Abstract: We present a methodology to extract the backbone of complex networks in which the weight and direction of links, as well as non-topological state variables associated with nodes play a crucial role. This methodology can be applied in general to networks in which mass or energy is flowing along the links. In this paper, we show how the procedure enables us to address important questions in economics, namely how control and wealth is structured and concentrated across national markets. We report on the first cross-country investigation of ownership networks in the stock markets of 48 countries around the world. On the one hand, our analysis confirms results expected on the basis of the literature on corporate control, namely that in Anglo-Saxon countries control tends to be dispersed among numerous shareholders. On the other hand, it also reveals that in the same countries, control is found to be highly concentrated at the global level, namely lying in the hands of very few important shareholders. This result has previously not been reported, as it is not observable without the kind of network analysis developed here.
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