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jerryking : sovereign-risk   5

Why boring government matters
November 1, 2018 | | Financial Times | Brooke Masters.

The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy, by Michael Lewis, Allen Lane, RRP£20, 219 pages.

John MacWilliams is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who becomes the risk manager for the department of energy. He regales Lewis with a horrific catalogue of all the things that can go wrong if a government takes its eye off the ball, and provides the book with its title. Asked to name the five things that worry him the most, he lists the usual risks that one would expect — accidents, the North Koreans, Iran — but adds that the “fifth risk” is “project management”.

Lewis explains that “this is the risk society runs when it falls into the habit of responding to long-term risks with short-term solutions.” In other words, America will suffer if it stops caring about the unsung but vital programmes that decontaminate billions of tonnes of nuclear waste, fund basic scientific research and gather weather data.

That trap, he makes clear with instance after instance of the Trump administration failing to heed or even meet with his heroic bureaucrats, is what America is falling into now.

We should all be frightened.
books  book_reviews  boring  bureaucracy  bureaucrats  cynicism  Department_of_Energy  government  Michael_Lewis  public_servants  risks  technocrats  unglamorous  writers  short-term_thinking  competence  sovereign-risk  civics  risk-management 
november 2018 by jerryking
Lunch with the FT: Mariana Mazzucato - FT.com
August 14, 2015 12:07 pm
Lunch with the FT: Mariana Mazzucato
John Thornhill

* Mazzucato’s book The Entrepreneurial State

As Mazzucato explains it, the traditional way of framing the debate about wealth creation is to picture the private sector as a magnificent lion caged by the public sector. Remove the bars, and the lion roams and roars. In fact, she argues, private sector companies are rarely lions; far more often they are kittens. Managers tend to be more concerned with cutting costs, buying back their shares and maximising their share prices (and stock options) than they are in investing in research and development and boosting long-term growth.
“As soon as I started looking at these issues, I started realising how much language matters. If you just talk about the state as a facilitator, as a de-risker, as an incentiviser, as a fixer of market failures, it ends up structuring what you do,” she says. But the state plays a far more creative role, she insists, in terms of declaring grand missions (the US ambition to go to the moon, or the German goal of creating nuclear-free energy), and investing in the early-stage development of many industries, including semiconductors, the internet and fracking. “You always require the state to roar.”
... Some tech and pharmaceuticals companies are going to extravagant lengths to reduce their taxes, one of the ways in which they pay back the state. The more libertarian wing of Silicon Valley is even talking of secession from California so they can pay no tax at all. “Won’t it be nice when there’s the next tsunami and these guys call the coastguard,” she says....
One criticism of Mazzucato’s work is that she fetishises the public sector in much the same way that rightwing commentators idolise the private sector. She appears stung by the suggestion: “I’m from Italy, believe me, I don’t romanticise the state.” The challenge, she says, is to rebalance the relationship between the private sector, which is all too often overly financialised and parasitic, and the public sector, which is frequently unimaginative and fearful. “When you have a courageous, mission-oriented public sector, it affects not just investment but the relationships and the deals it does with the private sector,” she says. Europe’s left-wing parties could have run with this agenda. Instead, she says, they have “absolutely failed” to change the political discourse by obsessing about value extraction rather than value creation, by focusing more on taxing big business than fostering innovation.

====================================================
The Chinese get the state to do that risky and costly, research and the development to keep them ahead.

The US does the same, but just keeps quiet about it so it doesn’t spoil the narrative.
“The parts of the smart phone that make it smart—GPS, touch screens, the Internet—were advanced by the Defense Department. Tesla’s battery technologies and solar panels came out of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Google’s search engine algorithm was boosted by a National Science Foundation innovation. Many innovative new drugs have come out of NIH research.!” http://time.com/4089171/mariana-mazzucato/
activism  books  breakthroughs  DARPA  de-risking  Department_of_Energy  early-stage  economists  fracking  free-riding  innovation  Mariana_Mazzucato  mission-driven  moonshots  NIH  NSF  private_sector  public_sector  semiconductors  Silicon_Valley  sovereign-risk  state-as-facilitator  value_creation  value_extraction  women 
august 2015 by jerryking
9/11 and the age of sovereign failure -
Sep. 10, 2011 | The Globe & Mail | Michael Ignatieff.. One
of the tasks we ask govt. to perform is to think the unthinkable. Yet on
9/11, govt. institutions failed...A sovereign is a state with a
monopoly on the means of force...It is there to think the unthinkable
and plan for it. A sovereign failed that morning.... There has been a
cascade of failure: (1) No WMDs found in Iraq; (2) The failure of the
levees & New Orleans civil authority following Hurricane Katrina;
(3) the 2008 mortgage bubble and govt. regulators; (4) the failure of
govt. regulators to catch BP before the Spring 2010 oil spill. ...While
there are a lot of things a govt. might do, there are a few things that
only a govt. can do: protect the people, rescue them when they are in
danger, regulate against catastrophic risk and safeguard the full faith
and credit of their currency. Sovereigns matter. And rebuilding their
legitimacy, their capacity and their competence is the political task
that matters most......It is always good to be skeptical about what governments tell us. But we are beyond skepticism now, into a deep and enduring cynicism. There will come a day when they are not crying wolf and we will not believe them. Then we will be in trouble. Some trust in government is a condition of democracy and security alike. That trust has been weakened and can't be rebuilt until sovereigns say what they mean, mean what they say and do what they promise.
Michael_Ignatieff  failure  government  9/11  low_probability  catastrophic_risk  priorities  unthinkable  sovereign-risk  state-as-facilitator  legitimacy  capacity  competence  oil_spills  cynicism  skepticism  policymaking 
september 2011 by jerryking
Analyst Sees Securities Firms Cutting Jobs and Pay - NYTimes.com
September 7, 2010 | NYT via By BLOOMBERG NEWS | Anonymous.
“The key product drivers of Wall Street’s revenues and profits over the
past decade have been in a structural decline over the past three
years,” Ms. Whitney said in the report.

Barclays, the Credit Suisse Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland Group
may lead a slowdown in hiring in Europe as the fixed-income trading boom
fizzles out, recruiters said last month. Barclays Capital’s income from
trading bonds and commodities fell 40 percent in the first half amid
the sovereign debt crisis. Fixed-income, currencies and commodities
trading was the biggest revenue contributor at investment banks from
Deutsche Bank to Goldman Sachs.
Wall_Street  layoffs  brokerage_houses  securities_industry  ufsc  sovereign-risk  debt  structural_decline 
september 2010 by jerryking
The European Union rescues Greece and Portugal
May 24, 2010 | The New Yorker | by James Surowiecki. "...The
fact is, this kind of volatility isn’t going away, because we now live
in an environment dominated by what economists call “political risk”—the
uncertainty that businesses face as a result of government actions. Of
course, government actions always affect the economy, but usually in an
undramatic way: an interest-rate cut here, a new regulation there. The
economic downturn and the debt crisis have given us instead a world
where governments are among the most important players in
markets—injecting money into economies on a colossal scale and routinely
propping up, or even nationalizing, troubled companies."
Angela_Merkel  bailouts  central_banks  debt_crisis  economic_downturn  EU  Germany  geopolitical-risk  Greece  IMF  instability  James_Surowiecki  political_risk  Portugal  sovereign-risk  uncertainty  volatility 
may 2010 by jerryking

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