James B. Glattfelder

Complex systems theorist
James B. Glattfelder aims to give us a richer, data-driven understanding of the people and interactions that control our global economy. He does this not to push an ideology — but with the hopes of making the world a better place.

Why you should listen

First a physicist and then a researcher at a Swiss hedge fund, James B. Glattfelder found himself amazed by the level of understanding we have in regards to the physical world and universe around us. He wondered: how can we move toward a similar understanding of human society?

This question led him to the study of complex systems, a subject he now holds a Ph.D in from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Glattfelder is co-head of quantitative research at Olsen Ltd in Zurich, an FX investment manager focusing on market-stabilizing algorithms. In 2011, he co-authored the study “The Network of Global Corporate Control,” which went viral in the international media and sparked many controversial discussions. The study looked at the architecture of ownership across the globe, and computed a level of control exerted by each international player. The study revealed that less than 1% of all the players in the global economy are part of a highly interconnected and powerful core which, because of the high levels of overlap, leaves the economy vulnerable.

In his free time, Glattfelder enjoys snowboarding, rock climbing, surfing and listening to electronic music. 

What others say

“As protests against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters' worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy ... The study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power.” — The New S

James B. Glattfelder on the TED Blog

Quotes from James B. Glattfelder

We're actually really lucky that [physics] works, because no one knows why the thoughts in our heads should relate to the fundamental workings of the universe.
James B. Glattfelder
TEDxZurich 2011 • 2M views Feb 2013
Informative, Fascinating