We all know a bunch of 'em.
But - "profit" should not be included. Stephen Carter explains.
High profits are excellent news. When corporate earnings reach record levels, we should be celebrating. The only way a firm can make money is to sell people what they want at a price they are willing to pay. If a firm makes lots of money, lots of people are getting what they want.
To the country, profit is a benefit. Record profit means record taxes paid. But put that aside. When profits are high, firms are able to reinvest, expand and hire. And profits accrue to the benefit of those who own stocks: overwhelmingly, pension funds and mutual funds. In other words, high corporate profits today signal better retirements tomorrow.
Another reason to celebrate profit is the incentive it creates. When profits can be made, entrepreneurs provide more of needed goods and services.
When political anger over profit reduces the willingness of investors to take risks, the nation suffers. According to news reports, one reason the Obama administration has had so much trouble finding buyers for the toxic assets it hopes to remove from financial institutions' balance sheets is a concern by financiers that should they go along with the plan and make rather than lose money, they will be hauled before Congress to explain themselves.
And although it is easy to be dismayed by excess, trying to regulate profit makes things worse. Capital flows to places where returns are highest. The more exercised our political leaders become when profits rise, the more investment capital will remain abroad.