nnWelcome to Finance and Fury, the Furious Friday edition.

Today, we are going to go through the concept of planning versus chaos within an economic system

Before we get into it – Which one would you prefer – purely based around the description – an economic system that is fully planned or one that is based around chaos – albeit self-organising chaos?

  1. That is where fully planned does sound better – in theory – you should have lower uncertainty – through have some entity creating all the rules of commerce, from the amounts of goods to produce and at what price, how many people should be employed and at what wage – creates the perception of safety – but in reality – is this what actually occurs?
  2. On the other hand – when looking at chaos – could this actually lead to a better result for you and I?
    1. Well – based around what has been observable throughout history – it is – as chaos when left to its own devises becomes self-organised
    2. It does sound weird – letting an economic system fall into complete chaos
    3. But chaos here isn’t what the end result is – the end result is closer to an optimal solution for everyone
    4. This is due to the complex systems of the economy –
    5. The very nature of planning in chaos makes planning obsolete – the property of a complex system is one where the behaviour is so unpredictable as to appear random – and this system has a great sensitivity to small changes in conditions –trying to control the whole system ends up on true chaos as the outcome
    6. So in this episode – we will look at how planning of the economy is what creates true chaos – of complete disorder and confusion – whilst a system of chaos that is allowed to self organise can result in the best outcome for all of us
    7. This is the concept of a free market – the self-organisation of the population without intervention

To start with – important to cover the concept of laissez faire – French for let it be –

  1. This is an economic theory in which transactions between private parties are absent of any form of economic interventionism such as regulation and subsidies
    1. laissez-faire is a theory that rests on the concept that the individual is the basic unit in society and has a natural right to freedom and that the physical order of nature is a harmonious and self-regulating system
  2. This theory was a product of the Enlightenment period – and was conceived as the way to unleash human potential through the restoration of a natural system, a system unhindered by the restrictions of government”.
    1. Remember – prior to this time – 1700s – the rule of the economy was done by a Monarchy in most nations –
      1. Quotas were set, taxation was required – it was a very controlled economic system where the state would provide monopoly contracts to companies and allow them to facilitate trade without competition – as it benefited the state (i.e. the royals in control)
      2. The by-product was the rise of mega-companies like the Dutch East India Company, French East India Company, the East India Company and their likes – if someone wanted to create a company – needed a government (essentially a royal) charter to do so – this system wasn’t natural – heavily monopolies and controlled by the monarchs of the time – however it made those within a system of nepotism incredibly rich – both the royals from receiving direct tribune from these companies and the heads of these companies (or shareholders)
    2. Then the world saw a rise in the de-monopolisation of the economic system – over time – smaller entrepreneurs started to appear
  3. Laissez-faire as a concept in markets started being practiced in the mid-18th century and was further popularized by Adam Smith’s book The Wealth of Nations – concept of the invisible hand
    1. Adam Smith’s viewed the economy was more of that of a natural system – where the market was an organic part of that system – which at the core is human interaction
      1. By extension – Smith saw laissez-faire as a form of a moral program and the markets as an instrument to ensure people the rights of natural law – the positive rights or law of any given political order, society or nation-state – to not be infringed upon
      2. Therefore – free markets became a reflection of the natural system of liberty and freedom for the population to conduct their lives and earn a living as they saw fit – For Smith, laissez-faire was “a program for the abolition of laws constraining the market, a program for the restoration of order and for the activation of potential growth”
  • Through millions of people interacting through voluntary transactions – the prices and supply of goods and services will form an equilibrium close to optimal over time
    1. If all of a sudden everyone is demanding tea – people will start producing or importing tea – eventually there will be competition and due to oversupply – the price will drop to allow additional demand of tea – eventually – the market will be flooded with tea – as opposed to the early day of mercantilism where only the wealthy could afford to drink tea – as was the case in England – tea prices saw a 91% drop after opening up the free market of trade from 1700 to 1850
  1. Ironically – Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels – and Adam Smith – had similar views on the business man or entrepreneur in one way – but they viewed the outcomes as different – they both agreed that the whole point to get into business is self-interest – not for the betterment or morality of society – but where they differed – in the outcome
    1. Smith understood whilst the business man didn’t get into business for the good of the nation – it did still benefit it –
    2. Hence a belief in a ‘natural order’ or liberty under which individuals were allowed to follow their selfish interests contributed to the general good. Since, in their view, this natural order functioned successfully without the aid of government, they advised the state to restrict itself to upholding the rights of private property and individual liberty, to removing all artificial barriers to trade, and to abolishing all useless laws”
  2. That is again where Marx with communism differed – thought that the business man or the upper middle class and above (the businessman or owner of capital) was the problem as their greed was responsible for the workers – or lower class – being improvised – hence – wanted a stronger state on the road to full communism (socialism being a step) where the government controlled all means of production
    1. Thought that this would solve all economic problems
    2. however the opposite is true – without the people starting companies to work – those people don’t have jobs –
    3. that is where the selfish interest when Government or a body with power over man tends to corrupt an economy
      1. when corporations become creatures of the state – such as they did under mercantilism – and are slowing becoming again today – the individual can tend to lose their propensity due to the disruption to the Smithian spontaneous order
    4. To be clear – even the US which is meant to be one of the most capitalist countries – is not laissez-faire –
      1. Nor is any country in the world – The very cost of money is planned – Central banks control the cash rates – and this negates any potential for a laissez-faire system
      2. In addition – subsidies for companies that make up the market distort the outcomes –
  • Examples – Tesla’s revenue – $6.04 billion for the last quarter – but 7% of that, or $428 million, coming from sales of carbon credits that were essentially gifted to them by the Government – Their net profit was $104m for the quarter – however – they would have still had over a $300m loss without selling off these credits
  1. Also – much has changed even in the employment conditions since then – the government used to not be a major employer – over 2m Australians are employed by Government – 17% of the working population
  1. Shows how distorted the markets have truly become –
  1. To be clear – a laissez-faire economic system at the surface has nothing to do with morality – but leads to morality by a by-product – saying that everyone should be left to their own selfish desires to maximise their own position in life – whilst having the ability to do so isn’t seen as moral by modern eyes – why should one person have more than another? Even though the choices of those individuals have been different?
    1. This is where equality as a form of morality has been hijacked – as laissez-faire does lead to inequality – the freer the market the freer the ability for the individual to choose – hence due to choices – for a large part – we are not all equal
      1. Obviously – goes without say – some people are born into better situations than others – on average everyone in Aus is in a better position than someone in India or Africa – but what about someone born into the Brahmin class in India versus someone born into an impoverished family in Australia?
    2. humans are a sum of our choices – even the riches people can go to poverty if they make incorrect choices
    3. Unfortunately – this is never brought up – mobility of wealth is a thing – however – the ideology of the Government or those more extreme cant have this – you need to believe that free markets as sexist, racist, or any other platitude you can think of
    4. The role of the government should be to protect the free market – not to impede it by creating laws that make barriers to entry – through trying to enforce equality – which is impossible unless you remove all options of choice from the individual –
      1. Also – the financial system shouldn’t be allowed hijack the free market – hence governments role should be to avoid the monopolisation and enforce anticompetitive behaviours
    5. A lot of social or moral movements can and have been hijacked – from the Resistance, Rebellion, and Death – essays by Albert Camus in the 1940s – “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” 
    6. is what has happened in every revolution – Albert Camus also said – “The slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown. He must dominate in his turn.”
    7. This is the power that a centrally planned economy provides – the opportunity to overthrow and control a system
    8. I think a lot of people complaints involved with the economic system has to do with the power structures involved in that which has control over the economy – the Governments – People who want a revolution of the economy tend to just want to take it over – using Government powers – society tends to get worse whenever this occurs
    9. Now – look at centrally planned economies – ones with complete government or authoritarian control – the more control they have – the more they are fought over – as they are seen as a power epicentre – if the government had little to no power – then there wouldn’t be modern day Marxists trying to overthrow the governments and put themselves in a position of power distribution
    10. There have always been those elements in society – and its not like laissez-faire systems are perfect – can have plenty of creative destruction and economic downturns – it is a natural state
    11. Herbert Spencer was opposed to the application of laissez faire: “Along with that miserable laissez-faire which calmly looks on while men ruin themselves in trying to enforce by law their equitable claims, there goes activity in supplying them, at other men’s cost, with gratis novel-reading!”
      1. It is true – based around choices – a free market has the appearance of looking on and letting someone fail – but that should be seen as a learning opportunity
      2. It isn’t someone’s fault if they make an incorrect choice and fail – however – if they keep making it – the onus starts to be pushed back onto them – from today – I could take up the hobby of injecting heroine – and keep making that choice daily – when I lose my businesses, investments and wife and family, is the free markets fault that I lost everything? It did allow me to fail after all?
  • It might sound harsh – but that is reality – thankfully – being human is much more forgiving than any other species on the planet – if you were a zebra and made the wrong choice to run in another direction of the herd – you are going to get got
  1. Important to note – no system in the world is completely free – Australia is one of the better ones – however – with the very cost of money around the world being centrally planned – the whole world economy is stuck to never be truly free
  2. Most important thing is to use your eyes and logic – not to get wrapped up in platitudes about what could be in a perfect world – but what has been and what is observable based around those same policies –
  3. For example – where would you want to grow up – North or South Korea? Imagine you are a child in North Korea –
  1. Kids in north – after school (which is mostly propaganda to solidify ruler), 10 years military
    1. No option to accumulate anything, no way to start business, no way to buy your home, never own a car, telephone, travel overseas
    2. South – you have economic freedom to all of these things and more – hence the south out produces the north GDP by 37 times – $33400, v 1800 GDP per capita (Per person) – Live 10 years longer in south, infant mortality is almost 7 times lower
    3. What makes them so different? Why does one work? One has a freer the market – one is purely centrally planned – but the free market is what leads to incentives – which are at the core of all economic models – laissez-faire provides a system that create incentives
    4. What are incentives? – Rewards for your effort – the economy is not a zero sum game – earn more, keep it, and use it as you want- however – If someone can take your stuff, why bother?
    5. What laissez-faire should provide – an Inclusive system – probably not the inclusive system that most people are familiar with

Next week – look at the systems that breed incentives – inclusive systems or extractive systems and how to work this into your own lives

Thank you for listening to today’s episode. If you want to get in contact you can do so here: http://financeandfury.com.au/contact/

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