Blame the US Retail Apocalypse on hedge funds and financialization, not Amazon and Walmart


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/11/23/it-gets-worse.html


#2

Still-Not-Enough-teaser


#3

Things are about to go from bad to worse. Also let’s not forget the role that executives who only want a big bonus are doing to those companies, the stores could have modernized, they could have change the model but that would have affected the executive compensation and no executive thinks more than 5 years out.


#4

The bubble of parasitical financialization got popped by the post-2008 mass impoverishment. Not enough working and middle class people buying to support the house of cards. They started shopping down market and of course luxury retailers did well. Everyone in the middle took a hit. (Except for Sears and K-Mart which were managed to go out of business eventually.)


#5

I just gifted my tool box and all the tools in it to my Son for his 1st home purchase. I bought those from Sears in 1969 cost $29.95 for a complete set of [soup to nuts] Stanley tools and the rolling box. I’m going to miss Sears…


#6

I seem to recall tales of Toys R Us being on the brink ten years ago, and that they were somehow managing to stay afloat only because of their Babies R Us business (presumably because clueless parents are a readily exploitable class). It’s difficult to dig up the news now that the search results are all flooded by recent developments, though.

And let’s not forget that sometimes failure happens due to good old fashioned colossal mismanagement.


#7

Blaming the demise of Sears on Amazon and Walmart is like the restaurant owner in “Goodfellas” pointing to the burned-out shell of his venue and blaming it on the new Chinese place down the street. Which is to say, it’s a plausible excuse to cover up for the uncomfortable fact that he was subject to a good old-fashioned mob bust-out.

Meanwhile, the hedge funds and bankers are first in line, telling them…


#8

Look, I’m a radical liberal, so take my comments with that knowledge in hand. But the fuckery of the gambling system known as the “Stock Market” and the financial markets tied to it is the biggest load of horse shit dumped on the world in the last two centuries. It literally destroys businesses to eke an additional penny a quarter per share, and has been an instrumental part of the destruction of pensions by forcing Americans to have to participate in their shell game tactics in order to have any shred of a decent retirement. 401K’s are merely a rich person’s idea of how to get even more people jacked into the casino they run and rig in their favor. Because let’s face it, if your 401k takes a hit because stocks dive, you’re screwed. They’ll just write it off as a loss and get a huge tax break from it. The death of retail is only one example of how this system fucks people who don’t have the money to control it.


#9

It did create two centuries of incredible growth, innovation and increase in longevity. The five years haven’t been awesome but you’re not starving.
I’m sorry America is having to share it’s wealth with the billions that capitalism has lifted out of poverty in China, India and across Asia in the last three decades. But America doesn’t own capitalism, or innovation. Or the right to pursue happiness.


#10

Hahahahahaha.

No.

The stock market did none of that. Corporatism did none of that. People did. People will thrive under any system, provided there are no outside actors committing sabotage.


#11

Yeah, I’m sure you’re right. It was a pure coincidence that the period of greatest extension of life expectancy, greatest innovation and greatest wealth creation happened with the dawn of the limited company and publicly traded stocks.
And no doubt you have masses of examples of highly successful communist states where money was simply unnecessary.
Great set of arguments you used against me though:
'Hahahahahaha.

No.’

Excellent. Really first rate.


#12

It simply was a coincidence, just as the most ruinous wars and plagues also occurred after the advent of the steam engine.

The greatest inventions happened not because of capital, but in spite of it. The printing press, the steam engine, the circular saw, the cotton gin, and even the Internet.

Given that Communism is a post-Industrial philosophy (established after the failed anti-Monarchist revolutions of 1848) that few nations have adopted, there are a lack of examples. I raise Cuba, which has managed to create the most literate and healthiest populace, with a high standard of health care (far better than your precious capitalist states). I raise Frestonia, and the many many successful co-operatives.

Capital did not invent penicillin, nor did it invent the lightbulb. But it sure as hell incentivized monopolizing it.

Capital gave us War for Profit, At Will Employment, Union Busters, and a standard of living worse than hunter-gatherers.

But sure, what has anti-Capital given us, apart from inventions, quality of life, and open source software?


#13

Though they’ve always been Cory’s favorite bogeymen, is it just me or are his posts of late approaching a fever pitch re: hedge funds, financialization, financial engineering, et al?

This was a fairly nuanced article suggesting many factors for the troubles of brick-and-mortar retailers, not simply that any and all blame should be laid upon hedge funds…


#14

I can’t help feel that much of the management and planning disasters were brought about by top-down commandments from said hedge funds. That is, they replace CEOs and Presidents who understand and care about the company mission and philosophy with ones who will be compliant and serve the shareholders’ short term interests.

The old president had a plan to grow the company and keep improving. The new one has no idea what the company even does. New guy cuts pay rates where old guy would have offered better training. New guy orders the company to go heavy into the new fad, where the old guy would have known what customers actually come in for.

All I can think of is Radio Shack, and it makes me angry. We’re living in the most technologically advanced time in history. Makers and makerspaces are everywhere. DIY and craft and cosplay stuff is all over TV and YouTube. People like Adam Savage are celebrities. Radio Shack should be on the cutting edge of this with a store on every corner and 22% annual growth. Instead, they’re on life support and circling the drain while people are mostly just surprised they still exist.

Seriously- It just makes me angry.


#15
  1. The most ruinous wars and plagues did not happen after the invention of the steam engine (development funded by joint stock company) - see Punic Wars, Crusades, Black Death for details.
    2, Listing a series of great inventions does not an argument make
    3, In spite of? I think you need to a bit better than simply asserting.
  2. Cuba is neither the most literate nor the healthiest. In literacy, it is not top ten.(source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_literacy_rate#List_of_UN_member_states). In health the life expectancy is 38th (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_Cuba#Heath_statistics)
  3. War has often been ‘for profit’ in that the general causes are resource competition.
    6.Anti-capital has given us many amusing memes, the purges, collectivisation of the peasants, the great leap forward, the cultural revolution…
    Now, away with ye, art-school numpty.

#16

Yeah, hedge funds sit round with the lizards and organise the world. FFS.


#17

Indeed, that did happen to Radio Shack, but technically it started long ago. I’ve previously posted this thoughtful piece by Frank Durda IV, one-time Tandy Senior Project Software Engineer:

When did the march towards the end begin? I can give you the exact date: November 4th, 1978, when Charles Tandy died.

http://nemesis.lonestar.org/tandy/radio_shack_farewell.html

One might readily expect something similar to happen to Apple.


#18

He hasn’t stumbled on the lizards among us yet…


#19

Tell that to 1.3 billion Chinese. It’s a local problem for entitled yanks. Soz - you don’t own winning after all.


#20

I wish that in business school (at least here in the USA), the maxim were “increase stakeholder value” as is emphasized in certain other places in the world, rather than simply “increase shareholder value,” with stakeholders as an expansion beyond simply equity shareholders of the company to a vision that includes employees, customers, the environment, society at large, future generations, etc.