che siano stati
disponibili solo da poco tempo grandi insiemi di dati e metodi per
affrontare reti molto estese, può spiegare perché questa risultanza sia
sfuggita all'indagine per tanti anni".
all'interpretazione geopolitica e geoeconomica, la nuvola di strutture a
partecipazione incrociata prima raffigurata (chiamata anche cicli dagli
autori dello studio) mostra le seguenti cose:
- Merrill Lynch è al centro di una rete di cicli azionari che controllano Axa e Goldman Sachs;
Germania ha creato un ciclo più stretto fra Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank e
Credit Suisse, ma Deutsche Bank è partecipata da Barclays, la più
potente CTN del mondo, la quale a sua volta partecipa Axa. Con tanti
saluti ai concetti di asse francogermanico, entente cordiale o qualunque
altra formula incentrata sul Reno. Il fatto che Deutsche Bank abbia una
partecipazione nella Barclays non diminuisce lo squilibrio nella
- Questa rete di cicli può tranquillamente eludere ogni
esistente legislazione o regola antitrust, precisamente grazie alla sua
- In più le tre agenzie di rating
occidentali (Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, Fitch) sono praticamente
captive all'interno di questa rete d'interessi interconnessi. Esse
controllano l'85% del mercato delle valutazioni finanziarie, ma queste
compagnie con legami forti sono regolarmente i loro clienti più
importanti. Si può esitare tra le ipotesi di una cattività o di
un'attiva collusione, ma è assai difficile credere alla loro
indipendenza (e credibilità);
- L'unica impresa statale che è CTN
ed è tra le prime 50 è un conglomerato petrolifero cinese (peraltro
l'unico paese con un'agenzia di rating nazionae, Dagong).
che ci fa dedurre che i BRICS, mentre sono in maggioranza dei creditori
internazionali, sono fuori tanto dalle CTN di alto livello quanto dai
giochi del finanzcapitalismo. Questa circostanza può portarci a
tracciare un possibile fronte caldo tra i BRICS, ancora molto impegnati
nell'economia reale, ed il gruppo di paesi pesantemente indebitati, che
sono invece coinvolti nel capitalismo finanziario (talvolta chiamato
capitalismo da casinò)? E' assai probabile, così come è ragionevolmente
certo che queste relazioni di potere sono le reali molle che danno
impulso all'assalto di guerra finanziaria contro l'Europa
(ingannevolmente chiamata crisi dell'Euro).
Nella prossima parte
vederemo come la guerra finnaziaria è iniziata e come l'Europa sia per
ora il suo fronte più visibile. Tenete d'occhio il radar.
1) Vitali S, Glattfelder JB, Battiston S (2011) The Network of Global
Corporate Control. PLoS ONE 6(10): e25995.
La ricerca è stata finanziata dall'ETH (Eidgenössische Technische
Hochschule of Zürich) Competence Center “Coping with Crises in Complex
Socio-Economic Systems” (CCSS) attraverso l'ETH Research Grant
CH1-01-08-2; the European Commission FP7 FET Open Project “FOC” No.
255987. Gli sponsor non hanno avuto nessun ruolo nella concezione dello
studio, nella raccolta dei dati e nella loro analisi, e nemmeno nella
decisione di pubblicare o nella preparazione del manoscritto.
Nella tavola manca HSBC USA, perché non è inclusa nelle prime 50 CTN
controllanti e nella nuvola i nomi di SG e BNP-Paribas sono esclusi,
forse per scelta degli autori.
3) Vedi anche