Företagens orimliga avkastningsmål

31 October, 2011 at 18:59 | Posted in Economics | Leave a comment

Thomas Franzén – f d Riksgäldsdirektör – skriver en artikel i SvD om varför det är orimligt att företagen sätter avkastningsmål på 15-20%:

Börsoron kan tolkas som att det blir alltmer uppenbart att företagens krav på avkastning i många fall måste mer än halveras. Men fortfarande strävar företag efter att komma tillbaka till gamla höga avkastningsmål, vilket håller tillbaka tillväxt och sysselsättning. Jag är övertygad om att kraven måste komma ner på nivåer som ligger närmare ekonomins tillväxt och den långsiktiga räntenivån innan vi får en marknad i samklang med god långsiktig industriell tillväxt. Men vägen dit tycks gå över en lång period med mycket svag utveckling.

Det ligger inte i spararnas/ägarnas intresse att företagens mål inte är långsiktigt hållbara. Därmed har ägarna och deras företrädare i styrelserna det största ansvaret för att rätta till brister i företagens målformulering.

Nationalekonomerna – vår tids politbyrå?

31 October, 2011 at 18:07 | Posted in Economics | Leave a comment

I senaste numret av Twill – som helt och hållet handlar om nationalekonomi – har James Galbraith en verkligt intressant artikel om nationalekonomkåren av idag. Slutorden börjar med ett citat från en artikel han skrev år 2000:

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Leading active members of today’s economics profession… have formed themselves into a kind of Politburo for correct economic thinking. As a general rule – as one might generally expect from a gentleman’s club – this has placed them on the wrong side of every important policy issue, and not just recently but for decades. They predict disaster where none occurs. They deny the possibility of events that then happen. … They oppose the most basic, decent and sensible reforms, while offering placebos instead. They are always surprised when something untoward (like a recession) actually occurs. And when finally they sense that some position cannot be sustained, they do not re-examine their ideas. They do not consider the possibility of a flaw in logic or theory. Rather, they simply change the subject. No one loses face, in this club, for having been wrong. No one is dis-invited from presenting papers at later annual meetings. And still less is anyone from the outside invited in.

This remains the essential problem. As I have documented – and only in part – there is a rich and promising body of economics – theory and evidence – entirely suited to the study of financial crisis and its enormous problems. This work is significant in ways in which the entire corpus of mainstream economics – and including recent fashions like the new “behavioral economics” is not. And it brings great clarity to thinking about the implications of the Great Crisis through which we are still passing today. But where is it, inside the economics profession?Essentially, nowhere.

It is therefore pointless to continue with conversations centered on the conventional economics, futile to keep on arguing with Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The urgent need is instead to expand the academic space and the public visibility of ongoing work that is of actual value when faced with the many deep problems of economic life in our time. The urgent task is to make possible careers in those areas, and for people with those perspectives, that have been proven worthy by events. The followers of John Kenneth Galbraith, of Hyman Minsky and of Wynne Godley can claim this distinction. The task now is to increase their numbers and to reward their work.

Dålig affär att rädda krisande EU-banker

28 October, 2011 at 13:06 | Posted in Economics, Politics & Society | 1 Comment

Yours truly har idag en artikel på newsmill om gårdagens krisuppgörelse om euron.

En av de punkter som inte kom upp på dagordningen var förslaget om EU:s bankakut. Men även om det inte ingår i räddningspaketet, pekar allt mer på att räddningsfonden EFSF kommer att få en utvidgad ”brandvägg” i form av ett slags EU-bankakut – något som regeringen Reinfeldt numera tycker är önskvärt (och som Carl Bildt och Anders Borg skrev en inte så lite självgod artikel om i Financial Times, där man framhöll den svenska bankakuten på 1990-talet som  självklar förebild för vad som komma ska). Men även om moderater och folkpartister – med Carl Bastiat Hamilton och EU-minister Birgitta Ohlsson i spetsen – påstår att vi i Sverige skulle tjäna på att skyffla in miljarder i denna akut för att rädda franska och italienska storbanker, verkar detta mest vara en tro baserad på rent hopp.

Europas banker har under de senaste sex åren gjort vinster på mer än 700 miljarder euros efter skatt. Här verkar det ju inte – på det stora hela – precis finnas några underskott i kassavalven. Varje år betalas mångmiljardbelopp ut i form av aktieutdelning till ägarna. Mot den bakgrunden är det svårt att förstå varför medborgarna ska behöva lätta på sina redan tunna plånböcker för att rädda dessa banker och deras ägare med nya färska euros. Bankerna måste i större utsträckning ta sina egna förluster. I annat fall kommer de aldrig att sluta ta på sig orimliga risker.

Var tredje amerikan stödjer Occupy Wall Street-rörelsen

25 October, 2011 at 14:49 | Posted in Politics & Society | Leave a comment

Enligt en amerikansk  opinionsundersökning känner 37% sympati för Occupy Wall Street-rörelsen.

Inte visste jag att det fanns så många “vänsterextremister och hippies” i USA!

EU-motståndarnas bästa vän -eurokramarna

24 October, 2011 at 18:01 | Posted in Economics, Politics & Society | Leave a comment

The Guardian   berättar idag att 49 % av engelsmännen skulle rösta för ett engelskt utträde ur EU om de skulle rösta om saken idag. Krishanteringen kring euron har föga överraskande spätt på EU-skepticismen ytterligare.

Precis som yours truly varnat för kommer ett nackstyvt fasthållande vid euron att skapa den här typen av ifrågasättande av hela EU-projektet.

EU-kritikernas bästa vänner heter Carl Bastiat Hamilton och Birgitta Ohlsson. Med fingrar i öronen och skygglappar för ögonen framträder dessa oförnuftets profeter som eurons tillskyndare just när den ligger i själatåget. Herre du min milde!

Är det verkligen modigt att ha fel från början till slut?

24 October, 2011 at 15:41 | Posted in Economics, Politics & Society | 2 Comments

Carl Bastiat Hamilton trampar på i ullstrumporna och fortsätter sin osannolikt stolliga plädoyer för att Sverige ska gå med i eurosamarbetet.

I Newsmill idag har Hamilton en artikel där han försöker framställa det som om det handlade om solidaritet. 

Tyvärr är Hamilton och hans vapendragare i folkpartiet inte ensamma. I en ledare i dagens Sydsvenskan hyllas det “modiga” folkpartiet och det talas lite lagom försåtligt om att det “handlar om ett  större politiskt åtagande, om en tro på att samarbete och solidaritet i längden gynnar alla.”

Hade Europas medborgare inte låtit sig luras av  Hamilton och hans gelikar – utan mer lyssnat på oss som i likhet med t ex Paul Krugman redan från början såg varthän detta farliga experiment barkade – skulle vi nu sluppit dessa uppvisningar i löjeväckande retorik.

Solidaritet? Pyttsan heller! Det enda solidariska, det enda riktiga, är så klart att underlätta för alla dessa länder som nu hamnat i fullständigt hopplösa ekonomiska lägen till stor del på grund av att man gått med i EMU, att så snart som möjligt kunna hoppa av detta dödfödda prestigeprojekt. 

 

Ingen blir rik på egen hand

23 October, 2011 at 23:50 | Posted in Economics, Politics & Society | Leave a comment

Om Tea Party-rörelsens budskap kan sammanfattas som “krymp staten”, verkar höstens radikala budskap snarare vara ”minska storföretagens och bankernas politiska inflytande” och “staten har en viktig roll att spela i samhället”.
Demokraten Elizabeth Warren – som nu kampanjar för att bli senator för Massachusetts – sammanfattar det väl i den här videon:

I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever. No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.

You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

Does God really share the same model as Sargent?

22 October, 2011 at 19:54 | Posted in Economics, Theory of Science & Methodology | Leave a comment

Professor John Kay has a marvelous article on the latest Nobel Prize in Economics – awarded to Christopher Sims and Thomas Sargent – in last week’s Financial Times. Kay writes: 

As the Nobel committee observes, “economic behaviour depends on expectations about the future and economists must consider how such expectations are formed”. In a brilliant linguistic coup, Prof Sargent and colleagues appropriated the term “rational expectations” for their answer. Suppose the economic world evolves according to some predetermined model, in which uncertainties are “known unknowns” that can be described by probability distributions. Then economists could gradually deduce the properties of this model, and businesses and individuals would naturally form expectations in that light. If they did not, they would be missing obvious opportunities for advantage.

This approach, which postulates a universal explanation into which economists have privileged insight, was as influential as it was superficially attractive. But a scientific idea is not seminal because it influences the research agenda of PhD students. An important scientific advance yields conclusions that differ from those derived from other theories, and establishes that these divergent conclusions are supported by observation. Yet as Prof Sargent disarmingly observed, “such empirical tests were rejecting too many good models” in the programme he had established with fellow Nobel laureates Bob Lucas and Ed Prescott. In their world, the validity of a theory is demonstrated if, after the event, and often with torturing of data and ad hoc adjustments that are usually called “imperfections”, it can be reconciled with already known facts – “calibrated”. Since almost everything can be “explained” in this way, the theory is indeed universal; no other approach is necessary, or even admissible. Asked “do you think that differences among people’s models are important aspects of macroeconomic policy debates”, Prof Sargent replied: “The fact is you simply cannot talk about their differences within the typical rational expectations model. There is a communism of models. All agents within the model, the econometricians, and God share the same model.”

Rational expectations consequently fail for the same reason communism failed – the arrogance and ignorance of the monopolist. In their critique of rational expectations, Roman Frydman and Michael Goldberg employ Hayek’s critique of planning; the market economy, unlike communism, can mediate different perceptions of the world, bringing together knowledge whose totality is not held by anyone. God did not vouchsafe his model to us, mortals see the present imperfectly and the future dimly, and use many different models. Some agents made profits, some losses, and the financial crisis of 2007-08 decided which was which. Only Prof Sargent’s econometricians were wedded to a single model and could, as usual, explain the crisis only after it had occurred. For them, the crisis was a random shock, but the occasion for a Nobel prize.

One might perhaps find it odd to juxtapose God and people, but I think Leonard Rapping – himself a former rational expectationist  – was on the right track (Arjo Klamer, The New Classical Macroeconomics 1984, p 234):

Frankly, I do not think that the rational expectations theorists are in the real world. Their approach is much to abstract.

WE ARE THE 99%

22 October, 2011 at 18:36 | Posted in Varia | Leave a comment

Euron läcker som ett såll

22 October, 2011 at 18:09 | Posted in Economics | 5 Comments

Eller som Paul Krugman skriver – There’s A Hole In The Bucket:

The torments of the euro would be funny if they weren’t so tragic. At this point the urgent need is for a big Panzerfaust — a bailout fund big enough to head off a self-fulfilling liquidity crisis for Italy. But such a fund would be backed by the credit of the euro area’s remaining AAA governments, basically Germany and France — yet at this point the euro situation has deteriorated sufficiently that taking on another commitment would undermine French credit. There’s a hole in the bucket, and every attempt to fix that hole ends up being stymied because, well, there’s a hole in the bucket.

The answer to the whole conundrum is to back the rescue, not with French guarantees, but with the power of the printing press — to put the ECB behind the effort. But the ECB won’t and maybe can’t (under current rules) do that.

And meanwhile, austerity programs are leading to severe slumps in Greece and elsewhere. Who could have imagined that?

What a tragedy. A rich, productive continent, which has produced arguably the most decent societies in human history, is tearing itself apart because its elite insisted on embarking on a dubious monetary project, and now can’t bring itself to take the steps necessary to give that project a chance of working.

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