Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Profit, Regulation and Responsibility

The last few years have put several of our economy's weaknesses on prominent display. Lack of basic regulation, excessive lending/borrowing (on the assumption of permanent growth!) and a series of issues with corporate governance have all been themes that have impacted the last few years' recession. This article from Sunday's New York Times discusses a few of the themes as related to private equity firms and the case of Simmons Mattresses.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/business/economy/05simmons.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1 (my thanks to @abraaten for bringing the article to my attention)

It is important to move past the knee-jerk negative reaction to the operations of Equity Firms and other financial sharks - they are an important part of the economic system. That said there are glaring problems with corporate governance and basic regulatory standards revealed in this case study. Make no mistake, I am a great fan of the competitive capitalist model - without pressure from some kind of constraint there is no efficiency in any undertaking. That said there is also no such thing as a completely free market, unless piracy counts I suppose.

The question isn't the false dichotomy of regulation vs. deregulation, the issue is what the details of regulation will be. Fundamental ignorance about the complexity of the system leads to pointless discussions about straw-man issues.

We as Canadians and Americans need to elevate the conversation about our economy, and how societal concerns are expressed in its organization, whether those concerns be environmental, cultural, financial or personal.

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