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Imagine the Shape of Capitalism to Come

February 20, 2009


Imagine a new global financial order, the shape of capitalism to come . . .

“In many cases, economic activity is as much a function of creativity, imagination and sentiment as is the act of writing a poem or painting a picture (Bronk 2009).”

This layered image, a digitage, was inspired by Richard Bronk’s The Romantic Economist: Imagination in Economics (2009). It includes fragments from German Romantic artist Friedrich’s paintingVoyageur above the Clouds, the Merryl Lynch bull and a scene from the film Pandemonium about Romantic poets Coleridge and Wordsworth.Maureen Flynn-Burhoe 2009

“The histories and political economy of the present and preceding century partake in the general contagion of its mechanic philosophy, and are the product of an unenlivened generalizing understanding (Coleridge 1816 cited in Bronk 2009). Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Statesman’s Manual (1816)

“In weakness we create distinctions, then Believe that all our puny boundaries are things Which we perceive and not which we have made.” William Wordsworth, Fragment (c. 1799)

“Standard economics assumes that economic agents are perfectly rational; that is the basis of its predictive equilibrium-based models. Modern versions generally allow for certain types of information problem and market failure, and recognise that institutions and even history play a role; but they still assume that these factors do not call into question the underlying model of agents as rational utility maximisers within those constraints (Bronk 2009).”

Timeline of the Shape of Capitalism to Come

1933 Keynes, in 1933 “in his lectures on his General Theory, said that current yields of firms exercise an “irrational” influence on estimating future worth (Whimster 2009-02-20).” Whimster is associated with the Global Policy Institute (GPI) [1]. 

1971 The foreign currency market arose when the United States went off the gold standard creating a huge market whose volume exceeded the combined trading of the New York, London, Frankfurt, and Tokyo stock exchanges, affecting “every aspect of economic and social order in the U.S. and the other nations of the world (Krieger 1992).” 

1980s Former graduates of the Wharton School of Business, Michael Milken and Donald Trump thrived in the 1980s through junk bonds and corporate takeovers (Portnoy 2003).

1987  Currency trader or derivatives abuser? Andrew Krieger thought New Zealand currency was overvalued so he began betting that the kiwi would fall. He bought then sold hundreds of millions of dollars, triggering a dramtic drop in the kiwi’s value, making a fortune for himself and for Bankers Trust, earning fame or infamy as the best speculative attack in history (The Economist 2004 12:18:108) and creating havoc for a national economy. 

1988-06-07 “Andrew J. Krieger, the successful young currency trader whose departure from the Bankers Trust Company in February set the Wall Street rumor mill buzzing, is quitting his second job this year. Mr. Krieger, who joined Soros Fund Management Inc. in April as senior portfolio manager, announced yesterday that he would form his own trading company, Krieger & Associates (Deutsch 1988).” 

1988-07-21 “Bankers Trust had earned $338 million in foreign exchange trading in the fourth quarter, which at the time was widely believed to be attributable to the complex trading strategies of Andrew J. Krieger. The 32-year-old star trader left the bank in February, complaining that his $3 million bonus was inadequate. At the time of Mr. Krieger’s departure there were rumors that the bank might have to restate earnings, but bank officials denied it, believing then that any impact would be immaterial. Mr. Krieger was known in the markets for taking large, billion-dollar positions in currencies and for trading currency options using highly complex strategies that even his colleagues did not pretend to understand (Bankers New York Times).”

1988 Derivative abuser Andy Krieger of  Bankers Trust mismarked $80 million of currency options. Krieger was also a graduate from the Wharton School of Business where he had studied international finance and trading in foreign-currency options (Portnoy 2003).   

1992-03-03 Andrew Krieger’s book entitled The Money Bazaar : Inside the Trillion-Dollar World of Currency Trading was published. He explained how he manipulated New Zealand currency in the 1980s.  

2002-06 Frank Partnoy’s book (2003) entitled Infectious Greed: How Deceit and Risk Corrupted the Financial Markets examined financial chaos caused by derivatives abusers during the period 1988- 2002 starting with Andy Krieger at the Bankers Trust. Partnoy profiled Nick Leeson “who bankrupted Barings Bank; Robert Citron, who did the same for Orange County; and Joseph Jett, whose “forward recon” trades helped end the independent existence of Kidder Peabody and Long Term Capital Management.” Partnoy blamed Alan Greenspan and Arthur Levitt and other credit rating agencies and federal regulators. Partnoy analysed the collapse of Enron, WorldCom and Global Crossing (Reed Business Information 2003).

2008-10-20 European leaders, like French President Nicolas Sarkozy, favor greater international oversight of markets, and U.S. officials like U.S. President George W. Bush, prefer the current model of national regulation. Mr. Sarkozy repeated his call for a new global financial order. “This is a world-wide crisis and therefore we must find a world-wide solution,” he said. The answer “will be all the more effective insofar as we find it together, we speak with one and the same voice, and we build together the capitalism of the future.” Shape of Capitalism to Come, Finance, Economy, George W. Bush, European Union, Financial Crisis, Capitalism, World Economy, Nicolas Sarkozy, Business News (McKinnon 2008-10-20) 

2009-02 Richard Bronk’s book entitled The Romantic Economist: Imagination in Economics was published [2]. Bronks is an Oxford scholar and Visiting Fellow in the European Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science. (Elliott 2009-02-16, Whimster 2009-02-20).” 

Tags: credit crisis, credit system breakdown, financial crisis,  shape of capitalism to come, analysis, subprime, bailout, trust, capitalism, European Union, Nicolas Sarkozy, new global financial order, credit chaos, multiple modernities,  Friedrich, Romanticism, Pandemonium, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge,

impassioned melodrama from the relationship between the 19th-century poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge had a fondness for opium. Linus Roach plays him as visionary and naïve in equal measure, sour-faced, dull Wordsworth, latched vampirically onto the other man in search of inspiration.

Categories: Business, Economy, Politics, Finance, Economics,  World Economy, Business News, 

Notes

1. The Global Policy Institute (GPI) website explained their work in light of our entry into a second wave of globalization that will change the face of capitalism. The current stage of emergent, self-organising globalisation will not strictly adhere to Western consumerist values or even adopt Western democracy. The EU, US and China, who embrace differing values and views, now share status as super-powers (along with a handful of lesser powers). This has shaken certitude in previously held ideas of economics, cultural and political globalisation. The shape of capitalism to come will likely include rational decision-making criteria, political self-determination, and cultural creativity but may change along the way before a global order is stabilized. GPI predicts that

“By 2020-25 it is expected that some 50% of global capitalisation will be in emergent markets. Also by 2020 (on present projections) the euro, the yuan, and the rupee will have achieved reserve currency status and the US$ will no longer remain the default value standard (Global Policy Institute (GPI).”

2. “Summary of Bronk, Richard. 2009. The Romantic Economist: Imagination in Economics.

“Since economies are dynamic processes driven by creativity, social norms and emotions, as well as rational calculation, why do economists largely study them through the prism of static equilibrium models and narrow rationalistic assumptions? Economic activity is as much a function of imagination and social sentiments as of the rational optimisation of given preferences and goods. Richard Bronk argues that economists can best model and explain these creative and social aspects of markets by using new structuring assumptions and metaphors derived from the poetry and philosophy of the Romantics. By bridging the divide between literature and science, and between Romanticism and narrow forms of rationalism, economists can access grounding assumptions, models and research methods suitable for comprehending the creativity and social dimensions of economic activity. This is a guide to how economists and other social scientists can broaden their analytical repertoire to encompass the vital role of sentiments, language and imagination. Educated at Merton College, Oxford, Richard Bronk gained a first class degree in Classics and Philosophy. He spent the first seventeen years of his career working in the City of London, where he acquired a wide expertise in international economics, business and politics. His first book, Progress and the Invisible Hand (1998) was well received critically, and anticipated millennial angst about the increasingly strained relationship between economic growth and progress in welfare. Having returned to academic life in 2000, Bronk is now a writer and part-time academic, [Visiting Fellow in the European Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science] (Cambridge Biography and Summary).”

Webliography and Bibliography

1988-07-21. “Bankers Trust Data on Restatement.” New York Times

Bronk, Richard. 2009. The Romantic Economist: Imagination in Economics. Cambridge University Press. 

Bronk, Richard. 2009. “The Romantic and Imaginative Aspects of Economics.” The Romantic Economist: Imagination in Economics. Cambridge University Press. 

Deutsch, Claudia H. 1988-06-07. “Top Trader Quits to Start Own Firm.” New York Times

Elliott, Larry. 2009-02-16. “We are on the brink: perhaps it is time to look to the Romantics for what lies ahead. The mechanistic approach to economics has failed. We need to embrace creativity.” The Guardian.

Hutton, Will. 2008-09-28. “I’ve watched the economy for 30 years. Now I’m truly scared.” The Guardian. UK.

Krieger, Andrew. 1992-03-03. The Money Bazaar : Inside the Trillion-Dollar World of Currency Trading. Crown Publishing. 

McKinnon, John D. 2008-10-20. “Rethinking Capitalism’s Contours: Summits Will Address Financial Crisis, but Divide Looms Between U.S. and EU.” Wall Street Journal.com. 

Partnoy, Frank. 2003. Infectious Greed: How Deceit and Risk Corrupted the Financial Markets. New York: Times Books. 

Thurow, Lester C. 1996. The Future of Capitalism: How Today’s Economic Forces Shape Tomorrow’s World. New York: Penguin Group. 

Whimster, Sam. 2009-02-20. “To understand economics, we have to consider emotions too: We need to reassert human values as being superior to those of the market.” The Guardian.

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