Sunday, February 17, 2008

More Gushing Over Gretchen: The New Gilded Age.

It was this moment that endeared Gretchen to me as a kindred spirit. From an October NPR interview.

If you don't read her in the NYTimes and you haven't listen to the interviews in my last post, you need to. She's awesome.

There are two themes very dear to me (and core concepts in the "Sherman Doctrine") that Gretchen touches in this interview.

1. The creation of higher forms of shared value.
2. Value Creation vs Profit Realization.

I frequently talk about the role of wealth in this country during the industrial revolution. People like Carnegie, Morgan and the Vanderbilts amassed great wealth but in the process created infrastructure for a young and expanding nation. The railroads, still in use today are good example that Gretchen sites. Grand Central Station is the example I'm fond of referencing not only because of its functional, transportational role, but as a shared cultural symbol/public space as well. It is a magnificent example of what constructive wealth can create.

The monolithic art, the "creations of shared cultural value" left behind by the Egyptians are the Great Pyramids. Even if the functional purpose (death tomb for deified leader) is lost on us, the Great Pyramids say to the universe "we were here". Our monolithic art is the Navy Destroyers and the ICBMs siloed in the ground (hmmm, tombs of death again). The artifacts of the Military Industrial Complex also say "we were here" but they say much more about us as well. Like it our not, these are our great pyramids, this is our art (the stuff you see in Chelsea galleries is strictly craft fair). These are the things we funnel our collective wealth, energy, and science into.

The financial services industry is one that I criticize for being overly focused on profit realization to the detriment of value creation. Their strategy, it seems to me, has always been to find ways to charge another nickel for the same old services instead of innovating the role money plays in peoples lives and how its used. Shouldn't PayPal have been a banking innovation. Shouldn't a similar service be a common, easy-to-use feature in retail banking? Digital wallet technology is another example of innovation in the area of money being pursued more outside of banking than within.

I'm talking primarily about retail consumer baking. Gretchen, in the embedded clip speaks about the broader financial service industry and the huge sums of money that are made from the "management" of money as opposed to the creation of.... well, anything.

Links to 2 excellent NPR interview with Gretchen can be found on my post: Gretchen Morgenson rocks my world

1 comment:

king friday said...

The Bank of Make Believe has most of its financial backing tied up in the Trolley Company, a tangible company most of my kingdom's ancestors helped to build.