This year will be remembered for the contradictions of the post-war world order manifesting in many ways. If 2008 was when the crack became visible, 2016 was when the fissure became too big to ignore. A series of global events point to the rising voice of those left hurting by rising inequality in the world economic order, where the benefits of globalization have gone to capital rather than labour. Labour as one of the factors of production—land and capital being the other two—has suffered. Real wages have been stagnant in the developed world and restrictive labour mobility rules have hurt labour in the emerging world. The rules set by the owners of capital make for a world without borders for capital, but not for labour.
Expense Account, Mint
The last year has seen a few (well, okay, just two) financial sector chief executive officers I know question their Rs3 crore remuneration packages, even as their peer group races ahead for that “bonus at any cost” management mantra. Those racing forget, of course, the old Indian adage that the shroud has no pockets. Parallel news of greed from the US sees some frenzied sewing of pockets as we hear of taxpayers paying companies to take luxury junkets and multimillion-dollar bonuses from companies still on taxpayer-funded life support. How is it that a small group of people have been able to corner so much of the world wealth? Is it some special skill, some special attribute that allows sellers of coloured soda water or creators of products nobody can understand to earn exorbitant numbers? Not just while they work, but even when they bail out for errors that cost investors, employees and customers losses and hardship. How did the manager get so powerful?