Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Could Thomas Piketty´s tax on 1% wealth, be a Trojan horse for Chrystia Freeland’s 0.01% Plutocrats to capture more wealth?

Today I heard at the World Bank Chrystia Freeland speak about her book “Plutocrats”... that I am now reading.

I asked her two question and some other remained unasked

First: Does the book analyze in any sort of depth, how much of Plutocrats wealth accumulation can be explained by intellectual property rights, patents? I ask this because I have argued that it is not good for capitalism, that the usually ample profits obtained under the protection of a patent (or the power of an extravagant market share) should be taxed at the same rate, than those more meager profits allowed by having to compete naked and unprotected in the market. And so the capital accumulation of “the protected” will be higher than that of “the unprotected”… with dire results in the long term.

Second: Since wealth accumulation by the Plutocrats are so often traced to market anomalies, known as rent-seeking and crony relations, could Thomas Piketty´s tax on the wealthy 1%, which he proposes in "Capital", be a Trojan horse for your 0.01% Plutocrats to increase the size of the cake that they are masters capturing?

One questions I did not have time to ask is… if you actually go after the wealth of the 1%, or even better that of the 0.01%, what would happen to their assets… who would be able to buy these? What would happen to the value of a $500 million Picasso? If it is the government, for instance by printing money, then we should be real careful because, as a Venezuelan, a country where 98% of all its exports goes straight into government coffers, I can guarantee you that government Plutocrats are much worse than the private Plutocrats who, at least for the time being, do not control all other powers.

The other question… or comment, will come later, in due time…because there is much which I do not agree with, in Freeland’s chapter on “Rent-seeking on Wall Street and in The City” and about which she already knows some. Basically it has to do with my vehement objection to the fact, so much ignored, that bank regulator’s pathological risk aversion, had them allowing banks to earn higher risk-adjusted returns on equity when lending to “the safe” than when lending to “the risky”. 

I do agree with her though that the Canadian bank regulator showed himself to be much wiser, by setting the capital requirements for banks more based on “the unexpected” than on “the expected”… that risk which should be taken care of directly by the banks.

PS. What a coincidence! Chrystia Freeland is the representative in the Canadian Parliament of where my Canadian grandchild lives. I informed Freeland that when my grandchild reached voting age, she could try to get her vote… and I would not object. Meanwhile, hands off, she is my constituency.