The spectre of populism is haunting Europe. While the established political order is largely to blame, the cure of populism is worse than the disease. The best way of combatting the phenomenon is to fix the economy and put integrity centre stage in politics.
Failings in the foreign exchange markets should be surprising, and not only because cheating was hard. But when process-driven clients met the hard-to-repress urge to speculate, tempted traders crossed some ethical lines. The cure? Ensure financial markets make economic sense.
A Republican U.S. Senate puts a bullet in new federal firearms controls. Yet Colt, maker of the gun that won the West, is short of cash, Moody’s downgraded Remington and shares of Ruger and Smith & Wesson have been clobbered. The industry does better with guns in a corner.
The idea that companies should be run for the short-term gains of shareholders has no support in law or economics. Why is it still powerful? Managers and investors get away with their greed because too many people think companies are basically financial entities. They’re not.
The craze for this small-batch double IPA illustrates the potential for craft brewers to snaffle up both market and dollar share from Big Beer. That’s why AB InBev and others are on the prowl to buy indie brands. It’s great for drinkers, but makes for a very competitive dynamic.
Reform has ground to a halt, unemployment is way too high, corruption scandals are popping out of the woodwork, many Catalans want independence, and a new left-wing populist party is leading in the opinion polls. The traditional political class is at a loss over what to do.
It has been a decade since I left my last job in finance. Much has undoubtedly changed since then. But it is not clear that a basic contradiction has been resolved. The economic purposes of financial institutions are out of whack with the way they actually increase revenue.
Top brass at the $45 bln Wall Street firm peed in cups and chastised the press for writing about salacious charges against one of its rainmakers. The response is not exactly confidence-inducing behavior for a business built as much on trust as the assets on the balance sheet.
The UK prime minister is agonising over whether to impose quotas on EU immigrants. But it wouldn’t be possible to do this without quitting the 28-country bloc. Allies at home and abroad should put pressure on Cameron not to make such a move. They need to act fast.
If the cult of economic efficiency is not abandoned, then machines which can emulate and sometimes surpass human thinking are likely to bring lower wages and more unemployment. But robots provide a wonderful opportunity to combine low labour productivity with high prosperity.