May 29, 2012
(…) The mythology surrounding entrepreneurial capitalism is that it creates great wealth for risk-taking entrepreneurs, great numbers of new jobs and great numbers of new products that dramatically enhance the quality of life and the productivity of the rest of the economy. But as the economist Joseph Schumpeter understood, there is an irreducible amount of destruction that comes along with all that creativity—destruction of existing companies, jobs, wealth and in a few instances, communities. While Americans admire and celebrate entrepreneurial success, we tend to forget and ignore the losers from this dynamic process.
(…) Coming from the opposite direction, however, was “shareholder capitalism,” which was based on the theory that workers were largely interchangeable and expendable and that companies should be managed solely to maximize short-term profits and share prices for owners and investors. In many ways, shareholder capitalism was an effort to overcome the self-interested complacency of managerial capitalism that, in the view of many, had allowed the American economy to fall behind Germany, Japan and the other Asian “tigers.”
The driving force behind shareholder capitalism came not from Wall Street’s traditional investors but from upstart financiers known as “corporate raiders” who were the first to use a new financing mechanism, the “junk bond,” to launch hostile takeovers of under-performing public companies.
(…) From there, it was only a short hop and a skip to capitalism’s newest incarnation, “financial capitalism,” where the focus has shifted from running companies to simply buying and selling them for profit. More and more of the country’s capital and talent was diverted toward trading and financial engineering, with more and more of the economy’s profits and the nation’s income captured by a relatively small number of investment bankers and the managers of hedge funds and private-equity funds.
This article was posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 7:01 am