The era of "neoliberalism"... an ideology that's been great at hiding itself behind the platitudes of traditional personal liberty/self-determination/American Dream nonsense. Love these terms you use here -- "uninhibited finance capitalism" , "free-market fundamentalism".
You're dead on in identifying the over-abstraction of our economy has made us lose sight of genuine "value." MBAs are educated -- at top institutions around the country -- to put short-term profits above the quality of product for their customers & above the quality of life for their employees. Exactly as you say here, they see the salary of their workers as a "cost to the business"//"inefficiency". Same goes for High-Quality materials -- in the US, we love using cheaper, often artificial, substitutes.
It's ridiculous that the well-being of employees, quality & durability of products, and happiness of customers aren't baked into business's KPIs. Businesses are exclusively driven by quarterly earnings & profitability. As long as that remains the case, people will continue to suffer.
Neoliberalism is such an elusive ideology -- dating back to a small club of economists in the post-WWII era and becoming mainstream when Reagan and Thatcher took office in the US and UK, respectively. I wrote this piece about how it manifests in our everyday life to help get a sense of what makes 'neoliberalism' different from more traditional forms of capitalism:
Most people are so deeply indoctrinated into Western, neoliberal culture that they don't see any issue with our hyper-fixation on profits.
We have a long way to go...