Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Around the world money sloshes through stock markets and banks and businesses crashing like waves upon shore as get rich investors swim in massive schools following the tail in front of them into the mouth of a shark or onto the rocks. Anyone in finance honest enough will tell you that it is all fear and greed and with technology and globalization and open capital markets, the world's monetary system has the perpetual jitters like an air traffic control working a triple shift on a holiday weekend.

It would be nice to think that local currencies and exchanges would buffer communities somewhat from these fiscal storms, but reforms need to happen a higher level too. Whether Jacqueline Novogratz and her vision of patient capital or Woody Tasch with his Slow Money movement, we need to establish approaches to investment that better incorporate social good and sustainability. Wouldn't it be remarkable if more finance people got yearly bonuses of grateful school child letters and photos of new wells dug? Wouldn't it be remarkable if we stopped investing based on the last quarter and switched to the next quarter century? Wouldn't it be remarkable if the energy and intelligence and competitiveness and even arrogance of young buck financiers were harnessed to the common good?

So while many have the temptation to tear the system down or at least ignore it, my hope is in patient capital and slow money to harness the financial waves for the common good. Slow 'em down and draw off some of the energy.

Views: 14

Comment by Starling on April 1, 2010 at 7:27am
I like your thinking Mark. Can't remember if you've referred to it, have you read "Short circuit", Richard Douthwaite's book on localizing economies for resilience? The link is to the full text online; what you've written reminds me of something I remember from his chapter 7.
Comment by Shane M. Wheeler on April 1, 2010 at 7:30am
I'll be honest- the economy needs to be tamed. Slowing it down, better regulations, that could all be a start, but I think at some point we need to reduce it's importance. I'm more for the idea of economy as a really advanced version of those old Fund Raiser schemes- you do it to get fun toys, not because you'll end up starving if you don't.
Comment by Lynn Caldwell on April 1, 2010 at 7:38pm
That was a really graphic description, and you are right, if we slow it down we would see more and we could channel the energy it produces good rather than chaos. An insightful post!
Comment by Justin Miyamoto on April 3, 2010 at 9:04pm
I agree with Shane. I am going to make an analogy. I think of the stock market and getting money from big investors is a lot like a major label in the music business. As soon a band takes money from a major label, they are owned by them. They have to make music that pleases the "experts" in the label, they have to make music that "sells". They have to make money. The music business is failing right now and the major labels are hurting. Artists are doing their own thing and cutting out the middle man. I believe the same thing will and should happen with business. This will empower small independent businesses. Rather than going to the stock market for money, companies should be collaborating with other small businesses and asking for donations from the people.
Comment by Justin Miyamoto on April 3, 2010 at 9:04pm
I'm kinda new to economics and business so i appreciate any and all criticisms. :D thanks.
Comment by Mark Mulkerin on April 3, 2010 at 11:20pm
@Justin - The Slow Money Model is actually a bunch of small investors contributing to a larger fund which then makes principled investments. The patient capital idea is invest in businesses that will help communities and are viable. Say you live in a rural village in the developing world and the water you have access to shouldn't be drunk. Patient capital might loan money to a company that will bring clean water to the village. Why not just build a plant and make it free? Too frequently when that is done, the plant falls apart after a few years, nobody has money to fix it, and it is back to drinking bad water. By backing someone who has a business stake in providing a needed service, the argument is that you then have someone who wants to keep the water flowing, because that is how they make a living. Take your music example, wouldn't it be cool if someone invested money in a recording studio that provided inexpensive access to musicians. You could make it free, but again nobody would have much a stake in keeping it going. Investing in businesses that help people seems like a good strategy.

As an aside, these models are different from "Socially Responsible Investing" in which maybe I have money from a bunch of people who say I want you to make money for me in the stock market, but I don't support cigarettes, alcohol, or any company doing business in these countries - pick out the best stocks you can to make us a good return without investing in companies that go against these moral concerns.

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