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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 3, 2008 / 27 Shevat 5768

Investors We Need Not Fear

By George Will


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Although Americans are alarmed by the credit crisis convulsing the economy, they are sensibly placid about one consequence of the crisis. It is the substantial investment by sovereign wealth funds — government-owned and -run investment funds — in financial institutions needing infusions of cash.


Remember the patriotic ruckus in 1989 when private Japanese investors bought Rockefeller Center? Remember the frenzied opposition two years ago to the attempt by a company owned by the government of Dubai to become the operator of some U.S. ports? Last month there was no comparable anxiety when the sovereign wealth funds of Kuwait, Singapore and South Korea bought an estimated $40 billion of equity in Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and the Swiss bank UBS.


Calmness, combined with vigilance, is sensible. Calmness, because the funds are a small fraction of the world's wealth and are performing necessary services. Vigilance, because they pose potential problems concerning transparency and possible political purposes.


Such funds are not new: Kuwait launched one in 1953. Matthew Higgins, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, estimates that the total assets of sovereign wealth funds are now $2.5 trillion, much less than the $16 trillion, $18 trillion and $22 trillion managed by insurance companies, pension funds and mutual funds, respectively. The $2.5 trillion is larger than the combined assets of all hedge funds but is equal to just 1.2 percent of the $201.6 trillion combined market capitalization of global bond and equity markets and commercial banks. Higgins's high-end estimate is that the funds could be 4 percent of global financial markets by 2015.


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Many countries exporting oil, toys or underwear to America are running trade surpluses. These countries need to do something with their dollars — it is better that they invest them than buy weapons with them — and want something with a higher return than U.S. Treasury bonds offer. By buying minority interests in U.S. financial institutions or other companies, sovereign wealth funds are gaining money-management expertise.


Various U.S. states and municipalities, too, are scrambling for higher returns through investments in equities because they have made $700 billion in unfunded pension promises to public employees. Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive of the Blackstone Group, a large private equity firm, says, "In our experience, there is virtually no difference between going to a sovereign fund [for investment capital] and going to a state pension fund in the U.S." Because U.S. policy endorses the free flow of capital around the world, inflows of foreign investments should be welcome — if the motive of the nations operating sovereign wealth funds is profit-maximization rather than political power.


Chris Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, says the SEC's mission is to prevent fraud and unfair dealing, and sovereign wealth funds could complicate that mission if the governments operating them are both market players and referees. Or if the governments use their intelligence services' covert information-collecting to give their investors information advantages. Or if the funds' lack of transparency contributes to market volatility because of uncertainty about the funds' allocation of assets.


The blurring of the line between government and private economic activity is potentially troublesome. Still, the funds are not large relative to the world economy or even to the $14 trillion U.S. economy, which is larger than the next four largest economies combined — Japan's, Germany's, China's and Britain's. Russia's economy is about the size of New York's and Arizona's combined; India's is about half the size of California's.


Today's Americans, their pain threshold lowered by the successful modulation of business cycles, regard recessions not as mere misfortunes but as violations of an entitlement to perpetual economic serenity. In the 50 years before 1945, contractions were frequent and ferocious enough to fray the social fabric. There were three contractions of 5 percent of gross domestic product, two of 10 percent and two of 15 percent. Since postwar demobilization, the most severe contraction — that of 1982, when President Ronald Reagan and Fed Chairman Paul Volcker stifled inflation — was 1.9 percent.


That recession ended in November 1982. If another recession did start last month, then in the 302 months from November 1982 through December 2007, the economy was in recession only 14 months — 4.6 percent of the time. The economy was in recession 22.4 percent of the time between 1945 and 1982.


A recession-free economy is neither an entitlement nor, truth be told, desirable: The "wisdom of crowds" is real, but even markets make mistakes, and recessions, a.k.a. corrections, are, by definition, constructive. Even so, the modern economy's rhythms are much less alarming than any previous generation could have imagined.

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