Monday, December 3, 2012

Sobel Wiki: One Big Zaibatsu

It's a little like Japan. Japan, before World War Two, had four and only four large zaibatsus, enormous conglomerates of interlocked companies, banks, and what have you.

In the United States of Mexico, there was One Big Zaibatsu that has practically run the country. I use that word 'practically' exactly, since they can and do force out Mexican leaders in Sobel's account. . . .

Historically, it's as if one company got very lucky in the robber baron corporate sweepstakes: banking, railroads, oil, steel, tropical fruit, and so on, all originally funded with gold rush money.

Then, since the nation in which they were mainly based took exception to having One Big Zaibatsu run everything, they gradually shifted their center of operations: from San Francisco to Hawaii to Manila to Taiwan.
This is Carlos Yu's description of Kramer Associates, the One Big Zaibatsu of For Want of a Nail. As Sobel notes in the book's final chapter, by the early 1970s Kramer Associates has reached the point where it controls almost one-sixth of the world's resources. Yet, until recently, the Sobel Wiki article on this corporate behemoth was a mere stub.

But no more. A week's moderately diligent effort on my part has expanded that stub into a comprehensive account of the rise and, well, further rise of Kramer Associates, which has earned it a place on the main page as this week's featured article.

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