Think back to 1989. Paula Abdul ruled the pop charts, while Batman movie merchandise racked up $750 million dollars in sales worldwide. That year, the Berlin Wall fell and the American troops invaded Panama. In business, Japanese firms represented 13 of the 20 largest market caps. In fact, the top four firms – all Japanese banks – accounted for a combined $310 billion dollars in market cap according to Berkshire Hathaway.
What a difference 30 years makes!
Today, Apple alone boasts a market cap over $2 trillion dollars alone – and Saudi Aramco and Microsoft aren’t trailing far behind. You won’t find any Japanese banks – or Japanese firms, for that matter – among the Top 20 caps. And Asian firms make up just a fourth of these 20 largest firms, despite the general consensus that commerce is pivoting to the East.
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Ironically, this trend is reversed in business school rankings. Take The Financial Times, the most…