NINE straight highs for the Dow Jones Industrial Average might suggest that all is well with capitalism. But on the contrary, they could be a sign that things have been going profoundly wrong with the way the system is working.
The main driver for the surge in share prices this year has been the strength of profits; second quarter profits for S&P 500 companies are around 12.6% higher than a year ago, according to Andrew Lapthorne at SG, a French bank. As the chart shows, relative to GDP, profits seem to be regaining their levels of recent years. And those levels are much higher than they have been in much of the post-war era (see chart).