Tag Archives | Business

Robb Smith on Economics, World Crisis and More

robb09headshotKeith Martin-Smith’s Only Everything podcast recently had on entrepreneur Robb Smith. This thirty-eight minute interview covers a lot of ground, discussing the collapsing economy, the historical background of the situation and what the future is likely to be. A pretty wide-ranging conversation, moves along quickly, and there’s some good nuggets for consideration. Worth listening to.

From Only Everything:

Robb is a social entrepreneur who works on “transformational era” systems at the intersection of human development, education, spiritual understanding and civilizational sustainability. He holds a uniquely grand view of what’s happening in the world today and what makes Millennials unique.

We get into nothing short of the future of the world economy, human happiness, and where we’re heading in the next 5-6 decades.

We discuss:

  • How World War II transformed the American economy and fueled the emerging consciousness counterculture of the 60′s and the success of Gen X in the 90′s
  • How this economic foundation is in the process of collapsing
  • What happens when a culture like ours, focused on finding lives of “meaning”, has the economic rug pulled out from under it (hint: crisis)
  • How companies like Air B&B represent the downside and problem with technology interacting with brick-and-mortar industries, such as hospitality
  • Why it’s  better today  to be a Chinese teenager today than an American one (and not what you think)
  • Why the next great economic wave and business movement will and must move away from a winner-takes-all mentality to a “win-win” mentality, as represented by B-corps and conscious capitalism.

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Goldman Sachs Contains 4,000 Separate Corporate Entities

Including more than 739 companies based in the Cayman Islands alone. Common Dreams on the staggering webs woven by multinationals as they split and grow, bringing to mind primitive, blob-like life forms expanding and engulfing their surroundings:

The London-based Open Data Institute has collected and mapped ccorporate data, much of it made public for the first time, showing the complex relationships between multinational companies and their global subsidiaries. Stunning visuals on the corporate networks of the six biggest banks in the U.S. – Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and JP Morgan – show the tangled webs they weave.

corporate entities

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Chinese Wizard Makes Nearly $2 Million In A Year Selling Magic Spells Online

spellsWhen is someone going to found a metaphysical eBay? Via the Sydney Morning Herald:

A Chinese magician’s online “spell” emporium that is reportedly earning him more than one million yuan ($180,000) each month from clients who hoped to find love, atone for sins or improve relations with their mothers-in-law.

University dropout Luo Shun, 31, began working as a freelance feng shui consultant, charging for advice on auspicious dates and names, in 2002. He opened an online store on Taobao, China’s answer to Amazon, in the hope of reaching some of the country’s 538 million-plus internet users, last October.

Mr. Luo’s site offers more than 160 spells or products. Last month it sold 2,825 spells, the most popular a $53 love charm. Mr Luo declined to discuss how much money he was making but promised to channel his wealth into philanthropy.

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Deception Services: Company Offers To Create And Maintain Webs Of Lies

deception servicesThis model seems, ironically, like a more direct and honest version of what many businesses already do. As described by the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

Tim Green will tell anyone anything, for a fee. As the founder of Paladin Deception Services, he will say what clients want him to say to anyone calling on his dedicated phone lines. He provides cover for cheating husbands, fake references for job-seekers and even “doctors” to confirm that someone needs a sick day.

Since he started Paladin in 2009, he has had about 250 clients on a ongoing basis. When potential clients call, Green connects them with one of his five employees. He picks the one best-suited for the job — male, female, or someone fluent in Spanish or Chinese. One employee is known for his ability to speak with a British accent or a Southern drawl. Paladin provides a phone number with any area code in the country.

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Why The “Financial Literacy” Push Is A Sham

financial literacyApril was national financial literacy month, promoted heavily by major banks and other debt-producing institutions who want you to believe that poverty, the financial crisis, and mounting student debt are the result of ordinary people’s ignorant refusal to discipline themselves and budget properly. Via the Guardian, Helaine Olen writes:

Companies and colleges say that if we all understand our finances, financial crises won’t happen. This is simply untrue.

April is National Financial Capability Month. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke says: “Among the lessons of the recent financial crisis is the need for virtually everyone – both young and old – to acquire a basic knowledge of finance and economics.” Sounds great.

But it promotes the false equivalence that the victims of the financial shenanigans of the past several years are as responsible for the financial crisis as the financial services sector, the ultimate creator of all those financial products of mass destruction.

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Wall Street Exploring Ways To Profit From Global Warming

Turning lemons into really pricy lemonade. Bloomberg on the investment companies banking on massive windfalls as the planet heats:

Investing in climate change used to mean putting money into efforts to stop global warming. Now some investors are taking another approach. Working under the assumption that climate change is inevitable, they’re investing in businesses that will profit as the planet gets hotter.

Derivatives that help companies hedge against abnormal weather and natural catastrophes are drawing increased interest from big players. In January, KKR bought a 25 percent stake in Nephila Capital, an $8 billion Bermuda hedge fund that trades in weather derivatives.

Drought is helping spur business at Water Asset Management. The New York hedge fund, which has about $400 million under management, buys water rights and makes private equity and stock market investments in water treatment companies.

Ole Christiansen is also investing to take advantage of rising temperatures. “Last summer we were exploring in south Greenland, mainly for gold,” says the chief executive officer of NunaMinerals (NUNA), a local mining company.

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Is Sowing Artificial Scarcity The Future Of Business?

Via the The New Inquiry, Peter Frase on where we’re headed:

Where we see scarcity, much of it appears to be imposed by choice. In particular, the increasing weight of intellectual property law heralds a world where the prime objective of business is to make things scarce enough that people will still need to buy them.

Unexpected scarcity long characterized agricultural societies—drought, pestilence, fire, and other natural calamities could bring about famine at any moment. But today’s farmers, who have learned to overcome many of these challenges, now face the prospect of a legal, rather than natural disaster. In a case that will soon appear before the Supreme Court, a 74-year-old farmer named Vernon Bowman was ordered to pay $84,000 in damages for infringing on the patents of agribusiness giant Monsanto. His crime was to plant a seed—a patented “Roundup Ready” seed, whose license agreement prohibits using it to produce new ones.

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Homeowners Foreclose On Negligent Banks

Via CNN, in areas of the United States hit hardest by foreclosure, turning the tables on banks who turn deadbeat after repossessing homes:

Since the housing bubble burst in Florida five years ago, more than 400,000 borrowers have had their homes foreclosed on by their lenders. But for some, it’s payback time.

Hundreds of homeowners and condo associations are foreclosing on banks that have failed to pay dues and other expenses on the properties they’ve repossessed. When banks foreclose on a home they become responsible for paying fees to the homeowners association — both any unpaid fees going back as far as 12 months and all expenses going forward. In many cases, however, banks are failing to pay, leaving these associations short on cash, according to Miami-based attorney Ben Solomon. Now, homeowners groups are putting liens on the properties until banks pay up and foreclosing on them if they don’t.

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Big Business Is Gaming You

Your world is being gamed, reports Nick Wingfield in the New York Times:

Congratulations. Reading the first paragraph of this article has earned you a badge.

If this made-up award makes you feel good about yourself, then you are on your way to understanding gamification, a business trend — some would say fad — that aims to infuse otherwise mundane activities with the excitement and instant feedback of video games.

Many businesses are using these game tricks to try to get people hooked on their products and services — and it is working, thanks to smartphones and the Internet.

Buying a cup of coffee? Foursquare, the social networking app that helped popularize the gamification idea, gives people virtual badges for checking in at a local cafe or restaurant.

Conserving energy? More than 75 utilities have begun using a service from a company called Opower that awards badges to customers when they reduce their energy consumption.

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Banking Giant HSBC Settles For $1.9 Billion Over Laundering Billions For Mexican Drug Cartels, Saudi Terrorists, And Iran

Is the second-largest bank on the planet also one of the most far-reaching criminal organizations? The New York Times reports:

Federal and state authorities plan to announce a record $1.9 billion settlement with HSBC on Tuesday, a major victory in the government’s broad crackdown on money laundering at banks.

The settlement with HSBC stems from accusations that the British banking giant transferred billions of dollars on behalf of sanctioned nations like Iran and enabled Mexican drug cartels to launder money through the American financial system, according to officials briefed on the matter. Prosecutors found that the bank had facilitated money laundering by cartels and had moved tainted money for Saudi Arabian banks tied to terrorist organizations.

Since January 2009, the Justice and Treasury Departments and Manhattan prosecutors have charged six foreign banks, including Credit Suisse and Barclays. In June, ING Bank reached a $619 million settlement to resolve claims that it had transferred billions of dollars in the United States for Cuba and Iran.

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