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This is very, very prescient Jerome - the kind of analysis I'd like to read in the FT and Econo but which of course don't appear there.

I can't think of anything useful to add, apart from an anecdotal data point from today's Sunday Express, which was suggesting that private equity pirates shouldn't be taxed because they 'create wealth.'

So the disease really seems to be the belief that if you create wealth you don't have to share. That's currently very much an Anglo-Saxon pathology, for some reason. As I've said before in Anglo-Saxonia we don't seem to like ourselves much, and we certainly don't like other people, and don't see why we should have to give them anything of ours.

Maybe it's a child rearing issue. I don't know. But it seems there's something very pinched and aggressively retentive about it which is somehow characteristic.

The financial markets have a huge amount in common with the enclosures of the 17th century. The view held by the markets is that capital is owned by the markets. My view is that capital is a common resource, and placing limitations on access to it inevitably creates an economic crash.

This is partly because growth which is based solely on speculation and gaming the market is fictional and inherently inflationary - the system is currently set up to make it appear real, but it's a convenient self-serving and self-referential lie.

And partly because contraction of access to high quality education, to R&D and to funding means that the useful skills base contracts. This means the economy has no resilience - when the game is up there's no fallback position.

What you're left with is a fantasy economy where the markets reward themselves by 'creating wealth' - effectively producing money to order out of nothing more solid than faith and perception management - and quite deliberately having as little contact with physical or social consequences as possible.

Part of the problem is that capital has become increasingly decoupled from reality. As long as it can flit from here to there it can 'maximise profit' in the most conveniently brutal ways, and go somewhere else once companies start to falter after they've been sucked dry, there's no incentive to face the consequences of bad or exploitative decisions.

This isn't going to stop until it falls off the rails, or until someone bold appears and starts placing limits on what capital is allowed to do.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 24th, 2007 at 06:51:19 PM EST
One fundamental thing I think is the notion that the wealth the financial world 'creates' is, to a large extent, wealth it captures, i.e. that already exists. That kind of parasitic behavior can only happen in times of plenty - and the glorious years of the middle classes underpinned by plentiful and cheap energy are just the ticket.

As scarcity reappears, looting will no longer be an effective solution. Will it simply subside, or disappear, or will it try to create the conditions for its further existence (via wars, for instance), is the big question.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jun 24th, 2007 at 07:05:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I still find the concept of wealth almost completely nebulous, so it's not clear what's being captured. Or created.

You and Linca have already made a point I was thinking about yesterday, which is that it's about the capture of free energy and resources rather than 'money.'

But I think during bubble periods there's a kind of financial indeterminacy. It's a bit like virtual particle creation in physics - you can create as many particles as you want, providing they don't last long enough to be noticeable. Sooner or later there has to be a real world accounting.

Similarly you can create as much virtual money as you want, as long as the markets are prepared to believe it's real. Eventually there's a crash, but a lot can happen before you get to that point.

The question I don't have an answer to is - is this a zero sum game?

As for scarcity - I'd expect war to be a more likely outcome, because some people happen to enjoy it, and others find it profitable.

It's hard enough to make a relatively simple change like enforcing mpg restrictions to avoid conspicuously stupid consumption.

When it's not about SUVs but about food, I expect the crowd to get nasty.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 25th, 2007 at 06:47:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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