An Ownership Revolution is required

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.

English: The logo of the Organisation for Econ...
English: The logo of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Civitas Foundation for Civil Society logo
Civitas Foundation for Civil Society logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

theMarketSoul ©2013

The Big Design: Moral Hazard, and the EU

Irrespective of how the twists and turns of the Greek political system plays out over the next few days and weeks, we believe that the Big EU (Eurozone more specifically) players and their leaders only have themselves to blame for Greece‘s seemingly petulant behaviour.

If at the fundamental level we cannot understand that ANY form of bail-out will always support and lead to Moral Hazard, then we have learnt nothing from the past and the more recent debt and financial crisis of the 2008.

Previously we mentioned the ‘Credit Quake’ with lots of after tremors (attributed to Dennis Cox of Risk Reward), will last for a number of years and this is exactly what we have playing out as daily deadlines in front of our eyes at the moment.

However, to return to the point at hand:  The age of economic dilemma of Moral Hazard has reared its monstrous head again and is in danger of ‘nabbing us in the butt’ (yet again), because the leaders of the EU (more specifically the Eurozone 17) do not want to understand that all their actions in supporting Greece is only leading to a more dangerous form of Moral Hazard and flies in the face of the Austrian School‘s ideas of ‘Creative Destruction‘.

Without effective mechanisms in place to deal with European regions at different cycles of development (not even to mention the basic lack of sound  fiscal management), is to ask for problems (on a continuous basis).

Until a sound framework of either full fiscal and monetary union with appropriate checks and balances are rolled out in Europe, with a single capital market instrument (Gilt / Bond or EuroBond) and mechanisms for dealing with localised ‘failures’ of the market to clear itself effectively (never mind efficiently); we will continue to wretch and lurch about with market confidence eroded and leaders running around like headless chickens trying and implementing inappropriate tools for the job a sound framework is supposed to deal with.

It is not more regulation we want.  It is simply BETTER regulation.  It is that simple.

theMarketSoul ©2011

Corporate Culture

This question posed in a discussion forum made us pause and think:

“Bosses think their firms are caring and “values-driven.” Their minions disagree. I think it’s hard from top-down, policy-driven firms to switch to values-driven because even the values are enforced top-down and bosses who have never listened carefully to their employees don’t suddenly start to do so – thus, they never know if their values have caught on or not. What do you think?”

Firstly we need to define Values – We will use it in this post in its economic sense, such as Economic Value Added, meaning that both value creation, return and risk evaluation is as such is ‘built into the value based system’.

Most corporate managers / leaders would probably understand values in terms of two different contexts:

  1. Values as guiding principles, morals, a ‘code to live by’, etc., shaping behaviours and norms
  2. Value in terms of the standard Du Pont analysisReturn on Investment (ROI) calculation methodology.

The third (and probably not last) way of viewing the values question is the economic value added approach, capturing:

  1. Economic Profit (including risk)
  2. Guiding principles and behaviours – the bottom up doing the right thing all the time view

Turning to values as a guiding principle, these are the ‘feel-good’ words and phrases we stick on corporate office walls, the intra- and internet “connecting” people inside and outside the organisation to the “emotional-side” and binding them together.

This is the way we believe the Value question has been posed.

Here we have the problem of the ‘generals in the tents’ versus the ‘generals in the trenches’ scenario.

The generals in the tents believe what their eyes and ears are telling tell.  “People look and sound happy, so they MUST be happy”.

The generals in the trenches believe what they ‘feel’ and experience everyday in their leadership roles amongst the ‘troops’ and employees they serve with are the real true values of the organisation.

This is where a disconnect manifests itself.  The two types do not see eye to eye or understand each other.  Charts, reports, statements, observations, facts separate the general in the tents from the raw emotions, feelings, qualitative experiences and ‘Values’ of the general in the trenches.

When they meet to talk, the language and behaviours each other uses and displays are different.  They don’t understand each other and each side leaves the conversation with a sense of an ‘unaccomplished mission’ and frustration.

To conclude and draw this ‘Values’ post together:

Right from the off, there is potentially a misunderstanding as to what is exactly meant by Values.  The corporate leadership may think, warm ‘fuzziness’ or hard numbers and return on investment, yet the employees and middle management layer think, “squeeze some more, but keep on smiling, here they go talking about values again and all I want is some certainty and job security…”

Finally, there has to be the recognition that culture and culture creation in organisations is not easy.  (We are not even talking cultural change here yet).

If it was, then it would obviously not be a problem.  There are many more factors and dynamics at play, so hopefully your question sets off an interesting discussion.

theMarketSoul ©2011