Showing posts with label bureaucracy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bureaucracy. Show all posts

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Tough at the top? Not really

Capitalists love touting the benefits of trickle-down economics. It is a rationalization of inequality. By linking the welfare of the working-class  directly to the prosperity of the rich, they can protect the interests of corporations and the wealthy without the fear of backlash.

The investment banking hierarchy is essentially a large bureaucracy. At the bottom are the manual unskilled maintenance staff like security guards, the janitors and the cleaners who keep the offices safe and warm and clean. Then there are the administrative assistants, who support several bankers at one time and make about $35,000 a year. Above them are the analysts, college graduates whose life consists of 120-hour work weeks and an endless stream of menial tasks for $65,000 to $90,000 a year. Next up, and supported by the analysts, are the associates -- freshly minted MBAs with more than a $100,000 in school loans hanging over them -- who can look forward to taking home between $100,000 and $175,000 a year. If these young men and women, who work 90-hour weeks while trying to juggle a family, survive long enough to become vice presidents, their compensation can rise to $200,000-$300,000 per year.

Above the vice presidents are the directors, which is a training zone for the next pay grade (or a graveyard for those who don't have what it takes). Directors rely on the workers below them to do all the grunt work, including research, financial analysis, and client presentations, while they mainly babysit clients and occasionally come up with ideas to pitch to them. Their pay for these relatively cushy tasks ranges from $350,000 to $500,000 per year; but even this is meager compared to what their superiors make. Managing directors, who work even less and spend more time golfing instead, can make anywhere from a million to several million dollars a year.

Finally you have the really big fish -- the CEOs, presidents, executive vice presidents, and others who manage the entire circus, think deep thoughts, and schmooze with politicians to get regulations loosened. What makes these gigs so coveted is not just the fact that few ever manage to join that echelon but that the pay-scale jumps to tens of millions of dollars (even hundreds of millions) per year for work that is only moderately more challenging than that of the managing directors. It may be lonely at the top, but it's  lucrative.

It should be clear from the above that the wealth generated in these organizations gathers mainly at the top of the pyramid, while the people at the bottom, who do a lot of the heavy lifting and are instrumental in building that wealth, receive only a fraction of those riches. Sure, the pay scales in investment banking are pretty good by the standards of other industries, but it is the proportional difference between the compensation at the top and the bottom that makes a difference. This large income gap leads to an exponentially faster accumulation of wealth in a few hands, which in turn widens the prosperity gap even more. In other words, prosperity is not really trickling down but trickling up.

The more wealth trickles up in the capitalist system, the more it frustrates those at the bottom -- without whose efforts that wealth could not be created in the first place.

Taken from here

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Red Capitalists

For much of the last decade, while Bo Xilai, Communist Party chief in the city of Chongqing, a large metropolis with province status, and a member of the Politburo, was busy moving up the ranks of the Communist Party, and even striking populist themes aimed at improving the lot of the poor, his relatives were quietly amassing a fortune estimated at more than $160 million. His elder brother accumulated millions of dollars’ worth of shares in one of the country’s biggest state-owned conglomerates. His sister-in-law owns a significant stake in a printing company she started that was recently valued at $400 million. And even Mr. Bo’s 24-year-old son, now studying at Harvard, got into business in 2010, registering a technology company with $320,000 in start-up capital.

Just a few weeks before his fall from power, Bo Xilai wrote an inscription in calligraphy, praising the Chongqing Water Assets Management Company, and urging support for its operations. What he did not say was that a foundation controlled by his younger brother, Bo Xicheng, had acquired a stake in a subsidiary of the water company. Mr. Bo had done something similar in 2003, while serving as governor here in Liaoning Province. He said his province would make supporting the Dalian Daxian company, a conglomerate engaged primarily in electronics manufacturing, one of the most important tasks of the next five years. A few years earlier, another company controlled by the same younger brother was listed as the owner of nearly a million shares in Dalian Daxian, worth about $1.2 million.

Bo Xilai’s downfall has cast the spotlight on the hidden wealth and power accumulated by the Communist Party’s revolutionary families, and by the sons, daughters, wives and close relatives of the nation’s high-ranking leaders. Two of Bo Xilai’s three brothers are well-established businessmen with close ties to state companies.

 His elder brother, Bo Xiyong, 64, has invested over the years, according to Hong Kong records, in a series of offshore investment vehicles like Advanced Technology and Economic Development, partly owned by a British Virgin Islands entity, and Far Eastern Industries. But little about the companies is publicly available. Bo Xiyong is also vice chairman of China Everbright International, a division of the Everbright Group, a giant state-owned company. His annual salary is about $200,000 and his stake in the company during the past decade is about $10 million, based on shares he has sold and the value of his current stock options, according to public filings. In addition, Bo Xiyong is a deputy of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a government advisory body, and until recently he served as deputy chairman of HKC Holdings, a Hong Kong company controlled by the family of an Indonesian billionaire. In 2010, the big American private equity firm TPG invested about $25 million in HKC, which specializes in infrastructure and alternative energy projects in China and has won numerous state contracts.

Bo Xicheng, the younger brother, Bo Xicheng has served as a director of several big state-owned companies, including Citic Securities, one of China’s largest investment houses. He is also the founder of a small company that makes fire extinguishers and other equipment, called Beijing Liuhean Firefighting Science and Technology, whose products are used in government agencies, luxury hotels, power plants and in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. He has ties to several companies that operated in Dalian and Chongqing, the two cities where Bo Xilai served as a high-ranking official. His charitable foundation, the Beijing Xingda Educational Foundation, has on its board of directors the heads of two real estate developers, the Dalian Huanan Group and Chongqing Tianyou, as well as Weng Zhenjie, the chief executive of the Chongqing International Trust Company. Among the advisers to the foundation, which has already raised more than $20 million, are two academics from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who publicly supported Bo Xilai’s “Chongqing model” of development. The foundation owns a $2 million stake in Chongqing Water Group, a company now valued at about $5 billion.

Two of Bo Xilai sisters-in-law - Gu Wangjiang and Gu Wangning - have earned millions of dollars in publishing, real estate and other ventures. Together they own about $120 million worth of shares in the TungKong Security Printing Company in eastern China. The TungKong Web site says the company has contracts with some of China’s biggest state-owned enterprises and government agencies, including the tax authorities and the Central Bank. Gu Wangning also helped Bo Guagua establish a technology company in Beijing in 2010.

Bo Zhiyue, a senior fellow at the National University of Singapore’s East Asian Institute. “The relatives of other party leaders are also doing lots of business deals, and people will begin to ask: What about them? Was the Bo family the only one doing this kind of thing?”

They are conduits of power. Laurence Brahm, a former lawyer who has written books on China’s economy and political scene explained “By virtue of the fact that they are a son or daughter of someone, when they visit the provinces they’ll get red carpet treatment from the leaders there. The businesspeople can tag along.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/24/world/asia/bo-xilais-relatives-wealth-is-under-scrutiny.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120424

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