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  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    That’s not the first time I’ve heard it said that we have too much money chasing too few opportunities. Seems this is a known known, and ripe for some kind of policy attention.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    I concur with Oscar. In SF-app land, we hear this all the time. We are living in an age where there is an overabundance of capital and not enough investment opportunities. This is why you see huge valuations for companies that have yet to make a profit. This is also why you see so many of these app companies are basically taking an old service but just making it more on-command. Wash and fold has existed for many decades if not centuries. Washio just lets you arrange it via an app.

    I think a big issue with the technology stuff is that so much of the app economy is dedicated to recreation type stuff or ending chores. Valuable but not as productivity enhancing as thought per Krugman.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      Question is, how do you incentivize getting money to chase opportunities that are not as easy as the app economy.

      Or perhaps the better question is, how to you incentivize the development of opportunities that are more work/higher risk, such that the money can chase it in the first place?Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Oscar Gordon
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        Reduce the supply of money that is concentrated in a small amount of hands helps.

        You have 80 people with as much money as 3.6 billion or so folks, the risk calculus of those 80 is going to have a massively disproportionate effect on the economy (especially due to the liquidity difference between the two).Report

        • Avatar notme in reply to Patrick
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          I’m sure liberals think the gov’t can take that extra filthy lucre off their hands and spend it more wisely.Report

          • Avatar Patrick in reply to notme
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            I’m sure that there are some liberals out there that think that, yes.

            That’s not what I would advocate for, myself, but you’re confusing the preferred outcome of somebody who isn’t me with me.Report

            • Avatar notme in reply to Patrick
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              says:

              Sorry, most of the time I hear liberals say that one group has too much money, the next comment is usually about how the gov’t needs to help us all by taking it from them. Prehaps, I shouldn’t lump you in with them.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Patrick
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          says:

          @notme

          You know, there are ways to craft policy to achieve the desired effect without going straight for the tax power. Just like policy was crafted (perhaps unintentionally, perhaps not) that allowed for the concentration of wealth in so few hands.

          Of course, just the threat of a tax could be enough to dislodge such concentrations. Create incredibly progressive tax rates, and then stick in an exception clause. Like, e.g., 95% rate for wealth over $5M, unless that money is invested in growth opportunities/new business/expanding business.Report

          • Avatar Patrick in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            There are lots of options here.

            It depends upon whether or not you think aggregated liquid capital is an economic problem or not. I happen to think that it is.

            Notme can jump to the conclusion that I think this because of justice issues or whatever, but eh.

            There are all sorts of normative assumptions here which will contribute to your idea of what the solution is… but agreeing that there is a problem doesn’t mean agreeing with the solution or even agreeing with your normative assumptions.

            I think wealth aggregation of the sort we have now is bad for reasons other than justice or rightness or the American Way.

            I think it’s bad because it produces a set of economic incentives that produce systemic characteristics that I think have bad consequences.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Patrick
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              says:

              Exactly.

              Personally I am not of a mind to jump straight to a social justice platform. I don’t find such concentrations to be unfair or unjust. Rather, I find them to be inefficient, for much the reason you state. Markets are massive distributed problem solvers. If we think of them as a computing cluster, by concentrating wealth, we allow a handful of processors to significantly weigh the solution being sought. Since part of the problem constraints is that all nodes are working for their best interest, then we can have a problem if the majority of those high weight nodes work toward their narrow self interest*. If those nodes are also willing to cooperate toward their own narrow self interest, then the natural competitiveness that the problem assumes will keep things balanced will skew.

              The more wealth in distribution, the more compute nodes in play with their results having greater weight, the ability to seek an optimum solution becomes more efficient.

              *I may be using bad terminology here. By narrow self interest, I mean maintaining fortunes as an end goal in itself. Perhaps thinking of wealth as a way to keep score more than as a means to do work. A wider self interest is more willing to let wealth do work with the understanding that facilitating others to develop wealth will grow their own. if more slowly and with greater risk.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                Mind you, I’m no economist, but this always strikes me as the flaw in the efficient markets hypothesis; for markets to be efficient, there has to be enough churn built into the system to constantly test new and better solutions; perhaps we apply to few solutions to too many problems?

                I don’t know, but I wonder, most particularly when I put on my straw hat and work in my garden. Chauncy moments, I know.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to zic
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                says:

                It’s less a flaw & more of an understanding of the difference between the ideal & the reality. And policy can either work to support the ideal, or it can muck it up big time.

                While I wait for the learned gentlemen to correct me, here’s how I see it. If that minority of wealth concentrators were all possessed of a wider, very long term self interest (the opposite of what @saul-degraw is talking about below), then the trickle down effects conservatives love to hype would be ‘better’. Not ideal, mind you, but I could assume that such concentrators would be very active in making sure that their wealth is working aggressively toward endeavours that are doing something.* It still skews the solution, but not as badly.

                *I expect someone is going to pipe in & talk about how all money that isn’t sitting in a mattress or wall safe is doing work, & I accept that such is technically true. However, not all investments are doing equal work, and I’d argue that in some cases, e.g. a bubble, the glut of investment does less & less work (velocity of money, perhaps?).

                Sorry, I know I’m killing the terms & concepts here, but when thinking about finance, I tend to try & squeeze it all into a framework of fluid dynamics, and I suspect that framework fails at important places.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                Well, it works so long as your model has these really big reservoirs.

                Those really big reservoirs suck up a lot of engineering capacity and flow, even as they protect from flooding.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                Eh, the bigger point is simply that people die.. their wealth gets handed down and their heirs tend to multiply and spend the wealth all over the place. In the long run the money disperses or at least it has in the past.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to North
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                @north

                Too slow.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                Too slow for what?Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North
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                says:

                To count as real wealth dispersal. Dispersing wealth through inheritance requires that people die. Since the really wealthy are probably going to live for a long time because they could afford the necessary healthcare and do not have the stress that less wealthy people have, this will take decades.

                I’m also not sure if this is really true anymore. People have fewer heirs these days and a lot of wealth is held by legally immortal corporations and institutions that are hoarding rather the using their wealth.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                @ Oscar
                Have you thought to look at capitalism absent the financialization mechanisms?

                I think it’s kinda like building a pneumatic system without pressure holding tanks.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Joe Sal
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                @ North
                Institutions and Corporations of significant size rarely die.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Joe Sal
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                @joe-sal

                See belowReport

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Joe Sal
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                IN the long run, we are all dead.Report

              • Avatar James K in reply to zic
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                @zic

                I’m not sure flaw is the right word, but its certainly true that illiquid markets (ones with infrequent trading) are unlikely to be efficient.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                @oscar-gordon,

                I like what you’re sellin. May I suggest a guest post on this and related topics? (I know I’d really enjoy a long form treatment of this topic and the related comments that would ensue.)Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                Personally I am not of a mind to jump straight to a social justice platform. I don’t find such concentrations to be unfair or unjust. Rather, I find them to be inefficient, for much the reason you state. Markets are massive distributed problem solvers. If we think of them as a computing cluster, by concentrating wealth, we allow a handful of processors to significantly weigh the solution being sought. Since part of the problem constraints is that all nodes are working for their best interest, then we can have a problem if the majority of those high weight nodes work toward their narrow self interest*. If those nodes are also willing to cooperate toward their own narrow self interest, then the natural competitiveness that the problem assumes will keep things balanced will skew.

                In terms of flow, the constriction I’m suggesting is broad-based. For one thing, it is not market based, it’s culturally based, and so obviously invokes social justice.

                The metaphor for how we teach about our own ignorance was a map of a shoreline. Building my map of the shoreline, the shape of the coast would be market-based shape of the constriction, and the elevations the cultural pressure on restrictions; mapping how the cultural restrictions compress the market from flowing freely.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                Oscar Gordon: Markets are massive distributed problem solvers. If we think of them as a computing cluster, by concentrating wealth, we allow a handful of processors to significantly weigh the solution being sought.

                This is arguably more feature than bug, as it’s being weighted towards people who have a track record of utilizing capital well. That said, I think you’re overestimating the significance of this factor. A lot of billionaires have most of their wealth tied up in the stock of a single company. That wealth is all going to be concentrated in that company and controlled by its management anyway, regardless of how it’s distributed among the owners.

                Aside from those running the companies they founded, in general I don’t think a lot of billionaires personally oversee the management of their own investments. They probably have teams of people doing it. Even if they did, the world’s richest person has about 0.03% of the world’s financial wealth, equal to about 2% of annual spending (note stock vs. flow) by the Federal government. I’m much more worried about the power wielded by a POTUS or USSC judge than that.

                Perhaps thinking of wealth as a way to keep score more than as a means to do work.

                Really, is that such a bad heuristic? Generally speaking, you make money by doing something other people are willing to pay for. It’s not perfect, but I’ll take that over “Whatever sounds good to the average voter” any day.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Brandon Berg
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                says:

                as it’s being weighted towards people who have a track record of utilizing capital well.

                Not necessarily true. Ideally it should be, but in practice that’s usually only partially true. See: 2008

                Even if they did, the world’s richest person has about 0.03% of the world’s financial wealth, equal to about 2% of annual spending (note stock vs. flow) by the Federal government.

                This is more salient to the point, but fails to consider something significant. We live in an information age. The actions of the world’s wealthiest individuals are watched, carefully, by more & more people. In the 1950’s, only a handful of people would give two shits what a wealthy person does. Now, millions of people pay careful attention and allow the statements & actions of those uber-wealthy to weigh their own personal decisions (and that is not even counting the scam artists & preachers taking advantage of that). Part of the why of this is, is due to your first statement, the belief that these individuals are some kind of financial mensch. The part that luck & outside influences/talented employees play in the growth of personal wealth is discounted or ignored. These folks are just as human and often possessed of massive egos as anyone in government, so thinking of them as better than a judge or politician is naive.

                So sure, Donald Trump only controls a small chunk of the global wealth, but he influences a much, much larger portion.

                Really, is that such a bad heuristic?

                Yes, because it leads to bad decisions. A certain CEO I used to work for made a statement once that he wanted to be the first CEO to run a company worth $XB. This was said right before a lot of cuts were made to employee benefits, as well as layoffs and other labor cost reductions. If you are doing it to keep score, then it’s all about ego, and keeping score has a way of being considered above all other things that keep a company healthy & making money.

                Wealth should not be about scorekeeping or financial security (past a certain point), it should be about being able to create something. Trump may be many unappealing things, but at least he builds things (even if they are monuments to his ego).Report

          • Avatar notme in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            says:

            Of course there are other policy options. Sadly for all of us, taxes happen to be one of liberals favorites.Report

          • Avatar notme in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            Sorry, making folks invest won’t change the concentration of wealth. If you want to encourage investment then why not lower taxes on gains instead of taxing money that isnt invested?Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to notme
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              says:

              Sorry notme, you are going to have to do more work than that.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to notme
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              says:

              Actually, let me suggest this.

              Cap Gains tax rates:

              Term—————-Tax Rate
              <1 yr—————-50%
              <3 yr—————-45%
              <5 yr—————-40%
              <10 yr—————-20%
              <20 yr—————-10%
              20+ yr—————-5%Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                I won’t argue the plus-or-minuses of low rates for very long-term capital gains. I will argue that shorter-term gains should simply be lumped in with “labor” income, much the way that gambling profits are. For the most part that’s what trading, and particularly short-term trading, in stocks that pay no or negligible dividends is.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain
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                @michael-cain

                Sure. This was just off the cuff thinking. Set the max to whatever the rate is for wages at that level.

                The point is that AFAIK, the split between short term & long term is 1 year, which still seems awfully short to be considered long term investing. If we want to incentivize longer term thinking, this is one way to do so, perhaps not the best way, but it offers more thought than some GOP talking point.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                40% for 5 years is a big fish you to portfolio rebalancers.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Kolohe
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                401ks would be exempt for the simple reason that they are, you know, tax-free. And that represents basically every penny of stock investment by the 99% who ain’t rich. (Yes, some people who aren’t in the 1% hold some stock outside of 401ks. I do myself. But it is a minuscule fraction of people with 401ks, and I note my personal stock investments are a minuscule fraction of my 401k. )

                If I won the lottery tonight and became one of that 1%, I’d be investing long-term — I’d be wanting to live on income, so I’d not be planning to sell the stock, bonds, or whatnot. I’m pretty sure Buffet, Koch, etc — the bulk of their investment money is long-term stuff too.

                It’ll screw day traders though.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Morat20
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                Who the hell said 401ks are taxfree?
                they’re tax deferred, which is different.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Kim
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                Based on my experience over the years, I feel safe in making the prediction that the year after I die, the whole set of tax-deferred savings vehicles — 401ks, traditional IRAs, etc — will be made tax-free. All major shifts in US tax policy are scheduled to take effect the year after they would have benefited Michael Cain. I suspect the Cigarette-Smoking Man is behind it:

                Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Kim
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                Yes, but you wouldn’t owe capital gains if you rebalance your 401k, even if you’ve sold Stock X for a 250% profit and reinvested in Fund B.

                You only owe taxes when you withdraw from your 401k and IIRC it’s taxed as income not gains. (Early withdrawal being something else.)Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20
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                Screw a lot of software trades too, or rather, the algorithms would have to be re-written to anticipate tax hits and consider that as well.

                And I’m not sure how much it would affect 401K re-balancing, since 401Ks are usually invested in funds, so I don’t think there is a lot of direct stock holdings in 401Ks.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kolohe
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                @kolohe

                Again, it’s an off the cuff reply to notme, not something I’ve seriously tried to explore all the implications & consequences of.

                Although don’t let that stop anyone from doing so now.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Patrick
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          Patrick: You have 80 people with as much money as 3.6 billion or so folks

          That’s misleading. I’m fairly certain that I myself have more wealth than a couple billion people, because the fact that a couple billion people have zero or negative net financial wealth is doing most of the heavy lifting there. Some because they live in literally have subsistence-level incomes*, others because they choose to prioritize other uses of their money over savings. Some because they just graduated from college and haven’t yet paid off their student loans.

          Here’s Felix Salmon on the silliness of treating that statistic as meaningful.

          the risk calculus of those 80 is going to have a massively disproportionate effect on the economy (especially due to the liquidity difference between the two).

          I added up all the numbers on that list and got $1.9 trillion. Sure, that’s a lot of money, but less than 1% of the world’s financial wealth, and a still smaller share if we consider nonfinancial wealth. It’s still disproportionate in some sense, but it’s not like they’re controlling half the economy or something.

          For comparison, if they blew it all in a year, it would be equal to about half what the US federal government spends in a year. A third, if we count state and local spending. Except then they would have no more, and the US government keeps spending that much three times a year, every year.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon
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        says:

        Good question. I am intrigued by HRC’s idea against quarterly capitalism which increases the amount of time you need to invest in something before it becomes applicable to the Capital Gains tax.

        The real answer is that a lot of projects seem short term (apps!!) or ultra long term (Colonize Mars!!!) so it is hard to find a middle ground. Though I’ve been told that this is a fallacy shared by the left and the right.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Oscar Gordon
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        Considering the climate change seems to be a thing and might be a big problem, it’s kind of surprising that there hasn’t been a lot of investment in new technologies directed at combatting climate change or making it less bad.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to LeeEsq
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          There’s always trees.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq
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          @leeesq

          There is, quite a bit, but we’ve nabbed a lot of the low hanging fruit already. What is left is being held up by technological advances needed to make it cost effective (which is why many green energy efforts require subsidies), or political roadblocks (which are many & varied, from environmental concerns, NIMBY-ism, to supply chain problems, to resistance from entrenched interests, etc.).Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      Saul,
      Do you really think it’s a bad idea to value Amazon at a high rate?
      If so, please explain in detail.Report

  3. Avatar Damon
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    Over abundance of capital? It’s call quantitative easing. It’s been going on for half a decade.Report

  4. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    @zic

    Actually, what I was turning around is the investment aspect. If I may think out loud…

    In fluids, we have sources & sinks. Those may add mass, or energy. A reservoir can add both, but generally when performing system analysis, what happens in a reservoir is not interesting (if analyzing the reservoir itself, that’s different). The capacity, inlets & outlets, and position of the reservoir is all that matters. The system, on the other hand, is going to have pumps & valves and motors and all sorts of things that affect the flow through the system and impact the work it can do.

    The simplified trickle down economic I tend to encounter act as if the reservoirs send floods of money into the market and all that money is put straight to work & we have this amazing hydroelectric dam effect, where the intakes are wide open, the motors are spinning at full speed, and wondrous things occur. And every single investment these reservoirs make is doing that.

    In reality, there might be one or two really dynamic, exciting things the money is doing, but I suspect most such outflows from a reservoir are low risk investments. Or have low risk investments down stream. I think of low risk investments as partially closed valves or motors, or something else that takes energy from the system (an energy sink). So if the source sends most of the outflow to low risk investments, or to investments with a significant amount of low risk downstream, then the ability of that downstream money to do the work to grow things is hampered by the constraints the low risk upstream places on it. Unless there is a pump upstream that can boost the energy back up.

    So the more links downstream, the less energy there is for things to do work. If the reservoir feeds a project directly, then the only losses are directly between the sources & the work. If the feed goes into a fund, and then into another fund, and then another fund, and finally to a bank, that then loans the money to a business, that money has a lot of constraints on it, even if the end never sees all those constraints.

    So in the end, it really is a trickle, which makes it kind of hard to fill your glass for a drink.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Oscar Gordon
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      says:

      Would there be benefit from smaller, more widely-distributed reservoirs?Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to zic
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        Not sure @zic, I’m still kicking this around in my head.

        In a fluid system, typically the purpose of a reservoir is to either hold mass & energy for future work, or to break up turbulence & reduce system shocks. They are placed in a system strategically. A distribution of them in a very dynamic system could benefit the system.

        That said, the purpose of a reservoir remains. It retains mass & energy for future work, and smooths out shocks. It’s purpose is not to keep filling up.Report

    • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Oscar Gordon
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      If your talking reservoirs, financialization has already occured. The problem has already been created and will likely not be disassembled.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Joe Sal
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        Sorry Joe, you’re losing me here.Report

        • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          Think of the reservoir as a design flaw. If you could design the system to flow with larger pipes and build it in ways to alleviate water hammer and such, there is no need for capacity in reservoirs.

          Think of capitalism working at cost, instead of for profit.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Joe Sal
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            Ah, got it.

            Of course, you still have to deal with the shocks somehow. If a flow gets shut off suddenly, you get water hammer if there is no reservoir. Ideally you should turn off the flow slowly, so the final shock is barely felt, but…

            I see what you mean about the problem not being easily fixed. It would require a total restructuring, such that a sudden shut off is impossible.Report

            • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Oscar Gordon
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              There are some pretty good systems built around demand. Pull systems typically dont suffer much hammer effect/shock.

              Also having decentralized flow paths can help in various ways. Our distant ancestors new alot about this before profit became the king of industry and interlaced with government.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Joe Sal
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                Funny how business is all about pull systems in the workplace (lean/jit /kanban) …Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                Owners want the workers to run lean systems while the profits run rich. Whats needed is to flip the system.

                Profits run minimal for corporations/institutions while the workers retain the wealth of their labor. I mentioned this concept several times in the past, and get accused of wanting to live in the hunter gatherer era or having a mind set in the stone age.

                The race to the bottom will probably get us there anyway, just a matter of time, abrasions, and bad choices.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon
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      There are no reservoirs in business, everything runs on credit.
      Which means that everything runs on phantom money that we can create out of people’s word.

      There is ALWAYS a demand for “high risk investments” and where there is money, there WILL be a product.

      The ISSUE is that high risk investments (real, good ones) are hard to come by. Ergo, we get the cancer economy, where we take entirely inappropriate sectors (like retail), and flag them “growth industries”, and watch them pump out store after store with no regard to future profitability.Report

      • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Kim
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        Credit typically runs off leverage, leverage is basically a gamble of a big reservoir from a small reservoir.

        If I undestand it correctly, if there is no small reservoir there is no gamble.

        Financialization typically requires a reservoir of some kind.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kim
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        says:

        @kim

        I beg to differ, I think there are lots of good, high risk investments out there, but they are much longer term, and from what I hear, there is little interest in waiting years for a return.

        @joe-sal

        Not a lot of time today to engage on this further, but here is a thought.

        Money = water
        Risk = energy

        If the point of the system is to make available more fresh water, then all the work done is pumping from wells, or de-sal, or condensation. Low/energy/risk (like condensation) has a return, just not much, but the risk of a failure is low. High energy/risk, like deep well pumping extracts more water, but the high energy involved is more likely to result in a blow-out, causing water to be lost.

        Leveraging/credit is one reservoir promising another a certain amount of flow. If you’ve promised more water than you currently have, you are over-extended.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          says:

          Oh, certainly there are high risk investments that will pay off in 20 years… for the German companies capable of constructing a 20 year plan. American companies are lucky if they plan 3 months ahead to the next quarterly earnings report.Report

        • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          Risk=energy
          See right there, that is a problem for me. Why design risk into a system? If you want to buy risk shouldn’t you be in a casino?

          Let me pitch this with an engineering twist. What margin of safety would you design/build your market to?Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Joe Sal
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            says:

            Why design risk into a system?

            It’s not a matter of designing it into the system, it’s a matter of recognizing risk in the design of the system; the risk is already there, and maintaining tolerances within margins that are acceptable to risk holders.Report

            • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to zic
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              Is financialization a created risk? Can systems by designed without it?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Joe Sal
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                Joe Sal: Is financialization a created risk? Can systems by designed without it?

                And now we get far enough outside my understanding that I don’t know.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Joe Sal
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                My (non-economist) answer would be No.

                That’s what they’d thought they’d done with synthetic derivatives; taken the risk out of housing lending. And you recall where that let us to, no?Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to zic
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                My (non-economist) answer would be Yes.

                I know completely where it leads to and that’s half my point.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Joe Sal
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                Yes?

                I don’t think so; best case scenario is an investment like your house, properly insured, and well chosen so that it doesn’t lose value because of location, location, location. But even here, the risks are not done away with, they’re insured against by both you (the homeowner) and the bank (title insurance, mortgage underwriting, etc.).

                But here we are getting into the heart of the argument of growth; it requires some amount of risk; and so either a willingness to accept that risk on the part of the investor or some agency (often a government or NGO) to backstop the risk; particularly if the growth sought is the growth of women’s contribution to the economy in places where they’ve been locked out for mostly cultural reasons.

                Those women will have a scatter of successes and failures, and the risk would, ideally, be spread through and managed in terms of tolerances for failure.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to zic
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                Ain’t touchin’ that one.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to zic
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              says:

              Give that lady a cigar!

              A margin of safety is an engineer’s way of building in wiggle room, of controlling the risk to a degree. If everything is operating according to design, the risk is acceptable. The margin of safety allows for a limited amount of operation outside of the design, but not constantly. That said, the more energy any system operates under, the greater the risk if things go pear-shaped. If this wasn’t the case, we could build perfectly safe nuclear reactors & airplanes.

              I mean, we can build extremely safe reactors & airplanes, but even the safest reactor is at risk if it gets hit with a powerful earthquake & tsunami at the same time, and even the safest airplane is a massacre if a Russian SAM swats it out of the sky.

              There is always risk. What we need is an honest assessment of the risk, and a design/plan for dealing with the risk.

              PS I’ll make an engineer out of you yet, @zicReport

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                We’re dealing with this issue at my job. Trying to figure out what the risks are for a particular system, how those risks can be minimized, how those risks can be mitigated, and playing the whole money game. (See, for example, the disjoint between “office supply shrinkage prevention budget” vs. “office supply shrinkage losses”.)Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    This was a good post.

    The ideology of austerity, which has led to unprecedented weakness in government spending, has added to the problem.

    But I can’t resist highlighting this bit of implied mansplaining by Krugman (and this more direct bit) to the most powerful female head of government in the world today.

    (and Christine Lagarde also deserves a good bit of credit/blame for the state of the world economy right now).Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Kolohe
      Ignored
      says:

      Anybody in the highest levels of government is always adjusting the warp to the weft of what’s possible in the moment or potentially possible in the future.

      For Lagarde (and Clinton and Merkel and . . . ) any perceived failure becomes failure to deliver 100%, so turn away — the Hillary Doctrine & Saudi Arabia, for example.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Kolohe
      Ignored
      says:

      Is it mansplaining if the subject isn’t an issue directly and specifically important to women? I admit I’ve always been vague on the term.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        I’ve always understood it to mean the condescending implication that, as a woman, it has to be explained to you.

        Basically when the explanation is only offered because you’re a woman or there is a woman present.

        I think it’s just bonus points if it’s something the woman knows more about.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        It might well be mansplaining if the subject is economics and there’s a presumption that it’s not important to women.

        One of the most common reasons for an abortion given are, for instance, economic. One of the most common reasons for not finishing college for women is also economic, and often involves a pregnancy or inability to care for children the women already has while attending university. One of the most common reasons for starting a business (for many women) is realizing that their contributions will not be as valued at old jobs as, say, the obnoxious guy in the next cubicle.

        But since nobody’s actually bothered to dig into the central question I posited here, (disinterest with the things that are important to women’s economic success, the low-hanging fruit of potential for growth instead of glut-shifting,) there’s a good chance that some of the comments veer toward mansplaining; that’s not a particular pet peeve of mine most of the time; exceptions for the more egregious cases might be made, and I don’t feel particularly compelled to point it out.Report

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