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5 Reasons Why You Wont Get Rich In Cuba June 3, 2015

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2006_08_01t121905_450x332_us_cubaPresident Barack Obama’s historic normalization talks with Cuba have brought about a lot of excitement in business circles, and hardly a day goes by without new reports of U.S. investors, lawyers and entrepreneurs flocking to the island. But I’m afraid most of them will lose their shirts there.

In a recent interview, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker told me that even though Cuba is a small economy, the Cuban people are entrepreneurial , and have a great economic potential. “It’s a beginning, you have to start. And by starting, things will evolve,” she said.

My opinion: Maybe so. But for the time being, as Florida International University business professor Jerry Haar has rightly — and only half-jokingly — commented, the most profitable businesses dealing with Cuba will be those that put together conferences and seminars on doing business in Cuba.

Obama did the right thing in starting normalization talks with Cuba’s military dictatorship, although he should be much more forthright in demanding basic freedoms on the island. But the administration should tone down its claims that the U.S.-Cuba honeymoon will lead to political and economic changes on the island, and to great business opportunities for foreign companies. It won’t, at least in the near future.

via Andres Oppenheimer: Cuba: Very big fuss over very small economy | Miami Herald Miami Herald.

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Men-Only Airline Flights May 29, 2015

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From 1953 through 1970, United offered men-only ‘Executive flights’ between New York and Chicago and between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

UnitedExecutiveServiceFlights mostly operated at 5pm in each direction between the two cities(generally six days a week excluding Saturdays). They didn’t just ban women, but children also, and flight attendants catered to these business flights with special meals and offered complimentary cigars.

One story has the airline  issuing vouchers to business men to bring their wives with them along, so they could show them how safe flying was (a serious concern back then). They discontinued the promotion because they decided to start calling the wives after the vouchers were redeemed, and a bunch of them had never set foot on a plane.

via United Men Only Executive Service from 1953 to 1970.

Decade Forecast: 2015-2025 from Stratfor March 4, 2015

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The United States continues to make up more than 22 percent of the world’s economy. It continues to dominate the world’s oceans and has the only significant intercontinental military force. Since 1880, it has been on an uninterrupted expansion of economy and power. Even the Great Depression, in retrospect, is a minor blip. This expansion of power is at the center of the international system, and our forecast is that it will continue unabated.

The greatest advantage the United States has is its insularity. It exports only 9 percent of its GDP, and about 40 percent of that goes to Canada and Mexico. Only about 5 percent of its GDP is exposed to the vagaries of global consumption. Thus, as the uncertainties of Europe, Russia and China mount, even if the United States lost half its exports — an extraordinary amount — it would not be an unmanageable problem.

Featured imageThe United States is also insulated from import constraints. Unlike in 1973, when the Arab oil embargo massively disrupted the U.S. economy, the United States has emerged as a significant energy producer. Although it must import some minerals from outside NAFTA, and it prefers to import some industrial products, it can readily manage without these. This is particularly true as industrial production is increasing in the United States and in Mexico in response to the increasing costs in China and elsewhere.

The Americans also have benefited from global crises. The United States is a haven for global capital, and as capital flight has taken hold of China, Europe and Russia, that money has flowed into the United States, reducing interest rates and buoying equity markets. Therefore, though there is exposure to the banking crisis in Europe, it is nowhere near as substantial as it might have been a decade ago, and capital inflows counterbalance that exposure. As for the perennial fear that China will withdraw its money from American markets, that will happen slowly anyway as China’s growth slows and internal investment increases. But a sudden withdrawal is impossible. There is nowhere else to invest money. Certainly the next decade will see fluctuations in U.S. economic growth and markets, but the United Stares remains the stable heart of the international system. While I subscribe to Strafor’s Intelligence service, they have chosen to make this intriguing report, on possible future geopolitical trends, available to the public via the link below.

via Decade Forecast: 2015-2025 | Stratfor.

Net Neutrality – Be Careful What You Wish For March 2, 2015

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When Google’s Eric Schmidt called White House officials a few weeks ago to oppose President Obama ’s demand that the Internet be regulated as a utility, they told him to buzz off. The chairman of the company that led lobbying for “net neutrality” learned the Obama plan made in its name instead micromanages the Internet.

Mr. Schmidt is not the only liberal mugged by the reality of Obamanet, approved on party lines last week by the Federal Communications Commission. The 300-plus pages of regulations remain secret, but as details leak out, liberals have joined the opposition to ending the Internet as we know it.

The Progressive Policy Institute said: “There is nothing progressive about the FCC backsliding to common carrier rules dating back to the 1930s.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which supports applying the 1934 law to the Internet, nonetheless objects to a new regulation giving the FCC open-ended power to regulate the Internet. “A ‘general conduct rule,’ applied on a case-by-case basis,” the EFF wrote, “may lead to years of expensive litigation to determine the meaning of ‘harm’ (for those who can afford to engage in it).”

What if at the beginning of the Web, Washington had opted for Obamanet instead of the open Internet? Yellow Pages publishers could have invoked “harm” and “unjust and unreasonable” competition from online telephone directories. This could have strangled Alta Vista and Excite, the early leaders in search, and relegated Google to a Stanford student project. Newspapers could have lobbied against Craigslist for depriving them of classified advertising. Encyclopedia Britannica could have lobbied against Wikipedia.

Among the first targets of the FCC’s “unjust and unreasonable” test are mobile-phone contracts that offer unlimited video or music. Netflix , the biggest lobbyist for utility regulation, could be regulated for how it uses encryption to deliver its content.

via Gordon Crovitz: Liberals Mugged by Obamanet – WSJ.

Rock Music Sales Lead, As Streaming Jumps February 23, 2015

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Music Sales Comparison

The Rise (and Likely Fall) of the Talent Economy September 15, 2014

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mrmoneybagsAs recently as 50 years ago, 72% of the top 50 U.S. companies by market capitalization still owed their positions to the control and exploitation of natural resources.

By 2013 more than half the top 50 companies were talent-based, including three of the four biggest: Apple, Microsoft, and Google. (The other was ExxonMobil.) Only 10 owed their position on the list to the ownership of resources. Over the past 50 years the U.S. economy has shifted decisively from financing the exploitation of natural resources to making the most of human talent.

Over the past 13 years the list’s number of hedge fund managers, by far the fastest-growing category, has skyrocketed from four to 31, second only to computer hardware and software entrepreneurs (39) in possessing the greatest fortunes in America.

The Republican Party seems foursquare behind hedge funds, which it sees as embodying capital—even though hedge fund managers are in fact talent, a breakaway branch of labor (their overcharged customers are the real representatives of capital). The Democratic Party, traditionally supportive of organized labor, has increasingly transferred its allegiance to capital, largely because pension funds have become the most important form of capital and their beneficiaries represent the traditional Democratic power base. Neither party represents labor directly.

via The Rise (and Likely Fall) of the Talent Economy – Harvard Business Review.

The Expanded Scope of Conflict Today August 31, 2014

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Wars are traditionally fought over territory. But the definition of territory has evolved to incorporate five domains: land, air, sea, space, and, most recently, cyberspace. These dimensions of “CLASS war” define the threats facing the world today. The specific triggers, objectives, and battle lines of such conflicts are likely to be determined, to varying degrees, by five factors: creed, clan, culture, climate, and currency. Indeed, these factors are already fueling conflicts around the world.

via Andrew Sheng argues that cyberspace, land, air, sea, and space now define the basis of global conflict. – Project Syndicate.

NBA Ownership – The World’s Most Exclusive Club April 27, 2014

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NBA teams are clearly ego purchases, but rich guys hate losing money … and that’s about ego, too. In 2010 and 2011, six NBA franchises sold or changed hands, and another four were practically thrown on Craigslist.2 That’s one-third of the league. A steady stream of billionaires crunched numbers and came to the same conclusion: Unless it’s a killer market, the NBA isn’t a good investment. During 2011’s lockout, Philly sold for a measly $280 million as the league frantically looked for a New Orleans buyer (and didn’t find one).

Everything flipped in December of that year, after the NBA negotiated an owner-favorable collective bargaining agreement (and then some) that included a 50-50 revenue split, shorter long-term deals and a more punitive luxury tax system, as well as a pay-per-view event in which David Stern and Adam Silver poured Dom Perignon on each other’s heads and danced over the ruins of Billy Hunter’s career. Fine, I made that last one up. From there, everything kept breaking the NBA’s way. In no particular order …

lebron-james-cover• The economy rebounded (at least in rich guy circles).

• LeBron became the league’s most famous and talented superstar since MJ, right as we suddenly had the deepest pool of under-27 stars in 20-plus years.

• The 2013 Finals went down as one of the greatest Finals ever, followed by a LeBron-Durant rivalry emerging that could and should carry the rest of the decade.

• Americans stopped caring about PEDs and started worrying about concussions right when everyone should have started worrying about PEDs in basketball (a sport that rarely has any concussions).

• The YouTube/broadband/iPad/GIF/Instagram/Twitter era turned basketball into a 24/7 fan experience — just the ideal sport for the Internet era, the kind of league in which your buddies email you a bizarre Kobe Bryant tweet, an endearing Spurs team selfie and a ridiculous Blake Griffin dunk GIF in the span of three hours (and by the way, that happened to me yesterday).

• A new multimedia rights deal is coming soon … and it’s going to easily double the current deal.

(Repeat: easily double it.)

And I didn’t even mention basketball grabbing the no. 2 spot behind soccer as the world’s most popular sport. I’m not sure when it happened, but it happened. Buy an NBA franchise in 2014 and deep down, you’re thinking about stuff like, I wonder if fans from 250 countries will be paying for League Pass 20 years from now? Throw in the other breaks and that’s how you end up climbing from here …

via The World’s Most Exclusive Club «.

What world can teach U.S. about entitlements April 27, 2014

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Entitlement Lessons From Abroad A new report, by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, notes that many countries have recently enacted reforms that have trimmed benefit formulas, raised retirement ages, and put in place new funded pension systems that supplement or partially substitute for pay-as-you-go government systems.

Several countries – including Germany, Italy, Japan, and Sweden – have gone further and introduced “automatic stabilizers” into their public pension systems that, directly or indirectly, index benefits to the growth in the payroll tax base. These stabilizers may differ in design, but they have two crucial characteristics in common. First, they are all expressly designed to offset the full impact of demographically driven cost growth. And second, they are all self-adjusting. In effect, they put entitlements on a new kind of autopilot – one that is preprogrammed for cost constraint rather than for cost growth.

ChangeInEntitlementBenefits 2010to2040It’s ironic that other developed countries, most of which have faster-aging populations and more expansive welfare states than the United States, are leading the way on entitlement reform.  Part of the explanation may be that, until recently, America’s age wave still loomed over the horizon, while in Europe and Japan aging populations have been burdening public budgets, forcing up payroll tax rates, and slowing economic growth for decades.

Part of the answer may also lie in America’s peculiar entitlement ethos.  In Europe, government benefit programs may be fiercely defended, with the opponents of reform manning the barricades and calling general strikes. But in the end, everyone understands that they are part of a social contract that is subject to renegotiation and revision.  In the United States, much of the public views Social Security and Medicare as quasi-contractual arrangements between individuals and the state.  This mindset, which is encouraged by the misleading insurance metaphors in which the programs are cloaked, may make old-age benefits more difficult to reform in the United States than in Europe’s large welfare states.

via What world can teach U.S. about entitlements – Global Public Square – CNN.com Blogs.

If You Also Hate The Time Change… November 3, 2013

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AccordUS Time Zonesing to Time and Date, a Norwegian Newsletter dedicated to time zone information, America started using four time zones in 1883. Before that, each city had its own time standard based on its calculation of apparent solar time (when the sun is directly over-head at noon) using sundials. That led to more than 300 different American time zones. This made operations very difficult for the telegraph and burgeoning railroad industry. Railroads operated with 100 different time zones before America moved to four, which was consistent with Britain’s push for a global time standard.

Now the world has evolved further—we are even more integrated and mobile, suggesting we’d benefit from fewer, more stable time zones. Why stick with a system designed for commerce in 1883? In reality, America already functions on fewer than four time zones.

 Research based on time use surveys found American’s schedules are determined by television more than daylight.  That suggests in effect, Americans already live on two time zones.

via Daylight Saving Time Is Terrible: Here’s a Simple Plan to Fix It – Allison Schrager – The Atlantic.

Did You Ever Think the U.S. Would be largest Energy Producer? October 5, 2013

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productionSince 2008, U.S. petroleum production has increased 7 quadrillion Btu, with dramatic growth in Texas and North Dakota. Natural gas production has increased by 3 quadrillion Btu over the same period, with much of this growth coming from the eastern United States. Russia and Saudi Arabia each increased their combined hydrocarbon output by about 1 quadrillion Btu over the past five years. Note: Petroleum production includes crude oil, natural gas liquids, condensates, refinery processing gain, and other liquids, including biofuels. Barrels per day oil equivalent were calculated using a conversion factor of 1 barrel oil equivalent = 5.55 million British thermal units (Btu).

via U.S. expected to be largest producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in 2013 – Today in Energy – U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Corporate Logos for the States of America June 25, 2013

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Coporate States Logos of AmericaThe Corporate States of America Made by Steve… – Maps on the Web.

Did Cocaine Fuel the Financial Bubble? April 17, 2013

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The controversial former drug tsar David Nutt told the London Sunday Times this weekend that cocaine-using bankers with their “culture of excitement and drive and more and more and more … got us into this terrible mess”.

Nutt, who was sacked for claiming that ecstasy was as safe as horse riding, told the Sunday Times that abuse of cocaine caused the financial meltdown.

“Bankers use cocaine and got us into this terrible mess,” he told the paper adding that the drug made them “overconfident” and led to them taking more risks. Nutt, who is professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, claimed that cocaine was perfect for a banking “culture of excitement and drive and more and more and more. It is a ‘more’ drug”

There were also lots of stories about some of the big swingers in New York enjoying a line or 10 of an evening. Bernie Madoff’s office was apparently known as “the North Pole” such were the gargantuan quantities of “snow” to be found there and most bankers are aware of the published allegations that Jimmy Cayne (former CEO of Bear Stearns) had an anti-acid medication bottle that was filled with cocaine.

Scarface!!!!!!!!!!1Dr Chris Luke, an A&E specialist based at Cork University Hospital, Ireland, who has studied the effects of cocaine on bankers, has stated that “prominent figures in financial and political circles made irrational decisions as a result of megalomania brought on by cocaine usage”. He concludes that “people were making insane decisions and thinking they were 110% right … which led to the current chaos.”

Greed, selfishness, ignorance and ruthlessness also played their part, of course, but I think it would be foolish not to see the role that the drug played in creating the bubble.

Did cocaine use by bankers cause the global financial crisis? | Business | The Guardian.

Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks | Neighborhood Income and rent maps of U.S. cities February 18, 2013

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mrmoneybagsRich Blocks, Poor Blocks is an interactive map (created by Christopher Persaud, a data reporter for a bank website) showing the average income for every neighborhood in America. Type in your address, press search, and there you have it: Your city, shaded by income, according to data from an annual survey conducted by the Census Bureau. The greenest blocks–Census blocks, that is, not city blocks–signify the richest areas, typically bringing in an average household income of $100,000 or more a year. The reddest blocks are the poorest, with annual income somewhere around $20,000. All the rest get some shade of red or green, depending where they fall.

Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks | Neighborhood income and rent maps of U.S. cities.

Hackers Are Winning The CyberWar – So Far February 10, 2013

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Virus writers are having a field day. A new industry has blossomed called Exploit Kits. Talented programmers sell their exploit kits for $3000 a pop to help their brethren malware writers deliver their payloads more effectively.

Late 2012, the NY Times published a controversial piece questioning the effectiveness of modern antivirus software. The shocking conclusion was that after an exhaustive analysis of over 40 antivirus products, there was only a 5% chance of detecting and defeating a new threat. That is, if a computer had 40+ antivirus products running simultaneously, there is a scant 5% chance that the computer would be safe from new threats.

Computer BugsThe US Department of Homeland Security advised last week that users disable Java. This is unprecedented. The government felt this is a computing problem so severe that it must intervene. Java is a real and present threat to not only our national security but our computers, privacy and wallets. The DHS has no motivation to sow misinformation or fear, and they should be heeded. (more…)

Why Are Indian Reservations So Poor? January 12, 2013

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At a time when there’s a spotlight on America’s richest 1%, a look at the country’s 310 Indian reservations–where many of America’s poorest 1% live–can be more enlightening. To explain the poverty of the reservations, people usually point to alcoholism, corruption or school-dropout rates, not to mention the long distances to jobs and the dusty undeveloped land that doesn’t seem good for growing much. But those are just symptoms. Prosperity is built on property rights, and reservations often have neither. They’re a demonstration of what happens when property rights are weak or non-existent.

The vast majority of land on reservations is held communally. That means residents can’t get clear title to the land where their home sits, one reason for the abundance of mobile homes on reservations. This makes it hard for Native Americans to establish credit and borrow money to improve their homes because they can’t use the land as collateral–and investing in something you don’t own makes little sense, anyway.

This leads to what economists call the tragedy of the commons: If everyone owns the land, no one does. So the result is substandard housing and the barren, rundown look that comes from a lack of investment, overuse and environmental degradation. It’s a look that’s common worldwide, wherever secure property rights are lacking—much of Africa and South America, inner city housing projects and rent-controlled apartment buildings in the U.S., Indian reservations.

via Why Are Indian Reservations So Poor? A Look At The Bottom 1% – Forbes.

When Will The College Bubble Burst? January 7, 2013

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Higher education’s business model is simply unsustainable.

Colleges have so far gotten away with their price hikes by making it easy for students to borrow money. But now the customers are tapped out. They owe $1 trillion, and they are having a rough time repaying that debt with the kinds of jobs available in today’s economy. Vedder notes that 115,000 janitors have bachelor’s degrees.

The system is ripe for an upheaval. Cheap online courses seem poised to deliver it. Traditional colleges at opposite ends of the glamour spectrum will probably survive. At one end, community colleges could deliver bankable skills in fields like nursing and computer network installation. At the other end, elite institutions like Princeton will carry on for a few more centuries.

In between? “It’s going to wipe out high-cost mediocre private schools without big endowments,” Vedder says.BSchoolBlues

via How Liberal Arts Colleges Could Go Bankrupt – Forbes.

Balancing the 3 Types of Innovation November 25, 2012

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efficiency innovations are liberating capital, and in the United States this capital is being reinvested into still more efficiency innovations. In contrast, America is generating many fewer empowering innovations than in the past. We need to reset the balance between empowering and efficiency innovations.

America today is in a macroeconomic paradox that we might call the capitalist’s dilemma. Executives, investors and analysts are doing what is right, from their perspective and according to what they’ve been taught. Those doctrines were appropriate to the circumstances when first articulated — when capital was scarce. But we’ve never taught our apprentices that when capital is abundant and certain new skills are scarce, the same rules are the wrong rules.

It’s as if our leaders in Washington, all highly credentialed, are standing on a beach holding their fire hoses full open, pouring more capital into an ocean of capital. We are trying to solve the wrong problem. The author presents solutions at the end of the article

via A Capitalist’s Dilemma, Whoever Wins the Election – NYTimes.com.

Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else October 14, 2012

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Extractive states are controlled by ruling elites whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Inclusive states give everyone access to economic opportunity; often, greater inclusiveness creates more prosperity, which creates an incentive for ever greater inclusiveness. Elites that have prospered from inclusive systems can be tempted to pull up the ladder they climbed to the top. Eventually, their societies become extractive and their economies languish.

Several recent studies have shown that in America today it is harder to escape the social class of your birth than it is in Europe. Educational attainment, which created the American middle class, is no longer rising.

Economists point out that the woes of the middle class are in large part a consequence of globalization and technological change. Culture may also play a role. In his recent book on the white working class, the libertarian writer Charles Murray blames the hollowed-out middle for straying from the traditional family values and old-fashioned work ethic that he says prevail among the rich (whom he castigates, but only for allowing cultural relativism to prevail).

The crony capitalism of today’s oligarchs is far subtler than Venice’s. It works in two main ways.

The first is to channel the state’s scarce resources in their own direction. This is the absurdity of Mitt Romney’s comment about the “47 percent” who are “dependent upon government.” The reality is that it is those at the top, particularly the tippy-top, of the economic pyramid who have been most effective at capturing government support — and at getting others to pay for it.

Exhibit A is the bipartisan, $700 billion rescue of Wall Street in 2008. Exhibit B is the crony recovery. The economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty found that 93 percent of the income gains from the 2009-10 recovery went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers. The top 0.01 percent captured 37 percent of these additional earnings, gaining an average of $4.2 million per household.

via The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent – NYTimes.com.

The Dirty Solar Panel Fight Over Clean Energy October 10, 2012

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Chinese technocrats set out to create an industry that would dominate the world, and they succeeded. They aided solar cell manufacturers with easy credit from state banks—perhaps as much as $18 billion of cheap loans—and, some say, subsidies. As a result of central and local government support, Chinese manufacturers began to expand rapidly. Chinese competitors now own 70% of the world’s wafer-producing capacity.

Make that overcapacity. “Massive subsidies and state intervention have stimulated overcapacity more than 20 times total Chinese consumption and close to double total global demand,” said Milan Nitzschke, president of EU ProSun, in a statement released late last month. The company alleges that 90% of Chinese production had to be exported and that Beijing used subsidies to keep its manufacturers in business.

The powerful Chinese National Development and Reform Commission wants to see two-thirds of panel makers go out of business.  Only the largest producers, which are presently nonviable, will survive.

In short, central government technocrats, to salvage their industrial policy, will now have to destroy what they worked so hard to create.

via Sun Sets on China’s Solar Industry – Forbes.

Is U.S. Economic Growth Over? Faltering Innovation Confronts the Six Headwinds October 3, 2012

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The analysis links periods of slow and rapid growth to the timing of the three industrial revolutions (IR’s), that is, IR #1 (steam, railroads) from 1750 to 1830; IR #2 (electricity, internal combustion engine, running water, indoor toilets, communications, entertainment, chemicals, petroleum) from 1870 to 1900; and IR #3 (computers, the web, mobile phones) from 1960 to present. It provides evidence that IR #2 was more important than the others and was largely responsible for 80 years of relatively rapid productivity growth between 1890 and 1972. Once the spin-off inventions from IR #2 (airplanes, air conditioning, interstate highways) had run their course, productivity growth during 1972-96 was much slower than before. In contrast, IR #3 created only a short-lived growth revival between 1996 and 2004. Many of the original and spin-off inventions of IR #2 could happen only once – urbanization, transportation speed, the freedom of females from the drudgery of carrying tons of water per year, and the role of central heating and air conditioning in achieving a year-round constant temperature.

Even if innovation were to continue into the future at the rate of the two decades before 2007, the U.S. faces six headwinds that are in the process of dragging long-term growth to half or less of the 1.9 percent annual rate experienced between 1860 and 2007. These include demography, education, inequality, globalization, energy/environment, and the overhang of consumer and government debt. A provocative “exercise in subtraction” suggests that future growth in consumption per capita for the bottom 99 percent of the income distribution could fall below 0.5 percent per year for an extended period of decades.

via Is U.S. Economic Growth Over? Faltering Innovation Confronts the Six Headwinds.

Rise of the Asian Welfare State September 22, 2012

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Although poorer countries still limit themselves to ad hoc welfare offerings, fitting the spending level to revenues one budget at a time, there is an increasing trend towards entitlements served by statutory institutions that will outlive the budgetary cycle. As these systems mature, welfare provision will be demand-led, not supply-driven; welfare will become integral to the state. Asia’s tigerish economies are turning marsupial, carrying their dependants along with them as they prowl.

Some of the national leaders who unleashed those tiger economies would be shocked and disturbed by the development. To them the welfare state was a Western aberration that would serve only to undermine thrift, industry and filial duty.

It seems that every country that can afford to build a welfare state will come under mounting pressure to do so. And much of Asia has hit the relevant level of prosperity (see chart 1). Indonesia is now almost as developed as America was in 1935 when it passed the landmark Social Security Act, according to figures compiled by the late Angus Maddison, an economic historian. China is already richer than Britain was in 1948, when it inaugurated the National Health Service (NHS) which, to judge by political ructions—and Olympic opening ceremonies—has become crucial to its sense of national identity.

via Asian welfare states: New cradles to graves | The Economist.

You Can’t Blame Your Stress On Work September 15, 2012

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Work stress, job satisfaction and health problems due to high stress have more to do with genes than you might think.

The lead author of “Genetic influences on core self-evaluations, job satisfaction, work stress, and employee health: A behavioral genetics mediated model,” published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Judge studied nearly 600 twins — some identical, some fraternal — who were raised together and reared apart. He found that being raised in the same environment had very little effect on personality, stress and health. Shared genes turned out to be about four times as important as shared environment.

via Feeling stressed by your job? Don’t blame your employer, study shows.

Everything You Think You Know About China Is Wrong September 1, 2012

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For the last 40 years, Americans have lagged in recognizing the declining fortunes of their foreign rivals. In the 1970s they thought the Soviet Union was 10 feet tall — ascendant even though corruption and inefficiency were destroying the vital organs of a decaying communist regime. In the late 1980s, they feared that Japan was going to economically overtake the United States, yet the crony capitalism, speculative madness, and political corruption evident throughout the 1980s led to the collapse of the Japanese economy in 1991.

Could the same malady have struck Americans when it comes to China? The latest news from Beijing is indicative of Chinese weakness: a persistent slowdown of economic growth, a glut of unsold goods, rising bad bank loans, a bursting real estate bubble, and a vicious power struggle at the top, coupled with unending political scandals. Many factors that have powered China’s rise, such as the demographic dividend, disregard for the environment, supercheap labor, and virtually unlimited access to external markets, are either receding or disappearing.

The current economic slowdown in Beijing is neither cyclical nor the result of weak external demand for Chinese goods. China’s economic ills are far more deeply rooted: an overbearing state squandering capital and squeezing out the private sector, systemic inefficiency and lack of innovation, a rapacious ruling elite interested solely in self-enrichment and the perpetuation of its privileges, a woefully underdeveloped financial sector, and mounting ecological and demographic pressures.

 

via Everything You Think You Know About China Is Wrong – By Minxin Pei | Foreign Policy.

How Our 1% Compares August 25, 2012

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It’s right out of 1880s America:

In China, less than 1% of households control more than 70% of private financial wealth.

In the US today, we’re talking somewhere between 40 and 45 percent.

Globally, says, John Bussey in the WSJ, the number is “nearly 40%,” so America’s not much off the norm.

For China to truly advance and become a genuine competitive threat, the political system has to decide to divorce wealth from political power.  Otherwise we’re looking at decay and decline and a very short “Chinese century.”

US hit that moment and launched itself into a multi-decade progressive era that cleaned up a lot of things but government most of all.

As I have said many times, the world needs a small army of Teddy Roosevelts right now – but China most of all.

via Thomas P.M. Barnett’s Globlogization – Blog – China’s looming populist problem.

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