This article originally appeared in the February 1, 2013 edition of Futures Magazine. To view the original, click here.
Top most influential: 2012 movers and shakers
In a year that included a rancorous presidential election campaign as well as global bank scandals uncovered seemingly every month, squeezing the largest influencers down to 20 was difficult. Although some may seem an extension of last year’s most influential, a number of the same problems on a global scale are proving to be intractable. One thing this year laid bare was a much more ominous trend that showed money and power trumps all. While still recovering from too-big-to-fail, we are learning that — at least in the banking world — there are some that are too-big-to-prosecute. Here is Futures’ top 20 most influential list of 2012.
BEN BERNANKE, Chairman of the Federal Reserve. The dysfunctional politics of recent years leveraged higher in this election year meant that any stimulus for the economy would have to come through the Fed. Bernanke came through with QE3, but the low interest rate environment has impacted bond markets and trading volumes.
GARY GENSLER, Chairman of the CFTC. The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act has been difficult to implement and many rules have been tardy, but they are beginning to take shape and most of them have fallen on the CFTC and Chairman Gensler to execute. The agency also appeared to be ramping up its regular enforcement activity with a record number of enforcement actions.
WARREN BUFFETT, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett continued to be an outspoken advocate for raising taxes on top earners and argued against the notion that the wealthy will hide their money under their mattresses if taxes are too high. It is hard to fight his credentials when in Time Magazine’s “World’s 100 Most Influential People” Buffett’s entry was written by President Obama. How’s that for influence?
JAMES KOUTOULAS/JOHN ROE, co-founders of the Commodity Customer Coalition. As the MF Global debacle passed its one-year anniversary, Koutoulas and Roe continued to advocate on behalf of former MF Global customers and industry reforms, appearing before Congress to promote their reforms, including an insurance plan modeled after the Canadian regulatory regime. The CCC also stepped up for PFGBest customers after the unthinkable happened again.
JAMIE DIMON, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan. Whether Jamie Dimon had any responsibility to come before Congress and explain JPMorgan’s large proprietary trading loss because of JP’s so-called London Whale is a fair question, but that is no excuse for the bootlicking deference our elected leaders showed to this master of the universe. It was a disgrace (especially from those who in the past claimed to want to get to the bottom of the MF Global losses) as well as an indication of Dimon’s massive influence in places of power.