Although it is the eighth edition of the Free Market Road Show, many new things are happening. This tour is the largest one so far and we were very happy that for the first time the FMRS visited Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark. Our local partner partner and co-organizer was CEPOS, a prestigious Danish think tank.
The event was kick started by Cato‘s Dan Mitchell who praised how markets work. According to the American expert, markets function in such a way that they quickly react to our inputs. “Entrepreneurs are always rewarded or punished by the market”, said Mitchell and added, “this is beautiful”. That is why “profits and losses are the best feedback mechanism”.
However, the government in all its voracity usually distorts the markets and hampers this virtuous mechanism. Using the example of what to do to get an apple, Mitchell explained that normal people go to the tree and take one. But the government thinks differently. It cuts branches or even the whole tree. “With taxes”, concluded Mitchell, “the government destroys wealth”.
The first panelist was the Greek-American economist and investment advisor John Charalambakis. His presentation was focused on the uses and abuses of monetary policy in Europe. “Target 2 is the most dangerous financial instrument in Europe” stated Charalambakis. He continued his criticism by pointing to the fact that the European political elites seem to believe in the unlimited power of monetary policy to solve all of the continent’s problems: “They believe that monetary policy can do everything but what we really need are free market reforms”.
Charalambakis thinks that Brussels centralization has gone too far and that the euro is a dysfunctional currency destined to fail. Consequently, he wants the European supranational project to unwind and to return to its basic principles: free movement of capital and people.
Richard Rahn, a Senior Fellow of the Cato Institute, continued with the topic of the excesses of monetary policy from the saver’s point of view. “Quantitative Easing (QE) is a major theft on savers. Why? Because negative interest rates are in fact a huge tax on savers”.
The panel was closed by university professor Christian Bjørnskov and Anders Krab-Johansen (editor of Børsen) spoke about Denmark. Mr. Bjørnskov said that the unfortunate situation in his country nowadays is that “it is going back to the pre-crisis pattern but people think we are doing fine”. This is because politicians mislead the public into believing in a recovery which is not happening. In turn, Mr. Krab-Johansen emphasized that “Denmark could not recover from the last crisis”. What is more, currently “Public employees and people on social benefits put together outnumber people in the private sector”.
The second panel was on entrepreneurship and all eyes were on Terry Anker. Chair of The Anker Consulting Group, Mr. Anker is an experienced entrepreneur who is currently involved in five different companies and he also writes a regular column for the Current in Carmel.
Anker gave a brilliant talk on being an entrepreneur. He talked from his own experience and the ones of people he has been involved with throughout his career. He explained that taxes and regulation are some of the things entrepreneurs fear the most. Taxes can very well become confiscatory at any given point while regulations often express the capriccios of rulers who do not even understand what they want to regulate. On a more humane side, Anker also highlighted that “entrepreneurs also fear that they will put their family in financial insecurity”.
The greatest enemy to entrepreneurship are disincentives: “Remove them and entrepreneurs will get the job done”, concluded the American businessman.