President Obama Tops Forbes’ 2012 Ranking of The World’s Most Powerful People

Angela Merkel Moves Into No. 2 Spot On 4th Annual List, Plus An Exclusive Look Into The Koch Empire

Forbes Issue - December 24, 2012

NEW YORK--()--Fresh off his election victory, President Barack Obama (No. 1) maintains the top spot on Forbes’ fourth annual ranking of “The World’s Most Powerful People ” (p. 98). Angela Merkel (No. 2) moves up from fourth place last year, followed by Russian President Vladimir Putin (No. 3), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-chair Bill Gates (No. 4) and Pope Benedict XVI (No. 5). Rounding out the Top 10 are U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke (No. 6), Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud (No. 7), European Central Bank President Mario Draghi (No. 8), General Secretary, Communist Party of China Xi Jinping (No. 9 ) and UK Prime Minister David Cameron (No. 10). Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (No. 25) dropped out of the Top 10 to 25, from No. 9 in 2011.

Charles and David Koch (No. 41) are tied as the country’s 4th richest person (worth $31 billion each) and head the nation’s second biggest private company, Koch Industries (No. 2 after Cargill on Forbes’ 2012 ranking of “America’s Biggest Private Companies,” p. 90), with $115 billion in sales. For the current issue cover story, “Inside the Koch Empire” (p. 84), Forbes gained an exclusive interview with the brothers, providing rare access to their business empire and myriad passions – political, philanthropic and more.

Among the 14 newcomers to the list are LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman (No. 71), the world’s most powerful venture capitalist and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk (No. 66), the entrepreneur behind Paypal, Tesla Motors and the private space industry. They are joined by President François Hollande (No. 14) of France, North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un (No. 44) and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (No. 46). Among the drop-offs are: Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is on his way out of office; U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – both of whom have announced they won’t return to their powerful posts for Obama’s second term.

Four factors were taken into account to select the 71 people that matter from the 7.1 billion people on the planet: how many people they have power over; the financial resources they control; if they have influence in more than one sphere; and how actively they wield their power to change the world. For the full list, complete methodology and associated features, visit:


Holiday Survival Guide (p. 30) – Efficiency expert Tim Ferriss’ unorthodox ideas to get through the holiday season, including a hangover helper, gift-procurement service, airport security tips, and more.

Biotech’s Comeback Kid (p. 125) – Why Biogen, with a new CEO, a promising new drug and a soaring share price, could be the next big thing in the drug business.

Kicking The Can (p. 46) – Campbell’s new CEO Denise Morrison hopes putting soup in a bag will save the 143-year-old company.

The Forbes 2012 All-Star Eateries In New York (p. 22) – First-rate Big Apple restaurants – a delicious escape in a world of woe and uncertainty.

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Debbie Weathers, 212-366-8848

Release Summary

Obama Tops Forbes 2012 Ranking of World's Most Powerful People


Debbie Weathers, 212-366-8848