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QUOTE (Demonseed Elite)
Also, with all the concern about banks, keep in mind that today banking and financial services is the most fragmented market on the globe and that likely hasn't changed in Shadowrun. Citigroup may be the biggest company in the world, but it only controlled 2% of the private banking market in 2003 (from their own financial releases, slide number 11). Compare this with Starbucks, which controls 73% of the coffeehouse sales market in the United States. You can see why when megacorporate ownership is discussed, it's usually in goods and not as much in financial outfits.

Of course, this is also good for the corporations, because the more diverse the market is, the more sources there are to borrow money from without it becoming too tangled. It also protects the global economy in cases where corporations fail, which has even happened to AAAs.

This also tells you just how big the banking and financial services market actually is too wink.gif If coffee was the same sie, not so sure starbucks would ave so much of it!
Demonseed Elite
It isn't where I'm getting all that information from, but it is the best SR source, by far, on the way the Sixth World economy works. It's one of those SR books that I've never had to grab during a game, but every time I re-read it, it spawns a half-dozen ideas for a campaign.
Big D
This is a fun topic, and ties closely back into how the world should "feel"; as such, each campaign should feel free to bend the backstory, economic arrangements, and relative power between the high muckity-mucks as needed to tell that campaign's story.

So, if something gives you the feel you're aiming for, go for it, just make sure that it isn't wildly implausible or that you can handwave or paper over the problems.

That said, my personal opinion is that there are elements of all of the opinions proffered thus far; major countries are still nominally more powerful than the corps, and *if they moved en masse*, they could quite easily take down most of them (except for Lofwyr, who has too many strings to pull, and the Azzies, who *own* a country). But, it would wreck the current economy more than either Crash did, and for what? Better to live with indignities like extraterritoriality and push back only as needed or when public opnion demands it. Besides, those same corps are dependent on customers, and they cannot *officially* go too far without risking that relationship. Even the Azzies don't want to find out what life is like living off of nothing but the backs of domestic taxpayers.

That said, IMHO SR is not a despotism so much as it is a neo-feudal (with no oaths, and little honor) bundle of chaos. Things are so complicated, that one subsidiary of a corp can attack another without realizing that 20 shell companies up, their CEO owns it. Oops. Heck, employees deliberately sabotage their own corp in order to do things like make the other guy up for promotion look bad. How is that in the corp's interest? It's not. But, because of the confusion, because of the shadows (and I don't mean just runners), this kind of stuff happens.

So, back to corp justice. If you're Joe Tourist, and a corp thinks you're a spy, they have a few choices to make. They can watch you longer, and maybe find out that you're innocent, and nobody gets hurt. They can pick you up and throw you in corp jail, maybe even torture or mind-probe you, and risk a backlash if they're wrong. They can try (and probably, but not certainly, succeed) to make you disappear, and *then*, depending on whether or not you're still breathing, attempt to interrogate you with no intention of ever letting you go even if you're innocent--but that takes the risk that Joe Tourist might have rich relatives, golf with a Senator who hates your corp, or be an old friend of the local DA who doesn't mind playing a little dirty. As a member of a corp, entrusted (in this case) with literally the power of life and death over others, you still face restrictions--not hard and fast, "That's illegal! You can't *do* that", but, "if this goes wrong, you're fired/jailed/dead".

To brutalize an infamous Moff, "Fear will keep the employees in line." To the extent that they forget this fear (and indeed, may have plenty of reasons not to fear much at all), they will be able to do bad, bad things to you, whether you're Joe Tourist or Johnny No.

So, the short version: yes, corps, nations, that ganger over there looking at you funny can all do really, really bad things to you, chummer. But then again, maybe not; because they might pay too big a price, themselves. That's what keeps the world turning, even as the odd runner, wageslave, or entire village of SINless barrens-dwellers suddenly learn the real truth about whether there is an afterlife.
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