Expense Account, Mint
If the Chicago School got the world into trouble, here is an attempt by the London School to set it right. The perception across the world of economics and finance is that it was the hard influence of the market-is-always-right doctrine of the Chicago School of Economics that set off the global financial crisis in 2008 when big finance grew in power over regulators and governments. Searching for a way to rewrite the rules that allow top management to get disproportionate returns for taking risks with other people’s money and lives, the British economist John Kay, visiting professor at the London School of Economics, was commissioned by the British business secretary Vince Cable to review the equity markets and devise a new set of road rules. Released in July 2012, the “Kay Review of UK Equity Markets and Long-Term Decision Making” asks a basic question: what are the key objectives of equity markets and do the markets in the UK meet these objectives? If the objective of the equity market is to earn returns on investment that meet long-term financial goals of the country, concludes the report, the equity markets are not effective anymore. The reason for this inefficiency is the breakdown of trust and confidence of savers and investors. Writes Kay: “Financial intermediation depends on trust and confidence: the trust and confidence that savers who invest funds have in those they choose to manage these funds, and the trust and confidence of investors in the businesses they support.” The key problem identified is too many middlemen and their incentive structure that rewards short-term behaviour. His prescription to solve this problem is to move the market away from short-termism and over-trading and to make the sellers of financial products and managers of other people’s money more responsible through a fiduciary standard.