The balance sheets guys quickly turn to blame to cover their tracks as they extract cash from overheated markets. It’s not the shift to 401Ks, it is the shift to untethered greed as a central value, backed by vaults of servers and trunks of fiber optics supporting electronic trading and front running (to gain a nanosecond’s advantage), programmed to execute faster than a speeding bullet.
The small investor takes the bullet. Jeff Sprecher, the CEO of the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange (once a gentlemen’s club; once doing business in trading pits by open outcry, once (not long ago!) using handwritten tickets for settlements and stabilized by specialists) has said: small investors “don’t have access to the information that professional (or computerized) traders do, the ones trading reams of stocks at speeds that no human can match.”
Technology is the platform that put steady growth out of reach, but the second element that places stocks beyond the pale is the separation of capital production from material output. Labor’s added value and manufacturing and service underlying outputs matter little in the global battle royal for wealth through capital. Simply, technology is overlaid with greed. Corporations back greed; thrive for it. (Ask Argentina, another story!)
Capital accumulation requires bouts of high volatility. Traders are indifferent to the scorched earth left behind. Greed and technology are indifferent. Ironically, as markets tumble, capital, extracted, increases.