Monday, 25 June 2018

Bullshit Jobs - David Graeber nails it

From City AM:

Often I talk to people who are efficiency experts for banks who will say they think there’s as many as 80 per cent of the people who work in a given bank probably don’t need to be there.

I think it’s partly because the system we have actually isn’t really capitalism. I would go that far. Capitalism is a system where you are hiring people to make stuff to sell people, or you’re just selling stuff and therefore obviously you want to spend as little as possible and make the most profit.

But increasingly the profits of large corporations are coming from finance, so basically moving money around, creating debt, seeking rents of one kind or another. That’s a whole different thing that’s much more like feudalism where you’re extracting money then redistributing it.


Lola said...

Too fucking true...

Ralph Musgrave said...

Plus of course a system where nanny state bails you out whenever you make a mess is not capitalism.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, it's nice to see City AM let this slip through the net.

RM, yes and agreed, that's feudalism and rent seeking, like the author said.

mombers said...

Lots of it is to do with managerial pay I suspect. Generally, the more people you line manage, the higher your pay. Create a few bullshit jobs under you and you get a raise!
'Capitalism' doesn't exist in any meaningful form anywhere, these jobs can and do exist in whatever you can call the systems perceived as capitalist

ontheotherhand said...

There are two points being made:
1. Banks move money around and seek rents.
2. 80 per cent of employees don't need to be there.

I think banks certainly do seek rents. The jobs exist because they are successful at extracting those rents. But I don't seen why they would needlessly hire the majority of their employees. From time to time activist investors punish those banks that have too many employees. BNY Mellon extracts rents from being too big to fail. It holds 80% of the world's T Bills, so basically that is the place where you shove your bonds if the economy looks risky. Nevertheless, this activist investor thought that they needed to fire 20% (not 80%) of their workforce.

Bayard said...

If capitalism is society run for the benefit of those in the productive economy, we need a new word to describe a society run for the benefit of those in the extractive economy. "Feudalism" doesn't really fit. Too many overtones of the past.

Mark Wadsworth said...

OTOH, it is partly as M says, and the equal and opposite thing in BoE, FCA and all these other stupid regulatory bodies, the regulator says "employ more compliance officers" and the head of compliance is only too happy to oblige, then the regulators employ more people to oversee compliance officers etc.

B, "neoliberalism" is what it's called nowadays.