Maybe People Are Rational, We Just Don't Understand Their Values?

One of the assumptions of modern finance was the all investors behave rationally. This assumption has been sorely tested and there are significant doubts that this is the case. But, what if….everyone is rational, but it is based upon their own personal value set. Within their own values, they are behaving rationally. Once you understand the values, you can understand their behavior. This would account for why people can at times act so “irrationally”. Their value sets are telling them to. We just don’t understand the value sets. The recent Presidential election is an example of this.

It might even be something deeper than value sets, something along the way of mental wiring, along the lines of behavioral finance. The New York Times just ran a story today saying that perhaps Sociologists were more important in studying the economy than Economists. I think there is something to that.

Follow The Money

When looking at a particular business or political situation, to really understand what is going on, you have to follow the money flows. Money can be a measure of value. If someone’s money flows to a certain product or initiative, that means they place value on it. If someone, or something wants to hide their money flows, it means they do not want to disclose their values. Some of those reasons might be considered valid, some might not.

That is why I find it so interesting that the Trump administration passed a law repealing the requirement for oil and mining companies to disclose when they pay money to foreign governments. Politics aside, as a shareholder, and owner of the firm, I would want to know where the money of the firm is going. Especially if it is going to countries with questionable value systems or high levels of corruption. The correlation of countries rich in natural resources desirable to oil and mining companies to their level of corruption or questionable values seems pretty high. So a company that values the resources in those certain countries, might not want to disclose their dealings with them to the public, or owners for fear of public outcry.

If you want to look the situation through a political lens, with that lens being mine and all the biases inherent in it, then it seems like there is an inordinate amount of contact between Trump’s cabinet and advisors with Russian politicians. This contact was going on prior to the election and has continued along. Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has had a long relationship with the Russia, especially the people in power. Rex also happens to be the former CEO of Exxon, and that is where he built those contacts. With the new law, Exxon can now pay money to foreign governments and not disclose it to the public, regualtors or even their own shareholders.

What all this means, know one really knows. It certainly looks….Interesting though. Interesting in the way the Clinton Foundation to significant donations from some questionable countries and people. I guess draining the swamp was just to put a new swamp in…