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Thursday, January 14, 2010

America vs. Europe - Opinionator Blog - : The Evolution of Capitalism

At the New York Times Opinionator Blog, David Brooks and Gail Collins discuss capitalism from the standpoint of America vs. Europe

One of the great misconceptions about American capitalism vs. capitalism in Europe is the myth that American capitalism takes more risks - and the blog commenters to this dialogue between Brooks and Collins raise the cutting edge question "at whose cost?"

Make sure you read those comments on this topic - some are quite brilliant.

Our take is that if the current financial crisis has taught one lesson that should be understood by all, it is that the risk-taker is often not the capitalist, and that the credit risks that were taken by the financial establishment did their greatest harm not to the wealthy capitalists or the capitalist institutions themselves but rather was a harm inflicted on the non-risking American taxpayer.

There are clear differences between capitalism in America and Europe, but this has more to do with the culture of venture capital rather than with any capitalistic differences in fact. Silicon Valley is the best example of this. Which "capitalist" there truly risked his neck to get a start-up going? As any real capitalist will tell you, the smart entrepreneur works with other people's money - usually OUR money, that of average citizens - through the financing credit institutions. That is the name of the game.

On an ancillary issue of health insurance, being without health insurance has nothing to do with risk-taking but is rather a social evil which every industrial country in the world has solved decently by national health insurance of some kind. Wrongly mixing capitalism and investment up with taking care the health of a nation's citizens is just foolish and antiquated.

Many people in the United States need to be alerted to the fact that we are no longer in the 19th century and that the entire capitalistic ball game has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. Those who doubt that statement might be interested in the following presentation by Nancy Koehn, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and author of The Story of American Business: From the Pages of the New York Times, October, 2009, who discusses "The Evolution of Capitalism" at BigThink:

President Obama: We Want Our Money Back! « Row 2, Seat 4

President Obama: We Want Our Money Back! « Row 2, Seat 4 (January 14, 2010)

"... President Obama today proposed a bank fee on major financial firms in order to reimburse American taxpayers who bore the brunt of the Wall Street bailouts...."

Read the full article and the text of the President's remarks here.

Looking Ahead in the Markets, Stocks Expected to Improve - Financial Planning

Looking Ahead in the Markets, Stocks Expected to Improve - Financial Planning

Elizabeth Wine writes (January 1, 2010):
"As investors breathe a sigh of relief that the wild ride of 2009 is over, they're peeking over the parapet to see if 2010 offers more tranquility. Many strategists see the economic recovery continuing and equities continuing to climb. They note that corporations are generally upbeat, continuing to ride the wave of positive earnings reports-more than 70% of the S&P 500 companies beat their earnings forecast for the third quarter of 2009."
Read the full article here.

Hedge Funds See Asset Surge, But Talent Loss - Financial Planning

Hedge Funds See Asset Surge, But Talent Loss - Financial Planning by Matt Ackermann writes on January 14, 2010):
"Assets held in hedge funds increased in 2009, but ... more than 20% of hedge funds shut down in the past two years, as 1,500 funds were liquidated in 2008 and 900 more in 2009.”

Goldman Sachs | Private Wealth Management

Goldman Sachs | Private Wealth Management

Private-Equity Fund-Raising at Worst Levels Since 2003 -

Private-Equity Fund-Raising at Worst Levels Since 2003 - by Nathan Becker writes:

"Private-equity fund-raising in the U.S. had its worst year since 2003, with most sectors experiencing steep drops, according to Dow Jones LP Source.

In 2009, 331 funds raised $95.8 billion, down 68% from the $299.9 billion raised by 508 funds in 2008, Dow Jones said. In the fourth quarter, firms raised $20.5 billion in 75 funds, ..."

Our intellectual property regime is absurd – a reminder from The Equity Kicker via TechDirt

Our intellectual property regime is absurd – a reminder |

The Equity Kicker writes as follows and gives us six examples:
"....I am neither a lawyer nor an expert on this subject but I have seen enough startups undermined by spurious patent claims and innovative young media companies stymied by copyright difficulties to convince me that the current system is wrong, wrong, wrong....

The point of this post is to give some examples of this waste and friction, all culled from a single days writing on Techdirt...."

1. Japanese electronics firms turn to patent fights as Korean companies take the lead in this market....

2. French copyright enforcement agency accidentally steals someone else’s font....

3. Union Square Ventures posted about the need for an independent invention defence against patent infringement lawsuits....

4. Getting legal clearance for films is now painful as samples of third party copyrighted work need clearance....

5. There is a serious debate as to whether software patents should be allowed at all....

6. A company called DigiProtect is sending collection agencies after people it accuses of copyright infringement before they have been found guilty....

Read the full article here.

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