Thursday, August 28, 2014
19

بعد التقشف

نيويورك ــ لقد بات من الواضح بعد الاجتماع السنوي لصندوق النقد الدولي هذا العام أن أوروبا والمجتمع الدولي لا يزالان بلا دفة عندما يتعلق الأمر بالسياسة الاقتصادية. فقد كرر زعماء المالية، من وزراء المالية إلى قادة المؤسسات المالية الخاصة، نفس الشعار الحالي: يتعين على بلدان الأزمة أن ترتب بيتها من الداخل، فتقلص من عجزها، وتخفض ديونها الوطنية، وتنفذ الإصلاحات البنيوية، وتعزز النمو. كما تكرر الحديث عن ضرورة استعادة الثقة.

إنه لمن النادر أن نسمع مثل العبارات الرنانة من هؤلاء الذين قادوا النظام المالي العالمي من على قممهم على رأس البنوك المركزية، ووزارات المالية، والبنوك الخاصة، إلى حافة الخراب ــ وخلقوا حالة الفوضى الحالية. والأسوأ من هذا أنه من النادر أن نجد من يفسر لنا كيف يمكن تحقيق هذه الغاية المستحيلة. فكيف يكون في الإمكان استعادة الثقة في حين تغرق الاقتصادات المأزومة في الركود؟ وكيف يمكن إحياء النمو في حين يكاد يكون من المؤكد أن التقشف يعني المزيد من تراجع الطلب الكلي، وانخفاض الناتج والعمالة إلى مستويات أدنى؟

ولكن من الواضح الآن أن الأسواق ليست مستقرة إذا تُرِكَت لحالها. فهي لا تعمل بشكل متكرر على توليد فقاعات الأصول المزعزعة للاستقرار فحسب، بل وعندما يضعف الطلب فإن القوى التي تؤدي إلى تفاقم الأزمة تبدأ في العمل. فالبطالة، والمخاوف من انتشارها، تدفع معدلات الأجور والدخول والاستهلاك إلى الانخفاض ــ وبالتالي الطلب الكلي. وبسبب تراجع معدلات تكوين الأسر ــ عودة الشباب الأميركي على نحو متزايد إلى الإقامة مع آبائهم على سبيل المثال ــ تنخفض أسعار المساكن، الأمر الذي يؤدي إلى المزيد من عمليات حبس الرهن العقاري. وتضطر الولايات التي تتمتع بموازنات منضبطة إلى خفض الإنفاق مع هبوط العائدات الضريبية ــ وهو المسار التلقائي المزعزع للاستقرار الذي يبدو وكأن أوروبا عازمة على سلوكه بكل غفلة.

وهناك استراتيجيات بديلة. فبعض الدول مثل ألمانيا لديها حيز للمناورة المالية. واستخدام هذا الحيز للاستثمار من شأنه أن يعزز النمو الطويل الأمد، مع امتداد التأثيرات الإيجابية إلى بقية أوروبا. ومن بين المبادئ المعترف بها منذ فترة طويلة أن التوسع المتوازن للضرائب والإنفاق يحفز الاقتصاد؛ وإذا كان البرنامج جيد التصميم (الضرائب على القمة، جنباً إلى جنب مع الإنفاق على التعليم)، فإن الزيادة في الناتج المحلي الإجمالي ومعدلات تشغيل العمالة تصبح كبيرة.

إن أوروبا ككل ليست في حالة مالية سيئة؛ فنسبة الدين إلى الناتج المحلي الإجمالي في أوروبا تشبه مثيلتها في الولايات المتحدة. وإذا كانت كل ولاية أميركية مسؤولة بشكل كامل عن موازنتها الخاصة، بما في ذلك سداد كل إعانات البطالة، فإن أميركا أيضاً سوف تصبح في أزمة مالية. إن الدرس واضح: فالكل أكثر من مجموع الأجزاء. وإذا كان لأوروبا ـ وخاصة البنك المركزي الأوروبي ــ أن تقترض، ثم تعيد إقراض العائدات، فإن تكاليف خدمة الديون الأوروبية سوف تنخفض، وهو ما من شأنه أن يخلق حيزاً لأشكال الإنفاق الكفيلة بتعزيز النمو والعمالة.

وهناك بالفعل مؤسسات في أوروبا، مثل بنك الاستثمار الأوروبي، قادرة على المساعدة في تمويل الاستثمارات المطلوبة في الاقتصادات التي تفتقر إلى المال. ويتعين على بنك الاستثمار الأوروبي أن يوسع من إقراضه. وهناك احتياج إلى زيادة الأموال المتاحة لدعم المؤسسات الصغيرة والمتوسطة الحجم ــ المصدر الرئيسي لخلق الوظائف في كل الاقتصادات ــ والتي تشكل أهمية خاصة لأن هذه المؤسسات هي الأكثر تضرراً بانكماش الائتمان الذي تقدمه البنوك.

إن هذا التفكير الذي يتسم بالتركيز الضيق الأفق على التقشف في أوروبا يُعَد نتاجاً لخطأ في تشخيص مشاكلها. فقد أسرفت اليونان في الإنفاق، ولكن كلاً من أسبانيا وأيرلندا كانت قبل الأزمة لديها فوائض مالية، فضلاً عن انخفاض نسبة الدين إلى الناتج المحلي الإجمالي. وليس المقصود هنا إلقاء محاضرات عن الحصافة المالية. والواقع أ خذ مثل هذه المحاضرات على محمل الجد ــ حتى بتبني هياكل موازنة محكمة ــ قد يكون هدّاما. وبصرف النظر عما إذا كانت المشاكل التي تعاني منها أوروبا مؤقتة أو جوهرية ــ منطقة اليورو على سبيل المثال بعيدة كل البعد عن كونها منطقة عملة "مثالية"، والمنافسة الضريبية في منطقة للتجارة الحرة والهجرة الحرة من الممكن أن تؤدي إلى تآكل دولة قابلة للحياة ــ فإن التقشف من شأنه أن يزيد الطين بلة.

إن العواقب المترتبة على اندفاع أوروبا إلى التقشف سوف تكون طويلة الأمد، وربما تكون حادة أيضا. وإذا نحج اليورو في البقاء، فإن هذا سوف يكون على حساب ارتفاع معدلات البطالة والمعاناة الهائلة، وخاصة في بلدان الأزمة. ويكاد يكون من المؤكد أن الأزمة ذاتها سوف تنتشر. ولن تجدي أسوار الحماية، إذا ألقي الوقود على النار في نفس الوقت، وهو ما تبدو أوروبا ملتزمة بالقيام به: فلا يوجد مثال لاقتصاد ضخم ــ واقتصاد أوروبا هو الأضخم على مستوى العالم ــ يتمكن من التعافي نتيجة للتقشف.

ونتيجة لهذا فإن الأصول الأكثر قيمة في المجتمع، أي رأسمالها البشري، تُهدَر بل وتدمر. ويصبح الشباب المحرومون لمدة طويلة من الوظيفة اللائقة ــ مع اقتراب البطالة بين الشباب في بعض البلدان من 50% أو أكثر، وارتفاعها إلى مستويات غير مقبولة عموماً منذ عام 2008 ــ في عزلة متزايدة. وعندما يتمكنون أخيراً من العثور على وظيفة فإن هذه الوظيفة سوف تكون بأجر أقل كثيرا. إن مرحلة الشباب عادة هي الوقت الذي تبنى فيه المهارات؛ والآن تحولت إلى فترة ضمور وتوقف عن النمو.

إن العديد من الاقتصادات معرضة للكوارث الطبيعية ــ الزلازل والفيضانات والأعاصير وموجات المد العارمة ــ وإضافة الكوارث التي هي من صنع البشر تجعل الأمور أكثر مأساوية. ولكن هذا ما تفعله أوروبا على وجه التحديد. بل إن جهل قادتها المتعمد بدروس الماضي يرقى إلى درجة الإجرام.

إن الآلام التي تعاني منها أوروبا، وخاصة ما يعانيه فقراؤها وشبابها، لا ضرورة لها على الإطلاق. ولكن مما يدعو إلى التفاؤل أن البديل متاح. ولكن التأخر في الاستعانة بهذا البديل سوف يكون باهظ التكاليف، والوقت لم يعد في صالح أوروبا.

ترجمة: أمين علي          Translated by: Amin Ali

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  1. CommentedH Gerken

    "Europe’s single-minded focus on austerity is a result of a misdiagnosis of its problems." - this is not a fiscal crisis, it is a behavioural crisis on the greek side. Carrot and stick. we were too permissive in the past and took their word. According to the EU treaties no other nations should take the debt of the other. The treaties are broken. Either the rules are accepted of they could go bust. No one has remorse with financial fraudsters who don't get real but blame others.

  2. CommentedStephen Pain

    I believe we should look to W. Edwards Deming who aside from his anti-humanist approach - was sound in terms of manufacturing. One can save a huge amount and pay off the debts by reducing waste throughout the system. There is tremendous waste. Secondly, if one goes for quality rather than quantity, then one can reduce the trade deficit. On top of this, since many countries are seeking a green future - why the hell are they advertising a future with bigger and faster cars - why not bicycles? So Deming is one key figure. Another is E. F. Schumacher. In China they are currently building like there is no tomorrow - bigger and bigger buildings - and aiming for the sky - yet they cannot build a motor car that meets international standards? Why is that? They need to stop and think about their direction and take an initiative to rethink and reform their society to understand that the American Dream has led to a waste land. Why not see what you have? Value that? It is not a question of austerity - it is a question of vision and recognizing that happiness is not waste. With regard to the theories of economics - well it is like someone going down to the races - except billions of lives are at stake. It would be much better to stay home and think what exactly is going on? The rocket science of recent years has disguised debt - if the US has a sovereign debt ranging from 60 to 200 trillion US dollars - why do we hear its bond traders and credit rating companies baying against the Eurozone? Why do they seek to get Germany which has had a rather sensible and prudent economy that is export led, with good service to manufacturing ratio, tight control over credit and property market, to go against its successful approach? I find such baying and advice coming from a country that has bankrupted itself as they say... a bit rich.

  3. CommentedOliver R

    Although you are right in saying that Europe's hell bent focus on austerity is damaging the continent, this is a mantra which has been repeated for months if not years now, and appears to be falling on deaf ears, due to the intrasigence of Mrs Merkel. The crunch point will be after the Greek elections next month, when a left wing coalition hostile to the bail out could conceivably gain power. It will be interesting to see if at this point Mrs Merkel finally repents and loosens the noose of austerity, or if she sticks to the course, jettisoning Greece from the Euro. My money would be on the latter.

  4. CommentedYoshimichi Moriyama

    @Aldo Dias, perhaps I am not answering you but I want to tell you something. I am not sure what exactly I want to tell you. I'm not kidding. I'm serious.
    Stephen Hawking talks about the universe after the Big Bang, not before it. Frankly, as I am ashamed to tell this, I am always curious what the universe was like before the Bang. What would Hawking say? He might say, "I am not asking a scientific question."
    Scientists were asking in the 17th century(was it the 18th?) what was being lost in the chemical process of combustion. They did not know they were looking in a wrong direction for an answer. They began to ask in the next century what was the chemical process of combustion.
    They were asking a right question now, for nothing is lost in the process.
    We have a lot of problems, high employment rates, the aging population, stagnation, huge income disparity, soaring prices of some commodities...These are economic problems, but they are also social and political and cultural problems.
    Aren't we asking too much? If economics had a tongue to speak with, it might say, "Aldo, you are greedy, asking a question like what the univers was like before the Bang. Don't expect too much of me."

      CommentedAldo Dias

      hahaha Yoshimichi Moriyama, you absolutely answered my question. And in the best, most enlightening way possible, because you answered a question I did not know I had.

      Good wishes to you sir!

  5. CommentedTad Furtado

    Aldo - see my reply to your comment below Mr. Genilloud's. I put it in the wrong place, it seems. Have a great day.

      CommentedAldo Dias

      Tad, I appreciate your comment. However, and if I am to be a bit more serious and "drop the attitude", as the expression goes, I'd argue that a slightly finer analysis is required; I don't think the PIIGS generalization is a good one because the various countries have very different problems, economically and even politically/morally. Since we were talking about my country, the problem has been Government debt, and especially how its service was structured, leaving too much of a burden for future polítical cycles, not even generations, and a lack of organization of the business sector, that stemmed from the country's past of paternalist state coorporativism that was not adequately "cured" by the consulate of the current President, Anibal Cavaco Silva, who in favor of appearing worldly and sophisticated and a model student of free trade was lax in his negotiations regarding eu trade relations with asian economies, in the late 80 and early 90, who at the time where direct portuguese competitors by salary and industry, namely textiles. So what should have been a period of great economic organization and structuring didn't happen. Instead payments were made and businesses liquidated. We were to live off the domestic service sector. Of course this ended up meaning non transactionable services. We invested in this to the tune of 4% a year.

      But now that has all forcibly stopped. And probably this was why the majority of the country welcomed the Troika intervention. The sitting prime minister actually won the elections on a completely pro-troika, liberalization policy. "If there were no Troika, we would propose the same measures". People even knew that when he said that we must make the state more effecient he meant making healthcare and social security more expensive. The same went for jobs, though unlike popular belief it is incredibly easy to fire people in Portugal.

      But Tad, you sound like a man more knowleadgeable and inteligent than myself, so tell me: how can the economy possibly adjust itself when businesses are, for cultural reasons that I don't think are in abstract good or bad, totally dependant on bank loans for treasury operations, much less investment needed to reorient the economy towards exports.

      How can Portuguese banks, which were never shown to have problems - far from it, they did not permite housing bubbles to form like in Spain or Ireland, nor invest any significant amount in risky complex operations or PIIGS sovereign debt other than, in the months leading to the bailout, Portuguese, unlike German banks, and who maintained personal credit very low - be made to reduce lending to 120%, less than any other banks in europe? Starving over consumption makes sense. Starving the private-sector's ability to adapt and face the challenges before it seems like callous and short-minded. Still regarding exports, and this really is my main point, doesn't German historically high superavids endanger the monetary union, and the adequacy of the monetary policy, as much as deficits?

      Moreover, how can our exports increase as much as expected by the Troika if suddenly all of our trading partners are adopting unnecessary recessionary policy. The best thing Germany could do for Europe is increase the wages of its wokers. That would give its partners at least a fighting chance, a glimmer of hope.

      Finally, regarding the Troika plan, it was badly acessed, didn't take into account the business sector's dependence on banks for its standard operations, and it wrongly acessed transport companies and energy deficits. Unable to go to foreign markets, this massive coorporations are sucking out 40 billion euros of the economy over the Troika plan's execution. This is causing businesses that have orders to still go bankrupt and generate mass and unexpected unemployment.

      I very much look forward to hearing from you, or anyone else.

  6. CommentedJimmy Van de Putte

    I call this "focus-inversion" , and hierarchical info filtering".I have seen this many times before in my departement ( Defense) and these are all "management-f*ckups" (mind the expression) , These issues will only be contained when we drasticly change our way of thinking- analyzing , structure , education and function of management in a whole! I am writing an essay on my vision and analyses of these dynamic processes which result in poor decision making, .... nice and comforting to see that I get supporting articles even from a NP-winner see that

  7. CommentedYoshimichi Moriyama

    "there is no example of a large economy recovering as a result of austerity." Japanese economy is a large one. It is the third largest. On the other hand, the Japanese have twice as big debts as their GDP and the government has already spent a lot of money, trying to stimulate. The result was more debts but still stagnant economy. I wonder what advice Prof. Stiglitz would give to a Japanese prime minister.

    The professor should make sure of the name of the prime minister if he does. We have a new prime minister every monday morning in Japan.

  8. CommentedMark Pitts

    Stiglitz’s policy recommendations always share two traits: (1) they relate to the world he wishes existed, rather than the world as it is, and (2) they always boil down to income redistribution.
    In this case, he recommends that Europe act like the US despite the overwhelming differences. The US has fiscal unity, the EU does not. The US enjoys political unity, the EU does not. The countries making up the EU are sovereign nations; they are not like US states.
    Yes, New York may agree to send federal money to Mississippi in times of crisis, but New York also has a say in and shares federal fiscal policy with Mississippi. If however, New York had no federal control, or if wages & pensions in Mississippi were better than in New York (as is the case with Greece and Germany in many cases), there would no doubt be a significant resistance to such transfers.
    In the end, Stiglitz’s recommendation is that that the rich northern European countries transfer income to the south. But why are they more obligated to do so than China, the US, the oil-exporting states, or any other country that has the wherewithal to make such transfers?

      CommentedAldo Dias

      Because, Mark Pitts, its in their interest to. Germany is in a political, monetary and economic union where it has enjoyed a de facto german currency for 10 years. this currency has proven too expensive for southern european economies. Its a question of what came first, fiscal irresponsibility that led to wage increases and lack of competitiveness or lack of competitiveness due to a too strong a currency that created the political pressure to maintain living standards through debt.

      Moreover, Germany new exactly what was going on in Greece, it was done with the involvement of major german banks - who seem to be impeccably hygienic in their domestic operations but are the first to through money at bubbles and "toxic assets" outside their boarders, be it new york or greece.

      Germany needs to increase its wages. And it will do so. Angela Merkel does not want to go down in history as the grimm reaper of europe and the euro. And so she must pay. Tsipras knows this. German callousness and eastern german disdain for other societies and other democracies has escalated the matter from a political and economic problem to the national dignity of a people. And while private sector greeks virtually don't pay taxes - although i don't see any proposals to advance money specifically for the modernization of the greek fiscal machine - the greeks are a very proud people and the european establishment has chosen the wrong country to humiliate out of the euro.

  9. CommentedTad Furtado

    Single minded focus on austerity?

    Is this an alternate universe being discussed? Because austerity isn't happening. Feel free to review the OECD data and point out which nations are adopting truly tight budget frameworks: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/economics/government-final-consumption-expenditure-in-us-dollars-2012-3_govxp-table-2012-3-en

    The nations ran up spending unsustainably and now that those levels have come off very slightly, we are supposed to consider this austerity? I understand the need to have governments act in a counter-cyclical manner, so I don't oppose new spending on infrastructure and other asset building projects, but let's not pretend that not doing so is some form of draconian budgeting and let's certainly not put ourselves deeper into the hole for politically connected crony capitalism projects. I'd prefer slower or no growth in that case.

      CommentedAldo Dias

      Since the statistics you provided failed to mention government expenditure in 2011 for one of the countries under intervention, Portugal, and since the program only started began in may 2011, I thought I'd enlighten you on the effeciency of the portuguese people at implementing this so called "austerity that isn't happening".

      http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/2-23042012-AP/EN/2-23042012-AP-EN.PDF

      To make it easier for you, here are the relevant items:

      Government deficit -3.6 in 2008, shot to -10.2 in 2009 because of the crisis, -9.8 in 2010 because of the crisis as well -4.2 at the end of 6 months of the financial assistance programme. From this I conclude that portugal's problem was a liquidity problem caused by the over compensation of the credit rating agencies following their big mess with lehman brothers and so on. Secondly, that the european consensus for fiscal stimulus was not supported by the ECB. Third, that there has been a massive dose of austerity.

      Moreover, government expenditure is now back to the levels before 2009. In parallel to all of this, the debt has shot up, thanks to the grevious conditions of the so called assistance. Which are being enforced as a premium on moral hazard. Its just prof of my southern lack of sophistication that my catholic nature jumps to the expression "pay for your sins" all too quickly.

  10. Commentedjames durante

    Wow--the last thing we need is more growth! Capitalism demands it, at any cost. "Grow or die!" It is the ideology of the cancer cell, as Abey put it.

    Nor do we need more jobs. Most people I know hate being at work; they work shit jobs for low wages and no benefits. Bully for you Stieglitz if you like being a Harvard professor or whatever it is you do.

    Young people don't need jobs or skills, unless those skills involve producing needed things or helping people directly.

    What seems to be needed is a managed slow down towards a steady state economy that provides basic needs and lots of leisure. Family time, ceremonies, creativity in arts and music, plenty of rest, good, healthy, basic foods...

    Get the cancer ideology out of your heads!

      CommentedTad Furtado

      Aldo - I appreciate your reply. That Portugal and other nations are running huge deficits is not in question. As for spending, the point I made in my comment was that these nations ran up spending during the early and mid 2000s in such a manner that looking at spending now compared to a few years ago is giving a false impressing of "austerity". Sure, it may be austere in contrast to full on recklessness, but if you compare spending over time relative to purchasing power, population and adjust to bring it all into current dollars, it is clear that Portugal and most of the other nations are not being asked to live on short change. Rather, they've been living too long on the backs of future generations and the level to which they have become accustomed has proven unsustainable - and thus the let down.

  11. CommentedIgor Noveski

    Agreed. I believe that increased gov spending is the only way out of a recession, but only base on thourough cost + benefit analysis. Gov spending needs to focus on infrastructure, energy, education, health care, i.e. sectors where there is high ROI, max bang for the buck.. Also, the corruption index and democratic index of crisis economies need to improve, as corruption and wasteful spending flourish in times of crisis.

  12. CommentedRob Underwood

    Austerity is one key part of the problem holding human capital back, especially young human capital. Another is rampant class-ism, which has long been an issue in Europe and is now on the rise (i.e., worsening) in the United States. We are cannibalizing all our futures by denying our young a present. We are doing this through both our unwillingness to spend and our unwillingness to evaluate talent based on merit, not pedigree. I wrote an essay about meritocracy, class, youth, and Occupy last week. It's available here - https://plus.google.com/105546185193559525053/posts/1PK8UFYL7ym

  13. CommentedStéphane Genilloud

    The euro is indeed poorly adapted to the eurozone, and little can be done to improve that situation in the short term. But maybe there is a temporary mechanism that could open the door for south European countries either to stay in the euro, or to exit. That would be a twin-currency mechanism, and if I don't miss something, it might well be applicable: Spain can keep the euro while printing a small amount of pesetas (that it would use for filling the gap in its budget). More details here
    http://98economics.blogspot.com/2012/05/if-you-cant-divorce-take-lover.html

  14. CommentedShiang Peow Foo

    The severe suffering and high unemployment may manifest into nationalism, which further destablizes Europe. We certainly living in interesting times!

      CommentedIgor Noveski

      Agreed. Nationalism breeds on the crisis. Growth and spending are needed now, in order to prevent a deeper social, cultural and ethnic divide in crisis economies.

  15. CommentedShiang Peow Foo

    "The lesson is obvious: the whole is more than the sum of its parts. If Europe – particularly the European Central Bank – were to borrow, and re-lend the proceeds, the costs of servicing Europe’s debt would fall, creating room for the kinds of expenditure that would promote growth and employment"

    Unlike U.S., EC is not a federal State hence comparison is not appropriate; EC does not have a unified political platform or share common military resources. How'd one expect that the whole is more than the sum of its parts? How to balance fairly the differences in social and military spendings among each parts?

  16. CommentedPaul A. Myers

    Along Stiglitz's lines, let us propose:

    (1) If Operation Twist has had some success with monetary policy in the US, why don't we have an Operation Twist for fiscal policy in Europe (and the US, too).

    What is Operation Twist for fiscal policy? Simple--spend short, reform long. So launch significant spending programs now to employ resources, while passing now future labor market, entitlement, and tax reforms necessary to balance future budgets and finance bond repayments as required to achieve desired debt/GDP ratios.

    If I am going to loan money to a government today for 5-10 years, I don't care if next year's budget is in deficit. I care if the funds are available 5-10 years from now when it comes time to pay back. A country needs to match future receipts with future obligations. To create current surpluses to fund future repayment requirements is simply nuts (or maybe German!).

    If I were President Hollande, I would take some spreadsheets to Berlin and twist up those current expenditures and then show how future cash flows out there 5-10 years can meet the repayment demands.

    Give the squareheads an elegant example of Cartesian Gallic philosophy!

    Achtung, maintenant, alors, all eyes towards the pragmatic!

  17. CommentedDaudel Sylvain

    Draft manifest to reinvent Capitalism
    From Shareholder Value to Humanity Value

    We are at a turning point in the history of capitalism. Its long-lasting positive impact on the wealth of nations, on the worldwide poverty reduction, on the well being of people is waning. Numerous warning signs have been identified, denounced, analyzed and explained. So far negative externalities have been denied, minimized, accepted or tolerated. Today, even the greatest defendants cannot but plead for a change. In the Financial Times, Lawrence Summers calls for "smart reinvention, not destruction ».

    This draft manifest is to contribute to the debate with some radical but non-destructive measures to preserve the goodness of the system and direct it towards benefits for humanity and not just illegitimate profits for a few. It is a draft manifest as it contains only four propositions and needs to be criticized, enhanced and transformed into practical and legal dispositions.

    The aim is to continue satisfying humanity present needs without compromising opportunities for future generations.

    1) Feeding shareholders is illegitimate when Companies accumulate wealth depleting the planet and harming humanity.

    2) Companies should prove they have a positive balance of obligations towards humanity before distributing dividends to shareholders. It is not sufficient to pay taxes because you have harmed the planet. Profits are only legitimate if you do more good than bad!

    3) Companies failing to prove their worth will be boycotted by humanity.

    4) Shareholders require quarterly reports, humanity demands quarterly reports.

    The value of a company is currently derived from its capacity (short term or expected in medium to long term) to distribute a remuneration to the capital it has had accessed to. Shareholder value is then the ultimate indicator of capitalism. Under its various names (EBITDA, Earning per share, PER, EVA...etc.) it expresses the successful functioning of any company and drives all activities and decisions of management. Our first proposal says that shareholders should not receive dividends just because the company is producing profits in the way they are accounted for today - forgetting or forgiving all externalities produced on our planet, on humanity.

    Along our history we have learned to understand and recognize externalities; we have developed methods to measure them; we have established standards and rules and incentives to respect and preserve these standards; we even have laws that have been designed to enforce these rules and taxes or sanctions for those who do not abide by the laws. The problem is that results have not followed and there is little progress. On the contrary, sanctions have just been integrated as the price to pay to continue damaging the environment and extracting profits to the detriment of humanity and future generations.

    From this observation stems our second proposal: sustainability is not just limiting the damage we are doing or paying a price to be forgiven. Sustainability should be repairing whatever damage we are producing, just like in everyday life. When you damage your neighbor's fence, she is entitled to have it repaired by you.

    Companies should contribute to repair the damage done. Before being allowed to announce any kind of profit that can be distributed to their constituents (shareholders) companies should prove that negative externalities have been compensated (through de-pollution, tree planting... whatever is good for the planet and humanity) and that the balance is positive or at least even. That opens a whole new field for productive employment, productive for the future, not just the short-term illegitimate enrichment of a few.

    Our third proposal is certainly the most radical and controversial. It says that companies will be boycotted by humanity if they fail to prove that they have a positive balance. The verb 'will' is not there by chance. It probably is the only incentive to produce the right decisions as it has a direct and devastating impact on the company's performance and ultimately its value.

    To be able to decide whether a boycott is necessary, we need transparency and that is the objective of the last proposal. Just like shareholders require quarterly reports to decide whether they continue to give their confidence to such or such company, humanity should get quarterly reports on the balance of damage and repair to decide whether boycott is or not in order.

    We understand that there are numerous aspects of this draft manifest that should be criticized, refined, enhanced, changed and we open it for general discussion in the hope that we indeed find ways to reinvent capitalism without destructing its benefits for humanity today and tomorrow.


    Sylvain Daudel

  18. CommentedPietro Donnini

    to save investment killing humans it's impossible...this is obvious but still too complex for actual economist (that are the real world crisis...): thank you, you are one of the few real economist on earth!

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