Monday, October 23, 2017

Capitalism's critics are the capitalists

New Zealand's new prime minister,  Jacinda Ardern, called the market a "blatant failure", before citing levels of homelessness and low wages as evidence that "the market has failed" her country's poor. "If you have hundreds of thousands of children living in homes without enough to survive, that's a blatant failure," she said. "What else could you describe it as?" She said "When you have a market economy, it all comes down to whether or not you acknowledge where the market has failed and where intervention is required. Has it failed our people in recent times? Yes. How can you claim you've been successful when you have growth roughly three per cent, but you've got the worst homelessness in the developed world?"
Nor has she been alone in voicing criticism of capitalism.
Speaking on a panel for the Financial Times, former minister Baroness Shriti Vadera, who is now chairwoman of Santander UK, said that “the underlying promise of western capitalist economies — that a rising tide lifts all boats — has been broken”. She said that a “better model” is needed.
Robert Swannell, the former chairman of retailer Marks and Spencer, said that capitalism had “lost its way” and that companies and their investors had become much too focused on short-termism.
And Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said that capitalism had taken a number of “wrong turnings”. “The financial crash, a fixation on shareholder value at the expense of purpose, and the toxic issues of  payment of tax and executive pay stand in the way of redemption,” she said. 
The chairmen of Barclays and Lloyds and the former chairman of HSBC also levelled criticism at the emergence of short-termism. Anne Richards, chief executive of asset management company M&G, said: “In the current era, best described as ‘the age of anxiety’, we will see capitalism rejected unless it finds a way of fundamentally addressing this anxiety.”
The former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, claimed capitalism is coming to an end because it is making itself obsolete. Speaking to an audience at University College London, he said that artificial intelligence would spell the end of capitalism in its current form. “Capitalism is going to undermine capitalism, because they are producing all these technologies that will make corporations and the private means of production obsolete,” he said

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