Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Securitizing talent

I had blogged earlier about Brazilian corporate groups Traffic and Grupo Sonda who have been identifying and buying contracts to promising upcoming footballers. These players are then trained, loaned to local clubs and then, if found very good, sold on transfer to big clubs for massive transfer fees.

In a similar vein, Freakonomics draws attention to a recent play, Monetizing Emma, which paints a future where Wall Street traders invest in smart schoolkids in return for a substantial share of their future earnings. The play depicts a boutique investment bank, Thackeray Walsh, which in 2013 is issuing bonds backed by an A-list pool of adolescents pledging a share of their future earnings in return for money now.

In the same context, the post also points to a proposal to link up teacher's pay to their students’ future earnings, turning the students into "investments" - "What if teachers were paid based on the future income their students make. For example, student A grows up to make 100k a year. We look at the records and find the 20 teachers that taught student A and compensate them based on that. Compensation could be based on number of months spent with student."

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

1. Cant we do somethings just for the pleasure of it? Cant we come to a common understanding on some things? Are we going to monetize mothers' love?

2. Purely from an econ perspective: can we assess risk in such cases? Only massive pooling can help us mitigate risk. And how long does the window of opportunity of superprofits last before competition sets in.

gulzar said...

1. Without bringing morals into the issue, I feel that so long as there is a profit opportunity (money on the table) and people willing to sell and buy, such trades are inevitable. If there are people willing to trade their future incomes for money now and others willing to buy that future revenue stream in exchange for parting with some money now, then the transaction will happen. It is for the government and the stakeholders to consider whether to regulate such transactions or not.

And about monetizing mother's love, don't be surprised, if it happens in the foreseeable future. I only needs somebody willing to sell the same (with specifications about what constitutes such love) and someone wanting it (say, orphans)!!

2. Yes, you are right, in such cases, the transaction will be beneficial to the buyer (ie the student, the upcoming footballer etc), only if there is massive risk pooling by creating a portfolio of large numbers of such talents.

The attraction of such deals lies in the fact that these are virgin markets where there is limited competition and opportunity to make massive profits. In fact, this is a natural result of the growth of financial markets which have come to dominate the various aspects of our lives in the past few years.

Who would have thought fifty years back that fathers would be buying insurance contracts to bet on their lives? It would well have been found repugnant then!

gulzar said...

as an afterthought, in some ways (at the risk of being sued), Angelina Jolie's child adoption spree may be an indicator of things to come in monetizing love!

gulzar said...

the aforementoned transaction is mutually beneficial. the child anyway benefits from a good home. and it is always better to be a celebrity with a heart than one without one!