Friday, January 20, 2012


This will be a more than usully half-baked post, but I'm wondering--isn't it time for a book entitled "demutualization," i.e. the get sea change that did so much to create the corporate culture that afflicts is today. It's fun to tell students about the early days when "insurance" arose in the form of mutual benefit societies, linked to churches or ethnic communities (which might be the same thing)--so also banking, and in a slightly different wy, farm production. Fun, but I might as well be lecturing on early Ugaritic bookkeeping, it is so distant from and alien to whatever we understand today.    I suppose there might be such a book but I haven't found it yet.  I do see a Wiki page; it seems to be tilted to the British experience, and it isn't as ambitious (or protean?) as I am beginning to visualize.

There'd surely be a chapter on the mutual fund industry, and the story that John C.Bogle recounts at every opportunity about how Massachusetts Investors Trust morphed alpha to omega while Vangurd's Wellington went from omega to alpha. 

Though I know it isn't the sme thing, I suppose one could make room for (a) chapter(s) about the demise of the partnership model in Wall Street banking.  If I'm not careful I suppose I'll find myself throwing in a chapter on the fall and fall of the Israeli kibbutz.

I smell the outlines of a larger social/history story here: the passage from active to passive wealth-making, the rise of a rentier class.  I suppose what  I'm really after is the kind of big history best undertaken by the young, eager to make a splash and too callow and ignorant to realize they are biting off so much more than they can chew.   

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