Paul Woolley: "The Market Has Become Dangerous For Humanity...It Isn't Reaching Equilibrium, It Is Falling Into Chaos"

Tyler Durden's picture

For anyone who is still confused why the tail-wags-dog reverse relationship of the stock market as a leading indicator to the economy, and to western civilization in general, can be a problem for said civilization (not to mention the former) once the current iteration of central planning loses control over everything, as it always does, here is an interview between German daily Spiegel and Paul Woolley, a one time fund manager, and currently head of the LSE's center for Capital Market Dysfunctionality (sometimes affectionately known as the Princeton Economics department) who explains why things are on the edge of a precipice. His message for anyone who thought that Irene may have been a risk: you ain't seen nothing yet. "The developments in recent weeks have made it quite clear that the markets don't function properly. Things are spinning out of control and are potentially dangerous for society. Only a fraternity of academic high priests connected to the finance markets is still speaking of efficient markets. Still each market participant is pursuing their own selfish interests. The market isn't reaching equilibrium -- it's falling into chaos."

From Der Spiegel:

Financial markets are inefficient and growing to the point of overwhelming the economy, according to Paul Woolley, an expert on market dysfunctionality. In an interview with SPIEGEL he explains why it's up to investors to stop dangerous trends and hold financial institutions accountable.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Woolley, you were fund manager for many years, but went on to found a research institute at the London School of Economics to study why financial markets repeatedly go haywire. Now speculators are once again betting against the euro, and share prices for big companies are falling by 20 percent in a day only to shoot back up again. What is going on?

Woolley: The developments in recent weeks have made it quite clear that the markets don't function properly. Things are spinning out of control and are potentially dangerous for society. Only a fraternity of academic high priests connected to the finance markets is still speaking of efficient markets. Still each market participant is pursuing their own selfish interests. The market isn't reaching equilibrium -- it's falling into chaos.

SPIEGEL: You've compared the finance markets to a cancer. What do you mean by that?

Woolley: The finance sector can -- and is -- growing until it overwhelms the economy. In good years the US finance industry cashes in on more than 40 percent of all corporate profits. In bad years they are saved by the taxpayers. The agents are doing a devilishly good job of developing innovative, complicated new products that people can't understand. It gives them the opportunity to earn excess returns and attract the best talent. While they are acting rationally, the result is a catastrophe.

SPIEGEL: For someone who took part in this activity himself, that is a harsh judgement.

Woolley: I suppose as an investment manager for a large fund manager I was quite successful. But I also spent much of my career taking advantage of investors' herd instinct. Most fund managers follow only the newest trends and strengthen them by doing so. In the short term that leads to success, but in the long term it leads to a crash. This connection occurred to me when we pulled out of technology stocks in the late 1990s and investors with us withdrew money. After the new economy bubble broke in 2000 they came back to us because we were better than the rest of the market.

SPIEGEL: Why did you leave the finance industry in 2006, then?

Woolley: I wanted to do something socially useful. We want to revolutionize the finance industry with our institute. You have to build into the models and the self interests of the banks and fund managers to which the most investors have delegated their investment decisions. The finance industry is characterized by many innovations. Because the customers hardly understand their innovative products, banks make amazing returns. But simultaneously there is a moral hazard: When something goes wrong the bankers just move on to the next employer. The banks bear the losses. Or, in the case of bankruptcy, the state takes on the costs.

SPIEGEL: Governments are trying to curb the financial industry. What are their chances?

Woolley: I'm skeptical about this. There are many incentives for banks to get around the rules. Sanctions won't help in the long run.

SPIEGEL: You rely on the insight of the investors, then?

Woolley: Right. The big investors are in a position to force their service providers, the banks, fund managers and bankers into better behaviour. I have developed 10 simple rules that big investors should introduce for their own interests. After all, average returns on pension funds worldwide, for example, have decreased repeatedly after the market crashes in recent years.

SPIEGEL: What should investors take to heart from these 10 rules?

Woolley: They should stop chasing short-term price changes, and instead take a long-range approach to investing. That's why they should cap annual turnover of portfolios at 30 percent per annum. They should stop paying performance fees to managers who increase the worth of funds because it encourages gambling. It is nearly impossible to assess whether above average returns come from a manager's skill, luck or market moves.

SPIEGEL: What can insurers and other large investors do additionally to contain the excesses of the financial markets?

Woolley: They shouldn't invest in hedge funds or private equity companies. Managers at these companies are particularly good at hiding high costs to enrich themselves. To generate returns they must take on significantly higher risks. Big investors should also insist that trading take place on a public market. Bank profits would sink almost automatically if they were no longer allowed to sell opaque products.

Interview conducted by Christoph Pauly

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Highrev's picture

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I guess the point is that free markets should now be banned? Or better yet, controlled?


Kayman's picture

free markets should now be banned?

You cannot ban that which never existed.  I am all for free markets, but show me a free market PLEASE.

Ahmeexnal's picture

He said free market. Not Open Source ponzi.

spiral_eyes's picture

i love this market. we're all going to get to watch warren buffett lose a big chunk of shirt off his back. of course it's not enough to hurt the oligarch. but it's enough to hurt his pride. bath tub boy! 

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Somehow I do not think The Warren will suffer in any way.  He is a TBTF, a member of the elite and a BIG fundraiser for Obama.  Instead, I think ol' Warren just made a great play that we little investors cannot.

The rich get richer...

Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez's picture

"Somehow I do not think Joseph Goebbels will suffer in any way. He is a Nazi Officer and one of Hitler's ministers and the Reich will reign for a thousand years."

The evil will continue their evil...

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Well put Tuco.  Maybe there will be a justice of sorts.

sun tzu's picture

Hitler was not part of the global financial elite. That is why he lost. Who will defeat the international bankers?

RockyRacoon's picture

You are definitely onto something here.   All the capital extraction that could be done had been done so the thing had to be finished.  When the looting got down to extracting the gold from teeth you could pretty much bet that the bottom had been scraped.   Time to move on to the cash cow of rebuilding all that had been destroyed so that the next war could be planned.

Kayman's picture

sun tzu

So true, but Hitlers financial chief clearly understood the printing and borrowing game.  When that was not enough to keep the Nazi Ponzi going then theft, plunder, wars and murder followed.

See in the pink's picture

I've long suspected that he was very much a tool of the elite but that he was never meant to succeed...

Bloodstock's picture

,,,maybe little suffering for now, but in the long run they are doomed. There is no honor among thieves and they will turn on each other.

DeeDeeTwo's picture

All the Crony Capitalists have broken the law Big Time. A Special Prosecutor would slice and dice Uncle Warren, baby.

JailBank's picture

Buffet won't lose a dime. That $5 billion is backstopped by US citizens. You think he would amke that bet without a gurantee from Uncle Sam?

Alpha Monkey's picture

Open source ponzi... interesting I hadn't thought of it that way. 

My understanding is to get coins you either 1) Buy them on "the market" or 2) Mine them by running a program on your computer.

Mining, in this case, is the digital labor required to attain new coins.  Buying them is just like any other commodity.

Where does the ponzi come in?

eisley79's picture

virtual money is worthless outside of its eco-system unless it can be exchanged for REAL money.

A ponzi scheme makes money for the people already in it, by taking money from new people joining, and paying those already in it (until it saturates, and not enough new people can join and it collapses, leaving the earliest adopters on top, and the last with nothing).

The money paid out for bitcoins ultimately comes from the new people joining the party

Most ponzi schemes are proprietary :), as in those who started it, are the original adopters and the ones who profit the most.  Open source, means developed by the users.  In this case, the motivation to perpetuate resides in everyone sharing in the ponzi'ing :)


So, Open Source Ponzi is pretty clever.

It might be more accurate to call it a "Distributed Ponzi Scheme", or "Peer-2-Peer Ponzi" ROFL

malikai's picture

Please define 'real money'.

eisley79's picture

a store of value that be exchanged for a good or service

eisley79's picture

you appear (but i wont assume), to be looking to make some comment that USD isnt real money.  Dont confuse money backed by something, versus fiat, and the meaning of the word REAL.  The USD is REAL money, it gets used every day as money, its VALUE is being depreciated, but as long as people keep agreeing to ascribe SOME value (albeit a shrinking one), it is still REAL money.



malikai's picture

What makes the USD real? The fact that people use it to exchange it for goods and services, and other forms of money, i.e. EUR, GBP, AU, etc.

What makes BTC real? The fact that people use it to exchange for goods and services, and other forms of money.

The point I'm aiming at is that money is what we make of it.

eisley79's picture

well you failed lol.  Bitcoins only exist in their own system, and can be brought back to the real world, by exchanging them for real money.  As i explained to you...


Read my original post, and my answers again, then go sell your bitcoins.



malikai's picture

I read your original post. Several times.

I'd love to hear a solid argument against bitcoin that can hold water.

I'll continue experimenting with them. I find it worth studying.

If nothing else, at least the geeks are trying.

eisley79's picture

my arguments are as strong as the laws of physics, and you are bahgdad bob claiming there are no americans in iraq, with an M1 Abrahams pointing its gun at you in the background.


Mark_BC's picture

Why not just empower the government to print its own non-backed fiat currency and allow freegold and freesilver to emerge. Peopel will use fiat money for transactions and PM's for storage of wealth. Problem is, any politician that tries this gets assassinated. Isn't that why JFK was shot? He tried to bring in a government issued $100 bill?

malikai's picture

There we have it. Eilsey cannot come up with a good counter argument, so he/he must resort to ad-hominem. Shame too, I'd really like to hear something better than "you're baghdad bob". Thanks for playing.

As to why John and Bobby Kennedy were shot, I'd say the evidence is purposefully unclear. But it sure is convineant that they had wanted to reverse the real corruption in the mob, unions, and FED.

eisley79's picture

my arguments stand on their own, you arent countering them, or even addressing them.  You just then CLAIM you are right still without any evidence, rebuttal or proof

Hence, you are like the former iraqi information minister.  You try to invent the truth just by repeating it, when its obvious you are wrong.

So keep telling yourself "there are no americans in bahgdad" LOL

malikai's picture

All I've seen is a bunch of ambiguous arguments which can be applied to BTC or USD equally with the exception of a paper (physical form) and a military backing. I'm not claiming anything about BTC. I have seen many arguments towards BTC, so I am truly trying to find solid arguments against BTC. I honestly don't see BTC going too far, but not for the reasons you've stated.

Don't confuse someone genuinely seeking counter arguments as an evangelist.

tip e. canoe's picture

"Mine them by running a program on your computer."

does this program do anything useful and/or productive to justify consuming the energy to run it?

malikai's picture

It sure does. "Mining" is a misnomer term used to describe the cryptographic processes required to create new coins and proccess transactions. When you are a "miner" your benefit to the BTC community is that you are helping to ensure the security of BTC itself as well as processing the transactions which occur.

dwdollar's picture

Bitcoin does have a lot of enemies. I imagine the paid .gov trolls on zerohedge have it on their hit list. You've got to be doing something right when you have that many enemies.

eisley79's picture

your enemy are the MI6 and CIA agents who run WikiLeaks and LulzSec, and dope n00bs into joining to take the fall as patsy, and who made you think bitcoins are cool, and those leakers/hackers are really sticking it the MAN, man.

Take the Red Pill, foo

Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez's picture

I had no idea that Bitcoin used the "Social Security" business model!?

gangland's picture


impossible, no such thing as a "free market", oxymoron, a tautological fallacy if ever there was one.

Mark_BC's picture

Free markets are unicorns; they exist only in our minds, just like one handed claps, dry watrfalls, and sustainable economic growth. Anytime you get anything resembling true unregulated "freedom" in a market, the first big bully to come along will take advantage of its "freeness" and soon turn it into a rigged market for its own advantage. The benefits of "free" markets must be carefully regulated or you will quickly lose them. A better term is "fair market". Free markets are not fair and fair markets are not free.

Freddie's picture


Obam and Bill Ayres with Piven/Clovard talked about how they would wreck economies and countries.  Make banks lend money to people who have no hope of paying it back, pass laws that punish them and make productive people pay for it.

disabledvet's picture

Unfortunately for them George Bush beat them to it by eight years. In fact he may have been the first President in history to get Wall Street to agree that destroying itself was in its best interests. Statements like the above only serve to enrage "the beast"--and look! THEY'RE WILDING! Heaven's to Betsy! What will the government do to save us! OH NO! They're gonna make it WORSE!

sun tzu's picture

0bama is Bush on steroids. To make it worse, the media turns a blind eye to everything he does. 

hardcleareye's picture

Concur, but I do miss the W stupid talk, ...  Obama is a snake in the grass... 

Jack Burton's picture

Bitcoin was just robbed. Way too easy to be hacked and looted. Bitcoin is like a foolish tourist in Paris, he will be pickpocketed in no time flat.

Ask some Bitcoin owners how it feels to be looted.

smore's picture

Very profitable ponzi if you got in early and got out before the SHTF, though.

aminorex's picture

And as we all know, U.S. Dollars have never been stolen.  Much less gold.  I regard the fact that someone is willing to risk prison to gain something as a fair proof of its value.

Mad Cow's picture

I also heard people having their accounts hacked in virtual economies within online games. I'm sure it sucks, but that's reality? Fantasy coins backed by the full faith and credit of fantasists and electricity! Dig a fake ditch and fill it back in! Have we hit peak insanity yet?

eisley79's picture

Anyone who thinks Bitcoins are cool, or not a ponzi, are

1.) 25 or younger

2.) In debt

3.) own no Gold, but have some old nickels and dimes with silver in them

4.) has been to in the last 3 weeks


Shoe fit bitchez?

malikai's picture

Nope. Nope. Own plenty. Nope.

eisley79's picture

you mad cinderella? :D