The Cost of Financialization-Globalization: You Lost $500,000 and Gained $137.13 by Charles Hugh Smith for Of Two Minds
Ponder what a clawback of the $50 trillion might entail, and the immense benefits of returning to producing quality goods and services by completely unwinding financialization and globalization.
The happy story that’s been ceaselessly promoted for 45 years is that financialization and globalization have been wunnerful for all of us, boosting wealth and saving a small fortune as the cost of products fell.
This is a remarkable distortion of reality. The fact is your household lost $500,000 in earnings and gained essentially nothing in supposed “cost savings.” The facts are presented in a study by the RAND Corporation: Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018 $50 trillion in earnings has been transferred to the Financial Aristocracy from the bottom 90% of American households over the past 45 years..
B-b-but wait, didn’t we all save a fortune on cheap jeans and TVs? No, you lost on that, too, as every product was crapified by globalization. I discussed the uncounted losses of the U.S. economy being crapified in my post The “Crapification” of the U.S. Economy Is Now Complete.
Let’s start by defining financialization and globalization. Financialization is the reaping of profits not by creating value by producing goods and services but by exploiting credit and leverage to reap unearned profits.
Here are two examples. Borrow $1 billion and then use this to do a leveraged buyout(LBO) of a $10 billion company. Break the company’s divisions into separate companies and sell them off or take them public via an IPO (initial public offering). Make $10 billion in pure profit from breaking up a company and selling its pieces, all from $1 billion in borrowed money. Note that this LBO didn’t generate any gains in productivity or any new goods and services, nor did it create any new jobs. All it did was greatly enrich a few financiers and Wall Street banks.
Here’s another example. Borrow $1 billion and use the money to buy back the shares of the corporation. The market value of the company’s shares rise from $10 billion to $15 billion. The top management exercises its immense hoard of stock options and skims billions of dollars in profits. Note that this stock buyback didn’t generate any gains in productivity or any new goods and services, nor did it create any new jobs. All it did was greatly enrich a few at the top of the heap.
This is the financialization of the U.S. economy in a nutshell. Financial games using other people’s money and leverage make the big money, producing goods and services that create jobs is for losers.