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Title: Financialization
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Rank:TAE Member
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(Date Posted:07/11/2018 11:32 AM)
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I suppose I could respond “yes and no” on the question of financialization and increasing detachment from production. The massive amounts of money diverted to financial speculators — Wall Street, the City and elsewhere — are a sharing of surplus value, not necessarily willingly done. But it is certainly true that activity on financial markets greatly exceed any rational bounds — I once tried to quantify the composite size of stock, bond and forex markets and concluded that 11 days of trading on those markets equals in value the size of the entire world gross domestic product.

Industrialists and financiers ultimately have a symbiotic relationship. Financiers need profitable enterprises to produce the profits that are skimmed off and speculated on, and industrialists benefit from the pressure that financiers bring to bear, forcing up stock prices that they profit from. There is a considerable overlap between the two as well, financiers often buy industrial companies and other makers of tangible products (even if to siphon the money out of them and leave them an emptied husk) and industrial companies often develop their own finance arms. GE Capital was once one of the most profitable parts of General Electric, for example.

There is so much financial speculation because the profits generated and the wealth flowing to those who reap the profits have far more money than they can spend or invest. So this excess is diverted into speculations. At time, speculation is more profitable than production, so that exacerbates the tendency of capital to chase higher returns through speculation. So you are completely correct that financialization has gone beyond any rationality at the same time that accumulated financial wealth is not necessarily detached from productive enterprises.

thinking is a dangerous thing

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(Date Posted:07/12/2018 12:43 PM)

None of that rings true to me, Knightly.

I'm not saying there are no shenanigans going on.  There most certainly are.  Question is, how much and how damaging to the works over all are those shenanigans.

The issue is not clarified by biased language and insinuations.  For example;  The massive amounts of money diverted to financial speculators — Wall Street, the City and elsewhere — are a sharing of surplus value, not necessarily willingly done.

Let's unpack that a bit.  "Massive amounts of money diverted to financial speculators".  People who, 'speculate', on commodities or even stocks/bonds... are they not using their own money?  So far as I know, they do use their own money... so how is any 'diversion' taking place?  It's their money to do with as they please.

Secondly, speculation.  Let's say we're speculating about oil.  If the price of a commodity, oil in this case, is low... that is a signal from the market that the amount of oil being produced is a little high right now, thank you very much.  Suppliers of oil should respond by slowing their production unless other factors are in play for an individual supplier... perhaps they've over extended themselves or taken on debt they need to service (both voluntary acts on their part and they should face the consequences of their actions and learn from them or go out of business).

A speculator may, in effect, take possession of a quantity of oil at price X/barrel.  Said speculator is betting that the price of a barrel of oil will go up.  Well, then you have to ask what's happening to make the price of a barrel go up?  The answer, hopefully, is that not quite enough oil is being produced.  When the speculator sells his/her oil at the higher price, they are increasing the amount available thus they are providing a service in which both parties win.  The speculator makes a buck, consumers have access to oil that would not otherwise have been available.

Absent shenanigans, this seems like a win/win scenario regardless of the commodity.  And don't forget... nothing, not one thing, guarantees the price of oil or any other commodity will increase.  The speculator very well could lose and absent shenanigans… they alone suffer the consequences.

You can argue, perhaps, that the speculator isn't creating anything... and that's true.  However, like putting money in the bank for a rainy day... the action is, overall, a positive force in an economy... absent shenanigans.

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(Date Posted:07/13/2018 12:33 PM)

about oil. recall the oil bubble awhile back. it hit $147 a barrel. the official line was the price was going up because of increased demand. however the spot price was lower than the contract price. if prices go up because of increased demand, than the spot price will be higher than the contract price.

the oil bubble ended at the same time as the real estate bubble did. cause and effect? i don't know what goes on behind close doors. things like short selling. oil was hoarded because speculators didn't know when the oil bubble would pop. the end result was the price of oil nosed dive. for awhile there was so much oil, they were running out of places to store it.
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thinking is a dangerous thing

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(Date Posted:07/13/2018 5:05 PM)

Speculators are supposed to smooth out the peaks and troughs in demand and supply.  I read that in a book somewhere.  Anyway, all those high oil prices stimulated research and development in fracking leading to new supplies driving prices down, for a while.  Wars on Iran, Libya etc can push prices back the other way.  Life's infinite variety continues.
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