The problems of 2008 were never cured. The Federal Reserve's solution to the crisis was to lend the economy enough money to borrow its way out of debt. It thought that if it could subsidize banks lending homeowners enough money to buy houses from people who are defaulting, then the bank balance sheets would end up okay.
Evidently stockholders have forgotten more than to look at balance sheets. They have forgotten also that they are owners of a business and not merely owners of a quotation on the stock ticker. It is time, and high time, that the millions of American shareholders turned their eyes from the daily market reports long enough to give some attention to the enterprises themselves of which they are the proprietors, and which exist for their benefit and at their pleasure.
Market values are fixed only in part by balance sheets and income statements; much more by the hopes and fears of humanity; by greed, ambition, acts of God, invention, financial stress and strain, weather, discovery, fashion and numberless other causes impossible to be listed without omission.
Most people think of the economy as producing goods and services and paying labor to buy what it produces. But a growing part of the economy in every country has been the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector, which comprises the rent and interest paid to the economy's balance sheet of assets by debtors and rent payers.
What one thing does the world need most today-apart, that is, from the all-inclusive thing we call righteousness? Aren't you inclined to agree that what this old world needs is just the art of being kind? Every time I visit a factory or any other large business concern, I find myself trying to diagnose whether the atmosphere is one of kindliness or the reverse. And somehow, if there is palpably lacking that spirit of kindness, the owners ... have fallen short of achieving 24-carat success no matter how imposing the financial balance sheet may be.
In most cases the favorable price performance will be accompanied by a well-defined improvement in the average earnings, in the dividend, and in the balance-sheet position. Thus in the long run the market test and the ordinary business test of a successful equity commitment tend to be largely identical.
The basic question that the 'new science' raises for our balance sheet is the issue of what scientific questions have not been asked for 500 years, which scientific risks have not been pursued. It raises the question of who has decided what scientific risks were worth taking, and what have been the consequences in terms of the power structures of the world.