In case you need more confirmation that the US economy is out of balance, here are three charts for you.
1) Corporate profit margins just hit another all-time high. Companies are making more per dollar of sales than they ever have before. (And some people are still saying that companies are suffering from “too much regulation” and “too many taxes.” Maybe little companies are, but big ones certainly aren’t. What they’re suffering from is a myopic obsession with short-term profits at the expense of long-term value creation).
2) Wages as a per cent of the economy just hit another all-time low. Why are corporate profits so high? One reason is that companies are paying employees less than they ever have as a share of GDP. And that, in turn, is one reason the economy is so weak: Those “wages” are represent spending power for consumers. And consumer spending is “revenue” for other companies. So the profit obsession is actually starving the rest of the economy of revenue growth.
3) Fewer Americans are working than at any time in the past three decades. The other reason corporations are so profitable is that they don’t employ as many Americans as they used to. As a result, the employment-to-population ratio has collapsed. We’re back at 1980s levels now.
In short, our current obsessed-with-profits philosophy is creating a country of a few million overlords and 300+ million serfs.
That’s not what has made America a great country. It’s also not what most people think America is supposed to be about.
So we might want to rethink that.
Specifically, we might want to have the goal of our corporations be to create long-term value for all of their constituencies (customers, employees, and shareholders), not just short-term profit for their shareholders.
Meanwhile, if you want to know more about what’s wrong with the economy, and why our current obsession with short-term-profit is hurting all of us, flip through these charts: