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Dec 1st, 2012 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

And this is the reason why markets fail

For a very long time I considered myself a neo-liberalist. It’s what was drilled into my head at the University of Cologne and it’s what made most sense to me. And yet I find myself wondering more and more about some obvious failures in our public stock markets.

Today the Wall Street Journal ran a cover story on Bank of America backing down from fee increases which would hurt their lowest-income customers. You can argue that they have to do this as they loose money on those customers (according to BofA) or if they have a societal obligation to serve these customers given their size and importance (and their overall very healthy revenues) — what struck me was the following sentence in the article:

“However, in choosing to delay new fees, banks risk alienating investors who want to see more revenue.”

It is telling that the above statement appears in the article long before the author goes on to tell you that BofA looses money on those customers.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the way our markets are set up. We seem to value growth above all societal considerations.

Makes you wonder what the new gatekeepers to your online identity will do when their profits erode, when their growth slows and when they “risk alienating investors who want to see more revenue”.

On days like these I am happier than ever to work for Mozilla.

Quick note: I’ve moved this newsletter from TinyLetter to Mailchimp. You don’t need to do anything, just lean back and enjoy. Note that you now can tweet the newsletter to your tribe, engage in a conversation about the content on Facebook and simply hit reply to reach me directly with your comments. Cool stuff.

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