The World's Most Powerful People 2009

Forbes

11. Pope Benedict XVI

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© AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
  • Spiritual leader is highest earthly authority for 1 billion souls, or about one-sixth of planet's population; runs Catholic Church, world's oldest, largest multinational.
  • A staunch traditionalist, unbending on reproductive matters, yet conservatism comforting to many.

12. Silvio Berlusconi

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© AP Photo/Andrew Medichin
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  • Prime Minister of Italy also media monopolist: Owns three television networks outright, controls three others through state. Also magazines, newspapers, advertising agencies.
  • Beyond politics and publishing, sports: His AC Milan is one of the world's premier soccer teams.
  • Colorful private life, bribery allegations, Cabinet member picks have caused him to be depicted as Europe's buffoon. Unfazed: Calls himself "the Jesus Christ of Italian politics."

13. Jeffrey R. Immelt

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© AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
  • Heads General Electric, world's largest company.
  • Financial services account for more than half of revenue, but also has major presence in energy, media, transportation and aviation.
  • Company breeding ground for top executive talent; former GE brass have run companies ranging from Boeing to Rubbermaid.
  • Company poised to profit from Obama health care plans and clean energy initiatives; one of planet's largest manufacturers of wind turbines. Yes we can: "You can either sit with a hood over your head and pretend things won't change, or you can get ready for it."

14. Warren Buffett

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© AP Photo/Matt Sayles
  • Greatest value investor of all time shrewdly profiting from global financial crisis; snapped up stakes in Goldman Sachs, General Electric during darkest days of 2008.
  • Opponent of inherited wealth has bequeathed vast majority of $40 billion fortune to buddy Bill Gates and his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • "Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful."

15. Angela Merkel

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© AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
  • Most powerful woman on planet.
  • As chancellor of Germany, oversees Europe's largest economy and fifth-largest in the world with $2.9 trillion GDP.
  • Renowned free-market champion and favorite of big business, favors Euro over waning greenback.
  • Green cred: Leading European charge against greenhouse gases.

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