Jan 23, 2020 13:29 UTC

On a national level, lack of trust in capitalism was highest in Thailand and India at 75 percent and 74 percent, respectively, with France close behind at 69 percent.

Majorities prevailed in other Asian, European, Persian Gulf, African and Latin American states. Only in Australia, Canada, the United States, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan did majorities disagree with the assertion that capitalism currently did more harm than good. Within the data there were divergences, with Asians more optimistic about their economic prospects than others across the world. According to status, there was also a growing split in attitudes with the affluent and college-educated much more likely to have faith in how things were being run.

In this regard we have prepared for you an article by staff writers of Euractiv website and Reuters news agency under the heading: "Global survey: Capitalism doing ‘more harm than good.’"

Ahead of this week’s meeting of business and political leaders at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a survey found a majority of people around the world believe capitalism in its current form is doing more harm than good.

Reuters reported this year was the first time the Edelman Trust Barometer, which for two decades has polled tens of thousands of people on their trust in core institutions, sought to understand how capitalism itself was viewed.

The study’s authors said that earlier surveys showing a rising sense of inequality prompted them to ask whether citizens were now starting to have more fundamental doubts about the capitalist-based democracies of the West.

David Bersoff, lead researcher on the study produced by US communications company Edelman said “The answer is yes,” adding, “People are questioning at that level whether what we have today, and the world we live in today, is optimized for their having a good future.”

The poll contacted over 34,000 people in 28 countries, from Western liberal democracies like the United States and France to those based on a different model such as China and Russia, with 56 percent agreeing that “capitalism as it exists today does more harm than good in the world.”

The survey was launched in 2000 to explore the theories of political scientist Francis Fukuyama, who after the collapse of Communism declared that liberal capitalist democracy had seen off rival ideologies and so represented “the end of history.”

That conclusion has since been challenged by critics who point to everything from the rising influence of China to the spread of autocratic leaders, trade protectionism and worsening inequality in the wake of the 2007/08 global financial crisis.

On a national level, lack of trust in capitalism was highest in Thailand and India at 75 percent and 74 percent, respectively, with France close behind at 69 percent. Majorities prevailed in other Asian, European, Persian Gulf, African and Latin American states.

Only in Australia, Canada, the United States, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan did majorities disagree with the assertion that capitalism currently did more harm than good.

The survey confirmed a by-now familiar set of concerns ranging from worries about the pace of technological progress and job insecurity, to distrust of the media and a sense that national governments were not up to the challenges of the day.

Within the data there were divergences, with Asians more optimistic about their economic prospects than others across the world. According to status, there was also a growing split in attitudes with the affluent and college-educated much more likely to have faith in how things were being run.

Of possible interest to corporate leaders gathering in Davos this week was the finding that trust in business outweighed that in governments and that 92 percent of employees said CEOs should speak out on the social and ethical issues of the day.

Edelman CEO Richard Edelman said “Business has leapt into the void left by populist and partisan government,” adding, “It can no longer be business as usual, with an exclusive focus on shareholder returns.”

According to qz.com, describing the fact that economic growth no longer appears to drive optimism in developed markets, Edelman said “We are living in a trust paradox.”  

He said “National income inequality is now the more important factor in institutional trust,” adding, “Fears are stifling hope, as long-held assumptions about hard work leading to upward mobility are now
invalid.”

Edelman’s model for measuring trust weighs both competence (delivering on promises) and ethical behavior (doing the right thing and working to improve society). The more institutions can balance competence and ethical behavior, the more people tend to trust it.

Alas, none of the four key institutions measured by Edelman — government, business, NGOs, and media — were perceived as both competent and ethical by the public.

In Edelman’s index of public perception, business ranked the highest in competence, and government the least. NGOs have a big lead on business, government on ethics, but are not perceived to be especially competent. Meanwhile, government and media are perceived as both incompetent and unethical.

Edelman said in an essay reflecting on the survey’s 20th
anniversary “We now observe an Alice in Wonderland moment of elite buoyancy and mass despair.”

ME

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