1 April 2014

Stock Market - Ponzi Scheme or Engine for Growth?

When the share price of the likes of Facebook climbs to levels that appear to be absurd when compared to traditional yardsticks of value one has to wonder what the function of a stock market is supposed to be. What happens in cases such as Facebook etal is that the saving public (via the services of momentum-chasing fiduciaries in the fund and private banking industry) hands their hard-earned money to the insiders who can cash in their chips and bank immense amounts of money. Has any value been created by this casino-like activity? Only if you believe that the transfer of money from losers to winners at the poker table creates value. The huge transfer of wealth - especially in the USA, but to a lesser extent in all stock markets - not only concentrates wealth in the hands of the few ultimate winners (remember the poker table!), it also creates a drag on economic and income growth as the few tend to hoard most of their gains - how many steaks can you eat? not mentioning how many monster yachts or ostentatious holiday homes can even the Super rich acquire? Stock markets are a useful and necessary tool to share risk and finance long-term investment but at present they are not serving the interests of the wider investment public. Only those that can avoid the hype - or get of the roller coaster at the right time - benefit from investing in shares in the present market structure.