Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Financialization blues

Comment on the WSJ Online                     2010-07-25

This  discussion is frivolous in the extreme.
I fail to understand the relevance of comparing the yields from owning a copyright to the yields from owning a factory. A copyright and a factory are two assets whose economic properties differ radically and can only exceptionally be considered substitutes for each other. Their modes of acquisition, for starters, are completely different. Consequently any conclusions drawn from such a comparison are meaningless in the strict sense of the term. Why not compare copyrights to some other asset instead, like a pet giraffe? It would be just as meaningful.

PS. This off-the-wall comparison between copyrights and factories reflects the baneful influence on economic thinking exerted by capitalism’s recent slide into the Total Market, where investors buy petroleum futures with no intention of ever taking delivery of any petroleum, just as a financial investment. The result is that the price of petroleum no longer reflects demand and supply for petroleum, but instead mirrors general trends on the financial markets.

One consequence of this pernicious trend was the Great Food Crisis of 2006-2008. Prices of foodstuffs rose rapidly worldwide although supply and demand for food remained in balance. Why? Because a posse of hedge funds and other financial doomsday machines realized that the subprime real estate market was going south, so they stampeded into foodstuffs. This great triumph of the free market meant starvation for many millions of people throughout the world. 

Recent research has refuted the alleged influence of fuel crops that was brandished by the system’s apologists. 

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