Some suggested New Year's resolutions: For President Clinton: Resolve to make genuine progress toward a balanced budget by specifying the reductions in projected spending growth that will be needed to achieve the goal by 2002. As part of that resolution, have the courage to take the political heat for the necessary slowing of entitlements, now that you have no more campaigns to run. That is, resolve to be a real leader.
It is your responsibility to ensure the country is on the right track for a better economic future. Reining in the growth of entitlements will help do that.
For all in Congress, two resolutions: First, don't attack the president politically and cynically (is that a redundancy?) if he should resolve to lead the effort to slow the growth of entitlements with the aim of a genuine balanced budget by 2002. You share the responsibility of laying the foundation for a better economic future.
Second: Resolve not to tinker with the Internal Revenue Code. If you can't give it a major overhaul by switching to either a genuine flat tax or a consumption tax, leave it alone. The country needs no more tax tinkering that simply causes confusion for taxpayers (individual and corporate) and employment for tax professionals and lawyers, without a major improvement in tax efficiency.
For corporate boards of directors: Resolve to take a fresh look at the compensation packages for chief executives. Is the average chief executive really worth 50 times what the average employee earns? Is the very best CEO really worth that much more? Perhaps he or she is, but can you explain why to the public?
It is your responsibility to ensure companies are being efficiently managed, and efficiently managed at a reasonable cost. Don't pay more than you have to. Don't help breed envy at, and discontent with, the capitalist system.
For money managers: Resolve to take a fresh, unbiased look at how you do what you do to see if you are really adding value. Perhaps you need an outsider to do so. If you are not adding value, resolve to change how you do what you do, or change what you do. If you are not adding value, you may well be adding friction to the capitalist system by helping misallocate resources.
For pension executives: Resolve to take a fresh look at both your external managers and your management structure for your pension assets. You, too, share responsibility for assuring that those assets are invested efficiently so as to help fuel economic growth.
My own resolution, in which I am sure the whole Pensions & Investments staff joins, is to take a fresh look at how we do what we do, to ensure what we report is news, is accurate and is fair.
My aim is that 1997 will be the year in which we begin to publish perfect issues - issues in which there is not one error of fact or typographical error, not one wrongly sized or worded headline, not one unattractive layout.