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Public Private Investment Partnerships

1. Call me old(-fashioned) but I would like to find a philosophically sound position that justifies my intuitive feeling that the world isn’t entitled to the details of Steve Jobs’ (Jobs’s??) health. Ever since the Sixties there has been a feeling of greater entitlement on the part of the public and the press to know about your personal life under the argument that it affects your public life, and therefore they shouldn’t be separable.

I agree that they interact, but I think they should be kept as separate as possible. If you are a political hypocrite who preaches conventional moral behavior but doesn’t practice it, I like to think that’s relevant, but I could be persuaded otherwise. But I feel in my heart that the world of investors has no right to know Steve Jobs’ sexual orientation or what he took sick leave for. If they need to know that, then maybe they also need to know the state of his personal relationships in general, and whether his family gave him a hard time last night, since these things certainly those affect his capacity to do his job.

2. I subscribe to… which I like because they keep you up to date without too much newspaper reading and because they take a somewhat moral approach to economics.

Here’s something recent I agree with:

“Banks may have suffered inadequate pain. With green shoots sprouting around the world and mega-bonuses for bankers on their way back, there?s a risk that the industry may be returning to normality too quickly. There?s even a chance that governments won?t be radical enough about reforming the financial system, the UK Financial Services Authority?s Lord Turner has warned.

The general public will be outraged if bankers go back to the trough again, so soon after bringing the global economy to its knees. But it?s na?ve to expect financiers to act as moral creatures. They are behaving perfectly rationally in pursuing their own self-interest ? taking full advantage of the cheap money and support operations that governments have provided to them.

Given that an appeal to some higher interest won?t work, there are really only two ways of regulating bankers? behaviour. The first is to make them suffer pain if they make bad decisions. Some of that has happened. Bankers in the City of London and on Wall Street were clobbered pretty badly in 2008. But most of them survived. Without the authorities? aid, there would have been a near total wipe-out.

The second option is to regulate. And there is definitely quite a bit of regulation in the works. But enthusiasm for this detailed, slightly mind- numbing task could wane as memory of the crisis fades. The banks will also soon get their mojos back and start lobbying the politicians. Turner thinks there is a ?real danger? that the authorities won?t seize the opportunity to fix the system provided by the crisis. Hopefully, he is wrong ? because otherwise it won?t be too long before the industry runs amok, again.”

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