Neoclassical free market orthodoxy, by which the world is still ruled, makes no distinction between real and speculative markets. Both are granted maximum freedom to grow. Speculative markets started as a strand within the financial sector which itself was brought into existence to support investment in the first industrialisation. But while the size of real markets is limited by the ‘appetite’ of potential customers, speculative markets have no such limit. Their growth has been phenomenal; the market for derivative securities has already been estimated as close to the GDP of the planet and many times the value of the world’s stocks and shares. But that is only the start.
Despite their much vaunted economic expertise, the leading national and global institutions failed to prevent the financial and economic crisis they’re now arguing over how to clear up. The IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) reported last month on why the IMF, as one such institution, failed to identify the risks and give clear warnings. The prime causes of that failure were identified as ‘analytical weaknesses’, which were actually shared by all relevant institutions. These analytical weaknesses included a tendency, among IMF economists, to be dominated by neoclassical free market dogma, and so to believe ‘market discipline and self-regulation’ would be sufficient to avoid financial disaster, and to trust the new mathematically based techniques for spreading financial risk, and to conflate the financial and industrial sectors, thus ignoring the influence of finance over the real economy. ‘Perhaps the more worrisome was the overreliance by many economists on models as the only valid tool to analyze economic circumstances that are too complex for modelling.’ (Paragraph 46).
Eras of rapid change come and go. Schumpeter, Kondratiev, Piatier and others, studied waves of fundamental innovations. We are in the middle of the 4th wave at the moment (comprising ICT, electronics, internet, biotechnology, molecular engineering and the applications of quantum mechanics, etc), still with new innovations being developed, some still growing, some already maturing and some even starting to decline.
Empathise with the banker, trader or fund manager looking after other people’s money, whose performance on their behalf is continually assessed and reported as the basis for a position on a league table. Two options are on offer.
1. Invest in a start-up widget manufacturer creating new employment but only offering a return of 10-15% pa and even that is at risk, or,
2. Invest in “Alternative Markets – Dedicated to providing established green sippable alternative investments. Guaranteed investment opportunities with ROI ranging from 60% to 398%. Purchasing carbon credits to offset harmful emissions is a popular carbon reducing option. Investors can invest in companies that provide credits for carbon emissions, through forestry plantations for example, which are then sold on.”
Assuming both options are perfectly legal, which way is investment likely to be made?