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The Destroyers

It isn’t immediately obvious, but Walter Brasch’s article about the media, Downsizing the News And Pretending to Increase the Quality, and Tom Lasseter’s about the oil industry, Russia’s oil boom may be running on empty, are both addressing the worst concept in business today, no matter what area that business is in: sacrificing long term survival for near term profits.

There are very few investors left in the business world, people who are making decisions that will provide profits for generations from research and development of new products or resources to keep the business viable. Today people with capital are gamblers looking for the maximum profit possible in the near term.

Consider the compensation of CEOs and fund managers, the people responsible for many of the decisions that are made. They have no real connection to corporations beyond profits, and they maximize their personal income by making money quickly. The CEOs will find another job, the fund managers will buy a different stock: there is no reason for them to care if a particular corporation lives or dies.

Research, modernizing production facilities, exploration, employee training are expenses that reduce the profit. The institutional investors don’t care about the corporations whose stock they own beyond the price of that stock. CEOs receive a major portion of their compensation in stock options, so why should they care if the corporation is still competitive when they cash out and leave?

The losers in the current system are employees and real investors, because no one speaks for them in any meaningful way.  Another group that loses are consumers who are paying more for less as the quality of products decline.

6 comments

1 Steve Bates { 08.25.08 at 11:20 pm }

I agree with everything you say, pretty much in every particular. What puzzles me is this: why should we expect things to be otherwise, in an era in which the leaders of the allegedly free world use that freedom in the same way the fund managers and CEOs use the capital at their disposal, namely, for their own most cynical personal short-term gain?

In my opinion, the economic event in which we find ourselves is not like recessions or even depressions of the past. We could well be headed for the bottom, in a plunge facilitated by those who have the wealth and power but lack the vision to stave off what could well be their own end as well as ours. It’s a sorry conclusion after such a promising beginning.

“Where there is no vision” (and in this case I’m not speaking of prophecy, only of sound economic forecasting applied long-term to good purposes), the society perishes.

2 Bryan { 08.25.08 at 11:34 pm }

They don’t understand that they are destroying the engine of their wealth and the countries. They are buying corporations in other countries to repeat the process.

3 fallenmonk { 08.26.08 at 7:58 am }

Goose/Golden Egg is all you need to know.

4 Bryan { 08.26.08 at 11:52 am }

They are starving the Goose.

5 Kryten42 { 08.27.08 at 4:05 am }

Curiously, I stumbled across this piece on another blog whilst looking for something completely different. 😉 Doncha love when that happens? Serendipity… 😉

It also relates to your Georgian/Russian blogging of late. Interesting. If true, it explains much, and points to the usual US interference and reliable ability to make things worse. 😉

They still call it news

6 Bryan { 08.27.08 at 10:17 am }

Yes, the media on both sides were pumping out propaganda, but that Michael Totten piece linked to yesterday clears up a lot of things and makes a hell of a lot more sense than what has been reported by either side.

The information in the Tottem piece is logical and fits what happened, and the inconsistencies in the timing of the Russian response. The Russians had to have been moving before the Georgians did anything to have arrived when they did.