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Wal-Mart Ousts Exxon-Mobil For Number-One Slot

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 commentator.

Dallas, TX – Who would have ever thought a discount retail chain would become the largest company in the world? I'm Maxine Shapiro with KERA Marketplace Middays.

Well, it's official: Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is now the world's largest company. According to Fortune Magazine, our friends at Exxon-Mobil are being ousted by Wal-Mart for that number-one slot. If this isn't a sign of the times - an oil conglomerate like Exxon-Mobil has to take second seat to a retail store! Our consumer-driven culture can rise up and cheer.

See, we love to shop, and we obviously love to shop at big stores that have cheap prices that carry everything we need or think we need. Actually, Wal-Mart is its own culture. Sure, there's Target, my favorite, and bankrupted Kmart, which speaks for itself, but in some parts of the country and world, there is only Wal-Mart. It's the place where people go when they're bored on a Saturday night. And at some locations, you can do it at three in the morning.

I myself think Wal-Mart owes a huge amount of thanks to Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, who, for the last year, begged us to open our pocket books, max out our credit cards and spend - for the good of the economy, for the good of the country, for everyone's good. And with guiltless glee we went. And we evidently went to Wal-Mart.

So, Wal-Mart is now head of the class in revenue earnings - in my estimation - not for long. See, Exxon-Mobil had a really bad fourth quarter. Their profits dropped 43% from the same time last year.

Now, I'm not saying I feel sorry for Exxon-Mobil. As a consumer of gas and lover of warm weather, I don't care if oil prices ever go back up, but they are and they have been for a while. And so will Exxon-Mobil's earnings. In the meantime, consumers all over the world can bask in the knowledge that by simply doing what they love to do, a company like Wal-Mart can now claim to be number one. For Marketplace Middays, I'm Maxine Shapiro.

Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 P.M.