Who owns America? Wall Street, you say? The corporate powers?
Well, yes. But who owns them? The carefully contrived myth is that they are owned by you and me – the millions of mom & pop investors, pension-fund retirees, and people with savings in mutual funds. This Norman Rockwell portrait of widespread financial democracy is heartwarming, but a lie. Controlling ownership is securely in the hands of financial elites.
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Indeed, buckle-up for a xenophobic jolt: Increasingly, America is owned by superwealthy foreign interests. Take a peek, for example, at a sovereign wealth fund known as CIC, the China Investment Corporation. This $300-billion pile of money has become the Chinese government’s chief tool for spreading its global ownership, including stakes in dozens of major U.S. companies. Since it was created in 2007, CIC has invested more than $9 billion in such iconic American brands as Aetna, Apple, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Eli Lilly, Goodyear, Johnson & Johnson, MetLife, Visa, and Wells Fargo.
Most of CIC’s stock purchases are not huge, but its ownership can be expected to expand steadily, for CIC is funded from China’s almost bottomless stash of foreign cash. Ironically, much of the $2.4 trillion it holds in foreign reserves comes from us – American consumers, businesses, and even governments that keep buying products imported from China. So, CIC is using our exported dollars to buy our domestic corporations and banks.
We the People rarely hear about these transactions. For example, last year, when Morgan Stanley boasted that it was repaying the Wall Street bailout money it got from us taxpayers, it didn’t mention that nearly $2 billion of the payback came from selling a chunk of itself to CIC.
China says it is merely a passive investor, with no political agenda. For now.
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