Monday, August 08, 2011

Quote of the day - financialisation

Remember the old joke that Britain's national flag carrier British Airways is a pension fund with an airline attached? (Well, that's neither much of a joke, nor very old.) But it highlights something that's been happening for the last 30-40 years: the process of financialisation of the global economy: a process where real businesses are taken over by financial interests and increasingly begin to look more like financial instruments than anything else.

Well, now we have a nice quote on financialisation:
"Financialisation is diminishing one of the advantages of free markets."
No, that's not from a left wing think tank. It's from Edward Hadas, assistant editor of that famously market-facing institution: the Lex column at the Financial times.

It's an interesting tale, focusing on commodity markets and starting with a joke of its own, from Soviet Times.
Soviet patriot: “The USSR will invade and conquer every country in the world, except New Zealand.”
Curious observer: “Why leave New Zealand out of the global communist economy?”
Patriot: “So we can find out the market price of goods.”
The point being that markets are supposed to help you find out the true price of goods. And with increasing financialisation of the global economy - a process that we'd argue has had tax havens at its heart - the prices in the market are ever less reflective of reality.

Yet one more way in which secrecy jurisdictions corrupt and distort markets.

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