As a behaviourally focused economics publication we have been very quiet and inactive during 2014. A year of reflection and introspection, however, we are ready to resume service, with vigour. And what better way to start than with a reflective piece and thoughts on the biggest risk we believe are developing under the surface without warning. Our concluding theme of 2014 is that of moral hazard.
As Margaret Thatcher once said: “There is no society”; we state today that there is ‘No Moral Hazard’; in fact there is only Moral Hazard PLUS.
We believe that there is a strong correlation between QE (Quantitative Easing) and economic moral hazard developing a new strain, mutating like an unseen virus.
QE might have saved the financial system of the developed world, but it it only provided a shot in the arm and acted as a stimulus for sustaining moral hazard.
Economics follow a flow and cyclical pattern, as discussed in our article entitled ‘Information Age Irony‘. These patterns and flows weave themselves into the fabric of our lives and affect individual economies in different ways.
It is important to understand where and how economic cycles develop and flow and how much influence they have on our general economic activities on a day to day basis, but we should not become overly obsessed by them, as they can be short-circuited from time to time by policy and policy-maker’s actions, wherever individually or collectively.
In part 2 of this article we will focus on the revelations of QE and the underlying threat of moral hazard returning on a grander and more catastrophic scale, if it goes unchecked and misunderstood.
…[take] the human being out of the market entirely, then we should have a proper, effective and efficient market…?
So might go the refrain of Neo-liberal economics, or at least a slightly different take on the Neo-liberal ideal of ‘every interaction should be a market transaction‘.
That Neo-liberal economic refrain is part of the inspiration behind the creation of the ‘Soul of the Market’ or rather theMarketSoul and this site.
With this last post of 2013, we thought a bit of reflection and a reminder of our inspiration and founding philosophy might be in order.
In order for a market to be effective, there has to be a few ripples in the ebbs and flows of the transactions and interactions making up the market processes. Therefore, we have to be able to tolerate human frailties and flaws, or else the market becomes too mechanistic and dare we say it preordained. This can naturally not be an effective outcome for any market. Human failings and market failure are two sides of the same coin. However, we should work together in order to limit the inevitable damage and negative consequences of both human and market failure. This does not necessarily translate into more regulation, might we add at this juncture.
Let us never forget this and celebrate process frailty, failure, learn to develop and embrace tolerance, persistence and perseverance; basic elements of human nature…
We should never forget our inspiration, put it to aspiration and strive to achieve our own unique and specific dreams.
The US Debt default that is looming ever larger with each passing day that the US Congress, Senate and White House seem to treat as a brinkmanship fatigue challenge will have a specific default structure or process attached to it, that the rest of the world needs to get to grips with very quickly.
What are the consequences:
Because, if Americans are willing to engage in quasi-negotiations with each other on this acrimonious level; then world beware, they will treat you with even more disdain and petulance than they have been treating each other.
And yet, no Creditor Nation of the USA seem in the least bit prepared for the hard bargaining the USA Treasury officials will engage in when the technical default moves into a more serious phase.
This is commercial war on a scale we have not experienced for quite some time.
And the most disparaging part of this process or potential risk is that no commentator has yet stood up and called time on this challenge or at the very least attempted to pull the veil from the threat and fall-out the rest of the world will experience.
Of course 17 October 2013 is a technical default breach days only; because as most business people who experienced bankruptcy will attest to is the fact that you can continue to trade (on the goodwill of your creditors) beyond the point of being solvent, so long as those creditors continue to good-naturedly extend some further credit or payment terms to you.
A recent assignment at a customer in London made us sit back and wonder: ‘How important are symbols in corporate life to your experience or interactions in a corporate environment?’
A lot has already been written about the subject of symbols, rituals and culture in organisations. Our own contributions on [culture] and [behaviours] are embedded in the linked terms.
What we are focussing on today is a question of the small symbols and gestures individual participants in organisations make. A misspoken word in frustration, jest, malice or innocence can have enormous impacts on others, without us even realising it.
How often do you pay attention to these outward signs and symbols of behaviour that affects interactions with and behaviours towards others?
Pure logical would dictate that (and indeed a convex demand curve) that as you ‘slide’ down the curve, the price / cost would become lower. Yet in practice, this hardly ever happens? Big Question mark…
Is this because the further we slide down the Experience Curve, the more utilitarian (fancy economic term we used there!) the benefit becomes? Yet, it also adds to the overall risk of the Experience or Value being added.
Is this a counter intuitive argument or are we just getting plain confused by the inverse relationship?
The future of work and engagement has already begun. That is stating the blatantly obvious, but are we really prepared for it, yet?
Here is a little taster of what we think the future of work will look like for most individual participants in the labour and skills supply market.
The key is that the industrialised ‘factory’ and production line models are now slowly but surely falling apart. The expectation for grown up individuals to turn up 5 days a week and sit at ‘battery hen‘ cubicles and perform tasks a ‘production line’ manager allocates and oversees are numbered.
The fundamental problem today is that no one has yet effectively resolved the ‘contracting’ and hence TRUST problem of delivery on a large scale. We can do it effectively on the micro level, with freelancers selling there individual skills on small tasks and projects, where the risk of failure or an adverse outcome is mitigated. However, we have not yet evolved far enough up the trust hierarchy to fully outsource mission critical projects to ‘clustered’ skills and solution provider hubs, in remote and distant locations, far removed from the core.
Platforms where suppliers and demanders of services can be matched
A common global business Lingua Franca
These are only a few of the factors either contributing or detracting from moving the revolution on in significant leaps and bounds.
Therefore, to conclude this first stab at a look at the future world of work, we hypothesis that the future will have large groups (what we will call CLUSTERED SKILLS HUBS) of skills pools bidding for contracts to supply services and solutions to leaner and meaner multinationals in cross border transactions and flows that are worth trillions of dollars annually.
Right now, we can’t see any major G20 sovereign government dealing effectively with this challenge, to ensure that they contribute and facilitate the move towards the new future of COLLABORATION.
We have been following the G20 ‘get those naughty multinationals in the tax tent’ debates raging for a few months now, with amusement we have to add; here at theMarketSoul and have the following short thought piece to contribute to the debate.
We know the ‘outrage’ really is all about the what the OECD calls the ‘general erosion of the tax base’, which in our opinion is just a distraction for proper structural reforms in the western democracies contributing to the G20 and OECD coffers.
The real issue is the power of civil society structures, such as multinational corporations, versus nation states. We constantly get an earful on how undemocratic corporations are from a liberal social leftist media and how dangerous unfettered corporate power is.
Yet, multinationals are far more democratic, in both structure and performance, than any sovereign government will ever be. If the corporate governance structure is correctly set up, then every corporate entity has an annual AGM at which point the corporate leaders have to resign, on a rotational basis, depending on individual Articles of Association or Memorandum ofIincorporation provisions (depending in which jurisdiction the corporate entity ‘resides’). How often does a sovereign leader stand down, in comparison and leave it to the popular vote to be re-elected? Certainly not on an annual basis, as is the case for most corporate leaders.
This leads us to the real thought piece of this article, namely the fact that corporate ownership and access to corporate ownership should really be extended to as wide a base as possible, rather than a few ‘monied’ or opportunist participants in the market.
Legislation around employee share ownership schemes are still very cumbersome and rules, rather than principles driven.
The real revolution we require is not around a new tax base or recapitalizing democratic bankrupt nation states; however we require a revolution of democratic corporate ownership to sweep the length and breadth of the land, in order to spread the risk, add additional wealth creation opportunities (and hence a widened wealth tax base) for smaller, leaner and meaner governments to address. This a cry from civil society to the inner ‘goodness’ of political society to sit up, take serious stock and work on longer-term solutions to the erosion of their tax bases, rather than the usual headline grabbing short-termist market distorting interventions the G20 governments are so infamous.