The competitive markets of traditional capitalism help make modern economies successful. But they cannot do everything.
The little question for asset managers is why they earn so much. Buyside pay could soon overtake that of the investment bankers, the traditional “masters of the universe.” But the bigger question is what the industry should do with the $150 trillion it manages.
After a dozen job changes over 35 years, it is too late for me to become a loyal employee. But I know the model of the faithful worker. The dental assistant who used to tend to my teeth worked at the same small practice for about 35 years before retiring, with deep regret, two years ago. She stopped by regularly afterwards, because she wanted to stay in touch with the community that had defined so much of her life.
Economic systems that work well do not have many heroes. The elevated status of the world’s central bankers – seen in the close attention paid to their annual get-together last weekend in Jackson Hole, Wyoming – is a sign that the financial system works badly.
The public has a right to know. Individuals have a right to privacy. The common good is served by both these contradictory statements, so someone has to decide how to balance them when they come into conflict. When it comes to internet search, the European Union’s Court of Justice has given the job to search engine providers such as Google. In a way, that’s a good call.