At WPP, Martin Sorrell Indulges His Inner Economics Professor

Last Updated Nov 4, 2008 2:55 PM EST

wpp1.jpgSir Martin Sorrell, chief of agency holding company WPP, inserted a curious rant about economics into his third quarter earnings press release. WPP â€" which includes ad agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, JWT and Grey Global Group â€" normally makes a fairly staid statement of its finances and restricts its commentary to corporate strategy and lists of regions and businesses that are growing. Not this time.

In a section devoted to the affect of the turmoil in the stock markets, Sorrell's statement took a detour through a history of modern political economy, hailing the rebirth of the theories of John Maynard Keynes, bidding adieu to the conservative extremism of Milton Friedman, and proclaiming an era of Soviet-style corporate capitalism. Sorrell's statement then ended on a semi-religious note about "Armageddon."

Here's the relevant section:
-- the revival of Keynesian economic policy and eclipse of Friedmanite monetarism, along with state-directed capitalism, have pumped and will pump massive amounts of liquidity into the system, possibly resulting in a surge in inflation, not unhelpful, at least, in the early stages of an upturn in stimulating economic activity. [He predicts that the effect on WPP wil be mixed, and then adds:] Whatever the pattern, it is not likely that our budget will reflect the Armageddon currently predicted by the fall in stock prices.
There is no explanation as to what prompted Sorrell's undergraduate-sociology-major-style musings. Perhaps one clue is to be found on the cover of the presentation to analysts. It features a small herd of antelope, a mud hut and a tree, drawn in a primitivist style. Might it possibly depict a future that Sorrell is afraid could come to pass?

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