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Invisible hand - guiding where?

The Economist run an article Questioning the invisible hand last week.

Starting off with the meltdown in the financial industry in several countries it then zooms in on the energy industry's apparent inability to secure supply for the future in UK and moves on to greenhouse gas emission report from the Committee on Climat Change:

"The market, left to its own devices, is failing to deliver

- consumers are not moving to energy-efficient appliances or insulating their houses

- carmakers are failing to get emissions down

- power companies still prefer fossile fuels to greener alternatives"

Bracing dose of re-regulation prescribed: compulsory emission caps for cars, feed-in tariffs for green power, minimum carbon prices - plainly put by David Kennedy: "We've stuck with the market a long time. We don't think we can stick but it any more."

So we have global warming, diminishing supply of clean water, looming shortage of electricity in some countries,  huge cost of overmedication, slow adoption of cost-saving automation of administrative processes, slow migration from crime-enabling use of cash, too slow progress in building the EU Single Market and now it seems an open cheque from taxpayers to too-big-to-fail investment bankers to earn oversized bonuses  by - some time again taking excessive risks (looks like one-sided options to many) etc etc.

It should be clear enough that we cannot risk leaving all this to invisible hands - instead a very visible hand is needed. The problem is that the public sector has stuck too much to service production and have scant resources for these important challenges. Business should also for that reason be a proactive driver of good-for-society-at-large regulation - and de-regulation. A  co-regulation approach will be faster, must better and less costly. The alternative is likely to be very costly over-regulation.


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