In the early 1990s some well-known actors-Gorbachev, Mitterrand, Reagan, Thatcher-disappeared from the political stage, and the public had to get used to new faces. Politicians seemed to be becoming less important as ‘market forces’ were enshrined on gleaming altars everywhere. Among the important new names were those of a number of tycoons, often in the media or finance. Deregulation of the media and privatisation of public industries gave these individuals a golden opportunity to extend their empires. Leo Kirch, the Munich media entrepreneur, grew in importance in Germany. In Italy Silvio Berlusconi was not content to wield indirect influence but went into politics. This was also true of Sir James Goldsmith, the financier, and Lord Rothermere, the newspaper owner, in Britain. CNN owner Ted Turner and News International’s Rupert Murdoch were content to influence the world through their media empires. Bill Gates, perhaps the world’s richest man, became increasingly familiar as the head of Microsoft, the IT colossus. A word or two from US financier George Soros and currencies could collapse.