Bloomberg 50 Most Influential

Fifty Most Influential

September 22, 2016

When compiling a list of who commands the most power in financial markets, some decisions are easier than others. Jamie Dimon is an obvious choice—he heads the world’s most valuable bank, after all. Same goes for Zhou Xiaochuan, because when you run the People’s Bank of China, moving markets is part of the job description. You’ll find both on Bloomberg’s 50 Most Influential—now in its sixth edition and appearing in Businessweek for the first time—along with a few unexpected names, to keep things interesting. The list’s publication is timed to coincide with our Most Influential Summits in New York, London, and Hong Kong on Sept. 28.

As in previous years, we began by asking dozens of reporters and editors in Bloomberg bureaus to nominate candidates. Then a panel of senior editors vetted and voted, narrowing the field from more than 100 names down to 50. From this effort comes the list you now see: a group of individuals who, followed singularly or collectively, drive some of the major trends sweeping the world of finance.

Naturally, there are some usual suspects. Fed Chair Janet Yellen can soothe or ruffle markets with a phrase. Some corporate leaders can push a stock up or down just by talking. That’s why Warren Buffett makes the list. Technology executives Elon Musk and Travis Kalanick create buzz, but what matters is the capital that flows to where that excitement is bubbling up.

Investors move markets, too, though sometimes markets move against them. You won’t find many hedge funders on the list this year, with most having underperformed the S&P 500. Our ranking rewards recent performance more heavily than lifetime achievement. So it’s not enough to have made billions for your investors in the past if it looks as if you’re losing your touch.

The importance of Xi Jinping can’t be overstated, as he pulls the levers of an economy that, for better or worse, is the biggest source of global growth. By contrast, current events landed Theresa May atop our list. The Brexit vote that precipitated her rise was an economic and political shock. The U.K.’s uncoupling from the European Union will matter greatly in the world of finance, and it’s May who has to manage this messy divorce.

Some of the individuals on our list exert influence because they help shape public opinion: Economist Joseph Stiglitz continues to lead the debate about economic inequality. And who but John Oliver can get people engaged in Puerto Rico’s municipal debt crisis?

— Robert S. Dieterich

Illustrations: Braulio Amado, Nejc Prah, Stephanie Davidson. Design: Stephanie Davidson, Sheryl Sulistiawan. Editor: Cristina Lindblad.

John Oliver

Host, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

His sweet spot as a comedian is the manic explanation of complex financial matters, delivered with outrage and interspersed with hilarious digressions. This year, in his third season on HBO, Oliver covered topics as arcane as subprime auto lending, special borrowing by governmental districts, and credit reporting standards. His segment on Puerto Rico’s debt debacle has racked up more than 5 million views on YouTube.
Photo: gotpap / Star Max / Getty Images

Larry Summers

Professor, Harvard

The phrase “secular stagnation” dates to the 1930s, but the reason we’re talking about it today has a lot to do with Summers. The Harvard economist, who was secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton and and economic adviser to President Obama, sees tepid growth ahead and argues that stimulative fiscal policy is more likely to help than additional monetary medicine.
Photo: Courtsey Larry Summers

Jim Coulter

Co-founder and co-CEO, TPG Holdings

With co-founder David Bonderman having relinquished some of his duties in 2014, Coulter is the key player at TPG. Recent investments in Uber, Airbnb, and Spotify look more like venture capital than private equity. This year, TPG raised a $10.5 billion fund, its first since before the financial system crackup in 2008.
Photo: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg

Mary Barra

CEO, General Motors

In her three years on the job, Barra has presided over a sales and profit rebound. In July, GM reported record second-quarter earnings. And her new products include an electric car with Tesla-like range. Investors remain skeptical, amid rising concern that global vehicle sales may be softening. GM shares are below where they were when Barra became CEO.
Photo: Courtesey of General Motors

Blythe Masters

CEO, Digital Asset Holdings

The idea behind Masters’s fintech startup is that blockchain, the software that makes bitcoin possible, is ideal for executing and settling financial transactions. The Australian Securities Exchange has signed on to work with Digital Asset Holdings to replace its settlement system. Masters, a pioneer in derivatives during a long career at JPMorgan Chase, is attracting high-powered talent from large banks to build her team.
Photo: Simon Dawson / Bloomberg

Ken Moelis

Founder and CEO, Moelis & Co.

Moelis likes to say that because it’s smaller and more focused than its rivals, this boutique investment bank can better play the role of “trusted adviser”—a phrase that hints at some of the conflicts of interest that bedevil bigger companies. Turmoil in banking has guaranteed that a steady stream of talent is available as the almost 10-year-old company bulks up. Its shares have outperformed the likes of Goldman Sachs and Lazard in the past year. Plus, Moelis is on the short list of boutiques that may be tapped to help manage the mega-IPO of Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s oil monopoly.
Photo: Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times / Getty Images

Raj Chetty

Professor, Stanford

Chetty has scooped up a lot of honors early, including the prestigious John Bates Clark Medal for outstanding economists under 40 and a MacArthur Foundation genius grant. The Stanford professor has been called a pioneer for his use of large data sets to analyze social and economic questions, such as the effects of tax policy, and the impact outstanding teachers have on their students. A Bloomberg analysis found that winners of the Clark prize have a 1-in-3 chance of eventually winning the Nobel Prize in economics, so it’s highly likely Chetty will continue collecting medals.
Photo: Courtesy Stanford University

Wang Jianlin

Founder and chairman, Dalian Wanda Group

China’s second-richest man, with a net worth of $33 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has been a buyer throughout his career, assembling the country’s largest property company. His Dalian Wanda Group is becoming a giant in entertainment as well. The owner of AMC Entertainment, already the world’s largest movie theater operator, is bidding for Carmike Cinemas in the U.S. and buying Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group in the U.K. Then there are the 15 theme parks Wang plans to build by 2020 and the agreement to build a $9.5 billion culture and tourism project in northeast China.
Photo: VCG / Getty Images

Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Deputy Crown Prince, Saudi Arabia

Several of his titles include the word “deputy,” but don’t be fooled. Prince Mohammed has a larger portfolio than the crown prince, and since his 80-year-old father ascended to the throne last year, the prince has gained control over the state oil company, become chair of the main economic council, and been named defense minister. Almost eight decades after the first Saudi oil was discovered, the 31-year-old has drawn up a plan to transform the world’s biggest crude exporter into a diversified economy fit for the next era. He’s readying the state oil company for an IPO, so he can pump the proceeds into other industries.
Photo: Fayez Nureldine / AFP / Getty Images

Jorge Paulo Lemann

Co-founder, 3G Capital

Lemann’s canny dealmaking attracted Warren Buffett as a partner in the Heinz buyout in 2013 and the merger of Heinz with Kraft in 2015. But where the Swiss-Brazilian investor really excels is in running the companies he buys. He imposes strict discipline, he cuts costs, and he fires people. The upshot: Shares of Kraft Heinz have outperformed similar consumer stocks and the S&P 500 as a whole since the merger was completed in July 2015.
Photo: Dado Galdieri / Bloomberg

Travis Kalanick

Co-founder and CEO, Uber

Kalanick has raised $15 billion-plus in debt and equity, making Uber the most valuable startup ever. In addition to courting investors, he’s fighting his way through legal, regulatory, and labor issues that make the technical challenges of a ridesharing network seem comparatively simple. There have been stumbles, as Kalanick’s bias is to run the hurdles fast. Now he’s in a rush to get driverless cars on the road.
Photo: Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg

Co-founder and CEO, Facebook

The fifth-richest man in the world (his net worth is up 22 percent this year) continues to dominate social media. His company boasts a portfolio of successful products—Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp—in addition to the original. And it’s aced the transition to mobile, the source of 84 percent of Facebook’s ad revenue. So Zuckerberg has breathing room as he tries to figure out virtual reality, for example, or react to the phenomenon of Facebook users streaming live—and sometimes disturbing—news from their phones.
Photo: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg
Statue: Tetra Images / Getty Images

Ruth Porat

CFO, Alphabet

Porat, formerly Morgan Stanley’s chief financial officer, has been credited with bringing banker discipline to the geeks and gurus at Google. Alphabet shares have climbed more than 40 percent since Porat landed in Mountain View in May 2015, to the point where the purveyor of Android mobile software now rivals the maker of the iPhone in market capitalization. Of late, even the “moonshot” companies in the Alphabet universe—such as those focused on connected-home devices and high-speed internet service—have begun feeling Porat’s gravitational pull over their budgets.
Photo: Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg

Margrethe Vestager

European Union competition commissioner

The daughter of two Lutheran ministers, Vestager is big on fairness, which you could argue is a prerequisite for her job. She has questioned whether DuPont’s planned takeover of Dow Chemical will hurt farmers by creating monopoly power in seeds, pesticides, or fertilizers and accused Google of using its dominance in phone operating software to advance its other mobile products. The Danish lawmaker has also used competition law to argue that some of the EU’s member states are illegally favoring some companies with tax deals. Last month she ordered Ireland to recoup as much as €13 billion ($14.5 billion) in back taxes from Apple.
Photo: Steen Brogaard

Robert Gordon

Professor, Northwestern University

A Bloomberg reporter once counted up the references in the footnotes of Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speeches and found Gordon cited more than any other economist outside the central bank. Gordon has long argued that an exceptional period of U.S. growth from 1870 to 1970 resulted from one-off productivity boosts, such as the invention of the internal combustion engine and the advent of air travel. He says more recent tech innovations, such as the internet and the cell phone, probably won’t have anything like the same positive effect.
Photo: Courtesy Northwestern University

Marc Benioff

Co-founder and CEO,

Benioff got on the right side of a trend when he founded his company on the principle that software was a service, not a product, and best delivered over the internet. That was in 1999, before cloud computing had become a thing. More recently he’s used the economic clout of to oppose state laws allowing discrimination against LGBT individuals. After Indiana enacted such a measure in March 2015, Benioff announced that Salesforce would cancel all employee programs and travel in the state. Governor Mike Pence, now Trump’s running mate, backpedaled and the law was amended. Benioff continues to speak out on how companies should fight discrimination.
Photo: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg

Lael Brainard

Governor, U.S. Federal Reserve

Brainard, a former undersecretary for international affairs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, has been advocating the internationalist line of thought at the Fed. Over the past year she’s repeatedly called attention to the increasingly complex economic and financial linkages that bind the world’s largest economies, to argue that decisions on U.S. interest rates must take into account a broader array of factors than inflationary pressures from tight labor markets at home. In a speech in June she warned that “cross-border financial transmission is likely to be amplified” as long as interest rates set by major central banks remain near zero—a point that the financial shudder caused by the Brexit vote soon confirmed. Brainard’s name comes up often as a possible Treasury secretary should Clinton win the election.
Photo: Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters

Michael Pettis

Professor, Peking University

A prolific blogger and commentator, Pettis is one of the most prescient and outspoken economists working in China today. The onetime Wall Street banker started warning that China was seeing unsustainable debt growth about a decade ago. His bearish calls seem more prophetic than ever, as rising levels of nonperforming loans stoke worries that the world’s second-largest economy could be headed for a financial crisis. Pettis’s influence stretches beyond markets: His music label, Maybe Mars, is helping China’s underground rock bands get exposure overseas.
Photo: Billy H.C. Kwok / Bloomberg

Paul Singer

Founder and co-CEO, Elliott Management

His New York-based hedge fund oversees about $28 billion of assets and has delivered annualized returns of around 13.5 percent a year since 1977, often by taking activist positions or investing in distressed assets. Singer’s 13-year-long campaign to get Argentina to make good on defaulted debt probably brought him more attention than anything else he’s done. Last year he also shined a spotlight on the merger of two Samsung affiliates that increased family control of the group. In politics he’s one of those billionaires who is courted early by Republican presidential candidates. Singer backed Marco Rubio in the race for the GOP nomination and has not jumped in with Trump since his man dropped out, preferring to spend on congressional races.
Photo: Heidi Gutman / CNBC / NBCU Photo Bank / Getty Images

Stephen Schwarzman

Co-founder and CEO, Blackstone Group

Over the course of three decades, Schwarzman has built the largest manager of alternative investments—a category that includes just about anything that’s not stocks, bonds, or cash—with $365 billion in assets. It’s long been a heavyweight in private equity and more recently has amassed one of the world’s largest real estate portfolios. Oh, and Schwarzman, already the wealthiest man in private equity, is widening the gap with his peers, taking home an estimated $734 million last year, mostly in dividends from his 20 percent stake in the company.
Photo: Christopher Goodney / Bloomberg

Vladimir Putin

President, Russia

Sure, he’s isolated, and the Russian economy has pretty much become a no-go for U.S. and European investors in the wake of his annexing Crimea and stirring violent conflict in eastern Ukraine. But Putin shows little concern about the effects sanctions and low global energy prices are having. In a Bloomberg interview, he cited significant new investment in Russia’s oil and gas industry and the adequacy of his financial resources. “We absolutely have enough gold and foreign currency reserves,” he said. And so the world waits to see what Russia’s president will do next, with a bit of dread about the economic and financial turmoil he can cause—in oil markets, in the border states of eastern Europe, in the Middle East, and maybe even in the U.S. presidential election.
Photo: Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images

Joseph Stiglitz

Professor, Columbia

The Nobel prize-winning economist is a source of inspiration for young people who were part of the Occupy Wall Street effort five years ago and were with Bernie Sanders this year. But Stiglitz’s ideas are also winning over more mainstream figures. Lines from a manifesto that he wrote for the Roosevelt Institute, a small think tank in New York, have worked their way into Hillary Clinton’s stump speeches. The opening lines of the report, titled Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy, read: “Inequality is not inevitable. It is a choice we make with the rules we create to structure our economy.”
Photo: Christopher Goodney / Bloomberg

Mark Carney

Governor, Bank of England

With the Brexit vote, the Canadian economist who leads Britain’s central bank suddenly had a crisis to test his mettle. So far he’s cut rates and resumed the bank’s bond buying. Carney has had to defend his actions before Parliament, amid criticism from some pro-Brexit Conservative politicians who say he’s overreacting. “We’re very much not out of ammunition,” he told lawmakers in London this month, adding, “nor are we trigger-happy.”
Photo: Simon Dawson / Bloomberg

Paul Taubman

Founder and CEO, PJT Partners

Taubman’s compensation totaled $164 million in 2015, according to the Bloomberg Pay Index, making him the financial industry’s highest-paid executive. To be fair, Taubman, who founded his own boutique investment bank in 2013 after years as a rainmaker at Morgan Stanley, is being compensated more like a startup entrepreneur than a bank CEO. The big payout is related to last year’s spinoff of PJT Partners from Blackstone Group and is almost all in equity.
Photo: Courtesy Julie P. Gordon

Charlie Scharf

CEO, Visa

Online payment services such as PayPal and its younger, hipper brother, Venmo, were once viewed as a threat to older financial companies. But now, Visa and PayPal have agreed to make nice over fees and data-sharing. The day after their deal was announced in July, Visa shares climbed and PayPal’s slid, a sign that Scharf may have gotten the better deal in the high-stakes negotiations, clamping down on practices by PayPal that could have cut the card network out of some transactions.
Photo: Courtesey of Visa

Masayoshi Son

Founder and CEO, SoftBank

Born in Japan to Korean immigrants, Son has said his humble origins helped fuel his ambitions. Today he presides over a large collection of telecommunications assets and web-based businesses and has a personal net worth of $12 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Although he once said he’d retire at age 60, Son shows no intention of handing over the reins as that date fast approaches. In July, SoftBank placed a big bet on the future of the internet of things with its $32 billion takeover of ARM Holdings, a chip designer in the U.K. Analysts weren’t happy about the hefty premium, but Son, who’s made some visionary investments in the past, may prove them wrong.
Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP / Getty Images

Mary Erdoes

CEO, J.P. Morgan Asset Managment

Erdoes’s track record of growth at the bank’s $2.3 trillion asset-management unit has fueled speculation that she could be a successor to Jamie Dimon. She serves on the bank’s 10-person operating committee but has kept a low profile until recently. She took a bigger role this year in an initiative to promote corporate governance best practices. And like BlackRock’s Larry Fink, she’s been speaking out about how corporate short-termism goes against the interest of individual investors, including her clients, who are trying to build a nest egg for retirement.
Photo: Matthew Lloyd / Bloomberg

John Stumpf

CEO, Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo has distinguished itself mostly by what it doesn’t do. Stumpf’s bank is simpler than its East Coast rivals, with less investment banking and trading and, until recently, less of a propensity to run afoul of regulators. Now Stumpf faces the biggest scandal of his career after Wells Fargo paid $185 million to settle complaints that employees opened accounts customers didn’t know about. He’s stumbled as he’s addressed the scandal, initially blaming low-level employees—5,300 have been fired for improper conduct. The bank’s shares have been so battered that Wells recently lost the title of world’s most valuable bank.
Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Jeffrey Gundlach

Founder and CEO, DoubleLine Capital

Gundlach’s Los Angeles-based investment firm passed $100 billion in assets in June. His fearless prognostications and record of prescient calls make him influential beyond DoubleLine’s size. In January he forecast that gold would reach $1,400 this year and that oil would plateau below $50. He also predicts a President Donald Trump. Gundlach warns that bad times are coming, assets are overpriced, and interest rates have hit bottom. Bet against him at your peril.
Photo: Adam Jeffery / CNBC / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Sergio Ermotti


In the race to reinvent Swiss banking, Ermotti has a head start. He moved quickly after he was given the top job in late 2011, stressing wealth management, shrinking investment banking, and cutting costs. That paid off for a few years, though the earnings rebound lost momentum in 2015. UBS has dramatically outperformed rival Credit Suisse during Ermotti’s tenure, but nothing’s easy in European banking. Among the concerns: Wealthy clients from developing countries are pulling their money, fearing increased scrutiny from tax authorities.
Photo: Courtsey USB

Carl Icahn

Chairman, Icahn Enterprises

What other activist investor has tackled targets as diverse as Apple and Herbalife, and won? Icahn exited his Apple stake earlier this year with the shares much higher than they were three years ago, when he first invested and started pushing CEO Tim Cook to return money to stockholders. At tiny Herbalife, he appears ready to double down on a bet that was motivated in part by his antipathy to Bill Ackman’s effort to paint the company as a pyramid scheme. Herbalife shares have almost doubled since Icahn started buying, and now he’s considering launching a tender offer to take the company private.
Photo: Victor J. Blue / Bloomberg

Loretta Lynch

U.S. attorney general

Under Lynch, the U.S. Department of Justice has kept an aggressive antitrust posture, scuttling several proposed mergers. Perhaps more surprising, Lynch has staked out an expanded role in fighting global corruption. A sweeping federal indictment of the officials who run international soccer helped topple FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Now Lynch’s prosecutors are seeking to recover more than $1 billion in assets that were allegedly siphoned out of Malaysia’s state-run 1MDB development fund. Neither Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has ties to the fund, nor Goldman Sachs, which sold billions of dollars of debt for 1MDB, is being targeted. It’s harder to ignore a scandal when the DOJ’s wonderfully named Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative is chasing it down.
Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Jay Y. Lee

Vice chairman, Samsung Electronics

The Samsung chaebol’s role in the Korean economy can’t be overstated: Revenue across all of its units equals about 20 percent of Korea’s gross domestic product. Running the show these days is Jay Y. Lee, the eldest child of the company’s founder, who has been ill since 2014. Developments at Samsung Electronics, which generates about 70 percent of the group’s revenue, are being watched closely to size up the younger Lee’s leadership. When the company found that its new Galaxy Note 7 phones have batteries that can burst into flames, Lee won praise for acting decisively with a recall that could cost as much as $2 billion—but the damage to Samsung’s reputation continues to spread.
Photo: SeongJoon Cho / Bloomberg

Jack Ma

Founder and chairman, Alibaba

Short sellers ganged up on Alibaba this year, helped by a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of the company’s reporting and SoftBank’s plans to sell down its stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant. The stock remains below the peak it reached right after going public in 2014. But Ma isn’t retrenching. His privately held Ant Financial Services Group, which oversees a growing slate of financial products and services, recently got an investment that values it at $60 billion. And Goldman Sachs is projecting that Alibaba’s fledgling cloud service could be pulling in $5 billion a year in revenue by 2019, making it the global No. 2 behind Amazon.
Photo: VCG / VCG via Getty Images

Larry Fink

Founder and CEO, BlackRock

Name a company, and BlackRock, with its $4.6 trillion under management, is likely among the largest holders of its equity or debt. That means Fink has a platform to speak out on the issues he cares about, such as governance. Earlier this year, in an open letter addressed to American and European CEOs, he counseled them to plan and invest for the longer term—both for the good of the economy and for the benefit of shareholders who are saving for retirement—rather than maneuver for short-term gains.
Photo: Eric Thayer / Bloomberg

Lloyd Blankfein

CEO, Goldman Sachs

Blankfein’s influence may rest, in the end, on how well his company can adapt to the structural changes sweeping Wall Street. Revenue was lower in 2015 than in 2006, when he became CEO, and it’s forecast to drop further this year. So Goldman’s boss is cutting costs and reducing head count. He’s also expanding into retail banking and pushing technological change.
Photo: Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

Zhou Xiaochuan

Governor, People's Bank of China

He’s been running China’s central bank for almost 14 years and may go down in history as the man who turned the yuan into a global currency. The journey began when Zhou scrapped the decade-long peg to the dollar in 2005, a move that helped set the stage for China’s emergence as an economic superpower. As politicians in the West bash Beijing for keeping the currency artificially undervalued (hello, Donald), China’s currency has gained more against the U.S. dollar since the end of 2005 than any other in Asia, except for Singapore’s dollar. On Oct. 1 the yuan will join the greenback, the euro, the yen, and the pound in the International Monetary Fund’s basket of reserve currencies. Sure, there have been hiccups along the way—such as last year’s unexpected, and therefore market-shocking, devaluation—but ask any currency trader, and he’ll tell you the yuan has come a long way.
Photo: Qilai Shen / Bloomberg

Jamie Dimon

CEO, JPMorgan Chase

The leader of the world’s most valuable bank has spoken out against Brexit and in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. He’s also downplayed concerns that his industry is about to get upended by the growing legions of fintech startups. In a Bloomberg interview in March, he suggested some large banks can innovate on their own or in partnership with new players. (JPMorgan has teamed up with online lender OnDeck.) He noted that regulators aren’t about to give fintech companies a pass. Said Dimon: “We like our hand.”
Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

Bill McNabb

CEO, Vanguard Group

The man who’s been running one of the world’s largest investment companies for almost a decade is so low-profile he doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry. But Vanguard’s influence continues to expand as retirees and other investors pull money out of actively managed funds and put it in low-cost index funds—Vanguard’s specialty. The company took in a record $236 billion last year and is on track to beat that in 2016.
Photo: Justin Chin / Bloomberg

Elon Musk

Co-founder and CEO, Tesla Motors

Musk’s plans for commercial space exploration suffered a setback recently when a mysterious fire on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral destroyed a SpaceX rocket and its satellite payload. A fatal accident with a Tesla on autopilot has drawn scrutiny from safety regulators and prompted criticism that Musk overhyped the automaker’s self-driving technology. Tesla shares are down since it first announced its plan to acquire SolarCity in June, amid governance issues and cash-flow concerns. And then there’s the question that might matter most in the end: Can his flagship business turn a profit? Musk is pushing hard to prove it can, but analysts are deeply split over whether the sky’s-the-limit company has a shorter runway than its leader realizes.
Photo: Justin Chin / Bloomberg

Sérgio Moro

Federal judge, Brazil

Moro and his team of prosecutors and investigators have spent more than two years tracking an almost $2 billion graft scandal across four continents. Their efforts helped tip Brazil into its worst recession in a century and created the political climate for the ouster of President Dilma Rousseff. Investors are beginning to look beyond the corruption probe, however. Brazil’s benchmark stock index is up more than 30 percent this year, a sign that a recovery is coming.
Photo: Nelson Almeida / Getty Images

Warren Buffett

CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

The Oracle of Omaha has a thing for hidden champions: companies that aren’t quite household names but are leaders in their industries. Among more than a dozen acquisitions Berkshire Hathaway has done this year are a Danish business that makes processing equipment for the poultry industry and a jewelry e-tailer in Boston. That’s not to say Buffett has lost his taste for high-profile stocks: Berkshire increased its stake in Apple by 55 percent during the second quarter, when the share price dipped on expectations that slower customer upgrades and competition from China would take a bite out of iPhone sales this year.
Photo: Saul Loeb / Getty Images

Janet Yellen

Chair, U.S. Federal Reserve

Give her a nod as the steward of a long and, at this point, steady recovery. Growth in the U.S. may be a bit disappointing, but it inspires envy among the leaders of other major economies. Yellen’s calm approach has been right for the times. When she finally got around to that first hike in benchmark rates at the end of last year, it didn’t derail the expansion or destroy the markets as some naysayers had predicted. And she’s refused to rush the next increase. Her most remarkable feat may be that she’s kept the critics at bay in a time of growing political polarization. The Fed has been less controversial in the current presidential race than it was during the 2012 cycle.
Photo: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg

Mario Draghi

President, European Central Bank

Don’t fight the ECB. When Britons voted to exit the EU, Draghi didn’t blink and kept up his bond-buying bonanza. Markets responded, driving yields on corporate and sovereign debt lower. Draghi’s whatever-it-takes attitude has held the troubled euro zone together during his almost five years on the job. The Italian banker has warned that the growth outlook for the 19-member bloc remains “tilted to the downside” after the U.K.’s vote. From his perch in Frankfurt, he’ll be doing all he can to nudge it the other way.
Photo: Johannes Eisele / AFP / GettyImages

Angela Merkel

Chancellor, Germany

“We can do this” was the motto Merkel favored to rally support for her government’s open-border policy on refugees. Germans are not so sure. Voters, anxious over whether Germany can absorb more than 1 million asylum seekers, have punished Merkel’s Christian Democrats in recent local elections. So far she’s refused to back down, fueling speculation she may not seek a fourth term in federal elections in 2017. At this point, though, nobody has emerged to mount a credible challenge to the leader of Europe’s largest economy.
Photo: Aurelien Meunier / Getty Images

Jeff Bezos

Founder and CEO,

Bezos’s influence is evident from the moves his rivals are making. Walmart, which has about four times the revenue of Amazon (and a market valuation that’s one-third less), is spending $3.3 billion to acquire, a not-even-close-to-profitable e-commerce startup that one day might help it compete with Amazon. China’s Alibaba has introduced its own version of Amazon Web Services, the cloud division that is now the U.S. company’s fastest-growing and most profitable unit. Stay tuned to see how FedEx and UPS respond to Amazon’s plan to assemble its own fleet of airplanes and maybe a swarm of drones. It’s been a good year for Bezos’s bottom line, too: This year he displaced Warren Buffett as the world’s third-richest man. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates his net worth at $68 billion.
Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images

Xi Jinping

President, China

Until the Brits ushered in a new period of uncertainty in Europe, all eyes this year were on China. Xi is walking a tightrope: He’s pledged to keep annual economic growth from falling below 6.5 percent through 2020 and prevent rising debts from spiraling out of control. If he wobbles, world markets will cringe.
Photo: Lintao Zhang/Pool / Getty Images
TIE #2

Hillary Clinton

Candidate for U.S. president

If she wins, the financial world will be watching to see who has greater influence over her policymaking—Clinton’s Wall Street benefactors or the Bernie Sanders supporters she’s been trying to woo. One key test will be how she follows through on her promise to “make sure the wealthy, Wall Street, and corporations pay their fair share in taxes.”
Photo: Susana Gonzalez / Bloomberg News
TIE #2

Donald Trump

Candidate for U.S. president

If he wins, the financial world will be watching to see how sincere he is in his opposition to free trade, which the Republican Party has embraced for decades, and in his commitment to tackle the national debt (without cutting Social Security). Another key question is whether he’ll follow through on his pledge to dismantle the Dodd-Frank bank regulations.
Photo: John Taggart / Bloomberg

Theresa May

Prime minister, U.K.

Amid the financial, political, and economic turmoil that followed the June 23 referendum, May won power and quickly declared that “Brexit means Brexit,” even though she had been in the “remain” camp. She has everything to gain if she can negotiate thorny matters, such as whether banks, insurers, and investment firms will be able to continue doing business in the EU from their London bases. At stake is the City’s status as Europe’s premier financial center.
Photo: WPA Pool / Getty Images