From the February 2014 issue of Futures Magazine • Subscribe!

10 most influential people and events of 2013

Politics

Junior Texas Senator Ted Cruz: How can a junior senator from Texas have more control over the House of Representatives than the Speaker of the House of his own party? No one can say for sure, but Cruz was driving the GOP bus as he led a filibuster to hold the Affordable Care Act hostage. This was a slow motion car crash that ended exactly the way everyone knew it would, but the fact that no one could stop it is testament to the dysfunction in Washington. 

Speaker of the House John Boehner: Can you be influential by not being influential? When you hold the highest office in Congress and can’t prevent your own party from committing an extreme act of stupidity, that is a significant event. Especially one in which everyone knew what the eventual outcome would be.

Botched ACA web rollout: With the GOP committing Hara Kiri in the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate, all President Obama and Health & Human Services Chair Kathleen Sebelius had to do was not screw up. But the rollout of the Affordable Care Act website was an unmitigated disaster. Yes, there were folks bound and determined to kill the ACA and paint it as a failure however it played out, but the web rollout was something completely under the control of the administration, and they blew it. 

Business 

George Mitchell: Hydraulic fracking had been around for many decades but Mitchell and his company, Mitchell Energy & Development Corp., are credited with creating advances in the technique that have led to the revolutionary development of shale oil and gas reserves. The huge growth in U.S. production this year offset numerous geopolitical disruptions. A story in The Economist this year referred to Mitchell as the “Father of Fracking” and noted “Few businesspeople have done as much to change the world as George Mitchell.”  

Jamie Dimon: Perhaps some of the bloom is off of the rose of the JPMorgan Chairman and CEO after a tough year involving losses and multiple settlements, two of which surpassed the billion dollar threshold. But if you can spend the year writing multi-billion dollar settlement checks and still maintain your job, you must have some pull. 

Jeff Sprecher: When Jeff Sprecher and IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) put in a competing bid for the Chicago Board of Trade back in 2006 not many people took it seriously initially, but he nearly snatched the CBOT away from CME Group. In 2013, ICE closed its acquisition of the storied New York Stock Exchange. Enough said.

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