No 1.Barack Obama
President-United States of America-Age: 48
Presides over world’s largest, most innovative, most dynamic economy; commander-in-chief of planet’s richest, deadliest military; finger on button of nuclear arsenal containing more than 5,000 warheads; head-of-state of world’s sole superpower; his Democrats have majorities in both U.S. House and Senate; recently awarded Nobel Peace Prize, apparently for general awesomeness.
2 Hu Jintao
President-People’s Republic of China-Age: 66 Paramount political leader of more people than anyone else on the planet; 1.3 billion Chinese, some 70% in their prime working years of ages 15 to 64 powering world’s low-cost workshop, transforming nation. "Coming-out party" at 2008 Beijing Olympic Games showcased young, modern, harmonious society. Credible estimates have China poised to overtake U.S. as world’s largest economy in 25 years—although, crucially, not on a per-capita basisHu Jintao
3 Vladimir PutinPrime Minister-Russia-Age: 57 Prime Minister might as well be known as Czar, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russians. Vastly more powerful than his handpicked head-of-state, President Dmitry Medvedev. Presides over one-ninth of Earth’s land area, vast energy and mineral resources. Former KGB officer unafraid to wield his power; invading Georgia, cutting off natural gas supplies to Ukraine or Western Europe (again). Declared nuclear power has veto on U.N.’s Security Council. The anti-Obama: "I’m deeply convinced that constant change is not for the better."Vladimir Putin
4 Ben S. BernankeChairman-Federal Reserve-U.S.-Age: 55 Former chairman of Princeton’s economics department and noted Great Depression scholar now guiding world’s largest economy through Great Recession; has overseen massive growth in Fed’s balance sheet, from less than $900 billion in liabilities in August 2008 to more than $2.1 trillion today. With federal funds rate now effectively 0%, the so-called Bernanke Doctrine calls for using monetary policy to stave off deflation. "The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press, that allows it to produce as many dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost."
5 Sergey Brin and Larry PageFounders-Google-U.S.-Age: 36 If knowledge is power, maybe information is too. Brainy duo met in Stanford computer science Ph.D. program, now trying to put all the world’s information at your fingertips. Known for collecting best and brightest young tech talent at Mountain View, Calif., "Googleplex"; employees encouraged to spend one day a week on personal projects; company often named "Best Place To Work" in America. Google guys’ combined net worth of $30.6 billion would place them third on the Forbes 400. Yet despite professed intentions to "do no evil," Google is blamed in some quarters for decimating traditional publishing, journalism. Brin: "Some say Google is God, others say Google is Satan."
6 Carlos Slim HeluChief executive-Telmex-Mexico-Age: 69 World’s third-richest man is dominant economic force in Mexico, personal fortune equivalent to some 2% of Mexican GDP. Telecommunications monopolist: His Telemex owns 90% of Mexico’s fixed telephone lines; his TelCel has 90% of wireless market. Also head of group dedicated to improving Mexico’s roads, energy infrastructure, water supply. New focus, media: Last fall snapped up 7% stake in the New York Times Co., largest after Sulzberger owner-family. "I think it’s perverse to believe there shouldn’t be strong companies in poor countries."
7 Rupert MurdochChairman-News Corp.-U.S.-Age: 78 "The man who owns the news" still believes in print, not afraid to use vast media holdings to further personal political views. Media empire includes leading British (the Times), Australian (The Australian), American (The Wall Street Journal) newspapers, in addition to tabloids like the New York Post and The Sun (U.K.). Also movies (20th Century Fox), books (HarperCollins), television (Fox, BSkyB), online (MySpace). Weak ad-marketing hurting his News Corp.: net loss of $3.4 billion in fiscal 2009, stock off March lows, but still well below 2007 levels, when he made a $5.6 billion gamble on Dow Jones. Accused Google of stealing content; threatened to block search engine from indexing his Web sites. "Quality journalism isn’t cheap."
8 Michael T. DukePresident, CEO and Director-Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.-U.S.-Age: 59
Runs world’s largest retailer, more country than company: $401 billion in annual sales, 2 million employees, 8,000 stores. Wal-Mart alone is China’s eighth-largest trading partner. Largest private-sector employer in U.S.; favorite target of unions; blamed and praised for backing Obama health care proposals, shifting economic power from manufacturers to retailers, from mom-and-pop to big box. "I am competitive by nature and I want to win."