Understanding Trade in Intermediate Goods

Understanding Trade in Intermediate Goods

 

One of the key source of International Trade statistics is a document published by the UNCTAD since 2013:

Key Statistics and Trends in International Trade

Please see references below to access reports for 2015 and 2016.

 

In 2014, out of USD 18.5 trillion in global trade, about USD 8 trillion was in intermediate goods.

 

From TRADE IN INTERMEDIATE GOODS AND SERVICES

Introduction: the international dimension of the exchange of intermediate inputs

1. Trade in intermediate inputs has been steadily growing over the last decade. However, despite the internationalisation of production and the increasing importance of outsourcing and foreign investment, some studies have found little rise in intermediate goods trade as a share of total trade1. More than half of goods trade is however made up of intermediate inputs and trade in services is even more of an intermediate type with about three quarters of trade flows being comprised of intermediate services. Trade in intermediate goods and services thus deserves special attention from trade policymakers and so far few studies have investigated how it differs from trade in consumption goods or services.

2. An intermediate good can be defined as an input to the production process that has itself been produced and, unlike capital, is used up in production3. The difference between intermediate and capital goods lies in the latter entering as a fixed asset in the production process. Like any primary factor (such as labour, land, or natural resources) capital is used but not used up in the production process4. On the contrary, an intermediate good is used, often transformed, and incorporated in the final output. As an input, an intermediate good has itself been produced and is hence defined in contrast to a primary input. As an output, an intermediate good is used to produce other goods (or services) contrary to a final good which is consumed and can be referred to as a “consumption good”.

3. Intermediate inputs are not restricted to material goods; they can also consist of services. Thelatter can be potentially used as an input to any sector of the economy; that is for the production of the same, or other services, as well as manufacturing goods. Symmetrically, manufacturing goods can be potentially used to produce the same, or other manufacturing goods, as well as services.

4. An important question we can ask is how to identify inputs among all goods and services produced in an economy. Many types of goods can be easily distinguished as inputs, when their use excludes them from final consumption. Notable examples include chemical substances, construction materials, or business services. The exact same type of good used as an input to some production process can however be destined to consumption. For instance, oranges can be sold to households as a final good, as well as to a factory as an input for food preparation. Telecommunication services can be sold to individuals or to business services firms as an intermediate input for their output. The United Nations distinguish commodities in each basic heading on the basis of the main end-use (United Nations, 2007). It is however recognized that many commodities that are traded internationally may be put to a variety of uses. Other methodologies involve the use of input-output (I-O) tables to distinguish between intermediate and consumption goods.

5. The importance of intermediate goods and services in the economy and trade is associated with a number of developments in the last decades. Growth and increased sophistication of production has given birth to strategies involving fragmentation and reorganisation of firm’s activities, both in terms of ownership boundaries, as in terms of the location for production. In what follows, the international dimension of the exchange of intermediate goods and services is explored by clarifying terms and concepts as well as the links between trade in intermediate inputs and FDI.

From Key Statistics and Trends in International Trade 2015

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From Key Statistics and Trends in International Trade 2015

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 From Key Statistics and Trends in International Trade 2015

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From Key Statistics and Trends in International Trade 2015

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From Key Statistics and Trends in International Trade 2015

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From Key Statistics and Trends in International Trade 2015

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From Key Statistics and Trends in International Trade 2015

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From Key Statistics and Trends in International Trade 2015

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From Key Statistics and Trends in International Trade 2015

Trade networks relating to global value chains have evolved during the last 10 years. In 2004, the East Asian production network was still in its infancy. Most trade flows of parts and components concerned the USA and the European Union, with a number of other countries loosely connected with these two main hubs. As of 2014 trade of parts and components was much more developed. The current state is characterized not only by the prominent role of China, but also by a much more tightly integrated network with a much larger number of countries many of which have multiple connections to different hubs.

From Mapping Global Value Chains: Intermediate Goods Trade and Structural Change in the World Economy

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Key sources of Research:

 

TRADE IN INTERMEDIATE GOODS AND SERVICES

OECD Trade Policy Working Paper No. 93
by Sébastien Miroudot, Rainer Lanz and Alexandros Ragoussis

2009

https://www.oecd.org/trade/its/44056524.pdf

 

 

An Essay on Intra-Industry Trade in Intermediate Goods

Rosanna Pittiglio

2014

http://file.scirp.org/pdf/ME_2014051916452646.pdf

 

 

The Rise of International Supply Chains: Implications for Global Trade

http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GETR/2012/GETR_Chapter1.2.pdf

 

 

 

Growing Trade in Intermediate Goods: Outsourcing, Global Sourcing or Increasing
Importance of MNE Networks?

by
Jörn Kleinert
October 2000

https://www.ifw-kiel.de/ifw_members/publications/growing-trade-in-intermediate-goods-outsourcing-global-sourcing-or-increasing-importance-of-mne-networks/kap1006.pdf

 

 

 

Imported Inputs and the Gains from Trade

Ananth Ramanarayanan
University of Western Ontario
September, 2014

https://www.economics.utoronto.ca/index.php/index/research/downloadSeminarPaper/49816

 

 

 

Key Statistics and Trends in International Trade 2015

Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ditctab2015d1_en.pdf

 

 

 

Key Statistics and Trends in International Trade 2016

Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ditctab2016d3_en.pdf

 

 

Integration of Trade and Disintegration of Production in the Global Economy

Robert C. Feenstra
Revised, April 1998

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.39.7178&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

 

 

GLOBAL VALUE CHAINS: CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES, AND IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY

OECD, WTO and World Bank Group
Report prepared for submission to the G20 Trade Ministers Meeting Sydney, Australia, 19 July 2014

https://www.oecd.org/tad/gvc_report_g20_july_2014.pdf

 

 

Trade in Value Added: Concepts, Estimation and Analysis

Marko Javorsek* and Ignacio Camacho

20015

http://www.unescap.org/sites/default/files/AWP150Trade%20in%20Value%20Added.pdf

 

 

The Similarities and Differences among Three Major Inter-Country Input-Output Databases and their Implications for Trade in Value-Added Estimates

Lin Jones and Zhi Wang, United States International Trade Commission Li Xin, Beijing Normal University and Peking University Christophe Degain, World Trade Organization

December, 2014

https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/ec201412b.pdf

 

 

Advanced Topics in Trade
Lecture 9 – Multinational Firms and Foreign Direct Investment

Heiwai Tang – SAIS
April 8, 2015

http://www.hwtang.com/uploads/3/0/7/2/3072318/lecture_8_new.pdf

 

 

Efforts to Measure Trade in Value-Added and Map Global Value Chains: A Guide

Andrew Reamer

May 29, 2014

https://gwipp.gwu.edu/files/downloads/Reamer_ISA_Trade_in_Value_Added_05-29-2014.pdf

 

 

 

Global Value Chains for Value Added and Intermediate Goods in Asia

N Shrestha

20015

http://www.econ.ynu.ac.jp/cessa/publication/pdf/CESSA%20WP%202015-07.pdf

 

 

 

Global Value Chains: The New Reality of International Trade

Sherry Stephenson
December 2013

http://e15initiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/E15-GVCs-Stephenson-Final.pdf

 

 

Asia and Global Production Networks Implications for Trade, Incomes and Economic Vulnerability

Benno Ferrarini

David Hummels

20014

https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/149221/asia-and-global-production-networks.pdf

 

 

Participation of Developing Countries in Global Value Chains:
Implications for Trade and Trade-Related Policies

by
Przemyslaw Kowalski, Javier Lopez Gonzalez, Alexandros Ragoussis
and Cristian Ugarte

https://www.die-gdi.de/uploads/media/OECD_Trade_Policy_Papers_179.pdf

 

 

GLOBAL VALUE CHAINS: SURVEYING DRIVERS, MEASURES AND IMPACTS

João Amador
Sónia Cabral

2014

https://www.bportugal.pt/sites/default/files/anexos/papers/wp20143.pdf

 

World Intermediate goods Exports By Country and Region

2014

WITS World International Trade Statistics

http://wits.worldbank.org/CountryProfile/en/Country/WLD/Year/2014/TradeFlow/Export/Partner/all/Product/UNCTAD-SoP2

 

 

Trade in global value chains

2013

WTO

https://www.wto.org/english/res_e/statis_e/its2013_e/its13_highlights4_e.pdf

 

 

The Rise of Trade in Intermediates: Policy Implications

  • February 10, 2011

http://carnegieendowment.org/2011/02/10/rise-of-trade-in-intermediates-policy-implications-pub-42578

 

 

International trade with intermediate and final goods under economic crisis

Elżbieta Czarny, Warsaw School of Economics
Paweł Folfas, Warsaw School of Economics
Katarzyna Śledziewska, Warsaw University

http://www.etsg.org/ETSG2012/Programme/Papers/375.pdf

 

 

 

Trade in Intermediate Goods: Implications for Productivity and Welfare in Korea

Young Gui Kim

Hak K. PYO

Date Written: December 30, 2016

 

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2929118

 

 

Growing Together: Economic Ties between the United States and Mexico

BY CHRISTOPHER WILSON

https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/growing_together_economic_ties_between_the_united_states_and_mexico.pdf

 

 

Mapping Global Value Chains: Intermediate Goods Trade and Structural Change in the World Economy

Timothy J. Sturgeon
Olga Memedovic

https://www.unido.org/fileadmin/user_media/Publications/Research_and_statistics/Branch_publications/Research_and_Policy/Files/Working_Papers/2010/WP%2005%20Mapping%20Glocal%20Value%20Chains.pdf

 

India’s Intermediate Goods Trade in the Inter Regional Value Chain:
An examination based on Trade data and Input Output Analysis

Simi Thambi

https://www.jsie.jp/Annual_Meeting/2013f_Yokohoma_n_Univ/pdf/10_2%20fp.pdf

 

Global Supply Chains

https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4253_2.pdf

 

 

Global value chains in a changing world

Edited by Deborah K. Elms and Patrick Low

https://www.wto.org/english/res_e/booksp_e/aid4tradeglobalvalue13_e.pdf

 

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On Inequality of Wealth and Income – Causes and Consequences

 On Inequality of Wealth and Income – Causes and Consequences

 

Disparity in Wealth and Income of American workers/household is a hot public policy/economic/social/political issue.

  • Wealth (Stock)
  • Income (Flow)

what are the causes and consequences of Inequality on economics and society?

 

From TRENDS IN INCOME INEQUALITY AND ITS IMPACT ON ECONOMIC GROWTH (OECD)

The disparity in the distribution of household incomes has been rising over the past three decades in a vast majority of OECD countries and such long-term trend was interrupted only temporarily in the first years of the Great Recession. Addressing these trends has moved to the top of the policy agenda in many countries. This is partly due to worries that a persistently unbalanced sharing of the growth dividend will result in social resentment, fuelling populist and protectionist sentiments, and leading to political instability. Recent discussions, particularly in the US, about increased inequality being one possible cause of the 2008 financial crisis also contributed to its relevance for policy making. But another growing reason for the strong interest of policy makers in inequality is concern about whether the cumulatively large and sometimes rapid increase in inequality might have an effect on economic growth and on the pace of exit from the current recession. Is inequality a pre-requisite for growth? Or does a greater dispersion of incomes across individuals rather undermine growth? And which are the short and long-term consequences of redistributive policies on growth?

From Causes and Consequences of Income Inequality: A Global Perspective (IMF)

Widening income inequality is the defining challenge of our time. In advanced economies, the gap between the rich and poor is at its highest level in decades. Inequality trends have been more mixed in emerging markets and developing countries (EMDCs), with some countries experiencing declining inequality, but pervasive inequities in access to education, health care, and finance remain. Not surprisingly then, the extent of inequality, its drivers, and what to do about it have become some of the most hotly debated issues by policymakers and researchers alike. Against this background, the objective of this paper is two-fold.

First, we show why policymakers need to focus on the poor and the middle class. Earlier IMF work has shown that income inequality matters for growth and its sustainability. Our analysis suggests that the income distribution itself matters for growth as well. Specifically, if the income share of the top 20 percent (the rich) increases, then GDP growth actually declines over the medium term, suggesting that the benefits do not trickle down. In contrast, an increase in the income share of the bottom 20 percent (the poor) is associated with higher GDP growth. The poor and the middle class matter the most for growth via a number of interrelated economic, social, and political channels.

Second, we investigate what explains the divergent trends in inequality developments across advanced economies and EMDCs, with a particular focus on the poor and the middle class. While most existing studies have focused on advanced countries and looked at the drivers of the Gini coefficient and the income of the rich, this study explores a more diverse group of countries and pays particular attention to the income shares of the poor and the middle class—the main engines of growth. Our analysis suggests that

  • Technological progress and the resulting rise in the skill premium (positives for growth and productivity) and the decline of some labor market institutions have contributed to inequality in both advanced economies and EMDCs. Globalization has played a smaller but reinforcing role. Interestingly, we find that rising skill premium is associated with widening income disparities in advanced countries, while financial deepening is associated with rising inequality in EMDCs, suggesting scope for policies that promote financial inclusion.

  • Policies that focus on the poor and the middle class can mitigate inequality. Irrespective of the level of economic development, better access to education and health care and well-targeted social policies, while ensuring that labor market institutions do not excessively penalize the poor, can help raise the income share for the poor and the middle class.

  • There is no one-size-fits-all approach to tackling inequality. The nature of appropriate policies depends on the underlying drivers and country-specific policy and institutional settings. In advanced economies, policies should focus on reforms to increase human capital and skills, coupled with making tax systems more progressive. In EMDCs, ensuring financial deepening is accompanied with greater financial inclusion and creating incentives for lowering informality would be important. More generally, complementarities between growth and income equalityobjectives suggest that policies aimed at raising average living standards can also influence the distribution of income and ensure a more inclusive prosperity.

From World changes in inequality: an overview of facts, causes, consequences and policies (BIS)

Public concern about inequality has grown substantially in recent years. Politicians and journalists descant with increasing frequency on the increase in inequality as a threat to social stability, laying the blame on globalisation and its attendant so-called neo-liberal policies. There is certainly much truth in such views. However, the lack of rigour in the public debate is striking, and one may doubt whether a constructive discussion of inequality, its causes and its economic, social and political consequences can take place without more clarity. Is it really the case that inequality is everywhere increasing more or less continuously, as actually seems to be happening in the United States? What type of inequality are we talking about: earnings, market income, household disposable income per consumption unit, wealth? What matters most: the inequality of opportunity or the inequality of economic outcome, including income? What kind of measure should be used? The recently highly publicised share of the top 5, 1.1% taken from tax data may not evolve in the same way as the familiar Gini coefficient defined on disposable incomes. And, then, what is known about the nature of the unequalising forces that seem to affect our economies and what tools might be available to counteract them?

In an international survey conducted in 2010, people were asked how they thought inequality had changed over the previous 10 years.1 In few countries was the perception of inequality trends in agreement with what could be observed from standard statistical sources about inequality. US citizens felt inequality had remained the same, whereas it was surging by most accounts, Brazilians found it was also increasing despite the fact that, for the first time in over 40 years, inequality was declining, while French and Dutch people thought that inequality had increased although the usual inequality coefficients were remarkably stable.

Good policies must rely on precise diagnostics. It is the purpose of this paper to take stock of what is known at this stage about the evolution of inequality around the world. In so doing, it will be shown that an ever-increasing degree of inequality at all times and everywhere over the last 30 years is far from the reality, and that there is a high degree of specificity across countries. In turn, this suggests that the combination of equalising and unequalising forces may be quite different from one country to another. Some factors may be common and truly global but others may be country-specific, the outcome being quite variable across countries. It also follows that tools to correct inequality, if need be, may have to differ in nature depending on the causes of increased inequality.

Tackling all these issues in depth is beyond the scope of this paper. My aim is only to offer an overview of what is observed and the main ideas being debated in the field of economic inequality. The paper is organised as follows. It starts with a quick “tour d‘horizon“ of the evidence for the evolution of various dimensions of economic inequality. It then tackles the issue of the potential causes, identifying what may be seen as common to most countries and what may be specific. Finally, it touches upon the consequences of excessive inequality and the tools available to counter it, emphasising the rising constraints imposed by globalisation.

Causes of Inequality

  • Shareholder Capitalism
  • Focus on Cost Minimization
  • Focus on ROIC and Economic Value Added (EVA)
  • Consolidation – Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Free Trade Agreements – NAFTA
  • Increased Outsourcing
  • Global Commodity Chains
  • Global Production Networks
  • Global Value Chains
  • Lack of Educated Workforce
  • Lack of protection for Low income earners
  • Compensation for Executives vs Labor
  • Unemployment, Underemployment
  • Value of High Skilled Technical Workers
  • Technological Change
  • Skills Obsolescence

Consequences of Inequality

  • Impact on Effective Demand
  • Slows Economic Growth
  • Decreased Economic Mobility
  • Health and Social effects
  • Living Standards at the Bottom (Poverty)
  • Intergenerational Mobility
  • Democratic Process and Social Justice
  • Reduced Consumption
  • Financial Crisis
  • Social Cohesion
  • Global Imbalances
  • Hampers Poverty reduction
  • Access to Health services
  • Access to Financial Services
  • Access to Education

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

The Age of Inequality

Edited by Jeremy Gantz

2017

 

 

The Price of Inequality

Joseph Stiglitz

2012

A Firm-Level Perspective on the Role of Rents in the Rise in Inequality

Jason Furman

Peter Orszag

October 16, 2015

http://gabriel-zucman.eu/files/teaching/FurmanOrszag15.pdf

Firming Up Inequality

Jae Song, David J. Price Fatih Guvenen, Nicholas Bloom

2015

http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/62587/1/dp1354.pdf

 

 

 TOWARDS A BROADER VIEW OF COMPETITION POLICY

 

Joseph E. Stiglitz

University Professor, Columbia University,

Chief Economist at the Roosevelt Institute

June 2017

https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/sites/jstiglitz/files/Towards%20a%20Broader%20View%20of%20Competition%20Policy_0.pdf

 

 

ACCOUNTING FOR RISING CORPORATE PROFITS: INTANGIBLES OR REGULATORY RENTS?

Boston University School of Law
Law & Economics Working Paper No. 16-18

November 9, 2016

https://www.bu.edu/law/files/2016/11/Accounting-for-Rising-Corporate-Profits.pdf

Inequality: Facts, Explanations, and Policies

Jason Furman
Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers

City College of New York New York, NY

October 17, 2016

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/page/files/20161017_furman_ccny_inequality_cea.pdf

Domestic Outsourcing, Rent Seeking, and Increasing Inequality

 Eileen Appelbaum

First Published July 21, 2017

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0486613417697121

 

Global Concentration and the Rise of China

Caroline Freund and Dario Sidhu

Peterson Institute for International Economics

http://econ.au.dk/fileadmin/Economics_Business/Research/Seminars/2016/Global_Concentration_Final.pdf

How Could Wage Inequality within and Across Enterprises Be Reduced?

Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 17-62

Posted: 10 Jun 2017 Last revised: 17 Aug 2017

Christian Moser

Columbia University

Date Written: December 15, 2016

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2983691

 

 

 

The Fall of the Labor Share and the Rise of Superstar Firms

David Autor, David Dorn, Lawrence F. Katz, Christina Patterson, John Van Reenen

NBER Working Paper No. 23396
Issued in May 2017

http://www.nber.org/papers/w23396

Inequality: A Hidden Cost of Market Power

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 Last revised: 31 Mar 2017

Sean F. Ennis  Pedro Gonzaga  Chris Pike

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) – Competition Division

Date Written: March 6, 2017

https://papers.ssrn.com/Sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2942791

 

 

Wealth and Income Inequality in the Twenty-First Century

Joseph E. Stiglitz
International Economic Association World Congress
Mexico City
June 2017

https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/sites/jstiglitz/files/Wealth%20and%20Income%20Inequality%2021st%20Century.pdf

 

 

The Globalization of Production and Income Inequality in Rich Democracies

Matthew C Mahutga
Anthony Roberts
Ronald Kwon

Social Forces, Volume 96, Issue 1, 1 September 2017, Pages 181–214,

 

INCOME AND WEALTH INEQUALITY: EVIDENCE AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS

EMMANUEL SAEZ

Contemporary Economic Policy

Vol. 35, No. 1, January 2017, 7–25
Online Early publication October 14, 2016

 

https://eml.berkeley.edu/~saez/SaezCEP2017.pdf

 

 

Consequences of Rising Income Inequality

BY KEVIN J. LANSING AND AGNIESZKA MARKIEWICZ

October 17, 2016

Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

 

http://www.frbsf.org/economic-research/files/el2016-31.pdf

 

 

 

Top Incomes, Rising Inequality, and Welfare

Kevin J. Lansing
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Agnieszka Markiewicz

June 2016

http://www.frbsf.org/economic-research/files/wp12-23bk.pdf

 

 

Causes and Consequences of Income Inequality: A Global Perspective

Era Dabla-Norris, Kalpana Kochhar, Frantisek Ricka, Nujin Suphaphiphat, and Evridiki Tsounta
(with contributions from Preya Sharma and Veronique Salins)

IMF

June 2015

https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sdn/2015/sdn1513.pdf

 

 

Piketty, Thomas. 2014.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

 

 

Recent Trends in Household Wealth in the United States: Rising Debt and the Middle-Class Squeeze—an Update to 2007

Edward N. Wolff

Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

March 2010

http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_589.pdf

 

 

 

CONSUMPTION AND INCOME INEQUALITY IN THE U.S. SINCE THE 1960S

Bruce D. Meyer James X. Sullivan

NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

August 2017

http://www.nber.org/papers/w23655.pdf

 

 

Top Income Inequality in the 21st Century: Some Cautionary Notes

Fatih Guvenen Greg Kaplan

April 2, 2017

https://gregkaplan.uchicago.edu/sites/gregkaplan.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/top_income_inequality_web_April2_2017.pdf

 

FIFTY YEARS OF GROWTH IN AMERICAN CONSUMPTION, INCOME, AND WAGES

Bruce Sacerdote

May 16, 2017

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~bsacerdo/Sacerdote%2050%20Years%20of%20Growth%20in%20American%20Wages%20Income%20and%20Consumption%20May%202017.pdf

http://www.nber.org/papers/w23292.pdf

 

 

The Inequality Puzzle

BY LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS

 

http://democracyjournal.org/magazine/33/the-inequality-puzzle/

 

 

 

 GLOBAL INEQUALITY DYNAMICS: NEW FINDINGS FROM WID.WORLD

Facundo Alvaredo Lucas Chancel Thomas Piketty Emmanuel Saez Gabriel Zucman

NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
February 2017, Revised April 2017

 

http://www.nber.org/papers/w23119.pdf

 

 

 

Power and inequality in the global political economy

NICOLA PHILLIPS

March 2017

https://academic.oup.com/ia/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ia/iix019

 

 

 Outsourcing governance: states and the politics of a ‘global value chain world’

Frederick W. Mayer & Nicola Phillips

04 Jan 2017

 

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13563467.2016.1273341

 

 

What’s caused the rise in income inequality in the US?

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/05/whats-caused-the-rise-in-income-inequality-in-the-us/

Why are American Workers getting Poorer? China, Trade and Offshoring

Avraham Ebenstein, Ann Harrison, Margaret McMillan

NBER Working Paper No. 21027
Issued in March 2015

http://www.nber.org/papers/w21027

 

 

 

The Geography of Trade and Technology Shocks in the United States

David H. Autor, David Dorn, and Gordon H. Hanson

American Economic Review

May 2013

https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.103.3.220

 

Economic Consequences of Income Inequality

Jason Furman
Joseph E. Stiglitz

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/cee6/1573cd50b9c8eae3379cf1f1c92301f40927.pdf

 

Labor’s Declining Share of Income and Rising Inequality

https://www.clevelandfed.org/newsroom-and-events/publications/economic-commentary/2012-economic-commentaries/ec-201213-labors-declining-share-of-income-and-rising-inequality.aspx

 

 

World changes in inequality: an overview of facts, causes, consequences and policies

by François Bourguignon
Monetary and Economic Department
August 2017

BIS working paper

http://www.bis.org/publ/work654.pdf

“Trends in Income Inequality and its Impact on Economic Growth”

OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 163

http://www.oecd.org/social/inequality.htm

http://www.oecd.org/els/soc/trends-in-income-inequality-and-its-impact-on-economic-growth-SEM-WP163.pdf

 

Causes of income inequality in the United States

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_income_inequality_in_the_United_States

 

Economic inequality

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_inequality

 

 

Income inequality in the United States

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_inequality_in_the_United_States

 

 

Redistribution, Inequality, and Growth

Prepared by Jonathan D. Ostry, Andrew Berg, Charalambos G. Tsangarides

 

April 2014

IMF

 

https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sdn/2014/sdn1402.pdf

 

 

 

Understanding the Economic Impact of the H-1B Program on the U.S.

John Bound† Gaurav Khanna‡ Nicolas Morales§

April 20, 2017

 

http://www.nber.org/chapters/c13842.pdf

Low Interest Rates and Business Investments : Update August 2017

Low Interest Rates and Business Investments : Update August 2017

 

From  Explaining Low Investment Spending

USINVEST

globalinvest

 

Please see my earlier posts.

Business Investments and Low Interest Rates

Mergers and Acquisitions – Long Term Trends and Waves

The Decline in Long Term Real Interest Rates

Short term Thinking in Investment Decisions of Businesses and Financial Markets

Low Interest Rates and Monetary Policy Effectiveness

Low Interest Rates and Banks’ Profitability : Update July 2017

Low Interest Rates and Banks Profitability: Update – December 2016

 

Since my earlier posts on this subject there has been several new studies published highlighting weakness in business investments as one of the cause of slower economic growth and lower interest rates.

Other significant factors impacting interest rates are demographic changes, and slower economic growth.

I argue that there is mutual (circular) causality in weak business investment, slower economic growth, and lower interest rates which reinforce each other.

 

Decreased competition, increased concentration, corporate savings glut, share buybacks, paying dividends are also identified as factors.

Number of public companies have decreased significantly in USA since 1996 due to M&A activity.   See the data below.

Increased Mergers/Acquisitions, Increased Concentration, Decreased Competition, Decreased Number of Public Companies, Share buybacks, and Dividend Payouts are multiple perspectives of same problem.

 

From The Incredible Shrinking Universe of Stocks

The Causes and Consequences of Fewer U.S. Equities

USNUMUSSTAT

 

Key sources of Research:

The Low Level of Global Real Interest Rates

Remarks by
Stanley Fischer
Vice Chairman
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

at the
Conference to Celebrate Arminio Fraga’s 60 Years
Casa das Garcas, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

July 31, 2017

The Low Level of Global Real Interest Rates

 

 

INVESTMENT-LESS GROWTH: AN EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION

German Gutierrez Thomas Philippon

Working Paper 22897

NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

December 2016

 

INVESTMENT-LESS GROWTH: AN EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION

 

 

Explaining Low Investment Spending

The NBER Digest
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

February 2017

Explaining Low Investment Spending

 

 

The Secular Stagnation of Investment?

Callum Jones and Thomas Philippon

December 2016

 

The Secular Stagnation of Investment?

 

 

Is there an investment gap in advanced economies? If so, why?

By Robin Dottling, German Gutierrez and Thomas Philippon

 

Is there an investment gap in advanced economies? If so, why?

 

 

The Disappointing Recovery of Output after 2009

JOHN G. FERNALD ROBERT E. HALL

JAMES H. STOCK MARK W. WATSON

May 2, 2017

The Disappointing Recovery of Output after 2009

 

 

Declining Competition and Investment in the U.S.

German Gutierrez and Thomas Philippon

NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

July 2017

 

Declining Competition and Investment in the U.S

 

 

Real Interest Rates Over the Long Run : Decline and convergence since the 1980s

Kei-Mu Yi   Jing Zhang

ECONOMIC POLICY PAPER 16-10 SEPTEMBER 2016

FEDERAL RESERVE BANK of MINNEAPOLIS

Real Interest Rates over the Long Run Decline and convergence since the 1980s, due significantly to factors causing lower investment demand

 

 

Understanding global trends in long-run real interest rates

Kei-Mu Yi and Jing Zhang

Economic Perspectives, Vol. 41, No. 2, 2017
Chicago Fed Reserve Bank

 

Understanding Global Trends in Long-run Real Interest Rates

 

 

Weakness in Investment Growth: Causes, Implications and Policy Responses

CAMA Working Paper 19/2017 March 2017

M. Ayhan Kose

Franziska Ohnsorge

Lei Sandy Ye

Ergys Islamaj

 

Weakness in Investment Growth: Causes, Implications and Policy Responses

 

 

Are US Industries Becoming More Concentrated?

Gustavo Grullon, Yelena Larkin and Roni Michaely

October 2016

 

Are US Industries Becoming More Concentrated?

 

 

Why Is Global Business Investment So Weak? Some Insights from Advanced Economies

 

Robert Fay, Justin-Damien Guénette, Martin Leduc and Louis Morel,

International Economic Analysis Department

Bank of Canada Review Spring 2017

 

Why Is Global Business Investment So Weak? Some Insights from Advanced Economies

 

 

What Is Behind the Weakness in Global Investment?

by Maxime Leboeuf and Bob Fay

2016

Bank of Canada

 

What Is Behind the Weakness in Global Investment?

 A Structural Interpretation of the Recent Weakness in Business Investment

by Russell Barnett and Rhys Mendes

 The Corporate Saving Glut in the Aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis

 

Gruber, Joseph W., and Steven B. Kamin

International Finance Discussion Papers
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Number 1150 October 2015

 

The Corporate Saving Glut in the Aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis

 

 

The Incredible Shrinking Universe of Stocks

The Causes and Consequences of Fewer U.S. Equities

March 22, 2017

GLOBAL FINANCIAL STRATEGIES

http://www.credit-suisse.com

 

The Incredible Shrinking Universe of Stocks The Causes and Consequences of Fewer U.S. Equities

 

 

They Just Get Bigger: How Corporate Mergers Strangle the Economy

Jordan Brennan

2017 February 19

They Just Get Bigger: How Corporate Mergers Strangle the Economy

 

 

Rising Corporate Concentration, Declining Trade Union Power, and the Growing Income Gap: American Prosperity in Historical Perspective

Jordan Brennan

March 2016

 

Rising Corporate Concentration, Declining Trade Union Power, and the Growing Income Gap: American Prosperity in Historical Perspective

 

 

The Oligarchy Economy: Concentrated Power, Income Inequality, and Slow Growth

Corporate concentration exacerbates income inequality

 

Jordan Brennan

March 2016

http://evonomics.com/the-oligarchy-economy/

Short term Thinking in Investment Decisions of Businesses and Financial Markets

Short term Thinking in Investment Decisions of Businesses and Financial Markets

 

When companies buyback shares and pay dividends rather than investing in new capacity, it leads to low economic growth and low aggregate demand.

Central Banks respond by cutting interest rates.  Yet Businesses do not invest in new capacity.

Many studies attribute this to short term thinking dominant in corporate investment decisions.  Pressures from shareholders push corporate managers to be short term oriented.

Many economists and thinkers have criticized this recently as advanced economies are suffering from anemic growth.

Larry Summers has invoked Secular Stagnation.  He says one of the reason for Secular Stagnation is short term thinking.

Andy Haldane of Bank of England has criticized short term thinking as it prevents investments and causes low economic growth.

Key Terms:

  • Quarterly Capitalism
  • Secular Stagnation
  • Short Term Thinking
  • Low Economic Growth
  • Business Investments
  • Real Interest Rates
  • Monetary Policy
  • Income and Wealth Inequality
  • Aggregate Demand
  • Productive Capacity
  • Productivity growth
  • Long Term Investments
  • Share Buybacks
  • Dividends
  • Corporate Cash Pools

 

Capitalism for the Long Term

The near meltdown of the financial system and the ensuing Great Recession have been, and will remain, the defining issue for the current generation of executives. Now that the worst seems to be behind us, it’s tempting to feel deep relief—and a strong desire to return to the comfort of business as usual. But that is simply not an option. In the past three years we’ve already seen a dramatic acceleration in the shifting balance of power between the developed West and the emerging East, a rise in populist politics and social stresses in a number of countries, and significant strains on global governance systems. As the fallout from the crisis continues, we’re likely to see increased geopolitical rivalries, new international security challenges, and rising tensions from trade, migration, and resource competition. For business leaders, however, the most consequential outcome of the crisis is the challenge to capitalism itself.

That challenge did not just arise in the wake of the Great Recession. Recall that trust in business hit historically low levels more than a decade ago. But the crisis and the surge in public antagonism it unleashed have exacerbated the friction between business and society. On top of anxiety about persistent problems such as rising income inequality, we now confront understandable anger over high unemployment, spiraling budget deficits, and a host of other issues. Governments feel pressure to reach ever deeper inside businesses to exert control and prevent another system-shattering event.

My goal here is not to offer yet another assessment of the actions policymakers have taken or will take as they try to help restart global growth. The audience I want to engage is my fellow business leaders. After all, much of what went awry before and after the crisis stemmed from failures of governance, decision making, and leadership within companies. These are failures we can and should address ourselves.

In an ongoing effort that started 18 months ago, I’ve met with more than 400 business and government leaders across the globe. Those conversations have reinforced my strong sense that, despite a certain amount of frustration on each side, the two groups share the belief that capitalism has been and can continue to be the greatest engine of prosperity ever devised—and that we will need it to be at the top of its job-creating, wealth-generating game in the years to come. At the same time, there is growing concern that if the fundamental issues revealed in the crisis remain unaddressed and the system fails again, the social contract between the capitalist system and the citizenry may truly rupture, with unpredictable but severely damaging results.

Most important, the dialogue has clarified for me the nature of the deep reform that I believe business must lead—nothing less than a shift from what I call quarterly capitalism to what might be referred to as long-term capitalism. (For a rough definition of “long term,” think of the time required to invest in and build a profitable new business, which McKinsey research suggests is at least five to seven years.) This shift is not just about persistently thinking and acting with a next-generation view—although that’s a key part of it. It’s about rewiring the fundamental ways we govern, manage, and lead corporations. It’s also about changing how we view business’s value and its role in society.

There are three essential elements of the shift. First, business and finance must jettison their short-term orientation and revamp incentives and structures in order to focus their organizations on the long term. Second, executives must infuse their organizations with the perspective that serving the interests of all major stakeholders—employees, suppliers, customers, creditors, communities, the environment—is not at odds with the goal of maximizing corporate value; on the contrary, it’s essential to achieving that goal. Third, public companies must cure the ills stemming from dispersed and disengaged ownership by bolstering boards’ ability to govern like owners.

When making major decisions, Asians typically think in terms of at least 10 to 15 years. In the U.S. and Europe, nearsightedness is the norm.

None of these ideas, or the specific proposals that follow, are new. What is new is the urgency of the challenge. Business leaders today face a choice: We can reform capitalism, or we can let capitalism be reformed for us, through political measures and the pressures of an angry public. The good news is that the reforms will not only increase trust in the system; they will also strengthen the system itself. They will unleash the innovation needed to tackle the world’s grand challenges, pave the way for a new era of shared prosperity, and restore public faith in business.

1. Fight the Tyranny of Short-Termism

As a Canadian who for 25 years has counseled business, public sector, and nonprofit leaders across the globe (I’ve lived in Toronto, Sydney, Seoul, Shanghai, and now London), I’ve had a privileged glimpse into different societies’ values and how leaders in various cultures think. In my view, the most striking difference between East and West is the time frame leaders consider when making major decisions. Asians typically think in terms of at least 10 to 15 years. For example, in my discussions with the South Korean president Lee Myung-bak shortly after his election in 2008, he asked us to help come up with a 60-year view of his country’s future (though we settled for producing a study called National Vision 2020.) In the U.S. and Europe, nearsightedness is the norm. I believe that having a long-term perspective is the competitive advantage of many Asian economies and businesses today.

Myopia plagues Western institutions in every sector. In business, the mania over quarterly earnings consumes extraordinary amounts of senior time and attention. Average CEO tenure has dropped from 10 to six years since 1995, even as the complexity and scale of firms have grown. In politics, democracies lurch from election to election, with candidates proffering dubious short-term panaceas while letting long-term woes in areas such as economic competitiveness, health, and education fester. Even philanthropy often exhibits a fetish for the short term and the new, with grantees expected to become self-sustaining in just a few years.

Lost in the frenzy is the notion that long-term thinking is essential for long-term success. Consider Toyota, whose journey to world-class manufacturing excellence was years in the making. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s it endured low to nonexistent sales in the U.S.—and it even stopped exporting altogether for one bleak four-year period—before finally emerging in the following decades as a global leader. Think of Hyundai, which experienced quality problems in the late 1990s but made a comeback by reengineering its cars for long-term value—a strategy exemplified by its unprecedented introduction, in 1999, of a 10-year car warranty. That radical move, viewed by some observers as a formula for disaster, helped Hyundai quadruple U.S. sales in three years and paved the way for its surprising entry into the luxury market.

To be sure, long-term perspectives can be found in the West as well. For example, in 1985, in the face of fierce Japanese competition, Intel famously decided to abandon its core business, memory chips, and focus on the then-emerging business of microprocessors. This “wrenching” decision was “nearly inconceivable” at the time, says Andy Grove, who was then the company’s president. Yet by making it, Intel emerged in a few years on top of a new multi-billion-dollar industry. Apple represents another case in point. The iPod, released in 2001, sold just 400,000 units in its first year, during which Apple’s share price fell by roughly 25%. But the board took the long view. By late 2009 the company had sold 220 million iPods—and revolutionized the music business.

It’s fair to say, however, that such stories are countercultural. In the 1970s the average holding period for U.S. equities was about seven years; now it’s more like seven months. According to a recent paper by Andrew Haldane, of the Bank of England, such churning has made markets far more volatile and produced yawning gaps between corporations’ market price and their actual value. Then there are the “hyperspeed” traders (some of whom hold stocks for only a few seconds), who now account for 70% of all U.S. equities trading, by one estimate. In response to these trends, executives must do a better job of filtering input, and should give more weight to the views of investors with a longer-term, buy-and-hold orientation.

If they don’t, short-term capital will beget short-term management through a natural chain of incentives and influence. If CEOs miss their quarterly earnings targets, some big investors agitate for their removal. As a result, CEOs and their top teams work overtime to meet those targets. The unintended upshot is that they manage for only a small portion of their firm’s value. When McKinsey’s finance experts deconstruct the value expectations embedded in share prices, we typically find that 70% to 90% of a company’s value is related to cash flows expected three or more years out. If the vast majority of most firms’ value depends on results more than three years from now, but management is preoccupied with what’s reportable three months from now, then capitalism has a problem.

Roughly 70% of all U.S. equities trading is now done by “hyperspeed” traders—some of whom hold stocks for only a few seconds.

Some rightly resist playing this game. Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Ford, to name just a few, have stopped issuing earnings guidance altogether. Google never did. IBM has created five-year road maps to encourage investors to focus more on whether it will reach its long-term earnings targets than on whether it exceeds or misses this quarter’s target by a few pennies. “I can easily make my numbers by cutting SG&A or R&D, but then we wouldn’t get the innovations we need,” IBM’s CEO, Sam Palmisano, told us recently. Mark Wiseman, executive vice president at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, advocates investing “for the next quarter century,” not the next quarter. And Warren Buffett has quipped that his ideal holding period is “forever.” Still, these remain admirable exceptions.

To break free of the tyranny of short-termism, we must start with those who provide capital. Taken together, pension funds, insurance companies, mutual funds, and sovereign wealth funds hold $65 trillion, or roughly 35% of the world’s financial assets. If these players focus too much attention on the short term, capitalism as a whole will, too.

In theory they shouldn’t, because the beneficiaries of these funds have an obvious interest in long-term value creation. But although today’s standard practices arose from the desire to have a defensible, measurable approach to portfolio management, they have ended up encouraging shortsightedness. Fund trustees, often advised by investment consultants, assess their money managers’ performance relative to benchmark indices and offer only short-term contracts. Those managers’ compensation is linked to the amount of assets they manage, which typically rises when short-term performance is strong. Not surprisingly, then, money managers focus on such performance—and pass this emphasis along to the companies in which they invest. And so it goes, on down the line.

Only 45% of those surveyed in the U.S. and the UK expressed trust in business. This stands in stark contrast to developing countries: For example, the figure is 61% in China, 70% in India, and 81% in Brazil.

As the stewardship advocate Simon Wong points out, under the current system pension funds deem an asset manager who returns 10% to have underperformed if the relevant benchmark index rises by 12%. Would it be unthinkable for institutional investors instead to live with absolute gains on the (perfectly healthy) order of 10%—especially if they like the approach that delivered those gains—and review performance every three or five years, instead of dropping the 10-percenter? Might these big funds set targets for the number of holdings and rates of turnover, at least within the “fundamental investing” portion of their portfolios, and more aggressively monitor those targets? More radically, might they end the practice of holding thousands of stocks and achieve the benefits of diversification with fewer than a hundred—thereby increasing their capacity to effectively engage with the businesses they own and improve long-term performance? Finally, could institutional investors beef up their internal skills and staff to better execute such an agenda? These are the kinds of questions we need to address if we want to align capital’s interests more closely with capitalism’s.

2. Serve Stakeholders, Enrich Shareholders

The second imperative for renewing capitalism is disseminating the idea that serving stakeholders is essential to maximizing corporate value. Too often these aims are presented as being in tension: You’re either a champion of shareholder value or you’re a fan of the stakeholders. This is a false choice.

The inspiration for shareholder-value maximization, an idea that took hold in the 1970s and 1980s, was reasonable: Without some overarching financial goal with which to guide and gauge a firm’s performance, critics feared, managers could divert corporate resources to serve their own interests rather than the owners’. In fact, in the absence of concrete targets, management might become an exercise in politics and stakeholder engagement an excuse for inefficiency. Although this thinking was quickly caricatured in popular culture as the doctrine of “greed is good,” and was further tarnished by some companies’ destructive practices in its name, in truth there was never any inherent tension between creating value and serving the interests of employees, suppliers, customers, creditors, communities, and the environment. Indeed, thoughtful advocates of value maximization have always insisted that it is long-term value that has to be maximized.

Capitalism’s founding philosopher voiced an even bolder aspiration. “All the members of human society stand in need of each others assistance, and are likewise exposed to mutual injuries,” Adam Smith wrote in his 1759 work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. “The wise and virtuous man,” he added, “is at all times willing that his own private interest should be sacrificed to the public interest,” should circumstances so demand.

Smith’s insight into the profound interdependence between business and society, and how that interdependence relates to long-term value creation, still reverberates. In 2008 and again in 2010, McKinsey surveyed nearly 2,000 executives and investors; more than 75% said that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives create corporate value in the long term. Companies that bring a real stakeholder perspective into corporate strategy can generate tangible value even sooner. (See the sidebar “Who’s Getting It Right?”)

Creating direct business value, however, is not the only or even the strongest argument for taking a societal perspective. Capitalism depends on public trust for its legitimacy and its very survival. According to the Edelman public relations agency’s just-released 2011 Trust Barometer, trust in business in the U.S. and the UK (although up from mid-crisis record lows) is only in the vicinity of 45%. This stands in stark contrast to developing countries: For example, the figure is 61% in China, 70% in India, and 81% in Brazil. The picture is equally bleak for individual corporations in the Anglo-American world, “which saw their trust rankings drop again last year to near-crisis lows,” says Richard Edelman.

How can business leaders restore the public’s trust? Many Western executives find that nothing in their careers has prepared them for this new challenge. Lee Scott, Walmart’s former CEO, has been refreshingly candid about arriving in the top job with a serious blind spot. He was plenty busy minding the store, he says, and had little feel for the need to engage as a statesman with groups that expected something more from the world’s largest company. Fortunately, Scott was a fast learner, and Walmart has become a leader in environmental and health care issues.

Tomorrow’s CEOs will have to be, in Joseph Nye’s apt phrase, “tri-sector athletes”: able and experienced in business, government, and the social sector. But the pervading mind-set gets in the way of building those leadership and management muscles. “Analysts and investors are focused on the short term,” one executive told me recently. “They believe social initiatives don’t create value in the near term.” In other words, although a large majority of executives believe that social initiatives create value in the long term, they don’t act on this belief, out of fear that financial markets might frown. Getting capital more aligned with capitalism should help businesses enrich shareholders by better serving stakeholders.

3. Act Like You Own the Place

As the financial sector’s troubles vividly exposed, when ownership is broadly fragmented, no one acts like he’s in charge. Boards, as they currently operate, don’t begin to serve as a sufficient proxy. All the Devils Are Here, by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, describes how little awareness Merrill Lynch’s board had of the firm’s soaring exposure to subprime mortgage instruments until it was too late. “I actually don’t think risk management failed,” Larry Fink, the CEO of the investment firm BlackRock, said during a 2009 debate about the future of capitalism, sponsored by the Financial Times. “I think corporate governance failed, because…the boards didn’t ask the right questions.”

What McKinsey has learned from studying successful family-owned companies suggests a way forward: The most effective ownership structure tends to combine some exposure in the public markets (for the discipline and capital access that exposure helps provide) with a significant, committed, long-term owner. Most large public companies, however, have extremely dispersed ownership, and boards rarely perform the single-owner-proxy role. As a result, CEOs too often listen to the investors (and members of the media) who make the most noise. Unfortunately, those parties tend to be the most nearsighted ones. And so the tyranny of the short term is reinforced.

The answer is to renew corporate governance by rooting it in committed owners and by giving those owners effective mechanisms with which to influence management. We call this ownership-based governance, and it requires three things:

Just 43% of the nonexecutive directors of public companies believe they significantly influence strategy. For this to change, board members must devote much more time to their roles.

More-effective boards.

In the absence of a dominant shareholder (and many times when there is one), the board must represent a firm’s owners and serve as the agent of long-term value creation. Even among family firms, the executives of the top-performing companies wield their influence through the board. But only 43% of the nonexecutive directors of public companies believe they significantly influence strategy. For this to change, board members must devote much more time to their roles. A government-commissioned review of the governance of British banks last year recommended an enormous increase in the time required of nonexecutive directors of banks—from the current average, between 12 and 20 days annually, to between 30 and 36 days annually. What’s especially needed is an increase in the informal time board members spend with investors and executives. The nonexecutive board directors of companies owned by private equity firms spend 54 days a year, on average, attending to the company’s business, and 70% of that time consists of informal meetings and conversations. Four to five days a month obviously give a board member much greater understanding and impact than the three days a quarter (of which two may be spent in transit) devoted by the typical board member of a public company.

Boards also need much more relevant experience. Industry knowledge—which four of five nonexecutive directors of big companies lack—helps boards identify immediate opportunities and reduce risk. Contextual knowledge about the development path of an industry—for example, whether the industry is facing consolidation, disruption from new technologies, or increased regulation—is highly valuable, too. Such insight is often obtained from experience with other industries that have undergone a similar evolution.

In addition, boards need more-effective committee structures—obtainable through, for example, the establishment of a strategy committee or of dedicated committees for large business units. Directors also need the resources to allow them to form independent views on strategy, risk, and performance (perhaps by having a small analytical staff that reports only to them). This agenda implies a certain professionalization of nonexecutive directorships and a more meaningful strategic partnership between boards and top management. It may not please some executive teams accustomed to boards they can easily “manage.” But given the failures of governance to date, it is a necessary change.

More-sensible CEO pay.

An important task of governance is setting executive compensation. Although 70% of board directors say that pay should be tied more closely to performance, CEO pay is too often structured to reward a leader simply for having made it to the top, not for what he or she does once there. Meanwhile, polls show that the disconnect between pay and performance is contributing to the decline in public esteem for business.

Companies should create real risk for executives.Some experts privately suggest mandating that new executives invest a year’s salary in the company.

CEOs and other executives should be paid to act like owners. Once upon a time we thought that stock options would achieve this result, but stock-option- based compensation schemes have largely incentivized the wrong behavior. When short-dated, options lead to a focus on meeting quarterly earnings estimates; even when long-dated (those that vest after three years or more), they can reward managers for simply surfing industry- or economy-wide trends (although reviewing performance against an appropriate peer index can help minimize free rides). Moreover, few compensation schemes carry consequences for failure—something that became clear during the financial crisis, when many of the leaders of failed institutions retired as wealthy people.

There will never be a one-size-fits-all solution to this complex issue, but companies should push for change in three key areas:

• They should link compensation to the fundamental drivers of long-term value, such as innovation and efficiency, not just to share price.

• They should extend the time frame for executive evaluations—for example, using rolling three-year performance evaluations, or requiring five-year plans and tracking performance relative to plan. This would, of course, require an effective board that is engaged in strategy formation.

• They should create real downside risk for executives, perhaps by requiring them to put some skin in the game. Some experts we’ve surveyed have privately suggested mandating that new executives invest a year’s salary in the company.

Redefined shareholder “democracy.”

The huge increase in equity churn in recent decades has spawned an anomaly of governance: At any annual meeting, a large number of those voting may soon no longer be shareholders. The advent of high-frequency trading will only worsen this trend. High churn rates, short holding periods, and vote-buying practices may mean the demise of the “one share, one vote” principle of governance, at least in some circumstances. Indeed, many large, top-performing companies, such as Google, have never adhered to it. Maybe it’s time for new rules that would give greater weight to long-term owners, like the rule in some French companies that gives two votes to shares held longer than a year. Or maybe it would make sense to assign voting rights based on the average turnover of an investor’s portfolio. If we want capitalism to focus on the long term, updating our notions of shareholder democracy in such ways will soon seem less like heresy and more like common sense.

While I remain convinced that capitalism is the economic system best suited to advancing the human condition, I’m equally persuaded that it must be renewed, both to deal with the stresses and volatility ahead and to restore business’s standing as a force for good, worthy of the public’s trust. The deficiencies of the quarterly capitalism of the past few decades were not deficiencies in capitalism itself—just in that particular variant. By rebuilding capitalism for the long term, we can make it stronger, more resilient, more equitable, and better able to deliver the sustainable growth the world needs. The three imperatives outlined above can be a start along this path and, I hope, a way to launch the conversation; others will have their own ideas to add.

The kind of deep-seated, systemic changes I’m calling for can be achieved only if boards, business executives, and investors around the world take responsibility for bettering the system they lead. Such changes will not be easy; they are bound to encounter resistance, and business leaders today have more than enough to do just to keep their companies running well. We must make the effort regardless. If capitalism emerges from the crisis vibrant and renewed, future generations will thank us. But if we merely paper over the cracks and return to our precrisis views, we will not want to read what the historians of the future will write. The time to reflect—and to act—is now.

 

Please see my other related posts.

Business Investments and Low Interest Rates

Mergers and Acquisitions – Long Term Trends and Waves

 

 

Key sources of Research:

Secular stagnation and low investment: Breaking the vicious cycle—a discussion paper

McKinsey

http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/europe/secular-stagnation-and-low-investment-breaking-the-vicious-cycle

Case Still Out on Whether Corporate Short-Termism Is a Problem

Larry Summers

http://larrysummers.com/2017/02/09/case-still-out-on-whether-corporate-short-termism-is-a-problem/

Where companies with a long-term view outperform their peers

McKinsey

http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/long-term-capitalism/where-companies-with-a-long-term-view-outperform-their-peers

How short-term thinking hampers long-term economic growth

FT

https://www.ft.com/content/8c868a98-b821-11e4-b6a5-00144feab7de

Anthony Hilton: Short-term thinking hits nations as a whole, not just big business

http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/anthony-hilton-short-term-thinking-hits-nations-as-a-whole-not-just-big-business-10427294.html

Short-termism in business: causes, mechanisms and consequences

EY Poland Report

http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/EY_Poland_Report/$FILE/Short-termism_raport_EY.pdf

Overcoming the Barriers to Long-term Thinking in Financial Markets

Ruth Curran and Alice Chapple
Forum for the Future

https://www.forumforthefuture.org/sites/default/files/project/downloads/long-term-thinking-fpf-report-july-11.pdf

Understanding Short-Termism: Questions and Consequences

http://rooseveltinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Understanding-Short-Termism.pdf

Ending Short-Termism : An Investment Agenda for Growth

http://rooseveltinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Ending-Short-Termism.pdf

The Short Long

Speech by
Andrew G Haldane, Executive Director, Financial Stability, and Richard Davies

Brussels May 2011

http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/archive/Documents/historicpubs/speeches/2011/speech495.pdf

Capitalism for the Long Term

Dominic Barton

From the March 2011 Issue

https://hbr.org/2011/03/capitalism-for-the-long-term

Quarterly capitalism: The pervasive effects of short-termism and austerity

https://currentlyunderdevelopment.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/quarterly-capitalism-the-pervasive-effects-of-short-termism-and-austerity/

Is Short-Term Behavior Jeopardizing the Future Prosperity of Business?

http://www.wlrk.com/docs/IsShortTermBehaviorJeopardizingTheFutureProsperityOfBusiness_CEOStrategicimplications.pdf

Andrew G Haldane: The short long

Speech by Mr Andrew Haldane, Executive Director, Financial Stability, and Mr Richard
Davies, Economist, Financial Institutions Division, Bank of England,
at the 29th Société
Universitaire Européene de Recherches Financières Colloquium,
Brussels, 11 May 2011

http://www.bis.org/review/r110511e.pdf

THE UNEASY CASE FOR FAVORING LONG-TERM SHAREHOLDERS

Jesse M. Fried

https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/17985223/Fried_795.pdf?sequence=1

The fringe economic theory that might get traction in the 2016 campaign

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/03/02/the-fringe-economic-theory-that-might-get-traction-in-the-2016-campaign/?utm_term=.932bc0b97758

FCLT Global:  Focusing Capital on the Long Term

Publications

http://www.fcltglobal.org/insights/publications

Finally, Evidence That Managing for the Long Term Pays Off

Dominic Barton

James Manyika

Sarah Keohane Williamson

February 07, 2017 UPDATED February 09, 2017

https://hbr.org/2017/02/finally-proof-that-managing-for-the-long-term-pays-off

Focusing Capital on the Long Term

Dominic Barton

Mark Wiseman

From the January–February 2014 Issue

Is Corporate Short-Termism Really a Problem? The Jury’s Still Out

Lawrence H. Summers

February 16, 2017

Yes, Short-Termism Really Is a Problem

Roger L. Martin

October 09, 2015

Long-Termism or Lemons

The Role of Public Policy in Promoting Long-Term Investments

By Marc Jarsulic, Brendan V. Duke, and Michael Madowitz October 2015

Center for American Progress

https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/21060054/LongTermism-reportB.pdf

 

Overcoming Short-termism: A Call for A More Responsible Approach to Investment and Business Management

https://corpgov.law.harvard.edu/2009/09/11/overcoming-short-termism-a-call-for-a-more-responsible-approach-to-investment-and-business-management/

 

 

Focusing capital on the Long Term

Jean-Hugues Monier – Senior Parter – McKinsey & Company

Princeton University – November 2016

http://jrc.princeton.edu/sites/jrc/files/jean-hugues_j._monier_slides_final.pdf

Hierarchy Theory in Biology, Ecology and Evolution

Hierarchy Theory in Biology, Ecology and Evolution

 

I have always been intrigued by multi-level thinking whether it is in organizations, biology, ecology, and evolutionary theory.

  • Plant – Division – Corporate – Industry – Macro-economy
  • Molecules – Organelles – Cells – Tissue – Organs – Whole body
  • Organism – Populations – Communities – Ecosystem –  Bio-Sphere

 

How does human body forms from Molecules?  Is it all evolutionary?  or is there a role for Vitalism?

How to integrate decision making in organizations at multi levels?  From Corporate level to Plant Level.

How does an Individual fits in Groups, Communities, Society, and Ecosystem?

What is the role of fractals thinking in Evolutionary Biology?

 

A SUMMARY OF THE PRINCIPLES OF HIERARCHY THEORY

The Hierarchy theory is a dialect of general systems theory. It has emerged as part of a movement toward a general science of complexity. Rooted in the work of economist, Herbert Simon, chemist, Ilya Prigogine, and psychologist, Jean Piaget, hierarchy theory focuses upon levels of organization and issues of scale. There is significant emphasis upon the observer in the system.

Hierarchies occur in social systems, biological structures, and in the biological taxonomies. Since scholars and laypersons use hierarchy and hierarchical concepts commonly, it would seem reasonable to have a theory of hierarchies. Hierarchy theory uses a relatively small set of principles to keep track of the complex structure and a behavior of systems with multiple levels. A set of definitions and principles follows immediately:

Hierarchy: in mathematical terms, it is a partially ordered set. In less austere terms, a hierarchy is a collection of parts with ordered asymmetric relationships inside a whole. That is to say, upper levels are above lower levels, and the relationship upwards is asymmetric with the relationships downwards.

Hierarchical levels: levels are populated by entities whose properties characterize the level in question. A given entity may belong to any number of levels, depending on the criteria used to link levels above and below. For example, an individual human being may be a member of the level i) human, ii) primate, iii) organism or iv) host of a parasite, depending on the relationship of the level in question to those above and below.

Level of organization: this type of level fits into its hierarchy by virtue of set of definitions that lock the level in question to those above and below. For example, a biological population level is an aggregate of entities from the organism level of organization, but it is only so by definition. There is no particular scale involved in the population level of organization, in that some organisms are larger than some populations, as in the case of skin parasites.

Level of observation: this type of level fits into its hierarchy by virtue of relative scaling considerations. For example, the host of a skin parasite represents the context for the population of parasites; it is a landscape, even though the host may be seen as belonging to a level of organization, organism, that is lower than the collection of parasites, a population.

The criterion for observation: when a system is observed, there are two separate considerations. One is the spatiotemporal scale at which the observations are made. The other is the criterion for observation, which defines the system in the foreground away from all the rest in the background. The criterion for observation uses the types of parts and their relationships to each other to characterize the system in the foreground. If criteria for observation are linked together in an asymmetric fashion, then the criteria lead to levels of organization. Otherwise, criteria for observation merely generate isolated classes.

The ordering of levels: there are several criteria whereby other levels reside above lower levels. These criteria often run in parallel, but sometimes only one or a few of them apply. Upper levels are above lower levels by virtue of: 1) being the context of, 2) offering constraint to, 3) behaving more slowly at a lower frequency than, 4) being populated by entities with greater integrity and higher bond strength than, and 5), containing and being made of – lower levels.

Nested and non-nested hierarchies: nested hierarchies involve levels which consist of, and contain, lower levels. Non-nested hierarchies are more general in that the requirement of containment of lower levels is relaxed. For example, an army consists of a collection of soldiers and is made up of them. Thus an army is a nested hierarchy. On the other hand, the general at the top of a military command does not consist of his soldiers and so the military command is a non-nested hierarchy with regard to the soldiers in the army. Pecking orders and a food chains are also non-nested hierarchies.

Duality in hierarchies: the dualism in hierarchies appears to come from a set of complementarities that line up with: observer-observed, process-structure, rate-dependent versus rate-independent, and part-whole. Arthur Koestler in his “Ghost in The Machine” referred to the notion of holon, which means an entity in a hierarchy that is at once a whole and at the same time a part. Thus a holon at once operates as a quasi-autonomous whole that integrates its parts, while working to integrate itself into an upper level purpose or role. The lower level answers the question “How?” and the upper level answers the question, “So what?”

Constraint versus possibilities: when one looks at a system there are two separate reasons behind what one sees. First, it is not possible to see something if the parts of the system cannot do what is required of them to achieve the arrangement in the whole. These are the limits of physical possibility. The limits of possibility come from lower levels in the hierarchy. The second entirely separate reason for what one sees is to do with what is allowed by the upper level constraints. An example here would be that mammals have five digits. There is no physical reason for mammals having five digits on their hands and feet, because it comes not from physical limits, but from the constraints of having a mammal heritage. Any number of the digits is possible within the physical limits, but in mammals only five digits are allowed by the biological constraints. Constraints come from above, while the limits as to what is possible come from below. The concept of hierarchy becomes confused unless one makes the distinction between limits from below and limits from above. The distinction between mechanisms below and purposes above turn on the issue of constraint versus possibility. Forget the distinction, and biology becomes pointlessly confused, impossibly complicated chemistry, while chemistry becomes unwieldy physics.

Complexity and self-simplification: Howard Pattee has identified that as a system becomes more elaborately hierarchical its behavior becomes simple. The reason is that, with the emergence of intermediate levels, the lowest level entities become constrained to be far from equilibrium. As a result, the lowest level entities lose degrees of freedom and are held against the upper level constraint to give constant behavior. Deep hierarchical structure indicates elaborate organization, and deep hierarchies are often considered as complex systems by virtue of hierarchical depth.

Complexity versus complicatedness: a hierarchical structure with a large number of lowest level entities, but with simple organization, offers a low flat hierarchy that is complicated rather than complex. The behavior of structurally complicated systems is behaviorally elaborate and so complicated, whereas the behavior of deep hierarchically complex systems is simple.

Hierarchy theory is as much as anything a theory of observation. It has been significantly operationalized in ecology, but has been applied relatively infrequently outside that science. There is a negative reaction to hierarchy theory in the social sciences, by virtue of implications of rigid autocratic systems or authority. When applied in a more general fashion, even liberal and non-authoritarian systems can be described effectively in hierarchical terms. There is a politically correct set of labels that avoid the word hierarchy, but they unnecessarily introduce jargon into a field that has enough special vocabulary as it is.

A SHORT ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF HIERARCHY THEORY.

This bibliography is in chronological order, so that the reader can identify the early classics as opposed to the later refinements. If you must choose just one book to read, turn to the last reference in this bibliography, Ahl and Allen, 1996. Simon, H.. A. 1962. The architecture of complexity. Proceedings of the American philosophical society 106: 467-82. This is the foundation paper of hierarchy theory originating from an economist. It was a re-published in “Sciences of the Artificial” by Simon. It introduces the idea of near-decomposability. If systems were completely decomposable, then there would be no emergent whole, because the parts would exist only separately. The “near” in near-decomposable allows the upper level to emerge from the fact that the parts anre not completely separate.

Koestler, Arthur. 1967. The ghost in the machine. Macmillan, New York. This is a long hard look at human social structure in hierarchical terms. The notion of holon first occurs in this work. This is a classic work, but is easily accessible to the lay public.

Whyte, L.. L.., A. G. Wilson and D. Wilson (eds.). 1969. Hierarchical structures. American Elsevier, New York. This is a classic collection of early scholarly works by some of the founders of hierarchical thinking.

Pattee, H.. H. (ed.) 1973. Hierarchy theory: the challenge or complex systems. Braziller, New York. This edited volume has some classic articles by Pattee, Simon and others.

Allen, T. F. H. and T. B. Starr. 1982. Hierarchy: perspectives for ecological complexity. University Chicago Press. This book has a significant ecological component but is much more generally about hierarchical structure. It is abstract and a somewhat technical treatment but has been the foundation work for the application of hierarchy theory in ecology and complex systems theory at large.

Salthe, S. 1985. Evolving Hierarchical Systems: their structure and representation. Columbia University Press, New York. This book has a strong structural bias, in contrast to the process oriented approach of Allen and the other ecologists in this bibliography. Salthe introduces the notion of the Triadic, where there is a focus on 1) the system as both a whole above the levels below and 2) a part belonging to another level above, 3) not forgetting the level of the structure itself in between. While much biological hierarchy theory takes an anti-realist point view, or is at least reality-agnostic, wherein the ultimate reality of hierarchical arrangement is left moot, Salthe’s version of hierarchy theory is concerned with the ultimate reality of structure. The anti-realist view of structure is that it is imposed by the observer, and may or may not correspond to any ultimate reality. If structure does correspond to ultimate, external reality, we could never know that to be so. Salthe’s logic is consistent but always takes a structural and ontological position.

O’Neill, R. V., D. DeAngelis, J. Waide and T. F. H. Allen. 1986. A hierarchical concept of ecosystems. Princeton University Press. This is a distinctly ecological application of hierarchy theory, making the critical distinction between process functional ecosystem approaches as opposed to population and community relationships. It is an application of hierarchy theory to ecosystem analysis.

Allen T. F. H. and T. Hoekstra. 1992. Toward a unified ecology. Columbia University Press. This book turns on hierarchy theory, but is principally a book about ecology. It goes beyond the O’Neill et al book, in that it makes the distinction between many types of ecology (landscape, ecosystem, community, organism, population, and biomes) on the one hand, and scale of ecology on the other hand. It ends with practical applications of hierarchy theory and ecological management.

Ahl, V. and T. F. H. Allen. 1996. Hierarchy theory, a vision, vocabulary and epistemology. Columbia University Press. This slim a volume is an interdisciplinary account of a hierarchy theory, and represents the shallow end of the pool. It is the primer version of Allen and Starr 1982. It is full of graphical images to ease the reader into a hierarchical perspective. It makes the distinction between levels of organization and levels of observation. It takes a moderate anti-realist point of view, wherein there may be an external reality, but it is not relevant to the discourse. We only have access to experience, which must of necessity involve observer values and subjectivity. There are examples from a wide discussion of many disciplines. Included are examples from psychology, ecology, the law, political systems and philosophy. It makes reference to the global and technological problems facing humanity, and offers hierarchy theory as one tool in the struggle. The summary of hierarchy theory in the opening paragraphs above comes from this book.

This summary was compiled by

Timothy F. Allen, Professor of Botany,
University of Wisconsin Madison,
Madison Wisconsin 53706 — 1381.
Email – tfallen@facstaff.wisc.edu

 

 

Key People:

  • James Grier Miller
  • Howard Pattee
  • Stanley Salthe
  • T F Allen
  • Herbert Simon
  • NILES ELDREDGE
  • CS Holling

 

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

A SUMMARY OF THE PRINCIPLES OF HIERARCHY THEORY

T Allen

http://www.isss.org/hierarchy.htm

http://www.botany.wisc.edu/allenlab/AllenLab/Hierarchy.html

 

 

Hierarchy Theory

Paweł Leśniewski

 

http://www.uni-kiel.de/ecology/users/fmueller/salzau2006/ea_presentations/Data/2006-06-28_-_Hierarchy_Theory.pdf

 

 

Summary of the Principles of Hierarchy Theory

S.N. Salthe

 

http://www.nbi.dk/~natphil/salthe/Summary_of_the_Principles_o.pdf

 

 

HOWARD PATTEE’S THEORETICAL BIOLOGY:

A RADICAL EPISTEMOLOGICAL STANCE TO APPROACH LIFE, EVOLUTION ANDCOMPLEXITY.

Jon Umerez

 

http://www.informatics.indiana.edu/rocha/publications/pattee/umerez.pdf

 

 

 

Hierarchy Theory as the Formal Basis of Evolutionary Theory

 

http://www.bbk.ac.uk/tpru/StephenWood/Publications/HierarchyTheoryastheFormalBasisofEvolutionaryTheory.pdf

 

 

The Concept of Levels of Organization in the Biological Sciences

 

PhD Thesis Submitted August 2014 Revised June 2015

Daniel Stephen Brooks

 

http://d-nb.info/1082033960/34

 

 

A spatially explicit hierarchical approach to modeling complex ecological systems: theory and applications

Jianguo Wu , John L. David

 

http://leml.asu.edu/jingle/Web_Pages/Wu_Pubs/PDF_Files/Wu_David_2002.PDF

 

 

What is the Hierarchy Theory of Evolution?

 

http://hierarchygroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/What-Is-The-Hierarchy-Theory.pdf

 

 

HIERARCHICAL ORGANIZATION OF ECOSYSTEMS

Jackson R. Webster

 

http://coweeta.uga.edu/publications/274.pdf

 

 

Ecological hierarchies and self-organisation – Pattern analysis, modelling and process integration across scales

Hauke Reutera,, Fred Jopp, José M. Blanco-Morenod, Christian Damgaarde, Yiannis Matsinosf, Donald L. DeAngelis

 

http://izt.ciens.ucv.ve/ecologia/Archivos/ECO_POB%202010/ECOPO1_2010/Reuter_etal_BAAE%202010.pdf

 

 

Levels of organization in biology: on the nature and nomenclature of ecology’s fourth level

William Z. Lidicker, Jr

 

http://www.uff.br/ecosed/Artigo4.pdf

 

 

Chapter 24

Hierarchy Theory: An Overview

Jianguo Wu

 

http://izt.ciens.ucv.ve/ecologia/Archivos/ECO_POB%202016/ECOPO7_2016/Jorgensen%20et%20al%202016.pdf

 

 

Heterarchies: Reconciling Networks and Hierarchies

Graeme S. Cumming

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303508940_Heterarchies_Reconciling_Networks_and_Hierarchies

 

 

Evolutionary Theory

A HIERARCHICAL PERSPECTIVE

EDITED BY NILES ELDREDGE, TELMO PIEVANI, EMANUELE SERRELLI, AND ILYA TEMKIN

 

 

Holons, creaons, genons, environs, in hierarchy theory: Where we have gone

Timothy Allen, Mario Giampietro

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304380014002993

 

 

The Evolutionary Foundations of Hierarchy: Status, Dominance, Prestige, and Leadership

Mark van Vugt & Joshua M. Tybur

http://www.professormarkvanvugt.com/images/files/Handbook_of_Evolutionary_Psychologymvv2014rev.pdf

 

 

The Microfoundations of Macroeconomics: An Evolutionary Perspective

Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

John M. Gowdy

 

https://papers.tinbergen.nl/00021.pdf

 

 

Understanding the complexity of Economic, Ecological, and Social Systems

C S Holling

http://www.esf.edu/cue/documents/Holling_Complexity-EconEcol-SocialSys_2001.pdf

 

 

Hierarchical Structures

Stanley N. Salthe

 

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Salthe_Stanley/publication/257522907_Hierarchical_Structures/links/5768411408ae7f0756a2248c.pdf

 

 

Two Frameworks for Complexity Generation in Biological Systems

Stanley N. Salthe

 

http://www.nbi.dk/natphil/salthe/A-life_Conf_paper_Word.pdf

http://www.nbi.dk/~natphil/salthe/_publ_classified_by_topic.pdf

 

 

Spatial scaling in ecology

J. A. WIENS

 

http://www.functionalecology.org/SpringboardWebApp/userfiles/fec/file/Spatial%20scaling%20in%20ecology%20v3%20n4.pdf

 

 

The Spirit of Evolution

by Roger Walsh

An overview of Ken Wilber’s book Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution (Shambhala, 1995).

http://cogweb.ucla.edu/CogSci/Walsh_on_Wilber_95.html