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Capital Market Dysfunctionality

February 17, 2008

It’s not the way a Georgist would describe our main economic problems, but it doesn’t fit badly. Paul Woolley, a former (reformed?) investment manager and IMF official, has established his Centre for the Study of Capital Market Dysfunctionality.   One way he states the problem:

By most measures finance has become the dominant industry sector accounting, for example, for between 30% and 40% of the aggregate profits of the quoted corporate sector in the US, UK and globally, compared with only around 10% forty years ago

Not only does this mean a lot of money is being paid for a service which isn’t really central to our economy’s purpose, but also that much of the best talent in many fields is diverted to playing financial games rather than useful work.

Of course, in his talk he did not mention land.  Since his background is in finance, I guess he looks at the problem as a capital market problem rather than a land speculation problem.  As a Georgist, I tend to think that the problem can only be solved by making speculation in natural resources unprofitable.  Woolley however will probably show many ways in which the problem can be reduced, or at least postponed.   His site shows many papers related to the subject, many worth a look I think. (Of course quite a few of the papers are not available free.)

One reason I am inclined to think this is a serious effort to address the issue is that Woolley is apparently funding the work personally.

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