Friendlier capitalismA huge party leaves behind piles of dirty dishes. The period of Goldilocks, in which product prices fell despite economic growth, has come to an end.
The party of liquidities, which has lasted for seven years, is in its last phase. On the other side of neo-liberalism and globalization, mountains of waste have started to accumulate. These are side effects from an excessive race in unleashed financial capital. It’s time to pay for the party now.
The subprime mortgage crisis in the United States rattled financial markets around the world. Along with a warning that a painful and long recession would arrive, fundamental skepticism about capitalism is rising.
At the Davos Forum, George Soros, the world’s leading hedge fund manager and chairman of The Quantum Fund, said today’s chaos is a predestined result of capitalism. He said market fundamentalism has reached its limit, and that it is wrong to believe that the financial market works fine on its own.
As Karl Marx said, capitalism based on self-interest is an innately insecure system. Capitalism in its early stage was a terrible system, indeed, because workers were exploited and capitalists took unreasonably high profits. As capitalists pursue their own interests, booms and recessions alternate. Painful financial panic arrives from time to time. Despite Marx’s words, capitalism has become the dominating economic system in the world. Instead of capitalism, the fancy term “market economy” is in vogue.
Capitalism has rescued itself in the most un-capitalistic ways. John M. Keynes rescued capitalism by disapproving of laissez-faire economics and introducing a government’s complementary measures. Rationality also helps humans suppress excessive selfishness. Capitalism has resolved problems of structure and unequal distribution of wealth to some extent by compromising between labor and management and a social security system.
This is why Microsoft chairman Bill Gates’ attempt merits attention. At the Davos Forum, he suggested friendly capitalism. Gates said, “We have to find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthy people serve poor people as well. I like to call this idea creative capitalism.” His words reveal his belief in capitalism and his regrets for its faults at the same time.
The enemy of capitalism is the capitalist. As seen by the Enron incident and the subprime mortgage crisis, greed puts capitalism in crisis. At the same time, capitalists rescue capitalism. There are many capitalists who donate their money and cure deadly flaws in capitalism.
That is probably because capitalism is the object of condemnation and praise, and that is also why we should pay attention to Gates’ friendlier version of capitalism.