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Obama leads heads of state atop Forbes power list for 2012

When it comes to power, politics trumps business, according to a new Forbes ranking on Wednesday that found heads of state occupying six of the top 10 spots among the world's most powerful people, led by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The annual list selected what Forbes said were the world's 71 most-powerful people from among the roughly 7.1 billion global populace, based on factors ranging from wealth to global influence.

Obama was joined in the top 10 by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The list's highest-ranked businessman was Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates at No. 4. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, both public officials, also made the top 10.

“This year's list reflects the changing of the guard in the world's two most powerful countries: the United States and China,” Michael Noer, Forbes' executive editor, told Reuters in an email.

Noer noted that China's President Hu Jintao, last year's third most-powerful person, fell off the list as he is leaving power, and his successor, Xi Jinping, ranked ninth instead.

Both U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who have stated they will not be serving in Obama's second term, were not in this year's rankings.

While elected and appointed officials and business people made up the vast majority of Forbes' most powerful, Pope Benedict XVI placed fifth in the rankings.

Among the oddities was Joaquin Guzman Loera at No. 63.

Loera, far from a household name, is a billionaire nicknamed “El Chapo” who as head of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel is the world's most powerful drug trafficker, according to Forbes.

Age was also not a barrier, with two of the youngest and oldest of this year's most powerful — 28-year-old Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and 81-year-old News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch — back-to-back at numbers 25 and 26, respectively.

Forbes noted that Zuckerberg fell out of last year's top 10 after Facebook's IPO disappointed. A gainer, meanwhile, was Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who moved up four spots to No. 18 despite being only halfway into her first term of office.

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German Chancellor and chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Party, CDU, Angela Merkel, delivers her keynote speech at her party's 2012 convention in Hannover, Tuesday, Dec. 4. (AP)

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