Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Global Powers as the New Global S...

The Global Powers as the New Global Super Power

I'm getting a sense from articles that I've been reading on the G-20 summit that there is a potential set of changes that may be gaining momentum.  Both Gordon Brown from Great Britain and Sarkozy from France are looking for major changes to take place at the G-20 summit.  Brown wants more internationally held values to be at play in the international market and Sarkozy wants vast changes of regulations.

Sarkozy wants more oversight of accounting for global firms, a way to change tax laws that allow corporations to skip on taxes by forming the "home base" of their companies on secluded tax free islands, and a host of other things.

It is not clear that the G-20 summit will make a lot of changes, but there is one pattern I see gaining momentum.

We make decisions based on our values.  Regulating international companies would mean foreign involvement in regulation of some companies in the United States.  These actions tie the international community together in a few new ways.

When the United States formed, it basically formed as an effort at a bunch of trade agreements.  George Washington was making a canal system through the Potomac river - part of it at Great Falls still exists.  He was making a trade route from up North to go through the DC area and beyond.  Many of the players at the constitutional convention were involved in trade deals along this project.

The United States was formed to allow states to work better on trade and it seems there is more work going on now to make international trade policy.  

The US would have to agree to anything that they participate in.  But, the world has learned that in the new global economy, we rise and fall together.

I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a little bit more governance together. 

What Sarkozy is calling for and Brown is looking for are the actual roots of this.  And the US is asking every country to give a bit more money to the International Monetary Fund to prop up developing countries that have crashed.  So, this is sort of a treasury/safety net that is gaining strength and funded by each country.  Our government does contain a lot of safety nets.    

We are seeing the roots of what could form into the new layers of a more international sort of governance. 

If history is an example of how things like this form, we may be seeing something take root.  The countries of the world may be at the start of Uniting just a bit further.  

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Is there room for so much "born pessi...

Response to NewsWeek article

Is there room for so much "born pessimism?" Krugman should revisit his approach as he is living in a country that fulfilled his life long dream of winning the Nobel prize. Obama also fulfilled his goal of becoming President over some stiff competition.
My view on banks is clear There are two parts.
1) Physical Infrastructure
2) People running the infrastructure
I believe that the physical infrastructure is more advanced and effective than ever in history. ATM's, Web-Banking, all incredible advancements. We don't really hear about a lot of bank robberies either. We have camera's, fortifications, alarms. I don't think the physical infrastructure of banks is anything but phenomenal.
Krugman would be right - if - the people running that infrastructure were the same. However, when using formulas on a fluid situation if the ones directing the situation have all changed and their approaches and aims have changed, the results are likely to be different than we expect.
Consider, if you put x dollars in to y person at institution to control - and that person is the one who messed everything up in the first place - chances are things mess up in a different way.
If you put x dollars in to z person... what is the outcome of the equation?
I don't believe there is room for "Born Pessimism." We are taking our shot as a nation and we better hope we are getting it right.
Where does he agree with Obama? Lets hear that. I like to think of the metaphor myself where early airplanes that lost control, would regain control if the pilot took his hands off the controls. If following that, it makes sense to do nothing and let things fall the way they do. However, what if the airplane is in a steep nose dive and all the pilot has to do is pull on the yoke and the plane will level itself out?
We've got new pilots. Banks are about money. We are loaning them money. Even better, they are paying us a lot of interest. An unspoken part of this plan is that the treasury is selling bonds at a fraction of 1 percent interest. Then the treasury is receiving 10% interest from the banks. So, the US government has negotiated a deal where we earn a 9% spread. We either have this - or China - the only other source of cash on the planet - comes in and buys our failed banks. There are assets there - physical assets. In our current situation - our banks our owned - but they are owned by US. The United States is funded by businesses in America and by US. The officials are elected by US.

Canada bought Commerce Bank and it is now TD bank. How many banks do we want to fail and have be bought up by better capitalized foreign entities?

In this case - what we have, stays American. Our financial system stays American. I am optimistic that we have pulled out of a nose dive and we need now to read our instruments and see if our "horizon" instrument is leveling out correctly.

In this case, we are flying a little bit blind in the clouds. The only question is, are we reading the right instruments to see if we are on course?

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Illusion of Productivity in the I...

The Illusion of Productivity in the Information Age 

We rewarded the Wall Street geniuses for risky bets because they were producing great wealth.  We bought because it was what this new found abundance allowed us to do.  We saw what other's bought and we wanted it.  We saw everyone buying homes and said, "we better get one too."  Yes, the market supplied these homes... the market supplied these goods... the market provided all of it.

People have not learned how to interact with freedom and abundance.  We ate so much our bodies got enormous.  Our enormous bodies got all sorts of illnesses and health care costs skyrocketed.  We did all of this, as the way we felt we were progressing, while we were destroying ourselves.

Women progressed by having full fledged careers, yet we lost the backbone of our health care that they provided through the community.  And our children weren't learning the same health lessons because Mom was no longer focused so much on being the guardian of the families health.  She tried - but this made a reality of three full time jobs.

In all of these situations we felt we were gaining something.  

The economy stinks right now because the moment we fear for our security we all collectively realized we didn't need any of it.  Sure, we like what we have.  Right now, we probably have so much of it that we don't need any more and figure we'll wait out the storm.

There was an industrial revolution, which greatly increased productivity and the standard of living of human beings.  Then after, "The Roaring 20's" a period of rampant opulence, built on that new found freedom to earn, the great depression.  

There was an internet bubble as the kickoff of the information age occurred.

Then we became progressively more and more wrapped in our opulence until the weight of our own credit cards broke our backs.  When that couldn't take us any further we sucked the equity out of our homes.  

Then we sent all of our money to other countries for oil.

Then the terrorists aimed to bring us down by attrition - the sucking of our resources - the way Russia was brought down, in Afghanistan, by the same people.  Does it strike anyone that Russia was just involved in paying off a country we were delivering resources to the war through and now that country won't let us use their military base anymore?  

You see - we lived in a bubble - a house built on credit.  We felt we were building all of this, but money, or the illusion of money built it.  Did you ever hold in your hand a check for $300,000 for your house, or did you sign a paper and trust that it passed between hands?  

This money never existed and we spent it like crazy.  

We felt we were building.

We were tearing down and being torn down at the same time.

This is a game about the balance of power in the world.

Bush bragged about how powerful we were, showed people too.  They said, "This America is scary."  And well, it seems many have been trying to pull us down.  Russia has aims to be a superpower again.  If America is weaker, they will be on par and will be respected as such.

The crazy thing is, if you turn on TV - the advertisements will pull at your emotions.  The terrorists.  The news people.  The leaders.

Until you just don't know what to believe anymore.

And you shut down.  

We built ourselves into a deluge of e-mail, phone calls - is that my land line, or my cell - traffic jams, and information overload.

Were we productive in doing so?  

Where are we now?  

We can all move together at the speed of the 24 x 7 news cycle, the entire country can get post traumatic stress disorder together on a date called 9/11.  We can watch it until our brains completely implode.

We can get scared to death of the credit crisis, even if we personally have no crisis, and we can stop spending for reasons that don't fit our own financial picture.  

The crazy thing is... now, with a bit less money - it seemed like I heard more stories about people getting it right on Christmas.

Being with their family, knowing they didn't need anything else.  Divorces are down because people can't afford their lawyers.  We were trading in our spouses too.  We forgot how to relate and have a strong family... but, perhaps do more people remember now?  As they feel it is every man for himself... except for their family?  

Do we now have more of our priorities straight and thus a more fulfilling life - with a life filled with less stuff.  

What do we really all have right now?

Part of the problem is... I have 3 computers now... I don't need anymore.  All I needed, all along, was love.

Are we smarter now?  Does our vulnerability make us real?  Are we making better choices than ever?  

Is this where we learn struggle that reveals our true character?

What is this? 

Is this the opportunity we all needed?  

The teenage years of our country, with the President we all wanted to drink a beer with?  

Coming to an end with hormonal crashes and catastrophe's that seem to rip the world apart.

Yet wait - we are still here.  Life goes on.  Perhaps when we learn moderation... balance... saving... 

It will go on better from here.  With stronger families.  A set of values.

Who knows.

This is your choice.  

Out from this crisis... as we emerge from this tornado of a mess... what will you come out with?  

Will you be stronger when others have floundered?  

Who will you be, in what is next?

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