Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Bad Romance (Or, Understanding the Great Stagnation)

Markets: We so smart look wealth trades money cash money we rockin.
State: Wow, you guys are totally hawt. You're the most awesome thing since this Dokken video. Here, let's deregulate so you can rock it even harder.
Markets: (air guitar solos in front of ginormous bonus checks)
State: (worshipfully, tearfully admiring from the front row)
Markets: Augggh!! We blew it!! Our gigantic stack of hellacious amps--all blown to hell!! Bail us out!!
State: NO WAY. No way. No. N..n...
Markets: Pretty please?
State: Ah, don't make the puppy dog face. You know we can't resist the--oh no, not the WATERWORKS!! Christ, ahh, what the hell--OK.
Markets: Phew, thanks. (Sniffle).
State: Don't mention it--it was nothing, really. We have plenty left to tax!! Cash money, you know?
Market: Yeah, whatevs. Hey, ummm, so...we need to talk.
State: (chin-wobbling voice) R-r-really??
Market: You know how we used to find each other really attractive? Well, that sure is a big old paunch of debt you have. Not too becoming. In fact, we're totally into you anymore.
State: Wow. That was harsh. Really harsh. We're not talking to you.
Markets: Fine. Be that way, you fat, lame old ball and chain. We're gonna jack up rates on your debt.
State: Oh noes!! Please Hammer, don't hurt us. We're gonna slash and burn so hard, the average Joe's not gonna know his future from a bomb site. And here's some more cash money!!
Markets: (air guitar solos in front of ginormous bonus checks).
State: Don't mention it--it was nothing, really. We have plenty left to cut!!
Markets: Nice, now shut it. Say, umm, listen, there any chance we could get a bailout? We just blew a fuse in our hellacious stack of giant amps.

It's an abusive relationship--that's the point of my little parable. One where one side is doing great, repeated, systematic violence--and then coming back begging for forgiveness and support. And the other side acquiesces mutely.

Hence, those who numbly, dumbly obey "market forces" get eviscerated, destroyed, blown to smithereens just as surely as if they'd tripped over a roadside bomb--just ask Iceland, Ireland, or the USA. Conversely, it's those relatively insulated from "market forces"--or who choose to ignore them, almost entirely--like Google, Apple, India, and, to an extent, China--who have the freedom to make bigger, better, smarter choices, that underpin more authentic value, wealth, and growth.

Here's my suggestion.

Until this vicious cycle is broken, don't expect anything but a Great Stagnation spiralling into a depression. The globe's resources are being chronically, systematically, persistently, repeadedly misallocated and malinvested in lower and lower productivity uses, because of the bad romance above. Reform, institutional innovation, fundamental reinvention, bottom-up reconception, all seem like a distant memory--but until they becomes a fresh reality, there's no escape from the nightmare* (watch the Dokken Video--it tells the story way better than I can).

*So how, then, can you get started, no matter what you're doing? Try here.

-- umair // 4:07 PM // 0 comments

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