01 Nov 2009

Sample Essay: Global Finance Today Be Compared To ‘Casino Capitalism’

“Financial markets today are globally alive through international telecommunication system. The fabric of modern financial environment is woven in such a system. Therefore trading and transfers of payments go on around the clock. Financial markets include foreign exchange, fixed income, and equity markets. Financial intermediaries such as banks and insurance companies have a role in it. Cultural, political, and historical back grounds and complexity and availability of technology of financial institutions differ across borders. Since the dawn of the recorded history, financial transaction was into existence.3000BC documents of Sumerian, shows the systematic use of credit in Mesopotamia. Hammurabi’s code mentioned the regulations of credit in Babylon around 1800BC. In the city state of Genoa, Banking institutions started in the twelfth century AD. Similar to the modern form, security issues were existed in the Italian city state in the middle ages. Financial features and financial derivatives are not something new. These were widely traded in the 1600s in the Amsterdam Securities exchange. This shows that financial activities such as borrowing, investing in securities, financial contracting are very old. Only the procedures in these activities have changed through the ages. Ways of clearing and settling payments to facilitate the exchange of goods, services, and assets are provided by a financial system. Pooling of funds for the subdividing of shares in firms to facilitate diversification is provided by financial system. For coordinating decentralized decision making in various sectors of economy, the required information is provided by the financial system.” (1)

The important factors of financial environment are: 1. Growth rate of GDP.2. GDP percapita measured in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP).3.Import and Export rate.4.Inflation in the economy. Such factors affect the financial activity both at the micro level and macro level of economy. (2)

Additional movement towards globalization will need rethinking the natural world and position of capitalism in meeting the objectives of mankind, including its melding with both social and political objectives and institutions. A more open world economy will not be acceptable unless there is broad agreement on objectives, processes, and “fundamental values buttressing civil societies.” (3) In the last half century, capitalism has distorted as it has moved from a focus on nationwide prosperity and authority to growth and integration of local associations of nations; and it will have to be adapted further as diverse countries are brought into an open and integrated global system-one founded on roughly similar values expressed in freedom and social justice. These changes must address the recurring problems of poverty and an inequitable distribution of benefits and burdens (including unemployment and increasing uncertainty) within and among nations.

How does globalization affect the third world countries? (4) Globalization, if allowed to genuinely progress, will unlock the economic development potential that is currently suppressed by government interventions in many of the world’s poorest countries. But economic liberalization is far from a sure thing. It needs passionate advocates that can stir up public support to overwhelm the lobbying power of particular interest groups that benefit from protectionism, such as corporate agro-businesses and steel workers. Leftist attempts to halt globalization will only help these protectionists, resulting in an uneven distribution of capitalism and thus, an uneven distribution of poverty-induced suffering. (5)

People who criticize free market capitalism focus on the arrangement of markets and their association to all institutions. The unsteadiness and instability of energetic markets can diminish the economic footing of actual lives, or in additional macro-cases can pilot the collapse of nationwide and local economies. Susan Strange (1986) refers to this instability as ‘casino capitalism,’ (6) an occurrence she links to five developments: “innovations in the way in which financial markets work; the sheer size of markets; commercial banks turned into investment banks; the emergence of Asian nations as players; and the shift to self-regulation by banks” (Strange, pp.9-10).

The competitive environment of industry can be elaborated with the help of Porter’s five forces analysis. The five forces consist of those forces close to a firm, which affect a firm’s ability to serve its customer and make a profit. The five forces are: 1.The threat of a close substitute for the firm’s product, 2.The threat of entry of new competitors, 3.competitive rivalry and its intensity, 4.customers bargaining power, 5.suppliers bargaining power. If any one or more of the forces change the firm has to relocate its market. In a financial environment based on global financial market and integrated economy the competitive forces are also having a wider reach. A firm has to think about diversification in its business to absorb the shock of the market. A proper strategic decision making is required on the part of the management to constructively explore the various aspect of the emerging global environment.

To talk about the global market volatility and the resourceful obliteration energies of the different sectors, the dimness of risk and economic indecision lurk in the backdrop of this genre of Publicity and promotion. “The danger emerges in the shape of savings anxiety, failure to innovate scientifically and technologically” (7), the lack of elasticity and pace, or being inundated by information. Paradoxically, the foundation layer most vulnerable to monetary instability is absented from these commercials. The risk experienced is by investors or by executives. But the risk itself provides the opportunity.

When we talk about the global finance at its present state we are presented with economic blood on the roads, the sea of crimson ink, the millions of dollars of worth disappeared into thin air, the individual pain and community witch-hunting, the millions or tens of thousands of populace whose houses are valued less than mortgages they have already obtained – all of it had been originated by excesses the global community was warned about. Very loudly, often and a lot earlier.

The world was warned by people with the most money in the world who have a fair idea of how the global financial casino operates and don’t have a very favourable opinion of what they are witnessing, even as they flourish. Warren Buffet, almost certainly the most successful financier of this era, when he talks about the financial speculators and manipulators operating under the polite title of “hedge funds” (8).

“In Wall Street you have this progression from the innovators, to the imitators, to the swarming incompetents,” he told the CNBC financial network last week. “And what happens is that the results achieved by the innovators enable the product to be sold by a lot of people, simply because the record of a few people was good.

“So the idea that billions, well, trillions of dollars can be managed to get above-average results while charging fees that are way higher than normal just defies logic.”

Nor does Buffet buy the logic that the world’s largest economy can avoid a recession by the simple expedient of cutting interest rates. It’s too late. The debt bubble is too big.

“By any commonsense definition, we are in a recession. On balance, most [Americans’] net worth has been heading south for a considerable period of time.

“And if you owned a house, and you had an 80 per cent mortgage on it, and 20 per cent equity a year ago, you might not have any equity now. Millions of people are in this position now.”

Plenty of them live in Australia, and are being pummelled by the Reserve Bank.

Four years ago, another billionaire, George Soros, a veteran currency speculator, wrote a book called The Bubble Of American Supremacy, in which he warned about the dangers presented by excessive debt in the housing sector: “The market in securitised mortgages is enormous, much superior than in government bonds.”

He said there was “a real flaw in the system”, which would inevitably disrupt the bond market and global lending. After four years, it has come to pass.

Soros on January 23, writing in the Financial Times, presented an article providing a clear, bleak synopsis of the field of disagreement: “The current financial crisis was precipitated by a bubble in the US housing market … Ease of credit generates demand that pushes up the value of property, which in turn increases the amount of credit available.” (9)

In conclusion I would say that global financial system today is very much in correlation to the term ‘casino capitalism’. Being in the world today is no different than any Las Vegas casino. Either you win it and make it big in the rat race of capitalism or get overtaken and swallowed whole by the individualistic nature of the free market.

Resources

1. [The Global Financial System: A Functional Perspective by Dwight B Crane page5-12]

2. [http://www.epa.gov/ocem/nacept/ green _dividends.pdf]

3. [Bohm, D. (2000), The Implicate Order and Wholeness (Boston: Ark Paperbacks, 2000)]

4. [Beck, U. (2000), ‘A Global Prospect: Beyond the Work Society,’ Global Focus 12(1): 79-88]

5. [Dingel, Jonathan. Globalization: The Third World’s Best Ally, 2005]

6. [Strange, Susan. 1986, Casino Capitalism. Publsiher: Oxford]

7. [Balasubramanyam, V. N., Salisu, M., and Sapsford, D. (1996), ‘Foreign Direct Investment and Growth in EP and IS countries’, Economic Journal 106: 92-105]

8. [Blomstrom, M., and Persson, H. (1983), ‘Foreign Investment and Spillover Efficiency in an Underdeveloped Economy: Evidence from the Mexican Manufacturing Industry’, World Development 14: 493-501]

9. [Dollar, D. and Collier, P. (2001), Globalisation, Growth and Poverty: Building an Inclusive World Economy (Washington, DC: World Bank)]

15 Jul 2009

Sample Essay: Effective Metaphors For Describing Race In America

Throughout its history, the United States has been a haven for people with differences.  During its birth, the country was unique in allowing religious freedoms that other western countries prohibited.  Later, the country began to offer more liberties to women and blacks, as well as open its doors to an influx of immigrants from all over the world.  Today, America’s ethnic and cultural diversity surpasses that of any other nation.  Perhaps, this is the reason why the country has been referred to as a variety of metaphors including melting pot, implying that the country is slowly assimilating the differences into one culture.  However, America more closely resembles a salad, where the different cultures and ethnicities create a vibrant and colorful salad.  Unlike a melting pot, a salad’s different parts are distinct and individual, even when they are combined. Many sociologists agree with this perspective based on extensive research, history, and analytical theories.

The myth of the melting pot has been proven false time and time again by non-caucasian Americans who don’t feel that the country is changing them, rather, they are changing it.  The term “americanization” has become anachronistic in a sense; the notion of the blond haired and blue eyed stereotype no longer prevails in the minds of many immigrants.  Take into consideration Maria Jacinto’s attitude toward the United States, since moving here a decade ago:

” ‘In the Hispanic tradition, the family comes first, not money. It’s important for our children not to be influenced too much by the gueros,’ she said, using a term that means ‘blondies’ but that she employs generally in reference to Americans. ‘I don’t want my children to be influenced by immoral things’ ” (Branigin, 1998).

Immigrant families like the Jacintos are rightfully wary of idealized American culture.  Oftentimes, children are influenced by the worst aspects of society.  True assimilation requires both good and bad learning, and as Sociologist Ruben Rumbaut says, “It doesn’t always lead to something better” (Branigin, 1998).

Even children of immigrants share the same attitude as their parents.  While they are fluent in English and have an easier time assimilating to the culture, a recent study of children of immigrants from Haiti, Cuba, West Indies, Mexico, and Vietnam suggested that they, themselves do not consider them pure Americans.  Rather, the children preferred to label themselves as hyphenated Americans (eg: Korean-American, Mexican-American) instead of American, and few of the children believed in the ideal that the United States was the best country in the world. (Booth, 1998)  Even for kids, the salad bowl scenario is far more appropriate.  These children speak the common American language, but view themselves culturally distinct from the mainstream.

Furthermore, in many states, immigrants have a tendency to cluster into niche neighborhoods according to specific ethnic populations.  Rather than adopting typically American lifestyles, these groups import their unique cultural identity to the country.  Almost every major city has an Asian, African, European, and Latin American community with an array of restaurants, museums and shops, and cultural center.  In cities like Los Angeles, where an influx of immigrants arrive daily,

“It almost goes without saying that today’s new arrivals are a source of vitality and energy, especially in the big cities to which many are attracted. Diversity, almost everyone agrees, is good; choice is good; exposure to different cultures and ideas is good” (Booth, 1998).

Once considered exotic, foods like sushi and burritos have now become staples of American culture.  As different culture continue to pervade into the American mainstream, once-unique attributes slowly become associated with the commonplace.  Again, we see that instead of seeing people of different backgrounds trying to embody once central stereotype, they actually share their differences with one another and combine them to create an identity composed of a variety of influences.

Many groups prefer settling into areas with similar ethnicities.  In fact, ethnic dispersion in the country is quite limited.  Most immigrants tend to move to only six major states:  California absorbs 30.9% of the entire immigrant population, New York- 12.8%, Florida-10%, Texas – 8.6%, New Jersey- 4.3% and Illinois- 4.1%.  Based on these 2000 US Census Bureau statistics, it is evident that not all Americans mix everywhere, thus proving the inaccuracy of the melting pot scenario.  Like a salad, there can be more concentrations of certain elements in some areas, whereas other parts will not.

Different ethnic Americans advocate their distinct identities in the mainstream media and politics.  According to sociologists Leonard Dinnerstein and David Reimers, the salad bowl thesis is applicable to today’s society.

For example:

“Italian Americans vehemently protested the alleged prejudicial treatment that the media and law enforcement officials displayed.  They resented, for example,television programs in which the underworld figure’s name always ended with a vowel.  They also railed against alleged discrimination by the FBI, which they claimed unfairly portrayed Italian Americans as criminals” (1977, pp 191).

Instead of the Italians trying to assimilate to the traditionally mainstream culture, they fought to preserve their identity and fight the unfair stereotypes.  As more immigrants have moved to the country, the trend in ethnic advocacy is only growing.  Today’s Asian American community, once considered the quiet minority, has become more outspoken and visible in the media.  They follow the footsteps of the African American and Latin American communities that have deep rooted political movements as well as special entertainment niches.  Historically, African Americans have contributed significant political influence into today’s society.  Though Blacks have made up the largest minority group since the country’s birth, it was only since the 1960s when legal segregation ended.  African Americans exemplified the salad bowl motif in their adjustment into American society.  Though they began to move to white urban areas in large number hoping to find opportunities and fair treatment, they encountered much resistance.

With the passing of Brown vs Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Black community organized themselves to address issues that continued to plague them.  Social justice came in the form of seeking for reforms in schools and educational opportunities, improving neighborhoods, and easing racial relations.  Like a salad, Blacks tried to integrate themselves into American culture, but still demanded recognition for their own rights. Brilliant advocates like Martin Luther King Jr, Jesse Jackson, and now, Barack Obama provide a definite sense of cultural importance to society with their vision for America.  The democratic presidential candidate recognizes that the American identity is still fractured within the country:

“Race is still a powerful force in this country. Any African American candidate, or any Latino candidate, or Asian candidate or woman candidate confronts a higher threshold in establishing himself to the voters … Are some voters not going to vote for me because I’m African American? Those are the same voters who probably wouldn’t vote for me because of my politics” (2006).

As the first African American to have a decent shot at becoming the President of the United States, Obama has surpassed the expectations of many Americans.  One may argue that Obama’s success is indicative of the melting pot theory, because it shows that a black man can assimilate into a traditionally caucasian office.  However, Obama’s appeal actually comes from the fact that he markets his differences to the public.  In a time when the traditional “white” and “upperclass” leaders have been guilty of numerous scandals and corruption, Obama offers a fresh and different alternative that is disparate from what Americans are used to.  He is a new type of ingredient in the American salad- offering hope and change that minorities can associate with.

Rival Hillary Clinton also represents the changing political climate as well.  Though she is caucasian, Clinton may become the first female president in history, which also parallels the notion of the salad.  Evidently, America no longer wants the same old thing– we are finally admitting that different can be good, if not better.

Bibliography:

Branigin, William. 1998.” Immigrants Shunning Idea of Assimilation.” Washington Post: A1. URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/meltingpot/meltingpot.htm

Booth, William. 1998. “One Nation, Indivisible: Is It History?” Washington Post: A1. URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/meltingpot/melt0222.htm

Dinnerstein, Leonard & Reimers, David M. 1977. Ethnic Americans: A History of Immigration. New York: Columbia University Press.

2006. “Who is Barack Obama?” Spokane for Obama Organization. URL: http://209.85.173.104/search?q=cache:Y4IjyxQGZZEJ:www.spokane4obama.org/ObamaHandout.pdf+BARACK+OBAMA,+Los+Angeles+Times,+%22Dec.+11,+2006%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=5&gl=us&client=firefox-a

2003.”We Raise Our Voices: Celebrating Activism for Equality and Pride in Boston’s African American, Feminist, Gay and Lesbian, and Latino Communities,” the online edition of a Northeastern University Libraries exhibition. Boston: Northeastern University Libraries.  URL: http://www.lib.neu.edu/archives/voices

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