Tuesday, April 22, 2014

If I knew absolutely nothing about bank regulations, I might also think like Thomas Piketty does in his "Capital in the Twenty-First Century"

What are the dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Asks the inside cover of Thomas Piketty’s “Capital”. And since just reading from the index shows that Piketty knows nothing about the earth shattering effect of silly bank regulations, or considers the effect of protections derived from intellectual property right, patents, and extravagant market shares, the question will, unfortunately, not be answered in this book.

Currently banks by means of lower capital requirements for what is perceived as “absolutely safe” than for what is perceived as “risky”, allow banks to earn much higher risk-adjusted returns on equity when lending to the safe than when lending to the risky… and anyone who knows how important risk taking is for keeping the real economy moving forward, will know how crazy that is… just like everyone who knows that all major bank crisis have always resulted from excessive exposures to what was perceived as “absolutely safe” and never ever for excessive exposures to what was perceived as “risky” will know, twice, how crazy that is.

To top it up, any book that proposes a tax on the 1% wealthy, without exploring why Chrystia Freeland’s .01% Plutocrats became especially wealthy, risks being a Trojan horse for these Plutocrats to accumulate even a bigger share of the wealth.

And so, I am sorry, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” does not seem to me to stand on sufficiently stable ground.

And by the way, since the 1% wealthy have most of their fortunes in assets it is not clear how the sale of those assets are going to turn into a higher purchasing capacity of the poor, and if by luck that happens, how the poor are going to be able, avoiding the dilution by inflation, to satisfy their new needs at the grocery store.

Also, currently profits derived from intellectual property rights, like patents, and from extravagant market shares, are taxed at exactly the same rate as those profits derived from competing naked, with no protections, in the market. And since protected profits will always be higher than the unprotected ones, this means the protected will take over the unprotected… with dire results for western world capitalism, as we knew it.

PS. Walking around the museum Louvre in Paris, looking at all that art financed by the super wealthy and powerful, I stopped and asked myself: What would Thomas Piketty’s France exhibit at Louvre had there not been rampant wealth inequality? I mean I saw almost nothing an equal society in need of rational investments, would have been willing to finance. Life is not that clear-cut eh?