The Wazzock speaks out

I agree. We do need details on tax deals. And we do need country-by-country reporting.

And far from harming capitalism it will boost it. Anyone who knows anything about economics knows that information is the key to successful markets. We are being denied the information needed to make markets work.

Still astonishes when I see a 0.2 of a professor of economics (snigger) saying something so blitheringly stupid.

If we actually had perfect information then we wouldn’t need to use markets. Because perfect information would allow us to plan things. This is Hayek’s major point that he emphasises in his Nobel acceptance speech. And whatever you might think about some of his other ideas on this one he is generally accepted as being right. And from the other end, the only Soviet to get that economic Nobel, Kantorovic, made much the same point. They had to use market prices simply because they didn’t have enough information not to.

Markets are thus a useful solution to not having perfect information, not a requirement that we must have it.

124 thoughts on “The Wazzock speaks out”

  1. If Murphy doesn’t get that information, how is he going to compose his next extravagant special-pleading whingefest?

    0.2 of a professor can’t be expected to do his own research!

  2. the standard neo-classical approach to finance (before we introduce asymmetric information etc) has perfect information and complete markets (the assets span all the state spaces) which means no need for financial markets or intermediaries.

    What the pillock wants to say is that reducing informational asymmetries moves us toward perfect competition. Which, generalizing a great deal, is the direction a social planner would like things to go.

    Way to go! City University, the university that employed the wazzock!

  3. Surely the more information the better?

    “Markets are thus a useful solution to not having perfect information, not a requirement that we must have it.”

    That’s just odd.

  4. That’s just odd.

    It is. If you stopped going to economics lectures in week 2. Or if you get your understanding of economic theory from a “guru” who stopped etc, etc.

  5. It is odd, yes, but it’s also the actual truth. What Murphy’s got wrong, and many do, is looked at the model, seen it assumes perfect information, then assumes this means that we must have perfect information. But those marktes: they’re actually the way of processing the incomplete information we’ve got.

    We don’t know how many people want to buy smartphones at $50 a time. We just don’t. We can’t survey people to find out either. Would people just have one each, or would they go all Italian and have one for the wife and one for the mistress?

    The only way we can work this out is to make them and then see: use the market that is. And why do we use the market rather than plan the production number? Because our information is incomplete.

  6. No, it’s odd because it doesn’t make sense. We have markets to make the best out of a lack of information. If the information was ‘better’ then the markets would work better.

    Why would anyone not want more information? What’s the danger?

  7. If you could have perfect information then you wouldn’t need markets. That’s the point that is being made.

  8. I think some people get confused between “markets” as in that patch of land in town where you can buy vegatables from farmers, and “markets” as in the whole buyers seeking sellers and sellers seeking buyers generalised concept.

  9. @Arnauld

    “Not perfect, but if it were better information than at present?”

    I agree: it seems counterintuitive: information is good, therefore more is better. But fundamentally, if ‘market’ is just the collective term for a bunch of transactions between free individuals, assuming each set of individuals knows what they are buying and the price, why would any further information be required?

    Unless you wanted to plan supply, but the info required for that seems (by experiment in the sovbloc) to be greater than can every be provided.

  10. If consumers knew how the company worked, for instance tax dodging or ethical stuff, then it could organise it’s consumer power’ and make the market work for them.

    Better reporting could enable that.

  11. Surely one of the reasons markets are criticised information asymmetry, but the internet has gone a long way to correcting this?

    Information about a poor quality product or service can now be shared very widely very fast – in the past it used to take Ratner Events to destroy a business, but these days a few hundred poor reviews online will do it?

  12. Possibly: but that would require that those reporting know what they’re talking about. Boots didn’t tax dodge: but there was an attempt at a boycott. Starbucks didn’t tax dodge: but the howling mob descended anyway. Vodafone didn’t “do a deal” but that’s still what certain people say.

    That is, certain of those spreading this tax “information” aren’t quite telling the truth, are they?

  13. Surely one of the reasons markets are criticised is information asymmetry, but the internet has gone a long way to correcting this?

    Information about a poor quality product or service can now be shared very widely very fast – in the past it used to take Ratner Events to destroy a business swiftly, but these days a few hundred poor reviews online will do it?

  14. Good point Ivor: a friend of mine makes a living advising smaller companies on PR disaster management. He is certain ( and grateful) that the pendulum has swing past information symmetry into ‘Mob rule’.

    Also: have ther ebeen many successful consumer boycotts? The only ones I can think of have been more legal/media than consumer led.

  15. @Martin Davies

    I’m struggling to think of one. I usually cross the picket line whenever the usual suspects kick off about something they don’t take the time to understand.

  16. Arnald

    More information is not always a positive. In the global games literature, we know that greater public dissemination of information may lead to multiple equilibria and destabilize a previously stable equilibrium. (In the classic example it provokes speculative attacks on a fixed exchange rate – Morris and Shin)

    https://www.macroeconomics.tu-berlin.de/fileadmin/fg124/heinemann/publications/oxrep-2.pdf

    And of course information asymmetries may be desirable for the dynamic benefits they bring. Basically, this is the argument for creating temporary monopolies – such as intellectual property protection, for the innovation it supports.

  17. “We have markets to make the best out of a lack of information. If the information was ‘better’ then the markets would work better. Why would anyone not want more information? What’s the danger?”

    Because it would tempt people to interfere, based on what they thought was needed instead of what is actually needed.

    Markets distill the information we actually need and signal it through prices. What we want to know is what arrangement of manufacturing, service, and trade yields a Pareto Optimum: a state of allocation of resources in which it is impossible to make any one individual better off without making at least one individual worse off. We’re looking for ways to make ‘positive-sum’ improvements – trades or rearrangements of trades in which all parties benefit. By making such trades until there are no more to be made, we approach maximum utility subject to the condition of preserving individual freedom – ensuring all trades are voluntary.

    The market performs a parallel computation regarding hundreds of thousands of different product preference comparisons on billions of separate nodes, exchanging only the necessary information between neighbours to find an optimum. It’s not quite true to say the market doesn’t have the information it needs – collectively it does, because it consists of all the billions of people whose preferences constitute that information. What is meant is that no one person or organisation can possibly obtain or process all that information, centrally. Only the distributed collective can. The bottleneck is communication of those preferences via prices. In the past, we have been limited to trade with our neighbours. The bigger the ‘neighbourhood’, the better it works, but it’s always been limited by the problem of the best-matched buyers and sellers having to find one another.

    Markets work better with more widespread communication of prices. If you make it easier for people to find the best deal, over a wider area, you get closer to the optimum. Internet shopping is the latest advance in that – we’re almost at the point where we can compare prices globally.

    But markets don’t work well if you communicate other information besides prices and product/service descriptions, try to do that parallel computation on your own with only a tiny fraction of the information involved, and figure you can work out what the prices ought to be better than the market can, and then interfere to push things closer to your supposed ideal.

    The market is like a network of individual brain cells. Each unit in the network only has access to a tiny fraction of the whole, but by cooperating the whole can perform computations exponentially beyond the capabilities of any individual cell. But like the brain, it only works if the signals are passed without interference. Mess with your neurotransmitters, using LSD for example, and the brain’s delicate algorithms for decoding the world produce hallucinations and delusions. Command economics and market interference are like LSD for economies.

    Murphy (like most Socialists) has preferences for the allocation of resources that differ from the rest of society. He wants us all to spend money on things that society as a collective whole – as expressed through the medium of markets – doesn’t. The market is therefore getting in the way of his seizing personal power over the rest of society (purely to improve it, of course), and he therefore considers this evidence of market “failure”. It’s not coming to the conclusions it should, in his estimation. He is therefore after additional information on the ways the market circumvents his coterie’s interference, so that he can disable those mechanisms and bring things more into line with his own personal economic hallucination.

    That there is some possibility that he might succeed is an example of exactly that classic market failure – the distortion of prices away from what a free market with perfect information would decide on. Protectionism is a common disease of the ‘economic brain’ – the vulnerability created when we allow the state to regulate the market.

  18. But this faith in markets is also odd.

    They are very easily manipulated by those with the most market share.

  19. They are very easily manipulated by those with the most market share.

    No they aren’t (aka “citation needed”). You need to have a non-contestable monopoly or monopsony (or damn close to one). Which is usually a regulatory outcome rather than a market one.

  20. Arnald>

    “They are very easily manipulated by those with the most market share.”

    Or, ‘the Jews’. Yes, yes, we get it. But given that we all know what you’re on about anyway, why not just say that instead of continuing to use euphemisms? It’s still just old fashioned antisemitic propaganda with one word changed.

  21. I work with a couple of companies with very large market shares (>50% in some cases) on issues to do with the pricing of their products. Let me tell you tahat their product managers absolutely do not agree that they can very easily manipulate the market.

  22. Arnauld:

    “They are very easily manipulated by those with the most market share.”

    If you are talking about cartels (either formally or informal) perhaps, but I think monop(s)plies are more spoken about than seen. I would quail at your use of ‘very easily’ though, and I suppose there’s a distinction between manipulation and leading a market.

    Take smartphones: did apple’s succes manipulate the market to theirs and Google’s advantage (and Nokia’s disbenefit), or did it simply out compete all existing mobile phone makers, incidentally showing Android how to get a foothold (and then how to take over)?

  23. Arnald,
    We have tax laws and an increasing number of politicians and bureaucrats to monitor and enforce them.

    If some companies are getting away with breaking the law, then the public sector needs to up its game.

    Would you agree?

  24. Apple didn’t “manipulate” the smartphone market, they just nailed it (I’m not a fan, nor a user, but the children are).

    The truth is that Apple could have charged a fair bit more. Now, prices are much lower. That’s competition not information.

  25. Advertising is market manipulation. If a company owned both a media outlet and a brand of a consumable, surely the public will only be influenced in that direction. Indeed, as more and more mergers happen, you’ll end up with fewer corps owning all the production. There would be no free choice between suppliers. So a corp may own an arms dealership selling to the Saudis who use them to kill civilians, and own the market leader in baby milk. I doubt they would put that about other than in small print in trading lists.

    You’re saying that tesco building shops in every nook and cranny is not manipulative. Or coca cola owning the only watering holes in developing countries and then switching of the tap and selling them coke instead? Or corps buying all patents to squash opposition. What’s happening with that oil price?

    You have to be stupid to think it doesn’t happen. And it’s one reason why the consumer needs more information.

    Fuck the maths. People are real and discerning and increasingly educated.

    Dave

    So it’s not jooz anymore? Anyway what the bollocks are you on?

  26. Advertising is market manipulation.

    Luckily, poor stupid people have other poor stupid people like you to tell them which adverts to ignore.

    If a company owned both a media outlet and a brand of a consumable, surely the public will only be influenced in that direction.

    Surprise! Not everyone is as stupid as you.

    Indeed, as more and more mergers happen, you’ll end up with fewer corps owning all the production. There would be no free choice between suppliers.

    Is this what is happening? Because I could have sworn that a number of the world’s biggest companies were started in the last 10 years, and all face threats by new entrants?

    So a corp may own an arms dealership selling to the Saudis

    Sorry to interrupt you here but if Iamnotaman sees this you’re for the rhetorical high jump.

    who use them to kill civilians, and own the market leader in baby milk. I doubt they would put that about other than in small print in trading lists.

    Hahahahahahahaha. You’re wasted in whatever lowlife job you have, you should be writing Hollywood movies.

    You’re saying that tesco building shops in every nook and cranny is not manipulative.

    Has not happened, other than in your fevered imagination.

    Or coca cola owning the only watering holes in developing countries and then switching of the tap and selling them coke instead?

    Ditto.

    Or corps buying all patents to squash opposition. What’s happening with that oil price?

    The oil price is going down, much to the disappointment of the Saudis, the corporations, and stockholding capitalists everywhere. What point are you struggling to make?

    You have to be stupid to think it doesn’t happen.

    But I thought you were arguing that it does happen?

    And it’s one reason why the consumer needs more information.

    One thing we are not short of now is information. But why not set up one of those A4 information sheets and deliver locally?

    Fuck the maths.

    The intelligentsia in action.

    People are real and discerning and increasingly educated.

    What – in Guernsey?

    Dave is a cunt though. I think he’s Ironbrain’s more intelligent twin.

  27. “Advertising is market manipulation.”

    Maybe, but only if it’s done right.

    This is just the usual OMGCAPITALISM! error. The assumption that everything that happens is somehow malign.

    Good advertising works, but the product has to work as well. The fact that it may “create a want you didn’t know you had”, may mean you end up buying something you didn’t even know about.

    To certain types this is bad, must mean manipulation, and must be stopped.

    To others, typically those buying and enjoying the product, it’s a good thing. After all, there’s no coercion, and people should make their own decisions.

    Many, on both sides of the political divide, may hate the choices people make – particularly those ghastly plebs – but they should go fuck themselves.

  28. Besides, advertising on the internet (which you can ignore) now means we all have access to a colossal amount of free stuff.

    Better still, the advertising follows what people like.

  29. “Advertising is market manipulation.”

    It’s market information, unless it’s misleading advertising which is a matter for the justice system. (i.e. fraud/theft.)

    “If a company owned both a media outlet and a brand of a consumable, surely the public will only be influenced in that direction.”

    You can’t own the whole internet. And people are already sufficiently cynical about advertising. You are – why would you expect the rest of us not to be?

    “Indeed, as more and more mergers happen, you’ll end up with fewer corps owning all the production.”

    And as you get more splits and start-ups, you’ll end up with more corporations owning it.

    Bigger companies ae often more efficient, and can provide the goods at a lower price. But they can only stay on top so long as they do provide them at a lower price. That’s exactly what we want.

    “So a corp may own an arms dealership selling to the Saudis who use them to kill civilians, and own the market leader in baby milk. I doubt they would put that about other than in small print in trading lists.”

    Their competitors would, though.

    If selling arms to the Saudis was a market disadvantage should it be known, a competitor can make more money by publicising it. It enables them to sell at a slightly higher price, and advertise it as ‘ethical’ milk.

    Or if the general public don’t agree with you that selling arms to the Saudis is such a bad thing, they won’t. It’s up to the public.

    “You’re saying that tesco building shops in every nook and cranny is not manipulative.”

    Tesco can only make a profit building sops in places where people want to shop. They can only outbid their competitors buying the land if they can get people to shop there and make more profit, by selling more goods at lower prices. They succeed by providing the service we want for least effort.

    “Or coca cola owning the only watering holes in developing countries and then switching of the tap and selling them coke instead?”

    That depends on how they go about stopping alternative water suppliers replacing them. It’s going to be as cheap to ship water in as cola, and considerably cheaper to make. So they’d be outbid and (locally at least) driven out of business – besides all the issues of local unpopularity it would cause. It makes no business sense.

    “Or corps buying all patents to squash opposition.”

    Patents are a matter of regulation – a government interference with the market to respond to a particular form of market failure.

    The issue is that certain hugely valuable products are massively expensive to invent, but very cheap to produce once they’ve been invented. That means nobody can make any money inventing them because everybody immediately copies them and sells at low prices enabled because they don’t have to pay the R&D costs. The government responded to this well-known ‘public goods’ market failure by offering limited-time monopolies in exchange for publishing the method so that others could more quickly build on it. That enables businesses to recover R&D costs, and so makes things like pharmaceuticals economically feasible to produce.

    Of course, as with all forms of regulation, it’s subject to abuse. It’s very hard to set an appropriate price, and there is a tendency for inventions of little value to get protection, while being still insufficient to motivate inventions of greater value still. State interference is a lot less effective than markets, but it has its place in certain limited circumstances.

    Ironic that you’d be complaining about it, though.

    “Fuck the maths.”

    I think that just about sums up Socialism, don’t you? 🙂

  30. I can’t be bothered to read everything and answer all the posts, but the purpose of markets is to allow the exchange of goods between a willing buyer and a willing seller, not to provide wish-fulfilment to any economics professor (not even a good one). An open outcry market will enable buyers to compare prices but the basic point is that a quarter of potatoes or a lb of apples are worth more to me than the fruit-and-veg stall. Certainly he can manipulate the market, but I’m not going to buy any potatoes at £1/lb.
    Arnald – no-one can get a monopoly of watering holes in a developing country and if Coca-Cola try someone will set one up in his back room. the only place you get monopolies in the 21st century are socialist countries with relatively efficient secret police.

  31. Arnster: you were behaving so nicely for quite a while but then, oh dear, you became all silly and ranty.

    Try avoiding the e-numbers and fizzy drinks and see if this helps.

  32. You need to have a non-contestable monopoly or monopsony (or damn close to one). Which is usually a regulatory outcome rather than a market one.

    Like the BBC, for example.

  33. I believe ‘the market’ is necessary. I just don’t have the strong faith in the players as you have.

    Interested, you div, OPEC have always manipulated the price of oil.

    The reason for fucking the maths is to align the argument in human terms. After all, the maths are just constructs, models. Producers may use the formulae but by plugging their variables in, does that not count as manipulation?

    Loss leaders. That’s manipulation. Mucking about with credit finance, that’s manipulation. Using aggressive tax avoidance vehicles is manipulation.

    Mr Ecks has been utterly manipulated by the words on the telly.

    OK let’s just say that I think we’d all be better off with more information.

    You’re happy with the status quo. Meh, I think that’s mendacious.

  34. Still not sure I understand why more “details” on corporate tax deals would be any kind of improvement in evaluating the market value of companies. The market cares about the outcomes of these tax negotiations, i.e., Google is going to pay another £130M in UK taxes, but why would the market give a fuck about the gory details of how they ended up paying £130M instead of some other sum?

  35. Like the BBC, for example.

    Al Beeb is a major and, arguably, overpowerful player but it is hardly a monopoly.

  36. Benedict Arnald: OPEC have always manipulated the price of oil.

    OPEC is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1960 by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. So that’s governments fixing and interfering in market prices then.

  37. What a strange bunch of people here with economic knowledge barely beyond EC101 and who can’t write without expletives, full of jealousy, intolerance and hate. If you guys are so good then how it comes you are not in some high flying advisory position. Oh, I forgot Worstall, a self-publicist, was an advisor to UKIP but got booted out, hardly an endorsement of expertise. Thanks for sending me to Murphy’s website. I see a bit of social compassion in his writings and did not spot anything on his website that attacked you guys.

  38. Dear Notacapitalist, here have a full refund and don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out.

  39. Bloke in North Dorset

    Interesting the baby milk is raised given what happened in the state planned market of China. Similarly the only real health scares in western markets have been when the State has intervened: anti freeze in wine being a case in point.

    The other point about collecting information, especially through systems like county by country reporting, is that it is out of date by the time the planners collect it and therefore of no use.

  40. Or corps buying all patents to squash opposition.

    The patent system was invented to open information, and mostly it works well at it.

    Patents last 14 years. Even if you buy them all up — and people don’t give good ones away cheap — they last 14 years. (Bit longer for medicines, sometimes.)

    Patents are published. Everyone who matters can see the information. Normally they make improvements, which they then patent themselves. The patent holder then, in order to use the improvement, has to come to some arrangement, and the product is now made by at least two firms. Until someone else makes a different improvement. (As a matter of note, very few patents are for actual inventions — almost all are for very minor improvements.)

    That’s why the recent flurry of patents for mobile phones seems unable to prevent a variety of mobile phones from hitting the market.

    In fact if you want to own and protect a market forever then you most certainly don’t patent it. That’s why perfume companies keep their recipes a very closely guarded secret. However most mechanical and electrical things can be reverse engineered.

    The whole “buy up the patents” thing is a fiction loved by conspiracy types. Even on the very rare occasions it happens, we’re talking the competition being set back a decade at most. More normally a couple of years.

  41. “The whole “buy up the patents” thing is a fiction loved by conspiracy types. Even on the very rare occasions it happens, we’re talking the competition being set back a decade at most. More normally a couple of years.”

    You mean like the oil induistry buying the patent on the home fusion engine?

  42. Bind

    The doings of the state has nothing to do with this argument: that the more information there is available about a company’s dealings, the better the decisions can be made.

    Anyway, the state responsible for that baby milk? Surely it was the market efficiently allocating cheaper milk where it was needed? With that most capitalist of traditions, the bribe.

    Country by countryreporting isn’t for the ‘planners’. How come supposedly intelligent people can’t understand plain English? It is not accounts nor information for just tax purposes.

    For what real reason do you guys oppose it? And for christ’s sake, forget about Murphy for once in your obsessed lives.

    Crun

    Sooo the manipulation of the oil price by major players, you know, the power to affect all our lives, has nothing to do with the market??

    Next you’ll be telling me that it’s all the government in Guernsey’s ideas that decide what laws to rush through to exploit new gaps in UK tax laws!

  43. The patent system was invented to open information, and mostly it works well at it.

    Bollocks. I used to work in a patent-heavy industry, and the primary reason for patenting stuff was to have patents that we could trade with our competitors, because everyone needed access to all those patents to make a product.

    The primary effect was to keep new, more innovative companies out of the market, because they couldn’t operate there without patents to trade.

  44. Arnald, you were the one that raised OPEC, an intergovernmental organisation that decides on production and supply of oil to the market – the courageous state(s) in action. I honestly thought you would embrace it as being a good thing. But here you decrying their interference in the market.

    I thought you liked having the State telling us what’s good for us.

  45. In fact if you want to own and protect a market forever then you most certainly don’t patent it. That’s why perfume companies keep their recipes a very closely guarded secret.

    Yup, we were talking about this the other day. Lea & Perrins, Coca Cola, Vimto, etc. do a far better job of stopping people copying their products by locking the recipe in a safe and telling everyone to keep their mouths shut.

  46. You mean like the oil induistry buying the patent on the home fusion engine?

    Heh! I hear this on FB every now and then, when people point to some crank video by an old bloke in a Christmas jumper in his garden shed supposedly showing an engine that runs on nothing but water and fresh air. Underneath are dozens of comments about how these machines were all invented decades ago but Big Oil bought all the blueprints (and presumably knocked-off the inventors, because they’re not sitting around on yachts, are they?) and stored them in a basement. Imagine my disappointment when I arrived in Big Oil HQ and went to the basement to see rows of perpetual motion machines and that was there was a swimming pool and some squash courts. 🙁

  47. On the home fusion engine: I would have thought that if any company stumbled on free energy, they’d rapidly diversify their business to take advantage.

    I mean, if a company that made AA batteries accidentally hit on home fusion, I’m pretty sure they’d find a way of reaping the untold billions whilst scaling back the production of duracells. Apple seemed OK with phones replacing ipods in their product set after all.

  48. So Much For Subtlety

    John square – “On the home fusion engine: I would have thought that if any company stumbled on free energy, they’d rapidly diversify their business to take advantage.”

    Unless the boss is Green. Amory Lovins objected to the possibility of Cold Fusion because he said giving the human race a source of plentiful, clean, cheap energy was like giving a nuclear bomb to an infant.

    As some dead person once said, people are rarely so innocently employed as when making money

  49. SE,

    “Al Beeb is a major and, arguably, overpowerful player but it is hardly a monopoly.”

    Yes it is. OK, they don’t have a monopoly on what you watch, but they do have a monopoly on £100+ of your money if you watch broadcast TV. In that situation (which most people are in), you have to buy their service.

  50. Crun

    “I thought you liked having the State telling us what’s good for us”

    The State is democratically elected, else it should be, it then has a mandate to influence the electorate as per its manifesto.

    We are influence far too much by unelected corps with no responsibility other than to its bosses and those with enough money to have a sizeable share of that corp.

    I do not share the majority view on here that these corporations act in our best interest. They would kill children for profit, and they do.

    The State is corruptible, of course, and can turn crony and totalitarian – that’s not my bag, so the electorate should be able to hold the State to account: that is something that will never be possible with the BigCorps. It is imbecilic to say those corps have no interference in our lives.

  51. I had a friend who utterly believed in that engine powered by water and the stolen patent. Very sensible chap otherwise.

    I blamed DMT for that one.

  52. Yep, ask your average Green if it’s a good or bad thing for mankind to discover unlimited clean energy and his/her mouth will turn down in disgust.

    You can’t keep your thumb on the plebs without a constant crisis, and unlimited, clean and almost free energy solves an awful lot of crises.

  53. So Much For Subtlety

    Arnald – “The State is democratically elected, else it should be, it then has a mandate to influence the electorate as per its manifesto.”

    So there was nothing wrong with what happened to Alan Turing?

    “I do not share the majority view on here that these corporations act in our best interest. They would kill children for profit, and they do.”

    I doubt any company has killed children for profit. But certainly states have done so for a lot less.

    “The State is corruptible, of course, and can turn crony and totalitarian – that’s not my bag, so the electorate should be able to hold the State to account: that is something that will never be possible with the BigCorps. It is imbecilic to say those corps have no interference in our lives.”

    Corporations are held to account by their shareholders and the voters. Which is at least one more layer than any government is. Which is why so few companies kill people. While governments have killed more people in the 20th century than existed on the planet about the time of Christ.

  54. The State is corruptible, of course, and can turn crony and totalitarian – that’s not my bag, so the electorate should be able to hold the State to account: that is something that will never be possible with the BigCorps. It is imbecilic to say those corps have no interference in our lives.

    You may have a point Arnald, but I’d like to know how many of these unaccountable BigCorps make most of their money from:

    1) Providing services to government; and/or
    2) Providing services to comply with government directives.

    Government and unaccountable BigCorps are two sides of the same coin.

  55. Companies are not just accountable to their shareholders: every customer in the market will hold them to account. It’s total democracy – no company that ignores its customers will survive in its present form.

    Some lefties understand this, hence campaigns such as the Nestle boycott.

    Unfortunately for us, governments seem to see it as their role to ride roughshod over the voters.

  56. I think the point about the oil industry buying up clean energy or the pharma industry hiding the cure for cancer because “there’s no money in curing people” can best be answered by asking “do you have ANY IDEA how much money you could make selling those, you IDIOT?”. The concept that somehow care providers or individuals won’t pay for a cancer cure is utterly laughable. As is clean, free energy – if Shell or Exxon got their hands on that, all you’d hear is laughter as the execs rolled around on a big bed of money.

    And as for corporations refusing the release technologies that supercede their core business, remember that the very first digital camera was built in 1975 by Kodak, a company that has since been completely wiped out by a better solution

    http://petapixel.com/2010/08/05/the-worlds-first-digital-camera-by-kodak-and-steve-sasson/

  57. @TimNewman – also worth noting that corporations are not cast in stone and they don’t last for ever – even when you get up to the size of Fortune 500 multinational, the average life expectancy is 40-50 years and then they’re dead.

  58. also worth noting that corporations are not cast in stone and they don’t last for ever – even when you get up to the size of Fortune 500 multinational, the average life expectancy is 40-50 years and then they’re dead.

    Indeed. I have taken great delight in pointing out this to a lot of my colleagues with oil falling below $28, and their reaction varies between outright denial and shock.

  59. I do not share the majority view on here that these corporations act in our best interest. They would kill children for profit, and they do.

    They should just dronebomb the children like Obama.

  60. Yes it is. OK, they don’t have a monopoly on what you watch, but they do have a monopoly on £100+ of your money if you watch broadcast TV. In that situation (which most people are in), you have to buy their service.

    Their oversized market share also allows them to help set the statist agenda, much as we see with the state broadcasters in most other western countries.

  61. “I do not share the majority view on here that these corporations act in our best interest. They would kill children for profit, and they do.”

    Who does? Name these companies, please.

  62. “Companies are not just accountable to their shareholders: every customer in the market will hold them to account. It’s total democracy ”

    You see, this is where we differ. I don’t believe this for a second. Shareholder revolts are very few and far between – in the BigCorps, and those corps will have such a large influence on consumer choice that even with a Nestlé type consumer boycott, it only affected their reputation. Did the boycott work? Well, you’d expect after the length of time and the negative publicity, that if this market were democratic then its behaviour would change.

    Hardly.

    It has yet to accept that the Code and Resolutions are minimum standards for all countries

    It has been the State that has done the most work by bringing in regulation, multilaterally.

  63. “Who does? Name these companies, please.”

    BAe? Caterpillar? Nestlé? (as above)

    There are a lot of them. Corporate behaviour has little impact on the decisions made by shareholders. It’s all about the cash, see? They would never vote against their own interests.

    Coca Cola? They’re bastards. Just far too many..

  64. Arnald – the fact that a consumer boycott of Nestlé failed is evidence that the market IS democratic. Not enough people agreed sufficiently strongly with the boycott for it to make a difference. You simply cannot argue that democracy only works when people agree with you.

  65. Caterpillar?

    Sorry, bullshit. Activists seem to think Caterpillar should be held responsible for what people do with their equipment once purchased. They rightly got told to fuck off.

    Note: the only country towards which this line of argument is applied just so happens, no doubt coincidentally, to be the Jewish one.

  66. TN

    Caterpillar sells stuff to regimes that use them to squash civilians. If the shareholders thought that was irresponsible use of their products, then they would object, no?

    If they do object then they are powerless, if they don’t, then they approve of the use.

    After all a regime could change its supplier of children crushing machines.

    We’re talking about the democratic process within corps. I call bullshit that it happens, or when it does, it’s because the shareholders are losing cash.

  67. “the fact that a consumer boycott of Nestlé failed is evidence that the market IS democratic”

    That’s rubbish, FA. Nestle have not acted full stop. It refuses accountability. The blind adherence to this fantasy that corps are democratic is just as odd as religion.

  68. ‘I do not share the majority view on here that these corporations act in our best interest. They would kill children for profit, and they do.’

    Fucking hell. Who exactly declares war on other countries and bombs the shit out of them? Governments, you loon. Coca Cola can’t do that. They may not be perfect – though what the fuck, I can’t stand the stuff but it’s just a glass of fucking Coke you tit – but socialism has killed tens and possibly hundreds of millions.

    The thing you *really* can’t stand is that they have to build walls around your uptopian states to keep in people who would quite like a glass of Coke. People vote with their feet, which is why your sort machine gun them. For their own good.

  69. ‘Caterpillar sells stuff to regimes that use them to squash civilians. If the shareholders thought that was irresponsible use of their products, then they would object, no?’

    Right. ‘Regimes’ squash people. The killers employed by regimes also drive to and from their squashing meetings in cars, wearing underpants, and eating biscuits. So that’s Vauxhall, M&S and McVitie involved too.

  70. So Much For Subtlety

    Arnald – “Caterpillar sells stuff to regimes that use them to squash civilians. If the shareholders thought that was irresponsible use of their products, then they would object, no?”

    At least one of them did. Caterpillar sells stuff. Israel uses them. If the odd American idiot wants to lie down underneath those bulldozers I don’t see why that is Caterpillar’s fault or problem.

    Arnald – “Nestle have not acted full stop. It refuses accountability. The blind adherence to this fantasy that corps are democratic is just as odd as religion.”

    Of course Nestle has acted – it shouldn’t have but it did. It is now very hard to get their products in the Third World. They refuse to supply hospitals.

    It is a mistake to give in to irrational SJW bullying. Because they will just demand more. Nestle was doing nothing wrong and it shouldn’t have stopped.

  71. So Much For Subtlety

    Arnald – “We’re talking about the democratic process within corps. I call bullshit that it happens, or when it does, it’s because the shareholders are losing cash.”

    I am willing to bet that more people died in the Stafford Hospital system – run by the State and still with no one actually punished – in a single year, say, 2007, than have been killed by Caterpillar’s products in Israel in all the intafadas put together.

    But I am willing to bet you don’t give a damn about any of those deaths.

  72. “Companies are not just accountable to their shareholders: every customer in the market will hold them to account. It’s total democracy ”

    You see, this is where we differ. I don’t believe this for a second. Shareholder revolts are very few and far between – in the BigCorps,

    Revolting shareholders, and customers are not the same groups.

    and those corps will have such a large influence on consumer choice that even with a Nestlé type consumer boycott, it only affected their reputation. Did the boycott work? Well, you’d expect after the length of time and the negative publicity, that if this market were democratic then its behaviour would change.

    The Nestle boycott may well have worked if enough customers cared about the campaign. See, this is democracy in action – the campaign failed because it didn’t have popular support.

    That’s rubbish, FA. Nestle have not acted full stop. It refuses accountability. The blind adherence to this fantasy that corps are democratic is just as odd as religion.

    Do you really, honestly, believe that Nestle would have done SFA if their bottom line was being eroded by a mass customer boycott?

  73. SMBS

    “Nestle was doing nothing wrong and it shouldn’t have stopped”

    You base this on what?

    You’re so full of shit, all of the time.

  74. Arnald – let’s try a though experiment. Let’s imagine that the Nestle boycott was hugely successful and their sales went down 40% across all their product lines. It was so successful that it made front page news, spread from country to country and threatened the existence of the company, all down to one simple idea that seized the imagination of consumers in every market where they operate. Would they have acted then? Yes they would, they would have had to and the directors would have been in breach of their duties if they hadn’t.

    The point is that the boycott failed because not enough people cared enough to make it matter in any way. And if you can’t drum up enough popular support and you fail, that’s pretty much the definition of democracy right there. A small group of vocal and highly committed activists is not the same as a mass movement, not matter how much you may personally agree with it.

  75. Caterpillar sells stuff to regimes that use them to squash civilians.

    Yes, but it was just Israel that the boycotters objected to. And they didn’t go after Komatsu. So the boycotters rightly got told to fuck off.

    If the shareholders thought that was irresponsible use of their products, then they would object, no?

    Yes, but the majority of shareholders categorically didn’t think it was.

  76. FA

    I’m talking about the shareholders. Nestlé’s behaviour was so obviously unethical, and as happens in all big corps, even if the small shareholders didn’t approve, the company wouldn’t give a shit about their opposition.

    As I said, the number of boycotters would have to be massive, absolutely massive, across all product ranges under the parent company’s umbrella, to affect the bottom line.

    I mean, look at them all.

    Seriously, you still cling on to that notion that consumer action can make a blind bit of difference to a company that size?

    It even shrugs off reputational damage.

    And look at other corps that get away with anything, SFO investigations, malpractice, tax evasion – paltry fines at best. Yet nothing from shareholders, consumers uncaring.

    Would an individual care if it were their neighbours breaking bad? Of course they would, they could understand that type of action. The general public are suckered by glossy promotion and anodyne legislation, in the name of the market.

    The better informed the consumer, the more likely the corps will become more responsible. You can’t trust shareholders or directors.

  77. TN

    Yes, that’s another state of affairs. People not caring about bulldozing people’s houses down, or Bahrainians getting gassed by UK products, in that Arab Spring that the UK government were all in favour of.

    I disagree with the statement that consumers have a working ‘vote’ to influence businesses of that size. It may be fine to boycott the take away down the road, but it doesn’t carry forward.

    And do you think a government would assist in taking a corp to task? Bollocks they would.

  78. Yes, that’s another state of affairs. People not caring about bulldozing people’s houses down

    It’s not a question of people not caring, at least not in the context of Caterpillar: it is a question of not establishing a precedent whereby the original suppliers of equipment bear responsibility for what somebody goes on to do with that equipment. To anybody but the swivel-eyed anti-semites who support boycotting the Jewish state but none other, this is rather obvious even if you do care about homes being bulldozed.

  79. Interestingly, Robert Heinlein’s novel “Friday” is set against the backdrop of a world-wide corporate war between different elements of the “Shipstone Corporation” which is:

    a) A provider of free green energy (you just have to buy the Shipstones to store it in) and

    b) Owns, iirc (it’s not relevant to the plot but it is to this thread), Coca-Cola. I don’t recall Nestle or Caterpillar being mentioned.

  80. As I said, the number of boycotters would have to be massive, absolutely massive, across all product ranges under the parent company’s umbrella, to affect the bottom line.

    Yes – but each product has a product manager, each division a Sales Director (or EVP), each subsidiary a CEO and CFO. All of those get concerned at a much lower level and, not least because their bonuses depend on the profit, will squeal internally. Which has quite a considerable effect.

  81. It’s not a question of people not caring, at least not in the context of Caterpillar: it is a question of not establishing a precedent whereby the original suppliers of equipment bear responsibility for what somebody goes on to do with that equipment.

    Entirely. There is even an international regulatory regime, the Wassenaar Arrangement, which deals with those technologies which, as well as clearly military ones, are considered dual-use.

    Building machinery, despite its clear capabilities for both govt and private (corporate or personal) abuse, aren’t on the list.

  82. “Arnald

    Yes, that’s another state of affairs. People not caring about bulldozing people’s houses down”

    Were you to show you care by going to Palestine and standing in front of a bulldozer you would hear nothing but cheering and applause from me.

  83. I remember going back a while when bans on land mines started coming in that a shareholder group tabled a resolution for the GE AGM that they reverse their decicison to stop making land mines as they were a profitable product. The board objected on the grounds of ethics and reputational damage.
    The proposer of the resolution – a trade union group, after all the jobs of their members were more important

  84. Arnald – You haven’t mention the really serious things giant corporations are planning, you know, the free simcards using which they will be able to emit a signal that makes us all want to kill each other while they hide away in their secret lair.

    Or is it the giant space laser they’ll be using to blackmail governments with that you think we should be most worried about?

  85. Knob

    I’ve never busked. And no, maybe not Coca Cola, but what about oil companies in Nigeria? Or mines in South Africa?

    http://www.projectcensored.org/16-mercenary-armies-in-service-to-global-corporations/

    Halliburton?

    “Called a knob by a busker who thinks Coca-cola will be recruiting armoured regiments in the future.”

    That’s how low you’ve got.

    Isn’t the take over of resources an extension of competition?

    OK, so corp wars is pure sci fi, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

    AndrewC

    RFID? It was considered a risk for a while. Loyalty cards certainly snoop. You can’t escape GPS nowadays. As consumers we lap it all up without thought. Privatisation of surveillance? IP tracking? The whole internet history thing.

    If you’d had said all that a generation ago (ish) it would have sounded far-fetched.

    So no, no lasers or mind control. Nor conspiracy theories. Just stuff that’s already happening.

    It’s less crazy than everyone here’s belief that feminist Marxists are marching through our institutions and that socialist scum are somehow responsible for forcing us to be puritans.

  86. The better informed the consumer, the more likely the corps will become more responsible. You can’t trust shareholders or directors.

    But in the case you constantly harp over, Nestle, people were informed – they were simply willing to overlook it (and that just pisses you off) because they didn’t share your worldview. Unfortunately, that’s what democracy is Arnald.
    <blockquote.The general public are suckered by glossy promotion…
    Right – and you are there to so kindly guide the poor little lambs to a better way of living

  87. Preview, please…

    The better informed the consumer, the more likely the corps will become more responsible. You can’t trust shareholders or directors.

    But in the case you constantly harp over, Nestle, people were informed – they were simply willing to overlook it (and that just pisses you off) because they didn’t share your worldview. Unfortunately, that’s what democracy is Arnald.

    The general public are suckered by glossy promotion…

    Right – and you are there to so kindly guide the poor little lambs to a better way of living

  88. The clue’s in the word mercenary.

    Changing the subject. Clearly.

    There are mercenary armies. Like the Gurkha.

    Then there are private mercenary armies. Which would last against a professional army for very slightly longer than it took them to get within range.

    However, the original charge was:

    Seriously though, corps will get powerful enough to raise armies.

    Which they are not and they won’t. Blackwater, at its height, put less than a battalion of very, very light infantry in to Iraq.

    Now, if you’d bothered to read the article (which you clearly didn’t), you might have asked yourself who was hiring those guards? Governments – mainly the US.

    As opposed to Coca-Cola launching an brigade-strength assault on 5301 Legacy Drive.

  89. dc

    “Right – and you are there to so kindly guide the poor little lambs to a better way of living”

    When have I said I would do that?

    “they were simply willing to overlook it”

    The Nestlé thing was a big deal spanning decades. My argument is that it would be near impossible for a consumer boycott to do much more than some label changes.

    Nothing at all to do with what I think should happen.

    Can you read?

  90. Arnald, Río Tinto Zinc publish a 100 page report on their tax affairs every year. If every quoted company did that, that’s a lot of information to assimilate. Who is going to do that apart from an anomalous construct called the market?

  91. As ever I love Murphy’s belief that country by country reporting will be a simple, transparent mechanism that explains everything.
    The complexities of management accounting and Financial reporting for multi-nationals just means this isnt going to be any better than the existing statements. As has been pointed out segment reporting isn’t anything new and many companies already include some geographical analysis in the annual report.

  92. Knob. But Coke ain’t clean

    Those links are more a reflection of Coca Cola’s No.1 position in the marketplace than their alleged poor practices. The Economist once ran an article on the perils of being No.1 (and the benefits of being No.2), one of which was being No.1 makes you the target for all sorts of cranks, lobbyists, and conspiracy nuts. McDonald’s gets criticized where Burger King doesn’t; Coca Cola gets criticized where Pepsi doesn’t; Nestle gets criticised where Mars doesn’t; and America gets criticised where Germany doesn’t.

  93. “that’s a lot of information to assimilate”

    Yeah, are you saying it can’t be done in this day and age? You have low expectations.

    BniC, have you ready the CbC spec? Can you be precise with your criticism? If it’s no different to what’s there now, why the resistance?

    Patten

    I’ve been quite vocal the last few weeks. Much to everyone’s amusement I’m sure. They have poor senses of humour.

    TN

    Are they? Or are they market leaders because they’re able to get away with that sort of behaviour? Are you saying it’s the competitors drumming up the allegations. Why would a company attract opprobrium from consumers only because it’s a market leader?

    This is my cousin

    He knows a fair bit about Coca Cola and strategy.

  94. Or are they market leaders because they’re able to get away with that sort of behaviour?

    No.

    Are you saying it’s the competitors drumming up the allegations.

    No.

    Why would a company attract opprobrium from consumers only because it’s a market leader?

    Because if you’re a crank you’ll want to come up with question such as “Are they market leaders because they’re able to get away with that sort of behaviour?”

  95. He knows a fair bit about Coca Cola and strategy.

    I dare say he does. Can he come on here and confirm the allegations which are made in the links you provide?

  96. TN

    Remarkable hubris. Any evidence for your claims? There’s plenty of evidence against CC.

    By the way, many of the accusations against Coca Cola have been made against PepsiCo.

    So you are wrong.

  97. And my point about market leaders being where they are because of various tricks is valid. Microsoft had to bend to the EU because it was recognised that packaging the browser squashed the competition. If it wasn’t market leader it couldn’t have done that and get away with it for so long.

    etc etc

    Halliburton didn’t get where they are today without a whole host of privileges other corps couldn’t hope to compete with.

    Come on, you must know these things. You’re just being contrary because it’s me saying it.

  98. Remarkable hubris. Any evidence for your claims?

    I’m not aware I’ve made any.

    By the way, many of the accusations against Coca Cola have been made against PepsiCo.

    But an awful lot fewer. Because they’re not No.1.

    And my point about market leaders being where they are because of various tricks is valid.

    Yes, but if you include private armies and murder in the definition of “various tricks” you are a crank.

    Halliburton didn’t get where they are today without a whole host of privileges other corps couldn’t hope to compete with.

    Which validates my earlier point about BigCorp doing work for governments.

  99. “But an awful lot fewer. Because they’re not No.1.”

    It still doesn’t make sense. Are they or aren’t they behaving as the legal cases are making out? Why does it matter where they are as market share. You’re implying that other badly behaved corps get away with it simply because they can as an underdog?

    The ‘private armies’ conversation was about ‘corp wars’. A prediction. I was pointing out that corps do hire private armies, at the moment it’s for protecting oil pipes and the like.

    Dirty tricks are in a different conversation, it started off as an accusation that major players and BigCorps have the power to manipulate markets.

    I maintain that happens. You seem to have faith in their PR and the idea that BigCorps are beautiful and blame free and it’s cranks that don’t believe otherwise.

  100. You seem to have faith in their PR and the idea that BigCorps are beautiful and blame free and it’s cranks that don’t believe otherwise.

    No, I just think you’re talking shite.

  101. It still doesn’t make sense.

    I’ll try to explain.

    Consider, just for the sake of a thought experiment, that you’re a nutter with a keyboard and a massive chip on your shoulder about multi-national corporations. You really want to cause one of them some trouble, but your time is limited. Do you:

    a) Pick the market leading brand as your campaign target; or
    b) Pick an obscure brand that hardly anyone has heard of.

    Does it start to make sense now that the no.1 company in each sector will attract the most nutters? Other companies might still attract some: after all, their nutters might not notice that their chosen target is relative small fry. We would expect that the nutter share for each company to be directly proportional to the market share of that company.

  102. No, I’m sorry, that doesn’t wash.

    Some, and of course not all, of the allegations will be true. They’re not invented by keyboard warriors.

    That’s a conspiracy theory by itself. There’s nothing worse than idiots rubbishing the plight of others.

    There’s never anything to see, is there?

    Read the legal cases.

  103. So, Tesco, market leader. Caught out for dirty tricks. Not paying suppliers. It didn’t get where it is today by not doing them.

    Nutters, was it? Spreading lies? The watchdog, hiding behind anonymity, spouting shit?

    Oh dear, next you’ll be defending them and claiming it’s perfectly normal and SJW’s are just jealous. Or something.

    Bah.

  104. So, Tesco, market leader. Caught out for dirty tricks. Not paying suppliers.

    Almost every large company where the finance dept isn’t under strong control of the business units (that would be, everyone I’ve every invoiced) plays this game. Because they know you need their business more than they need yours.

    They aren’t _always_ right.

  105. SE

    IF everyone spent all their time reading all the explanatory stuff put out by all the multi national companies, then we would know better. Arnald thinks that information overload is easy to handle. No comment.

  106. Diogenes

    A corp listing allegations would be silly, I was countering the argument that corps can be held to account by consumer power.

    The corps are far to big and diverse for that to be possible. I was also saying that big corps get away with dirty tricks precisely because of their size. It was argued that market leaders don’t cheat, the allegations all originate with nutters with nothing better to do.

    For CbC, I’m not understanding why there would be information overload.

    So, Diogenes and his quest for virtue, and his cynicism, sees no cynical behaviour and ignores corruption?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *