The Great Debate

from MacroScope:

The end of capitalism

Hard to imagine with financial markets still buoyant and newspapers full of tales of bonus greed, but there is still the possibility that captialism will end.  At least there is according to prestigious investment consultants Watson Wyatt in their latest study called "Extreme Risks".

The firm listed the demise of the system of private ownership as one of 15 threats to investors and the global economy that probably won't happen but which it reckons are worth worrying about anyway. The idea behind the report is that such things as climate change, the break up of the euro zone and war are always worth being included in an investment risk management process.

As for the future of capitalism:

In our view, the most likely scenario is moving along from one end of a spectrum where market is king (minimum regulation) towards the other end, where we could see more onerous regulations and government intervention in, and control of, the economy. The extreme risk, however, is the demise of the capitalist system and the end of the market as the primary means of resource allocation.

And the impact:

The economy would be likely to run a higher risk of failure and economic growth would be sluggish in the long run due to lower productivity.  Centrally controlled economies tend to be characterised by shortages, which are inherently inflationary. Private investment activities would collapse or even be terminated. The end of capitalism is simply the ultimate extreme risk. The economy is likely to be associated with extreme uncertainty and a large amount of wealth destruction during the transition period.

Watson Wyatt does try to give its free market clients some hope, suggesting that buying gold may be one way to hedge against the propect of capitalism's demise. But it admitted that in such a circumstance investors would probably be more concerned about the return of their investments rather that the return on them.

from Environment Forum:

Trade lessons for climate negotiators

- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own --

As hopes for reaching a binding agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions at the Copenhagen summit die, climate negotiators could learn useful lessons on how to structure the negotiations from the multiple rounds of trade talks within the GATT/WTO framework.

Climate negotiations are about limiting carbon dioxide emissions, but the negotiators are also hammering out a complex economic instrument that will define the distribution of production, energy use and income in the next few decades. It is the agreement's profound economic effects that are making it so hard to reach a final deal.

While the stalled negotiations on the Doha Round might make it seem likely an unlikely role model, the GATT/WTO process has successfully created a legal framework for liberalising world trade through eight successive rounds of increasingly complex negotiations, as well as a dispute settlement system accepted by all major countries.