A Majestic Feat of Human Achievement

Is the market price of a stock a good representation of the value of that share in the company? Do we trust market-reported stock prices? In general, we actually DO trust the market price as a good proxy, but that significantly depends on if we trust the institution of the stock market in which that stock is traded. So, I might trust in the reported market price of a stock on the NYSE but may be cautious about another country that was economically and politically unstable. One way of exploring this phenomenon is to consider market efficiency, which is a measure of the best stock price at the moment depending on all available public, private, knowable and accessible information. Markets that have a stronger market efficiency (based on these measures) are considered more accurate and reliable than those that have a weaker market efficiency. My point here is that market efficiency is an important attribute of markets if they are to be successful places of trade and value creation. And one of the biggest reasons for stronger market efficiency is increasing the number of participants in the process, and who collectively adhere to the rules of the process. This collective action by a larger number of honest participants will actually produce a more efficient market, and increased value creation & value capture.

Imagine now an organization of 38 million people mobilized to perform a single act, most of them on ONE day, but alternate days and options were also available to ensure that as many people are able to perform this act. (Wal-mart has only 2.2 million employees as one of the largest corporate organizations). This would be a feat of staggering logistical proportions. It would also be a great intellectual feat, for the whole process will be executed by people from this very pool of participants. There would be, for the most part, no MBAs and management consultants, no highly qualified people, no geniuses and CEOs. This organization will take a few perfectly ordinary hundred thousand people or so from this pool of 38 million, and train them to execute the magnificent feat of enabling that act, and then providing a trustable report from the act. So, just like a stock market (to repeat the last sentence of the previous paragraph): this collective action by a larger number of honest participants will actually produce a more efficient state of affairs, and increase value creation and value capture.

This is not a fictitious company. This is our beloved country Canada, and the single magnificent act that it is performing is Elections Canada. We are mobilizing hopefully all of our 38 million citizens to vote on Monday September 20, 2021. I am returning to work again for Elections Canada as a Central Poll Supervisor. Having completed my training this week for next Monday, I am really impressed at the quality of the training, the diversity of the people involved, and the sanitization protocols focused on health precautions. It is not the money that brings most of these hundreds of thousands of poll officers—for the pay is low, and the hours long past midnight. I think it is sense of the splendour of this majestic act of human achievement imperfect and incomplete as it is: to mobilize millions from within themselves to express an act of will, and to deliver a trustworthy result. That is really quite something.

My students, if you are citizens of Canada, I hope you participate in this heroic act of human cooperation. I give you metaphors from Finance, but the wisdom is all around us. And my students who are our friends from other nations, celebrate with us this great moment of typically honest people coming together and saying their word about their government. I am so proud and humbled by Canadian democracy, (yes, tears well up as I type), and as your teacher I invite you to go out and vote for the candidate of your choice.

We can shape the world in which we live. We did it in class; now let us go do it in our nation.

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