Rule of Law in a Democratic Nation

Political Real talk – Legal and Financial theory edition:
1. Rule of law and adherence to norms is crucial in a capitalist economy. Take contracts, for example. You enter into contracts with strangers you have no reason to otherwise trust, because you believe the other party will nevertheless fulfill the terms because a court would uphold those terms. Trust in the *system lowers all kinds of potential transaction costs compared to corrupt and/or opaque systems (see, China). 
2. Rule of law and adherence to norms thus provides the predictability that encourages investment. Beyond day-to-day transactions and contracts, US capital markets are considered the best because of both size, transparency/regulation. Companies want to access cash, investors don’t want to get swindled. (US treasuries are considered amongst the safest debt.) Only the riskiest investors are in Russia and Nigeria!
3. Investment creates jobs. When a company accesses capital to grow, it hires! When companies hire, employment goes up, purchasing power goes up, demand goes up, the economy goes up! And stock markets also do well – which is how investors are rewarded for parting with their cash in the present, for *potential return in the future.
4. Pension funds invest in markets. Teachers, firemen, police, government employees – pension funds depending on market returns in a healthy, growing economy, to be able to deliver when people retire and collect (you didn’t think your money was simply being held in a bank account on your behalf – I hope not!) #Mainstreet is tied to #Wallstreet! (Compensation to finance professionals, tax rules, and carry percentages/moral hazard is a separate topic)
5. Rich people …. oh, we’re talking about rich people now. Well, Jeff Bezos probably doesn’t care as much as you think he does if his net worth drops $100 million. But a pensioner might care, at the time of his/her retirement, if the market that year tanks 10% then the economy enters a 5-year recession, causing the State government to force renegotiations over pensions that can’t be funded. 
6. When the markets/economy goes to shit, rich people may theoretically have more to “lose”, but the average Joe actually *feels more pain.
7. When there is uncertainty, investment slows. People with money stop investing, companies with cash stop hiring (see, e.g. all the corporate stock buy-backs post-financial crisis! Low reinvestment rates!) Workers – blue collar workers – tend to be the first to lose jobs! People with money makes less money, but “average Joe” actually feels the pain.
8. Ok … politics. When Rule of Law is threatened by Rule by Man, guess what? When democratic institutions are weakened and the judiciary slandered, when experts are dismissed and mob “justice” encouraged, guess what! The whims of a populist demagogue …. is just … all so unpredictable. The rich, educated “elites” (e.g. 100 tech leaders) probably think, eff this. America isn’t so clearly first; free capital movement – to India, and beyond (or, corporate America, sit on cash piles and not reinvest, not hire).
9. When the American economy contracts because of political uncertainty (see, eg, Brexit), those who voted for the demagogue feel the pain first. The “elite” will most definitely be ok (for a while).
10. Be afraid. Be very afraid.


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