每日新闻更新 - 第三部分:体制变化:通货膨胀 The Daily Update - Part III: Regime Change: Inflation

全球化和科技带来的最引人注目但却没有被关注的副产品之一,是改变了员工议价能力的垄断行业的崛起。上世纪70年代Union Power达到全盛,也恰好是战后婴儿潮一代的时期,从那之后员工的股份从峰值约58%下降到今天的53%。全球金融危机之后工人议价能力的减弱程度更加明显。信息和交流技术实现了25年前无法想象的规模经济。同样地,大部分科技巨头本身都是准垄断者。他们都符合巴菲特的理想投资机遇,换言之,都是有潜力扩大经营但却无需在工厂设备等消耗边际利润等项目上花费资金。科技,外加全球化生产和供应链,让更多的企业可以实现这种业务模式。准垄断者控制着电信、互联网、制药、全球金融以及大量其他较为隐蔽的行业,尤其是越来越占据家庭支出预算的服务业。除非趋势逆反,否则这一体制变化将限制未来多年的经济增长潜力和核心通胀。

垄断的市场后果。高成本服务已成为中等收入家庭的新必需品。即使在困难时期,科技服务提供商很少有动力降低价格。然而,经济衰退妨碍了具有更高利润的新技术的推出。产品周期放缓,降低的是边际利润而不是产品价格。根据Barclays Research的预测,标普500企业的净边际利润回到了上世纪70年代的水平,说明在经济衰退期净边际利润的波动性增加。例如,上世纪90年代早期的轻微衰退虽然不太严重,但却让经济混乱了很多年,净边际利润下降了一半。相比较而言,在1974-1975以及80年代早期的严重衰退期,数百万工人失业,产出下降5%,但同期的净边际利润却仅下降了两个百分点。

本世纪已发生两次经济衰退,一次是世纪初几乎很难被注意到的衰退,企业被迫快速去杠杆,另一次是全球金融危机,金融和销售业都受到严重的打击。在这两次衰退期间,净边际利润都极端不稳定。今年,净边际利润回归到历史记录低值,市场估值也创造了新记录。然而,我很好奇,金融市场是否考虑过衰退期净边际利润的极端敏感性阻碍了新的高利润产品的推出,而且这可能是垄断驱动体制变化的不可避免的特征。当市场提供、忽略或者低估波动性,一定会有令人意想不到的事情发生。

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