Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How to make life difficult for customers

Right now, I'm thinking of airlines.

Emirates, for example, does not make it possible for you to contact their Contact Centres except by fax!

No email?  No phone?  No skype? 

How many individuals do you know who have fax machines???
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Should you make money on peer-to-peer banking?

We are seeing the commodification and universalisation of shadow banking: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-23/china-shadow-bankers-go-online-as-peer-to-peer-sites-boom.html

This kind of activity comes with a health warning.

Should you participate? NO.

Sure, you could make money by participating in this, just as you could by gambling.  But if you do want to make money then don't gamble and don't participate in such sites: much better to focus your profiteering on organising such activities!  Not that that is moral either, just as organising prostitution and underground arms sales is not moral (working for a national or publicly-quoted arms sales organisation may or may not be moral - at least there we would have something to debate).

The trouble with morality is that it seems so limiting.  But with immoral excitement comes, at the end of the day, the price - which is: sudden destruction.

If you do have money to spare after you have ensured that you have money to cover all your necessities (and perhaps even your lifestyle), then do not invest in the stock market and government bonds (which are in some ways an even bigger gamble today). 

Rather, invest in small businesses you know personally, regard as sound, and on which you can keep an eye yourself.  If those businesses go down the drain, at least you will watch them doing so, you will know why they are going down the drain, and you may even be able to do something about them - which is not the case with all the other things.

Even better: put your money into political, educational and social reform, or into the needs of the poor. 

Such investments will bring you not only eternal rewards in the world to come, as promised by Jesus the Lord, but such investments will also bring you deep satisfaction right now because they are worthwhile in themselves.  And they bring more than enough excitement.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Conversation with a top American academic

"As a result of the crisis which started in 2007, most of my friends have nothing left for retirement", he siad.

"So what are they going to do about life after retirement?", I asked.

"Well, we can only look to keep working till we die", he said

"But how will older folks be able to keep their jobs against competitors who are younger, more energetic and cheaper to hire?!", I asked.

Slow response: "I don't believe that any of us wants to think about that.  We can only hope ...*.
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

What to expect in China next

Well, Chinese growth has now fallen to 7.6% - as expected by me for some time (and as mentioned in these posts).

In fact, even President Hu forecast 7.5% earlier this year.

However, Chinese growth is going to fall further fairly quickly - I expect by the Autumn.  Will it fall to 6%?  Or lower?

The Autumn is also the time the new leadership takes over the country.

Expect the start of a squeeze on reporting from the country.

By the winter or soon after, expect social unrest. 

What happens after that is anyone's guess at this point. 

What can be safely said is that if internal repression does not contain social and political unrest sufficiently, external adventurism on the part of China cannot be ruled out.  The best-case scenario is that China retreats under the Red Blanket (we can't really call it the bamboo curtain any more, can we?) for the next decade - or till whenever the global economy recovers.  The worst-case scenario is that China launches an attack on one and/ or other neighbouring country (I have given my views earlier regarding which countries are most at risk).

It is of course possible that, following as much reform as has happened in China, there is a sort of peaceful revolution and that the grip of the Communist Party/PLA is replaced by a genuinely democratic government: that would be a kind of ideal scenario.

One can only pray...
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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

An evening in remote central Serbia

I had finished giving my lecture during the programme for an international conference organised in the rolling hills of remote central Serbia and, as my wife had been kindly invited as well, was sitting with her in the evening on the steps of the little wooden hut n which we were accommodated with our son in a sort of eco-village.

The nearly-full moon was looking down on us, the cicadas were chirping away, there were fireflies about, one set of car-lights moved slowlyon the distant range of hills on the horizon, and I felt at peace in the world.
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