Over breakfast this morning, I read Paul Rubin's WSJ op-ed taking President Obama to task for his attacks on profit maximization:
In justifying his attacks on Bain Capital, President Obama argues that "profit maximization" might be an appropriate goal for a private-equity firm, but not for more general public policy. This argument ignores one of the most basic premises of economics.
We economists assume that firms always maximize profits, and that profit maximization by firms (all firms, not just private-equity ones) is a very good thing. But this is not because profits are in themselves good. Rather, profit maximization is good because it leads directly to maximum benefits for consumers. Profits provide the incentive for firms to do what consumers want.
Consider what contributes to profit maximization. In simple terms, profit maximization means producing the products earning the highest returns, and producing these products at the lowest possible cost. Both are socially useful behaviors that benefit consumers.