Rethink(IP) did such a fine job of presenting the Carnival of Capitalists last week that it's a tough act to follow. Thanks - I think - for setting such a high bar. It's always an overwhelming task to compile the wealth of posts submitted to Carnival of the Capitalists. And paradoxically it is entirely refreshing to witness the diversity of ideas and viewpoints shared as we opine about what is important to us in business, in the economy, and the invisible hand that guides markets across much of the globe.
Although I have been introduced as that-blogger-that-survived-the-tsunami, I'm actually a marketer and writer. And I have a sense soon-to-be executive-coach-of-new-order. Essentially, I believe: People Matter (and What Matters to People Sells) so that's mostly what I write about. In my Katrina reading I let facts such as: "the total number of refugees may surpass 1 million" and it's the "biggest resettlement in American history" fully sink in. When over one million people are intimately affected by anything of this magnitude it ripples through the national psyche, and ultimately, long term, the waves lap into the realm of desires.
Meeting desires is the root of capitalism. Besides caring and praying and donating and helping and preparing and healing as much as possible, putting on my business hat I feel truly paying attention to the Katrina aftermath is a productive exercise in forecasting market shifts.
Therefore in the footsteps of Rethink(IP), I've gathered Katrina-related blog entries together at the very top under Katrina (with category that the post would normally fall under clearly marked). And I was in a particularly global frame of mind and decided to group global themes into its own Global category. Otherwise, the neighborhood is the same cozy locale as you're used to with a few new friendly faces.
Special Category: Katrina
Brian Gongol at Gongol.com looks incisively at cost-benefit analysis' evaluation methods. He tells us that New Orleans used expected-value analysis to prepare for catastrophic flooding. The consequences of Hurricane Katrina show that maybe they should have used minimax thinking instead. (Economics)
James Hamilton at Econbrowser peers into the rubble left in Katrina's wake. Time for assessing the damage now in calm after the storm. James fiscally surmises "from an economic point of view, it looks costly, but manageable." (Economics)
Will Franklin concurs over at Willisms. He's carefully charted out different aspects of the U.S. economy's resilience and sums up: "Even if the economic costs total 200 billion dollars or more, in an 11+ trillion dollar economy, we will survive. And we will rebuild." (Economics)
Econ professor Dave Tufte at voluntaryXchange reminds us in his "You Heard It Here First" post that he didn't buy the $25 billion initially estimated for Katrina damages. His original ballpark figure has been now been confirmed by government and insurance officials. Hmmm, perhaps an indication on how bloggers can provide more immediate accurate information? (Economics)
You are a business traveler stranded in New Orleans. Can you deduct an extortionate $1,000 cab fare to get out of town ahead of Katrina? Joe Kristan at Roth & Company Tax Update gives us the answer, and a lesson in expense documentation, herein. (Finance)
David Foster at PhotonCourier cites a Financial Times profile of Lousiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and Malcolm Gladwell's Blink in his post looking at deliberate decision-making styles: "There is a law of diminishing returns in information as in everything else, and decision-makers always need to balance the time delay involved in getting additional information with the benefit of that information--and the consequences of the delays." (Leadership)
Kim Snider at Kimmunications suggests five personal finance lessons the average person should learn from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She feels she's toeing the line of controversy on at least two out of the five. Interesting comments ensue. (Finance/Personal)
Beyond the human toll of Katrina, Andrew Hughes, an economics student at Louisana State University, ponders growth in troubled times. For instance, what might be the economic toll and population shifts within his town of Baton Rouge? (Bonus: Read Andrew's other posts - it provides a first-hand glimpse of what it's like to live in the Baton Rouge post-Katrina.) (Economics)
Warren Meyer at Coyote Blog's Technocrats post discusses the replacement of bottom-up decision making with top-down control. Warrens says that Katrina relief results demonstrate the failure of bottom-up thinking. (Leadership)
When I think of basic building block skills behind marketing, there are really two I rely on: creativity and empathy. And I didn't know jack about empathy until a few years ago. I share an excerpt from my essay "Marketing: What's Love Got to Do With It" (published in upcoming fall book, More Space: Nine Antidotes to Complacency in Business). It's relevant right now in the aftermath of the Katrina tragedy. (Marketing)
Nick Racanelli at The Capitalist Blogger peers into what the future holds for the booming economies in Asia and what it may have in store for consumers and workers in the U.S.
Toni Straka at The Prudent Investor points us to a paper from DB Research notes that already 50 smaller countries have pegged their local currency to the barely 5 year young Euro. By now about a fifth of global foreign exchange reserves are Euros and this is likely to double by 2010.
Neelakantan at Interim Thoughts muses philosophically about the nature and nuances of free markets using a simple example of a tea shop that springs up to serve construction workers laboring on an Indian building site.
Zman Biur at Biur Chametz considers the suggestion that Gaza transfer their highly profitable greenhouses to the Palestinians to boost their economy and compensate for lost jobs. Zman says: You can't just hand the greenhouses to new owners, and expect them to continue churning out revenues.
Political Calculations asks "Is economic freedom is the key to peace?" And notes that countries that provide high degrees of economic freedom for their people are much less likely to enter into violent conflict with each other: a bonus peace dividend.
Mike Landfair at Mover Mike gives his two cents to India and Indonesia's reaction to rising oil prices. Did you know that "in Indonesia consumers pay 24 cents per litre and it costs Indonesia $14 billion to subsidize the price"?
Entrepreneur Bernard Moon at Junto Boyz comes out strongly opposed to South Korea's recent foreign direct investment policy and tactics in recent op-ed article "Mr. Roh, Save Our Land". For instance, he writes: "Recently, private equity firms, such as Carlyle and Newbridge, were victims of "shock audits" where the National Tax Service (NTS) stormed their offices and took away various files without warning."
Serial entrepreneur Del launches the MedSim.net blog where we can watch the trials and tribulations of a bootstrapped internet startup unfold while he doles out his entrepreneurial life lessons. So far he's spent a grand total of $100 for marketing and customers are signing up.
AllThingsFinancial gives us a personal finance lesson on how an IRA can be passed to a beneficiary and reveals how even a small IRA can grow into millions of dollars in income stretched over the lifetime of the beneficiary.
Free Money Finance shares and highlights insightful discussions from his readers on the value of secondary education, including MBAs. From personal experience: "I went to a top 25 school but had an Assistantship -- so I left with very little debt". And: "The school had top-flight companies recruiting there and I got a job with one."
Brian at Financial Reference tackles the controversial topic of expensing stock options (I live in Silicon Valley - where it's ultra-controversial). He details why options need to be treated as an expense in accounting. And concludes we need to get on to "the real issue: how should companies value and expense options?"
Tom O'Neill at Buyout Blog gives advice for sellers of middle market businesses on mitigating risks inherent in selling their companies by using creative insurance products and services.
Bill Cholenski at Callarchy makes the argument that tax deductions are built into the price of a home, and therefore, tax deductions on mortgage interest don’t benefit the people they actually “intend” to help.
Henry Sterne, LUTCF at InsureBlog's (catchy post title) "Just Hop on the Bus, Gus..." spills the secret (secret to me at least) of how employees can save up to 40% on their out-of-pocket expenses on certain transit and parking costs.
Barry L. Ritholtz at The Big Picture examines the highlights of the annual Census Bureau report on consumer income that almost slipped by unnoticed last week. Barry notes that a few elements stand out: "While the poor get poorer, the really intriguing part of this picture is the middle class squeeze." As besides "the diminishing Middle Class" there is "the rise of the Ultra-wealthy."
Paul Smith at Freedom's Fidelity submits an excellent book review of Freakonomics: "It is so accessible and so popular - it's the number 1 best seller in Brazil, has spent several months on the NYT best seller list... When was the last time a book on economics had such broad appeal?!?! Those types of things should warm the heart of anyone who has ever lamented the economic illiteracy of the general populace."
Critical Mastiff asks: Are progressive taxes a good thing or do progressive taxes actually hurt the very poor that they are meant to help, by encouraging government to victimize them and benefit the rich?
Brit blogger Jarndyce at The Sharpener drills into why the liberal left ought to like flat taxes too: Claiming left-leaning membership, she says: "It isn’t an egalitarian utopia, but once we all get over the visceral reaction that a non-progressive tax system must be “unfair”, the benefits are obvious."
Michael Cale at Financial Methods delves into an analysis of the political bias in the disparity in fuel taxes and prices: States with the highest fuel taxes were carried by the Democrats in the 2004 presidential election. States with the lowest fuel taxes largely went Republican. He adds that percentage-base fuel taxes "makes government a tacit beneficiary of higher fuel prices."
The Real Returns looks at the correlation between inflation, noting that inflation is created by constant growth in money supply, and home prices. The rise in money supply for last 4+ decades could explain the rise in median house prices in United States.
Big Picture Guy at BigPictureSmallOffice.com regales us with his woes of dealing with collecting endless scraps of paper for a DoJ case. Buried in paper, somehow he manages to retain a sense of humor (easily could filed CotC post under Humor) in the midst of an onerous task. And we're on the same (thousandth?) page: "Anything on paper is (already) obsolete."
Marketing & Customer Relations
John Dmohowski at Drakeview in When More is Less points us to new research that suggests fewer product offerings may lead to an increase in revenue. "When choosing to expand product offerings it is as important to recognize the parameters of competition where variety is an advantage and when it merely overwhelms the consumer."
Real Women Don't Have Curves, provocatively titled, looks at the "New Dove Firming. As tested on real curves" campaign. Josh Cohen at Multiple Mentality also shares a bit about the guy point of view about what he loves about women, "average women models' and the ads.
Peter Caputa at PC4Media outlines key criteria and a roadmap for creating and launching a web based service that virally markets itself. Particularly useful whether you are adapting your business so that it grows virally or creating a new business. (I particularly like how Peter stresses building the viral concept around your business model and offers first-hand entreprenerial lessons learned.)
Jim Logan is a man after simplicity (and my own heart): "You can spend millions of dollars on CRM solutions and customer service programs. You can take out expensive ads and make a big deal in the public eye about how much you value your customers. And yet the only thing you need to do to deliver outstanding customer service is demonstrate the genuine ability to care."
Internet marketer Barry Welford at BPWrap says even big companies including Microsoft's Great Plains division simply forget to accommodate their Firefox browser visitors. Barry notes that Leo Burnett Canada's site launch oversight was corrected within two days.
Ankesh Kothari at Marketing eYe shares fascinating research in "How Juries are Persuaded" and explains how entrepreneurs and marketers can use these results. He reels us in with a compelling quiz: "Courtroom research shows that jurors are most persuaded by: a. Expert witnesses that use easy-to-understand languages and terms b. Expert witnesses that use technical jargon and hard to understand terms c. Expert witnesses that have a commanding voice and speak with confidence..."
Kicking Over my Traces muses on coherent web design in her post "Consistency is a Paste Jewel": "A coherent website is important because it’s your face to the world, perhaps the only way some people will ever get to know you."
Steve Pavlina's Personal Development Blog outlines how to boost oneself from a 7 to a 10 on the performance scale - especially applicable to financial and career advancement. One key question: "Whenever I feel I’ve gotten stuck at a 7, I stop and ask myself: What would a 10 look like?"
Rosa Say at Lifehack.org offers "5 Things Employees Need to Learn - from You." All our learning comes from other people - someone had to write that book, and teach that course; someone had to be our teacher, mentor and coach. Rosa urges managers to take up their responsibility to mentor everyone they manage: it's not rocket science, but it's also not consistently done.
Adrian Savage at The Coyote Within counterintuitively and sagely posits that one of the commonest but least useful questions people ask about learning is: "What use will it be to you?" He adds that often you find yourself needing something and there it is; right from an area of interest or piece of learning you undertook years ago with no thought it would ever be useful.
Legal & Regulatory
Michael Bangert at Three Legged Stool writes a provocative post, "Lawyers vs. Businesspeople," on the heels of the $253 million judgment against Merck: "Business people primarily use their creativity and leadership to create value, while lawyers use their knowledge of the law and contracts to defend or to redistribute value."
Dan Melson at SearchLight Crusade explains how life just got more difficult for the ethical Internet mortgage broker because of a new regulation that stipulates that mortgage providers have to have explicit written authorization to run a credit check. Dan's search light is widens to the ramifications to consumers who get dinged per credit check.
Blogging for Business
Elisa Camahort at the Worker Bees blog ponders "The Myth of Purity: are your readers guests or customers?" She examines two differing blog types using examples such as Russell Beattie's "blog as host, visitors as guests" model and Darren Rowse's ProBlogger "blogger as service provider, readers as potential customers" model.
Wayne Hurlbert at Blog Business World sees enormous potential in leveraging the talent pool, social networks and connections among business bloggers. Projects, small enterprises, and more. Here's a peek: "The blog connection concept might eventually turn into a business all by itself... Bloggers looking to form business arrangements, of either a short term or permanent type, could register for a fee."
End your CotC reading with a little laughter...
Mr. Satire dips his pen in satire inkwell in "Hollywood Glitterati Provide Literary Courses To Illiterate Angelenos." The rapping mayor is taken to task: "Once again, the mayor failed to read the graffiti on the wall, in part because it was misspelled," complained a veteran biology teacher.
Mark Raytner at the skwib submits a quirky post to add on the worst possibilities when you choose a marketing firm. Talk about stretching the outer limits of standing out in the marketplace as a purple cow.
P.S. I'm well aware that this blog errs on being, uh, touchy-feely. (Particularly post-Katrina.) It's a very concerted effort to balance out the business blogosphere. It's a thankful job, but someone's got to do it.
P.P.S. I'm going back to Asia to report on the tsunami anniversary. I think the resiliency and graciousness under distress I personally witnessed bodes well as traits for fulfilling Asia's economic promise. Also watch for my writing - new this week - over at Worthwhile Magazine's blog.
Have a wonderful week!!
Watch for the next Monday's Carnival of Capitalists over at Willisms.