Let’s say that a business doubles its prices, and the customers have no choice but to carry on buying. The business is now richer, but the customers are poorer. Total wealth of the business plus the customers stays the same. This is the zero-sum game where gains and losses add up to zero.
The business now finds a way to make the same product in half the time, or twice as many products in a given duration of time. The business can be richer without raising its prices. The customers get the same product at the same price, so they are no poorer. This is a non-zero-sum game. Introducing optical character recognition and automatic processing to accountancy is one example of what a particular type of business might do to play a non-zero-sum game.
Banks employ armies of traders, backed up by clever computer programs, to play the markets. However for the bank to win, someone else has to lose. This looks remarkably like a zero-sum game. Of course an active market is a public benefit. However, sophisticated information-collection systems and computer software skew this market in favour of the banks. Someone is going to be the loser here. Today we have another story of a major bank receiving a hefty fine for manipulating interest rates. It is time to say banks should be under professional management by members of professions who are in principle subject to review by the Privy Council. Obsessive pursuit of a zero-sum game is unprofessional since it does not benefit society.
David Porthouse & Co is a forward-looking firm of accountants based in Carlisle with a keen interest in new technology with the aim of speeding up accounts production and making accountancy more affordable for our clients.