Tag Archives: Economy

Why Wall Street Isn’t Useful for the Real Economy

By Lynn Stout – In the wake of the 2008 crisis, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein famously told a reporter that bankers are “doing God’s work.” This is, of course, an important part of the Wall Street mantra: it’s standard operating procedure for bank executives to frequently and loudly proclaim that Wall Street is vital to the nation’s economy and performs socially valuable services by raising capital, providing liquidity to investors, and ensuring that securities are priced accurately so that money flows to where it will be most productive.

The mantra is essential, because it allows (non-psychopathic) bankers to look at themselves in the mirror each day, as well as helping them fend off serious attempts at government regulation. It also allows them to claim that they deserve to make outrageous amounts of money.

According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States, in 2007 and 2008 employees in the finance industry earned a total of more than $500 billion annually—that’s a whopping half-trillion dollar payroll (Table 1168).

Let’s start with the notion that Wall Street helps companies raise capital. If we look at the numbers, it’s obvious that raising capital for companies is only a sideline for most banks, and a minor one at that. Corporations raise capital in the so-called “primary” markets where they sell newly-issued stocks and bonds to investors.

However, the vast majority of bankers’ time and effort is devoted to (and most bank profits come from) dealing, trading, and advising investors in the so-called “secondary” market where investors buy and sell existing securities with each other.

In 2009, for example, less than 10 percent of the securities industry’s profits came from underwriting new stocks and bonds; the majority came instead from trading commissions and trading profits (Table 1219).

This figure reflects the imbalance between the primary issuing market (which is relatively small) and the secondary trading market (which is enormous). In 2010, corporations issued only $131 billion in new stock (Table 1202).

That same year, the World Bank reports, more than $15 trillion in stocks were traded in the U.S. secondary marketmore than the nation’s GDP. more>

How capitalism without growth could build a more stable economy

By Adam Barrett – On a finite planet, endless economic growth is impossible. There is also plenty of evidence that in the developed world, a continued increase of GDP does not increase happiness.

Back in 1930 the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that growth would end within a century – but he was unclear whether a post-growth capitalism was really possible.

Today, mainstream economic thinking still considers growth to be a vital policy objective – essential to the health of a capitalist economy. There remains a concern that ultimately, a capitalist economy will collapse without growth.

I recently published new research that suggests a different view – that a post-growth economy could actually be more stable and even bring higher wages. It begins with an acceptance that capitalism is unstable and prone to crisis even during a period of strong and stable growth – as the great financial crash of 2007-08 demonstrated.

I found that an end to growth reduces profits for business owners.

Therefore, if it remains relatively easy for money to flow across borders, then investors might abandon a post-growth country for a fast-growing developing country. Also, businesses are beholden to shareholders keen on growth as a means to rapid profit accumulation.

Some mainstream commentators and economists are now predicting a transition to a post-growth era, whatever our environmental policy – which means the study of post-growth economics is a field which itself will grow. more>

An ambitious project to measure the wealth of nations shows how GDP is a deceptive gauge of progress

By Eshe Nelson, Dan Kopf – Is gross domestic product a sufficient measure of an economy’s health?

Many argue that GDP, which counts the sum of the goods and services produced by a nation, fails to reflect a population’s well-being, because it accounts for neither distribution of income nor extractive effects such as pollution.

Wealth includes all assets, which means human capital (the value of earnings over a person’s lifetime), natural capital (energy, minerals, agricultural land), produced capital (machinery, buildings, urban land), and net foreign assets.

Assessing an economy by GDP instead of wealth is like looking exclusively at a company’s income statements without considering the assets on its balance sheet. A company can make its income look good for a short time by liquidating assets, but over the long run this will reduce the firm’s productive capacity and other means of generating income in the future.

The same applies to a country. GDP “does not reflect depreciation and depletion of assets, whether investment and accumulation of wealth are keeping pace with population growth, or whether the mix of assets is consistent with a country’s development goals,” the report states. more>

Cities: Where the economy plays scrabble


By Brad Cunningham – For those who haven’t played Scrabble recently, here’s a refresher. Players collect a number of individual tiles, each of which carries one letter of the alphabet. Players then combine their letters in order to spell words. The value of the words is determined by the sum of the value of each letter, with rarer letters (e.g. Q, X, Z) having a higher value than common letters (e.g. A, E, S, T). Players then compete to produce the most valuable words out of the letters available to them.

In an economy, firms endeavor to make products similar to how Scrabble players make words. To make a product, firms must bring together a variety of very different and very specific inputs and activities. Each of these inputs can be thought of as one capability needed for production, just as a letter in Scrabble represents one capability needed to make a word possible.

Under this model, there are two paths to industrial growth. The first path occurs when an industry with potential is new to an area and some necessary capabilities are not available locally. An entrepreneur must figure out how to create the missing letters and coordinate them with locally available letters to spell a new word. Once this problem is solved, industries can grow via the second path: by simply replicating and scaling up existing capabilities.

Developing countries can grow by bringing in capabilities from around the world, whereas developed countries generally have to innovate new capabilities to grow. more> https://goo.gl/m52AbL

The Three Major Trends that Shaped the Global Economy for Decades Are About to Change

BOOK REVIEW

Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Author: Thomas Piketty.

By Luke Kawa – According to Charles Goodhart, professor at the London School of Economics and senior economic consultant to Morgan Stanley, demographics explain the vast majority of three major trends that have shaped the socioeconomic and political environments across advanced economies over the past few decades.

Those three would be declining real interest rates, shrinking real wages, and increasing inequality.

The conditions that fostered these three intertwined major developments are nearly obsolete, and this has profound implications for the framework of the global economy in the decades to come. more> http://tinyurl.com/ntyfgd8

IT industry could be blindsided by fiscal cliff

Cliff house Giant Camera

Cliff house Giant Camera
(Photo credit: davidyuweb)

By Colin Neagle – As Congress continues to debate how it should prevent the federal government and national economy from plummeting off the so-called fiscal cliff at the end of the year, many technology companies – particularly smaller businesses and startups – may be unprepared for the ensuing changes.

Unfortunately for them, it may be too late to do anything about it.

For IT businesses, the fiscal cliff could mean higher taxes on research and experimentation than were imposed prior to 2011, a $114,000 decrease in tax provisions allowing small businesses to write off asset-related expenses, and the disappearance of a bonus first-year depreciation on expenses that stood at 100% as recently as 2011. More information on the impact of the fiscal cliff policy changes on the IT industry is available here. more> http://tinyurl.com/bydfghk

Eurozone Recession Likely Returned As Even Germany Is Hit By Debt Crisis

Reuters – The euro zone is likely to have slipped back into recession in the current quarter, according to a survey published on Wednesday (Sep 5) that showed a seventh month of contraction for the bloc’s private sector as new orders dwindled.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), published by Markit, showed the economic rot that began in smaller periphery members of the 17-nation bloc is now taking hold even in Germany, the region’s largest and strongest economy. more> http://tinyurl.com/8mjw3mf