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Old 01-02-2019, 09:39 AM   #201
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Thought-provoking subject. I've never believed capitalism to be a bad economic system (contrary to what the majority of my generation believes) even though pure capitalism doesn't exist anywhere in the world. However I can see in today's economic climate how the actions of a few have spoiled the bunch and put a bad taste in the mouths of many. So much so that many Americans are rebuking capitalism in favor of something different. Like a more socialized economic system that provides more public goods and a stronger safety net. I'm a firm believer that the government is just as much a part of the problem, if not more (catering to the wealthy, special interests, etc.), than the uber rich that many citizens despise. I'm also not convinced the Democratic Party is positioned or even qualified (hypocrites much?) to lead economic reform as suggested in the interview. If I recall too, there's now a higher number of Americans in the upper middle class than ever before so saying class mobility is declining seems a bit far-fetched.

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Is capitalism worth saving?

A decade ago, 80 percent of Americans believed that a free market economy was the best economic system. Today, that number is 60 percent. Another recent poll shows that only 42 percent of millennials support capitalism.

So what happened? Why have so many people, both in the US and abroad, lost faith in capitalism?

Steven Pearlstein, a columnist for the Washington Post and public affairs professor at George Mason University, has a few answers. The primary reason is that the system has become too unstable: Wages are largely stagnant, and the income gap is so wide that the rich and the poor effectively live in different worlds. No surprise, then, that people are unhappy with the status quo.

Pearlstein’s new book, Can American Capitalism Survive?, chronicles the excesses of capitalism and shows how its ethical foundations have been shattered by a radical free market ideology — often referred to as “neoliberalism.” Capitalism isn’t dead, Pearlstein argues, but it has to be saved from itself before it’s too late.

I spoke to him about how we might do that, whether capitalism is even worth salvaging at this point, and why he thinks America needs a new social contract between business and society.

A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Sean Illing
Why have so many people lost faith in capitalism?

Steven Pearlstein
The most obvious answer is that capitalism has left a lot of people behind in the last 30 years. Everyone can see that the top 1 percent, the top 10 percent, the top 20 percent, have captured most of the benefits of economic growth over the last 30 years, and the rest of the population has been marginalized.

Now, we all know this, but I wrote the book because I think there is a feeling even among those of us who didn’t get left behind that this system has become too unfair, too ruthless, and rewards too many of the things we think of as bad. The system offends the moral sensibilities even of people who are benefiting from it.


Sean Illing
I’m not so sure that the people at the top are starting to see it that way, but we’ll come back to that. First, tell me what went wrong in the 1970s and ’80s, when you say capitalism really started to go sideways.

Steven Pearlstein
Two things happened during the ’70s and ’80s. First, the American industrial economy lost its competitiveness. Neoliberal policies of global free trade and unregulated markets were embraced, and the US was suddenly facing competition from all over the globe.

So American companies, which had been so dominant in our own market and in foreign markets, started to lose their dominance, and they had to get leaner and meaner. They started behaving in different ways. They started sharing less profits with their employees and with shareholders and customers.

Eventually, that produced a revolt from shareholders, and in the mid-’80s we had the first of what were called “hostile takeovers,” in which people would come in and buy up large chunks of companies and threaten to take them over or out the executives if they didn’t put shareholders above all else.

The result of all this was that companies changed how they did business and completely embraced the idea that companies should be run to maximize shareholder value and nothing else. Obviously, that meant more money for executives and shareholders and less money for employees and customers.

This is the mentality that led us to the place we’re in now.


Sean Illing
I want to push you on what I think is an excessively sanguine view of capitalism. In the book, you imply that capitalism has gone off the rails, but I disagree. I’d argue that capitalism has evolved in precisely the way we should have expected it to evolve. The culture of norms and values that were supposed to check the excesses of capitalism has (predictably) been eroded by capitalism itself, and now it’s propelled entirely by greed.

You seem to think that capitalism can be saved from itself. What do you say to people who think it’s not salvageable, not morally legitimate, and in any case not worth salvaging?

Steven Pearlstein
The question is, is all of that endemic to capitalism? I don’t think so, because we see different kinds of capitalism in countries in, say, Northern Europe and in Germany. Some of that has to do with the rules and laws under which they operate, but a lot of it has to do with the norms of behavior. So capitalism doesn’t have to reach the point of ruthlessness like it has here and other places.

And one of the good things about capitalism is that it has self-correcting mechanisms, just as democracy has self-correcting mechanisms. The truth is that the outcome we have now, all of this tremendous inequality, is bad morally and economically. This is not a sustainable system, and if it keeps getting worse, we run the risk of a revolution.

So I don’t think capitalism is an inherently moral system or an inherently self-defeating system, but we have to ensure that it adapts when it veers too far into corruption and inequality. And that’s basically what I’m calling for in this book.


Sean Illing
Well, yes, capitalist systems are extremely adaptable (that’s definitely one thing Karl Marx got really, really wrong), but the problem is that our system isn’t adapting, or not adapting fast enough. And we live in a media culture in which nearly half the population is fed propaganda that convinces them that immigrants and regulations are what are holding them back, not greedy corporations.

How do we course-correct in the face of all this confusion?

Steven Pearlstein
We do it by changing norms, and by talking about it and discussing it. That’s how a democracy goes about it. Now one of the questions you might ask is, how do norms change? And the answer is, I don’t know.

But in the #MeToo movement, we see a very good example of how norms can change very quickly. What was acceptable five years ago is really not acceptable anymore. And it’s because enough people got morally outraged and things changed. That’s how norms shift and the culture evolves.

Sean Illing
I’ll circle back to the #MeToo comparison because I think it’s a bad one, but there are also legal and structural impediments here. We have a political system fueled by private money, which means that wealth translates to political influence, which in turn means the laws are increasingly rigged to benefit the people on top.

Steven Pearlstein
You make a very good point, and in the book I say the No. 1 thing we have to do is get money out of politics — and that will probably require a constitutional amendment. But you’re right: We can’t reform our economic system if we don’t reform our political financing system.

As it is now, we’re stuck in a vicious cycle in which concentration of wealth leads to concentration of political power, which leads to yet more concentration of wealth. And we know how this plays out in the long run — it leads to revolution. But we don’t have to get anywhere near that if we can make the changes we need to make now.


The Democratic Party will have to lead the way, and if they really want to do that, they need to put this at the top of their agenda and run on it. People out there are angry, and this will help them win. It’s a slam-dunk issue, really. People are as disgusted by what they’re seeing as you and I are.

Sean Illing
I want to quote something interesting from your book: “Liberal critics never miss an opportunity to complain about the level of inequality, but they’ve rarely been willing to say what level, or what kinds, of inequality would be morally acceptable.” I have my own answer to this, but I’m curious what you think the acceptable level of inequality is.

Steven Pearlstein
My answer has to do with something called social capital, which is a social science term that generally refers to the amount of trust that we all have in each other and in our institutions. And when things get so unfair that that trust becomes eroded, that’s when you know you’ve gone too far. That’s when you know that things have become too unequal. Another way that you would know it is when you see class mobility, intergenerational class mobility, start to decline.

Now, we’ve only been in this neoliberal paradigm for 40 years, so it’s a little too early to know what the intergenerational data will look like, but we can already see the gross inequalities and the erosion of social capital. That, to me, is enough of a warning sign. We know enough to know we have to course-correct or risk disaster.

Sean Illing
In the book, you catalogue all of these solutions to the problem — more income redistribution, better tax reform, something like a universal basic income, a new social contract between business and society, more access to higher education, etc. — and I agree with most of it. But I’m not confident we have the political will to get these things done.

If I’m right about that, what do you think is going to happen in the short to medium term?

Steven Pearlstein
First, let me just say that it will be easier to do these sorts of things than it will be to go full socialist. If we lack the political will to fix the kind of capitalism we have, then there’s surely a higher political barrier to the full socialist model of national health insurance, free college for everybody, and guaranteed income for every individual, whether they work or not.

So if you’re saying that things have to get worse before they get better, you may be right. However, if you look at public opinion polls, if you look at the recent election, I think the will may be already there. Again, I see the success of the #MeToo movement as a great example of what’s possible.

Sean Illing
The #MeToo movement is a misguided comparison. We’re talking about broad changes in our political and economic system, changes that directly threaten the most entrenched financial interests in this country. I think you’re right about public sentiment, but I’m not at all convinced that the financial class is prepared to relinquish anything.

In fact, we’ve seen the big banks essentially go right back to the sorts of behaviors that produced the financial crash in 2008, and we just saw Republicans pass an egregious tax cut that will deepen the very inequalities we’re talking about here.

Steven Pearlstein
Well, it’s worth remembering that social norms change before policy changes, not the other way around. But yes, I agree that the GOP tax cut was enormously irresponsible and unfair. These are the sorts of things that can cause the public to say, “Enough is enough.”

My view is that we’re at a tipping point now and things are about to change. You and I may disagree about what, exactly, we need to do, or how far we need to go, but I think there are enough positive signs in public opinion that suggest we’re at a tipping point.

We’ll just have to see what happens next.
https://www.vox.com/2019/1/2/1813063...ven-pearlstein
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“But as I look overall at the capitalist economies, there are a lot of good things doing, and I think you can tune the tax parameters and get way more equity and get some additional government services and still be in the same basic framework.”
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Old 01-02-2019, 02:42 PM   #202
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Two things:

1. Capitalism and Socialism are not mutually exclusive.

2. A prosperous, well developed country is not a place where the poor have cars, it's where the rich use public transportation.
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Old 01-02-2019, 02:51 PM   #203
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Originally Posted by Stankia View Post
Two things:

1. Capitalism and Socialism are not mutually exclusive.

2. A prosperous, well developed country is not a place where the poor have cars, it's where the rich use public transportation.
Yes they are.

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Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets.

Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and workers' self-management of the means of production as well as the political theories and movements associated with them.
You're thinking of a mixed economy which is what the US is. A capitalistic system with socialized elements.
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Old 01-02-2019, 02:52 PM   #204
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In case you desire more reading on the differences: https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/g...m-v-socialism/
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Old 01-02-2019, 03:16 PM   #205
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As we're fresh into the new year, I'm curious to see how Trump (and his constituents) react to the economy this year. We're likely to be at, or near 4% GDP growth for 2018 and no where close to it in 2019 from the projections. We're likely to see 2.5-3% this year.
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Old 01-02-2019, 09:03 PM   #206
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As we're fresh into the new year, I'm curious to see how Trump (and his constituents) react to the economy this year. We're likely to be at, or near 4% GDP growth for 2018 and no where close to it in 2019 from the projections. We're likely to see 2.5-3% this year.
Well at least inflation won't be so quick to rise.
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“But as I look overall at the capitalist economies, there are a lot of good things doing, and I think you can tune the tax parameters and get way more equity and get some additional government services and still be in the same basic framework.”
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Old 01-03-2019, 08:14 AM   #207
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market's all over the place, but other areas are promising

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...-adp-data-show
Companies in U.S. Add More Jobs Than Forecast, ADP Data Show
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Old 01-03-2019, 12:04 PM   #208
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market's all over the place, but other areas are promising

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...-adp-data-show
Companies in U.S. Add More Jobs Than Forecast, ADP Data Show
Related, my company (large public corporation) just executed a voluntary severance package aimed at reducing labor costs and headcount while increasing profit. Earnings fell short of forecast in Q3 2018. As a result the share price fell and shareholders were not happy. These were full-time, decent paying jobs that were cut from payroll. Counter that with the windfall from the corporate tax rate reduction (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) and it's no surprise why the company decided to use cash to boot employees in the short-term to increase profitability long-term (before the next slowdown begins). I'd be curious to know with the recent jobs addition, what the employment breakdown is in the sense of full-time vs part-time status (contractors, hourly, etc.).
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Old 01-03-2019, 12:10 PM   #209
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Related, my company (large public corporation) just executed a voluntary severance package aimed at reducing labor costs and headcount while increasing profit. Earnings fell short of forecast in Q3 2018. As a result the share price fell and shareholders were not happy. These were full-time, decent paying jobs that were cut from payroll. Counter that with the windfall from the corporate tax rate reduction (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) and it's no surprise why the company decided to use cash to boot employees in the short-term to increase profitability long-term (before the next slowdown begins). I'd be curious to know with the recent jobs addition, what the employment breakdown is in the sense of full-time vs part-time status (contractors, hourly, etc.).
My company (large, but not public) is likely doing the same thing this year. To no ones surprise, a bulk of the tax savings windfall went into stock buy-backs and further bolstering of cash positions. We're likely a ways off from recession (18 months, at least I think) but I suppose its good that companies are shoring things up in some sense. Although, that can add to what becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
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Old 01-03-2019, 02:54 PM   #210
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Economically speaking, what I'd like to see the Trump administration achieve in 2019 is to handle China in regards to IP theft...if he does it, it will be a big win for American business.
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Old 01-03-2019, 04:14 PM   #211
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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...ting-to-happen

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Old 01-03-2019, 06:26 PM   #212
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Wasn't the GOP's "Plutocrat's Tax Relief" legislation supposed to deliver us into the land of milk and honey?

How is this possible? Is "the trickle" really just that? I'd be appalled to even consider that most of the Plutocrat's Tax Relief plan got socked away in self-enrichening schemes such as stock buy backs and the like.

What about bolstering investment, R&D and employee wages? The sound in the background is the 1% choking on their pate and caviar, laughing at the very thought. There's yacht's to be built and launched!

Those silly Poor's...

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Old 01-03-2019, 07:29 PM   #213
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There goes the much touted Trump bump!
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Old 01-03-2019, 07:41 PM   #214
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Combining 2017 and 2018 you get what amounts to a mostly average, ordinary period in the us stock market. Two corrections and an annualized rate of return of about 7%.
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Old 02-04-2019, 10:43 AM   #215
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Interesting spin on our debt and justification for it.

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'America is not a company': Former Obama economic advisor blasts Howard Schultz on debt fears

-Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO announced a potential Presidential run as an independent candidate this week.
-Frustrations with both parties' handling of the nation's finances, particularly the high levels of debt are part of his reasoning to potentially run as an independent candidate.
-However, Jason Furman thinks Schulz's drumbeat on debt is wrong.

This week, ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced a potential Presidential run as an independent candidate during an interview on CBS. Frustrations with both parties' handling of the nation's finances, particularly the high levels of debt are part of his reasoning to potentially run as an independent candidate.

Yet a couple of former high-ranking government officials insist the Brooklyn-born billionaire got it wrong. One of them is Jason Furman, the former head of Obama's economic council, who rebuked what he called Schultz's "obsession" with America's $21 trillion-plus debt.

"America is not a company," Furman, now a professor at Harvard University, told CNBC this week. "And in fact, many successful companies are much more leveraged than the United States," he said, adding that the present value of America's growth far exceeded its debt obligations.

Both Furman and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers insist that it's time for Washington to end its "delusion" with debt reduction. In a Foreign Affairs essay, the economists argued that large deficits are a function of falling revenues, rather than surging entitlement spending.

"More spending is not, by itself, something to be afraid of," they wrote, arguing that high levels of debt could be sustained in the medium-term, given that low interest rates mean borrowing costs are lower.

Given the areas in which America requires large investments--such as infrastructure, education and public services--the problem is less about cutting spending and more about increasing revenues, Furman told CNBC. While he called the debt "like termites slowly chipping away at the wood," he insisted it wasn't an immediate danger.

"We've not been on a spending spree in fact we've been on a tax cutting spree," the former chairman of the National Economic Council said, referencing President Donald Trump's signature tax-reduction bill.

Yet deficit hawks point to government spending, which currently approximates to 20.3 percent of GDP and is projected to rise to 22.7 percent by 2029, according to Congressional Budget Office figures, as the real problem.

The federal government is expected to run a deficit of $1 trillion this year, and the CBO forecasts that debt as a share of the economy will top 90 percent of growth by 2029, up from itscurrent level of 78 percent.


Addressing the economic imbalances again at a book event in New York this week, Schultz stressed that "if America was a company, at $21.5 trillion of debt, adding $1 trillion a year, we would be facing insolvency."

And some economists agree that the U.S.'s burgeoning debt is a long-term concern with implications for fiscal and monetary policy. Morgan Stanley wrote recently that the growing debt is putting a ceiling on the central banks' ability to raise interest rates, and makes the economy more vulnerable to long-term macroeconomic shocks.

"While it is not unusual to see corporations running up debt during a boom like this, it is unusual to see the government follow suit," said Ruchir Sharma, Morgan Stanley Investment Management's chief global strategist.
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/02/howa...rman-says.html
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“But as I look overall at the capitalist economies, there are a lot of good things doing, and I think you can tune the tax parameters and get way more equity and get some additional government services and still be in the same basic framework.”
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Old 03-07-2019, 03:41 PM   #216
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Read this article earlier today for information's sake. Crazy at the amount of capital gains that never get taxed and it's also worth noting the downside of attempting to tax capital gains. These are the kinds of figures and suggestions that make the Rhumbs of the world go bonkers lol.

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Because most savvy individuals can decide the timing and amount of capital gains they choose to realize each year, the capital gains tax is considered very elastic. The amount of capital gains realized depends heavily on the favorability of the capital gains tax rate.

As a result, over half of capital gains are never taxed. They are avoided completely. But the effort of avoiding the tax causes capital to be allocated inefficiently in the meantime.

The tax punishes entrepreneurship. Were the capital gains tax abolished entirely, some of the lost tax would be regained through economic expansion and more efficient and liquid capital markets. Conversely, since capital gains taxes have been raised, the slowing of economic growth could reduce tax revenue by more than the additional tax collected.

The optimum capital gains tax rate is zero. If it was zero for everyone, all these shenanigans to avoid the tax could be ignored.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidma.../#1e453ff44fea
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Old 07-24-2019, 10:06 AM   #217
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Great news! The US Manufacturing PMI, a fairly significant economic indicator, just declined to its lowest level since 2009. It has a high correlation (approaching 70%) to domestic stock market performance and overall economic health.
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Old 07-24-2019, 10:41 AM   #218
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That can't be good
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Old 07-24-2019, 10:52 AM   #219
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Surprised Clinton's name was not summoned as some kind of whataboutism defense here.
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Old 07-24-2019, 11:10 AM   #220
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Surprised Clinton's name was not summoned as some kind of whataboutism defense here.
Must be Obama's fault.
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