Davos Will Focus on Loss of Trust Regarding Big Business and Big Finance

By Staff News & Analysis / January 19, 2015 / www.thedailybell.com / Article Link

Big business will undoubtedly be the subject of much soul-searching at Davos 2015 … Loss of public trust in established forms of business has got a great deal worse since the onset of the financial crisis. Is there a solution? – UK Telegraph

Dominant Social Theme: Take care of the customer to regain trust in business.

Free-Market Analysis: This article features a mainstream newspaper reporting clearly what we already know but have rarely seen admitted in the mainstream: Big business and big finance equally have lost the "trust" battle. The paradigm is no longer believable.

Having made the admission, the article rushes to beat back naysayers. There are indeed solutions, the article avers, or at least one solution, which is to better serve the customer. Give the customer what he wants and the "trust" issue will disappear.

That's what we learn in this article anyway. Here's more:

For many of Britain's FTSE 100 bosses, it's time to pack the thermals and head for Davos, where the World Economic Forum is this week hosting its annual meeting – a gathering that tends to be the object of both fascination and derision in equal measure.

Fascination because there is no other single event in the international calendar that attracts such an extraordinary concentration of wealth, power, and proven intellect; and derision because many see it as just a talking shop for a self-perpetuating global elite.

The very place itself, a glamorous Swiss Alpine resort made famous as the setting for Thomas Mann's metaphysical novel, The Magic Mountain, seems symbolic of the disconnect with ordinary concerns.

Loss of public trust in established forms of business and public authority is scarcely a new phenomenon; I doubt there was ever a time when people would leap out of bed in the morning exclaiming, "I must remember to write to the prime minister and the chairman of BP congratulating them on what a splendid job they are doing on behalf of the nation", or some such.

Yet it has plainly got a great deal worse since the onset of the financial crisis, with big business and finance now quite widely regarded as a racket for the super-rich and their hangers on, and it will undoubtedly be the subject of much soul-searching at this year's Davos.

These are remarkable statements to make and they are followed by another one that is even more startling. Here it is in full:

The first is that one of the underlying causes of lost deference, the advent of mass communications, is an overwhelmingly positive development that, though it can give wing to ignorant, intolerant and sometimes downright dangerous and abhorrent messaging, is an entirely new form of democracy that will ultimately make everyone much more publicly accountable, including the higher echelons of business, finance and government.

This, too, is a remarkable statement, granting that this Internet era is beginning to reconfigure the balance of power in society.

The second point the article makes is the one about customer service. We don't take that so seriously. The thought springs to mind that the very largest multinationals are always involved in actions that their customers, at least some of them, might find antagonistic.

For instance, the article mentions that many technology "pioneers" will be at Davos, and in mentioning them, the article wants to make the point that big business has once again had a tremendous impact on society's industrial expansion.

But unfortunately, we know from recent news that a selection of these technology companies were involved in invading customer privacy through back doors that allowed intelligence agencies to roam almost at will.

This sort of action generates tension between the customer and the service or goods provider. Ultimately, a nation's larger firms in this day and age are going to be susceptible to a mercantilist model in which the government makes policies that must be supported. This can make the company an accomplice of a government's most unpopular actions.

Because of this ubiquitous mercantilism, the customer relationship is fraught and it is difficult to believe that there is much that can be done in the short term to alleviate the tension. The main trick would be to do away with the corporate personhood that has allowed these companies to swell to such dimensions.

Alternatively, as the article itself suggests, what we call the Internet Reformation will continue to deal blows to the profile and trustworthiness of Big Business and Big Finance. Thus, this is not something that can be alleviated by better customer service. The tensions between customers and the mercantilist entities that serve them is part of a larger structural issue.

We accept the notion that trust will continue to erode when it comes to large institutions generally, whether they are those of government or big business.

In fact, as we have written continuously, we don't see the situation changing until some of the most powerful legal doctrines of our time are overturned in some form or other. This is just one more trend supporting an increasingly chaotic sociopolitical and economic environment.

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