Home Economics The Berggruen Institute - Yep, They're Idiots

The Berggruen Institute – Yep, They’re Idiots

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I find myself being spammed by some people calling themselves the Berggruen Institute. Through Twitter no less, apparently the new place to spam people.

Hi, we just launched the introductory video for our Future of Capitalism Program – new ways to share the wealth for the benefit of all.
We thought you might be interested in the work and would greatly appreciate a RT if you find it relevant.

Thank you for the support!

Support is not quite what they’re likely to get. From their web page:

Capitalism has seemingly conquered the world. Market economies are now the “only game in town.”

Capitalism and markets are not the same thing. Capitalism is about who owns. Markets are about methods of exchange. They’re analyses of the world that operate on entirely different axes. It’s possible to have an economy that’s both capitalist and market based, hard experience telling us that this is what improves the living standards of the average schlep in the street the best. It is possible to have non-market capitalism, that’s a reasonable description of fascist economics, in so far as fascism actually had an economic policy. Non-market non-capitalism is possible although impoverishing as the Soviet Union proved. Market socialism is also entirely possible and our current economy is shot through with it. Near all legal firms are owned by the partners, in many jurisdictions outside capital is actually banned – that’s a non-capitalist organisation competing in a market economy. Goldman Sachs, when still a partnership, was not a capitalist organisation, odd though that may sound. The Co Op, John Lewis, Publix Supermarkets, these are non-capitalist organisations in that market economy.

Often enough whether we’re talking about capitalism or markets doesn’t matter all that much. It’s not relevant to how good the apple pie is for example, nor in discussing Mom. But when attempting to discuss the structure of the economy the distinction is at least somewhat relevant. And when trying to work out the Future of Capitalism it’s vital. People who don’t get this are most kindly described as idiots.

However, at the same time, this system that has created so much wealth finds itself on the verge of interlocking crises of inequality, environmental degradation, and global competition.

Global inequality is falling. The poor parts of the world are, gloriously, growing faster than the rich parts. That is indeed making inequality fall. The environment is getting cleaner as people get richer, this being what happens. The environment is a luxury good (no, not a luxury, go look it up) so we all quite naturally spend more of our gross income on it as that gross income rises. Global competition is a good thing, not a bad, for it’s the very thing that is driving that faster growth in the poor places. It being possible to note that those competing in that global economy – say, Bangladesh – are the places growing at 5 and 8% a year and those not – say North Korea – being those that are still starving.

The Berggruen Institute “Future of Capitalism” program confronts these challenges by trying to better understand how a global capitalism can be reshaped and regulated at all levels of governance: regional, national, and international. Our program is focused around two interlocking themes: pre-distribution and multi-level economic policy making.

We can see where this is going, can’t we? That the good old days are right now isn’t enough. The peeps just getting on with stuff for themselves can’t be allowed to continue for if that does happen then what use the guidance of the intellectually superior? What’s the point of an Institute to do the thinking if the doing is already being done without the need for that thinking?

This is Will Hutton writ large, everything would be so much better of the peasants just damn well did what they were told.

The pre-distribution agenda asks how we can get ahead of changes in technology and social structure to make sure that states and publics have ownership of wealth producing assets at their inception.

This is ignorance. As Bill Nordhaus showed who owns that new stuff is supremely unimportant. It’s us out here as consumers that receive the vast majority of the benefit of any innovation. Like 95% to 97% of it. Who in buggery cares who gets the other 3%?

Well, OK, a bit. We want this generation’s entrepreneurs to keep enough of the value generated to encourage the next generation’s to have a go but other than we don’t and shouldn’t give a toss.

We have explored various forms of rethinking ownership including sovereign wealth funds, publically supported individual savings institutions, public retirement insitututions, and cooperative enterprise ownership. We have worked with policy makers to envision ways that publics can retain stakes in common goods that are now being commercialized by private actors.

Cooperative enterprise ownership is fine, where it’s suitable. The rest of it the exploration should result in shouting “Bugger That!” but we know that’s not what they have said, don’t we?

Our multilevel governance research asks how we can adapt existing institutions and establish new mechanisms to build regulatory and fiscal systems that are flexible and comprehensive enough to govern global capitalism on the international, national, and regional scale.

That’s the elite and the peasantry again. The reason the global governance is necessary is because if there is none then what point the having a global elite who tells the proles what to do? And given that, in accordance with Kip Esquire’s law, the peeps at the Berggruen Institute just know they’ll be part of the elite doing the governing thus the call for it to be necessary.

They have pages and pages more – and even videos! – of their misunderstandings. At which point we’ve really got to make a point about them.

If Nicolas Berggruen wants an ego monument to himself in the form of an Institute well, good luck to him it’s his money and all that. But couldn’t he do something less damaging to the global economy and thus the rest of us than this? Collect model trains or something? Rather than doing what he is, employing idiots to display their ignorance to us.

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