“big events like wars, recessions and the outcomes of elections are controlled by small groups of people working in secret against us”
The only thing wrong with the above statement is that they’re assumed to be working in secret.
The workplace, especially large corporations, has a strongly dictatorship structure. Most people spend most of their lives at work. So the owners and the CEOs do indeed control much of our lives.
Add to that the fact that representative governments are composed of liars who are beholden to their financial supporters more than their constituents and you get functionally closer to a 1 dollar - 1 vote system rather than 1 person - 1 vote. And that gives a tiny number of people immense control (think billionaires).
Finally corporations and government are interlinked by many ties, not the least of which is mass media which many studies indeed show are controlled by a handful of interlinked corporations. Hence “a small group” of people and thus you get the effect claimed.