Category Archives: economics - Page 2

Nails in the coffin

Investor State Dispute Resolution, the EU & TTIP

I have just submitted a short comment opposing the inclusion of Investor State Dispute Resolution (ISDR) clauses in the EU’s negotiating position on TTIP, and urge you to join me. I used this web site, at sumofus.org. While their tag line, “Fighting for people before profits” is reminiscent of Lewisham’s rag bag of careerists and trots, both ISDR and all the non-tariff extensions to TTIP should be opposed and the concept of putting people before profit is equally laudable.

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Stack Ranking

Many company’s, particularly US owned, staff evaluation schemes are based on ranking their staff, and additionally rewarding the top 20% and firing the bottom 10%. (This idea comes from the US, probably from GE; firing people because they are not as good as someone else is illegal in the UK and much of Europe.) Basically it is not about continuous improvement, it’s based on a world view that thinks people are lazy and need fear to make them work hard. Fear of not getting a bonus, or fear of dismissal. This cynicism and hate will never build a successful firm.

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Nokia exits the mobile market

So Nokia have given up and sold their mobile handset and presumably the mobile infrastructure to Microsoft. Last year, Nokia, the World’s No. 1 mobile phone manufacturer but were struggling to meet the onslaught of Apple’s iphone and the rapidly alternative  growing of Android decided to shit-can their two Linux projects and exclusively throw in their lot with one of the then weakest phone operating-  and eco-systems, Microsoft! Coincidently they had just hired Steven Elop as CEO, whom they had poached from Microsoft.

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Hyperloop and Hope

In California, they have been planning a San Francisco – Los Angeles bullet train. This was brought to my attention by a story by Molly Woods at CNET, which points at an alternative, the Hyperloop.

For some reason the politics of developing infrastructure in the USA is tortured and this project is no exception. It has the economic and environmental objections which we have all begun to get to grips with as the national debate about HS2 begins to take off. In California this debate is exacerbated by the US’s unhinged dislike of government and taxes.

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Tim Wu speaks

I got there late, but in time to hear the end of Tim Wu’s opening  key note. His comments about the failure to build a peer-to-peer internet stimulated an interest. His book, “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires” examines the evolution of information networks from radio through TV and Cable to the Internet, so I have ordered it. It’ll be interesting to compare, contrast and possibly integrate his ideas with those of Benkler and Perez. While researching for the article that eventually became Municipal WiFi, now over 1½ years old, I was interested in the funding and technology problems faced by public sector organisations. Some hackers have considered making wireless access gateways peer-to-peer, particularly in France while the Hadoopi laws were being debated and passed, but we are still running an internet of hubs and spokes, in the words of the Register, modeled on the command and control systems used in the Soviet Union.

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The end of economic growth

Earlier this month, the Guardian in its Economics’ Blog, published an article called “Are the UK growth pessimists right?” The article itself is unclear, partly because it wants to make the point that Social Democrats need growth to painlessly share the wealth more equitably and fund their social investment programs. The article argues that UK economic indicators are beginning to look up, that doomsayers have always been wrong before and that technological innovations have always revitalised capitalism.

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Modern Monetary Theory

The Right’s attempts to fetishise the level of the deficit both in the UK and the US has led to one interesting response. While discussing this with friends, I was pointed at the group of economic theories called Modern Monetarist Theory. So I decided to a bit of reading.

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Was this the new Black Wednesday?

What a week for economic and political news! Unemployment down, National Income (GDP) Down, IMF & Goldman Sachs say Austerity isn’t working, Clegg and Boris agree and argue for increased capital expenditure (Houses and Transport projects). Is it the turning point in this government’s fortunes? It’s clear Plan A isn’t working and Larry Elliott in the Guardian says it better than I can.

Dave Cameron’s response to this is to say that the Tory party will offer an in/out referendum on Europe in the next Parliament, if he wins a majority. Not sure you’re on the right page. It’s still the economy, stupid!

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HMV, a tale of hubris, tax and monopoly

HMV, the UK’s leading bricks & mortar creative industries retailer has gone into administration. Lets hope that its winding up is not as brutal as at Jessops which also failed last week. The FT reports in an article, published yesterday, entitled, HMV calls in the Administrators that the rug was pulled when their suppliers of the music, films and computer/console games refused to extend credit terms to allow them to refinance their debt.

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Let’s take back the Internet

Rebecca Mackinnon previews the arguments for digital liberty, exploring the contention points between people and power. I suspect it needs to be informed by Kondratiev cycles, , she takes her start point as the historical achievement of political liberty but we shouldn’t be looking back 300 years.

The steel, oil,  & silicon technology revolutions have spawned social democracy, enviromentalism and the digital liberty movement respectively. Each of these reactions have spawned political movements to achieve their goals.

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Does QE work?

In an article in the Guardian, Will Hutton examines the use of QE and the failure of the Bank and Treasury to use it to stimulate investment. Increasing investment is both an expansion of demand, it creates income for its suppliers, and capacity for the economy. The Government and the Bank’s ideology will not permit them to use QE to buy corporate debt and so is doomed to fail to meet the needs of business investment and productivity improvement.

QE creates asset inflation, including house prices; it does not increase demand.

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Oracle & Sun & the European Single Market

A lot of people have been busy commenting on the EU’s investigation into the competitive dynamics of Oracle’s proposed acquisition of Sun, so I thought I’d join in.

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Some insights into managing the cloud

Dave Cliff, Professor of Computer Sci at Bristol spoke to Waters Power:09 in Canary Wharf yesterday. It is clear from many sources that IT is changing and he examined some of these changes. He woke me up by quoting Carlota Perez  who argues that there are five transformational changes since the industrial revolution, Steam, Railways, Electricity, internal combustion and IT. She also argues that the adoption and maturity cycles are similar, and Cliff argues that “money’s out of IT now”. Her book is called “Technological Revolutions and Finance Capital:The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages”, which gives on an idea of where she’s coming from. Cliff also pointed his audience at Nick Carr’s “The Big Switch”, another pundit that argues that IT is done!

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