Fortune is one of those magazines I subscribe to with mixed feelings. On the one hand it caters to some the worst aspects of US consumerism and an almost adolescent worship of wealth. But it also provides a gritty and useful view of the world of business from a business rather than economics perspective. It’s latest issue contains the Fortune 500 Global edition which looks at the performance of the world’s biggest firms. I generally look at this carefully noting particularly how Australian firms figure and how the emerging giants of China, India and Mexico are making their impact. I always stick my copy of this particular edition on a bookshelf and refer to it over the coming year – it is an invaluable resource and a great teaching aid.
Another feature of Fortune I greatly respect is that much of its material is online.
On the Fortune 500 listing Australia’s own BHP-Billiton is 183rd on the Fortune 500 list but 17th in terms of profits. For every three dollars of sales it makes about a dollar profit. For its size it is one of the most profitable firms on the planet. Amazing!
Barney Gimbel’s piece The New New World Economic Order in the same edition (unfortunately not online) is about as eloquent a 2 page summary of where the world economy is going as I have seen. The US, and indeed the developed countries as a whole, are no longer the locomotive of global growth – 54 developing countries surveyed will grow by 6.7% this year even though growth in 31 developed countries averages 1.6%. Voracious consumerism has historically come from the US but its source will soon be elsewhere. By 2020 China will have 700 million middle income earners and India 583 million. Gimbel sees the major threat to the world economy as exploding inflation in developing nations.
Despite some mild misgivings Fortune remains one of my favourite weekly reads. (112)