Russian President Vladimir Putin is the most powerful person in the world, outflanking President Obama, whose authority was damaged by the recent government shutdown and budget crisis, Forbes magazine reported Wednesday in its annual rankings of global movers and shakers.
The list of 72 power brokers -- one for every 100 million people on Earth -- included 17 heads of state and 27 industry leaders, the youngest in each category being North Korea’s 30-year-old leader Kim Jong Un and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, 29.
It was only the second time in Obama’s presidency that he failed to top the list, and Forbes’ rationale in awarding the No. 1 spot to Putin seemed more Obama’s failing than the Kremlin leader’s accomplishment.
“Putin has solidified his control over Russia, while Obama’s lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president,” the magazine said, pointing to the government shutdown this month as an example of Obama’s declining authority.
Forbes also alluded to the Russian government’s success in averting threatened U.S. airstrikes against Syria by proposing to secure Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile to prevent their use in the vicious civil war wracking Syria, a close Moscow ally.
“Anyone watching this year’s chess match over Syria and NSA leaks has a clear idea of the shifting individual power dynamics,” Forbes said.
Putin angered the U.S. administration in granting asylum to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in August after the fugitive leaked highly classified information about U.S. surveillance at home and abroad. The repercussions of Snowden’s disclosures continue to damage U.S. relations with its allies.
Third on Forbes’ list of the most powerful is Chinese President Xi Jinping, who became leader of the nation’s Communist Party last year and president this year and is expected to preside over the world’s most populous country for a decade. China is expected to eclipse the United States as the world’s No. 1 economy during Xi’s tenure as Communist Party chief.
Pope Francis, who succeeded Pope Benedict as Vatican leader in March, was ranked No. 4, followed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the highest-ranking among the nine women on the list.
The top 10 most powerful people, according to Forbes, were rounded out with: Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Saudi Arabian King Abdullah, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke.
Newcomers to the world’s most powerful this year, in addition to the pope, are Samsung Chairman Lee Kun Hee (41), Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn (49), South Korean President Park Geun Hye (52), IBM CEO Virginia Rometty (56) and Fed Chairwoman nominee Janet Yellin (72).
Forbes, which launched its annual ranking of global power brokers in 2009, said it attempts to addresses the question: What is the true nature of power and can we really compare and rank heads of state with religious figures and drug traffickers?