Sunday, October 30, 2011

Most Americans support Occupy Wall Street

"Last week a poll by the National Journal found that 59 per cent [of Americans] either fully or strongly agreed with the “aims” of [Occupy Wall Street]. An even larger share backed a 5 per cent tax surcharge on millionaires – something proposed by Mr Obama. It has become common to hear that the richest 400 Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150m. It is also true."

Edward Luce, Financial Times

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A brief guide to contemporary economics

"Market capitalism creates inherent difficulties. The two most obvious are macroeconomic instability and extremes of inequality. The tendency of a market-oriented financial system to run away with itself has, again, been demonstrated on a large scale. On the free market right people argue that if only we went back to the gold standard or ended fractional reserve banking, all would be well. I question such claims. Instability is inherent in the game of betting on the future. Humans seem prone to self-fulfilling waves of optimism and pessimism. Ways of mitigating the extent and the consequences of such instability always need to be found.

It is impossible to define an acceptable level of inequality. Any inequality is corrosive if those with wealth are believed to have rigged the game rather than won in honest competition. As inequality rises, the sense that we are equal as citizens weakens. In the end, democracy is sold to the highest bidder. That has happened often before in the history of republics. Peaceful protest is the right of free people. More important, it is a way to bring issues to our attention. The left does not know how to replace the market. But pro-marketeers still need to take the protests seriously. All is not well."

Martin Wolf, Financial Times

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"The future of work"

"What about the people who do not command any kind of premium in the marketplace? One strategy could be to find a high-flyer and stick close. Even if joining their posse is out of reach, there are still horses to be fed and watered. The time-poor new rich are generating demand for household staff, and this sort of work can be very well paid. A private secretary and general factotum can earn up to $150,000 a year nowadays. Salaries for standard butlers range from $60,000 to $125,000 and a head butler can make as much as $250,000, according to the website of the Butler Bureau."

The Economist

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spending within your means

"Hence still today the demand for industriousness and also for saving, self-denial, is made not upon the capitalists but on the workers, and namely by the capitalists. Society today makes the paradoxical demand that he for whom the object of exchange is subsistence should deny himself, not he for whom it is wealth."

Karl Marx, Grundrisse
Winter, 1857