Pluralistic: The long bezzle (10 August 2023)

Today’s links The long bezzle: Verizon can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent. Hey look at this: Delights to delectate. This day in history: None Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading The long bezzle (permalink) When it comes to the modern world of enshittified, terrible businesses, no addition to your vocabulary is more essential than “bezzle,” JK Galbraith’s term for “the magic interval when a confidence trickster knows he has the money he has appropriated but the victim does not yet understand that he has lost it” The bezzle is contained by two forces. First, Stein’s Law: “Anything that can’t go on forever will eventually stop.” Second, Keynes’s: “Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.” On the one hand, extremely badly run businesses that strip all the value out of the firm, making things progressively worse for its suppliers, workers and customers will eventually fail (Stein’s Law). On the other hand, as the private equity sector has repeatedly demonstrated, there are all kinds of accounting tricks, subsidies and frauds that can animate a decaying, zombie firm long after its best-before date (Keynes’s irrational markets): One company that has done an admirable job of balancing on a knife edge between Stein and Keynes is Verizon, a monopoly telecoms firm that has proven that a business can remain large, its products relied upon by millions, its stock actively traded and its market cap buoyant, despite manifest, repeated incompetence and waste on…Pluralistic: The long bezzle (10 August 2023)

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