Added: Ephraim Talkington - Date: 29.10.2021 22:52 - Views: 28032 - Clicks: 1216
There are serious questions—about whether the cost is ultimately bearable; whether the timing is too late to be truly counter-cyclical and thus have its intended effect ; whether it will crowd out private investment or create perverse incentives to eligible firms; whether this or that sector or taxpayer should receive aid; whether the right safeguards and oversight are put into place; and, of course, whether the government should play such a role in the private sector in the first place.
This last, most fundamental question partly stems from the fact that the U. For one, the annual budget process is not an appropriate mechanism for deciding long-term capital investments; it is like paying for college out of your weekly paycheck. And two, there is a distinctly undemocratic, non-transparent, and potentially corrupt aspect to the control that the executive branch can exert in directing such investments.
But what if the United States had—as a of other rich countries already do—a sovereign wealth fund SWF? Then neither Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner nor Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would have to cross this invisible—yet important—line to bail out private firms or otherwise jump-start the economy beyond bread-and-butter monetary policy efforts. The U. By sovereign wealth fund, I mean a national mutual fund of stocks, bonds, and real estate holdings, including investments in private firms, established in the hopes of realizing Swf seeking relationship as well as public goods that may or may not produce a direct revenue stream but which are important to the long-term productivity of the U.
Not only would it make sense from an ing perspective to make long-term economic investments via such a fund, but the establishment of such an institution would have other salutary effects on American society, including the reconceptualization of the distinction between public and private capital, democratizing long-term decision making, spreading investment knowledge, and raising our dismal private savings rate. If we are going to spend an unprecedented sum of public funds to stimulate the economy—while also boosting future productivity through targeted education, environmental, health, and infrastructure investments—we should also take this historic opportunity to rethink the very dichotomy between the public and private sectors.
The Swf seeking relationship stimulus plan is like using your overdraft line of Swf seeking relationship to prop up your retirement savings. America has been running its books as if there were just one big checking to deal with both capital investments and trips to the candy store. This approach to fiscal policy is largely a legacy of John Maynard Keynes and the quest for full employment. In the standard, industrial model of Keynesian economics, job growth is what drives the economy, and consumption, in turn, is what drives job growth.
As Swf seeking relationship result, most politicians are obsessed with jobs as the main avenue to economic security, the idea being that we need to create more and more jobs that pay higher and higher wages, and, in turn, find the right people to fill those jobs. This was, many assume, the underlying justification for long-gone efforts like the Works Progress Administration, but also enduring programs like Social Security. But in fact, the social insurance programs that are the most lasting legacies of the New Deal were really intended to be stopgaps on the way to the full employment that was going to be achieved through careful counter-cyclical monetary and fiscal policy in the Keynesian tradition.
Little did policymakers of the s know that unemployment insurance, welfare, farm subsidies, and, of course, Social Security would be the programs that took root and grew, or that the full employment of all able-bodied workers would remain a pipe dream even in the best of times. This jobs-jobs-jobs bias has led politicians to tilt at expensive fiscal windmills, particularly during recessions. Mainstream progressive politicians are right about the fact that productivity gains are not equally distributed to workers.
And, in fact, profits have been rising as a percentage of national income while wages have been declining. But these progressive leaders are misleading themselves and taxpayers when they say they can fix the problem by scuttling trade deals or cutting tax rebate checks, all in an effort to boost jobs. In a globalized economy where wages are always lower somewhere else, keeping manufacturing jobs here is a losing battle.
Instead, we should focus on de-linking—to the maximum extent possible—economic security from the vagaries of the labor market by helping average Americans become part of an investor class. Yes, this may take a feat of imagination to envision during a period of recession and a bearish stock market, but, in fact, the downturn is an opportunity to take stock of our fundamental policy strategies.
With the current consumption-based approach to social and economic policy, there will always be a disconnect between the macroeconomic health of the U. By contrast, if everyone were an investor, national productivity gains could instead be distributed in the form of dividends. When productivity went up, we could actually work less and take more time off when our kids were born or our parents were ailing, for instance.
Such a work-deemphasizing approach would represent nothing short of a whole new economic policy—one better fit to a post-industrial knowledge economy and a fragile global ecosystem threatened by our consumerist culture. A pipe dream? Many other countries already enjoy such benefits. Qataris, Norwegians, and Emiratis all enjoy standards of living similar to ours without having to work much or fret over the existence of jobs. In fact, most of the Persian Gulf countries import foreign labor to perform necessary jobs without the controversy over immigration that Americans perennially endure here.
Granted, all these countries owe many thanks for their wealth to worldwide demand for oil and natural gas.
But America has plenty of wealth, too—after all, we are the largest, most productive economy in the world. Singapore, meanwhile, has built a ificant sovereign wealth fund with practically no natural, extractable resources.
The difference is, we Swf seeking relationship squandering that wealth while foreign investors—such as the Chinese—buy up our capital stock with weak dollars that we use to finance our ongoing trade and budget deficits. These funds invest both at home and abroad and, like a family savingsprovide a buffer against economic shocks. In fact, a little-known wrinkle of the last year and a half of bad economic news has been the role these funds have been playing in propping up U.
Long before Citigroup received monies from the Treasury, the corporation was kept afloat by funds from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority; later, the China Investment Corporation came close to purchasing a 10 percent stake in the firm. Most of the other notable U. As a result, most of the public debate in the United States regarding sovereign wealth funds has been between the private sector and government free traders who want to attract foreign investment, and isolationist or protectionist politicians who fear a loss of national economic sovereignty.
Private foreign direct investment is one thing, the latter half argues, but ownership stakes held by secretively administered equity funds and controlled by non-democratic foreign governments are quite a different animal.
Foreign ownership of U. One-fifth of all overseas dividends from U. These somewhat jingoistic concerns have led several Western countries to hold hearings and even pass legislation in an attempt to limit foreign control over domestic firms. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has railed against foreign investors, while the German parliament even passed a law requiring the Foreign Ministry to review any major acquisition of a German firm by a non-European government. But rather than spite ourselves with a twenty-first-century version of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, why not step onto this global financial playing field ourselves?
If the United States had such a fund, perhaps our concerns over foreign ownership would be mitigated by the knowledge that we are buying up foreign firms just as other countries are purchasing stock in ours. Americans may be justifiably skittish about a quasi-public, quasi-private financial entity in the wake of the collapse and nationalization of the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which occupied a similarly ambiguous niche. However, an American SWF would Swf seeking relationship a somewhat converse arrangement. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac privatized profit to their common stock holders while socializing risk, thanks to the loan guarantees by the federal government.
A sovereign wealth fund, on the other hand—to the extent that it is managed without corruption—would socialize both risk and reward. Of course, this assumes that proper oversight and safeguards can be instituted in order to prevent cronyism in the deployment of capital reserves. Initially, such a fund would necessarily be created with debt, so it would, in practice, represent no more than an ing sleight of hand, much like Social Security when it was first created. Of course, a corresponding law would be needed to draw a sharp Swf seeking relationship between the activities of the Federal Reserve and the SWF to prevent the Fed from playing the same role of investing in private companies and gaining equity as it did, for example, in the case of AIG.
However, over time this fund would diverge from the rest of the federal budget in terms of its revenue stream, outlays, and management model. It would be run like any other mutual fund: by a board of directors elected by shareholders—who, in this case, are the American people. Much of the equity in a U. SWF could be directed to a new investment agenda at home. For example, it could be through this fund that we bring capital to underserved communities. Or it could be the basis of an investment agenda in green technologies, as some environmentalists have championed.
And, yes, it might even invest in foreign firms. Some lucky Americans already have experience with such an investment vehicle. Alaskans enjoy the returns from the Alaska Permanent Fund that was seeded by oil and mineral rights revenues. However, even the Alaskan Permanent Fund Corporation is not managed with complete transparency. While the Board of Directors is constrained by statute to invest certain percentages of the fund into specific asset classes, board membership itself is a product of political patronage rather than direct democracy.
In a democratic society such as ours, the fund should be controlled by the American people and should be directed to socially responsible investments. While European parliamentary democracies have a long history of crony industrial policy whereby the major centralized players—e.
That is not to say the state has not played a huge role in our economic choices, just that we like to tell ourselves there is no coordinated central planning. In this cultural context, the notion of a secretary of the Treasury or a Federal Reserve Board chair deciding where to invest our collective wealth rightly raises our collective bristles.
SWF, each adult citizen would own one inalienable share i. With over half of U. Barnes, however, would have the federal government administering the program directly, making it essentially a version of a cap-and-trade system, with distributed revenue rather than an investment portfolio. This simple auction strategy may be appropriate for a single-issue fund—so to speak—but an SWF must manage trade-offs across multiple domains: Invest in green technology or biotech? Swf seeking relationship software or high-speed rail? Who would determine the possible investments?
Would a truly democratic SWF invest in socially responsible projects? And of course, every seemingly bright idea has unintended consequences. Just think of the environmental impact of any of technologies, from coal-fired rail in the nineteenth century to the oil-driven interstate highway system of the twentieth.
But ideally, these decisions and tradeoffs—made by the shareholders rather than a Congress beholden to lobbyists and donors—would balance typical private-sector concerns about profitability and return on investment against the desire to develop commonly pooled resources such as our stock of human capital, our transportation and energy infrastructure, and the environment; the putative Sky Trust could, in fact, represent one tranche of the overall portfolio. And the logic of statutory floors or ceilings on, for example, the amount that can be realized as dividends or invested in a particular sector, or be sold off, can be built into the founding constitutional charter, as was the case for the Alaska Permanent Fund.
For example, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority owns shares of private, overseas companies, but at the same time devotes ificant resources to luring and building cultural and educational institutions to the Emirate—notably the Louvre and my employer, New York University.
A sovereign wealth fund thus structured is neither communist—though the people would be the owners via the state—nor does it constitute traditional industrial policy—since the decision-making power is not controlled by Swf seeking relationship people who run the rest of government but rather the American people themselves, through shareholder votes.
It would represent, arguably, the most democratic form of budgeting in history. The benefits of such a fund are manifold, the most obvious being to reverse the declining private savings rate. As recently asthe rate stood at By it had slid into the red, at negative 1. We have the lowest savings rate of the G countries and the lowest rate since the Great Depression. How did the country achieve such an abysmal amidst an unprecedented growth spurt?
Answering this question is key to understanding the recent disconnect between the macroeconomic health of the economy as traditionally measured and the poll s that show most Americans are less sanguine and, in fact, anxious about their economic prospects.
Indeed, some may argue that it was strong capital growth, particularly in housing, during this period prior to the subprime lending crisis that has allowed our savings rates to fall, since they are made up—at least in part—by capital gains.
Others argue that it is increased income volatility that has necessitated a lower net savings rate, since we spend down and use credit in order to smooth consumption in a volatile labor and marital climate. Still others will assert that we have simply gone on a consumption binge, thanks to policies—such as the home mortgage interest deduction—that have had the perverse consequence of promoting borrowing rather than savings. But underlying these disparate possibilities is the institutional context of savings in America.
Like our health care system, our savings system is broken to a large extent due to its historic linkage to employers.Swf seeking relationship
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