David Stockman, former director of the Office of Management and Budget and author of the The Great Deformation, was on the stage here at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers annual conference. The guy with him was David M. Walker, CEO of the Comeback America Initiative and former director of the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
WASHINGTON, D.C. ( TheStreet) -- There I was watching an all too familiar rendition of Who's To Blame for the Mess in This Town? And all I wanted to do was stand up and yell out: "You do realize, we can fix this $%^#, right?"
Stockman says it's the private sector that's the bad guy. "We've been cooking the books for a heck of long time," he said. "Both fiscally and in the monetary system, and on Wall Street." Walker drew the all too familiar other gun: that it's all the elected officials' fault. "The truth is, if you have been looking at what has been done so far," Walker said, "they have been treating the symptoms and they have not been treating the disease." It's all on this C-SPAN link, if you've got the stomach. Both were long on problems, short on answers, and if you look at the tape you'll see a room full of bummed-out financial writers staring at a $16.7 trillion national debt, according to USDebtClock.org -- which, if you have not seen it, is as marvelous a one-stop shop for the full dimension of our woes as I know of. But since D.C. is filled with folks who stand up, scream and get nothing done, how about I take a Skeptic's day off and instead go long on a real live investor-worthy practical answer to our budget, tax and sequester woes? Ready? It turns out that there is a simply massive, hidden, bonus upside to our dark collapsing digital age. Getting our national debt paid, our budget balanced and our economy humming is not as hard as it appears. Seriously. It isn't. And here's why. In these digital days, stocks are just another thing a consumer buys.
We've all grown up in a world where supposedly immutable walls divide us. Investors are over there. Consumers are over here. Executives stand in this box. Labor toils in that one. As stunning as it is to consider, that's not how the world works anymore.
Now comes the digital-age kicker. In this time of no privacy and uber-analytics, a company such as GE can calculate precisely how much of its stock value comes from this smaller, part-time -- what I'm calling the multiclass -- consumer investor.
I like the weekly sentiment analysis from the American Association of Individual Investors as a source for this stuff, but even with my basic modeling skills I can bake up a pretty darn accurate model. It's easy. With data such as this, it becomes a no-brainer for public markets to know -- and to hold managers accountable for -- exactly how much of a company's share price comes from the multiclass investor and in turn calculate the exact amount it should pay employees to insure multiclass investor demand for its share price while still having enough profit to grow the business. And finally we've got real upside: Fortune 1,000 managers will now have no choice but to unlock the reported $3.7 trillion in combined balance sheet cash that's sitting idle in corporate coffers in what The Economist brilliantly calls "Dead Money." This $3.7 trillion will get injected into a tech-happy economy that will create wealth we have never seen before. This golden age will make our national debt of $16 trillion look utterly manageable. And that means, friends, I won't have to effing sit through another morning of knuckleheads such as Stockman and Walker ever again. And trust me, from here, that can't happen a moment too soon.