Clear evidence of the end of the USD$ as dominant International Trading currency

This caught my attention recently …. an interesting read

http://www.sovereignman.com/finance/another-kick-in-the-groin-more-european-allies-join-china-led-bank-despite-us-frustration-16618/

After the UK announced that it will join the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founding member late last week, Germany, France and Italy decided yesterday to follow Britain’s lead and join as well….

This is part of an important transition from the old domination of the USD$ in Internal Trade, particularly in commodities, where up to now, the USD$ has been dominant. Recently there has been an increasing trend to trade commodities in the buyers or sellers currency – for instance in the case of transactions in the Chinese Yuan and the Russian Ruble.

These changes may well be detrimental to the United States in how it pays for overseas debt, that isn’t held in US Dollars. In that case it can no longer just print the necessary currency, it would have to buy the overseas currency at the prevailing exchange rate …. and with the liquidity of the United States already in question, with a estimated net solvency of approximately minus USD$60 trillion – the long term view is not positive, especially when the financial speculators start selling the USD aggressively.

The USA has no way of paying out its current deficit of in excess of USD$18 trillion dollars, accumulated by putting wars on credit card so to speak.  The United States, financially speaking is like a dead man walking …. I am not a financial specialist, but I cannot see a way out for them, unless they seriously cut their spending and increase income currently avoided through taxation loopholes. Surely if corporations are people then like the normal citizens of the USA, they should be taxed on the world wide income, regardless of the tax evasion strategies which they have in place.

A personal strategy would be not to leave funds in USD$ … to ruthlessly minimize your debt, and to put what funds you do have into “safe” (if there is such a thing) currencies, but preferably into hard assets like real estate or gold / silver, the actual metal not the paper equivalent. My personal strategy will be primarily real estate and keeping a minimum amount in liquid assets – and in setting up a simpler life style, whatever that means for you.

One thing that has had a marked effect on the value of the USD$ has been the confidence, Yes confidence that the world has in the currency, everything changes, that perception has changed in no small way due to the war that the American Republican party has been waging against President Obama, holding the USD economy as hostage … this in my view has been a major reason for the loss of face which has led to the loss of faith in this currency.

Good Luck .. just know everything changes and we are always in transition from what was, to what will be.

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Greece and the Euro Zone

It hardly matters why Greece is in the mess they are in … they just are …

What is the future … whatever the way forward it is serious stuff … every which way you turn there are serious consequences.

What is sure is that the current situation cannot continue …

If Greece stays in the Union, the future for the people of Greece is dire … already there is severe unrest … and unless a political solution is found the only way that this will be resolved is on the streets. From the information I have been able to glean the average person, especially those who are on fixed income and pensions are in severe financial straits .. with no likely hood of a positive outcome in the foreseeable future …

Why is the Euro Zone trying so hard to keep Greece in the Union, aside from the obvious far from small crack it shows in the community, there is a benefit to the manufacturing countries within the Euro Zone because of the perceived financial problems of countries such a Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and even Italy … on the world markets this keeps the overall value of the Euro$ itself depressed ….

This has benefits for countries such a Germany, Italy and France with significant manufacturing sectors … by the virtue of Greece being part of the Union, the lower exchange rate works for these manufacturing countries …. as it makes their products competitive on the world stage …

If Greece and others leave the Union, aside from the financial meltdown that will affect Greece … it will strengthen the Euro and make their products more expensive … and less competitive … how do you think that this will affect those manufacturing countries  .. it will take them into a financial slowdown …

Really the future financial health of those manufacturing countries within the Euro zone … is in the hands of the Greek people ..

This is the reason I think that the Euro Zone wants to keep Greece in the Union …

Why is it that countries are beholding to the banks … all the assets of Greece will be sold off in a fire sale to placate the numbers me … what did the people of Greece do to deserve this …

Frankly I do not see the Greek people voting to stay within the Union …

Introduction to Issues surrounding Engagement Consulting

I was recently speaking on chat to a friend of some problems I had with trying to impress on 
the company, the seriousness of their disconnect with their end clients who were, after all, you know real people… (like them?) it sort of went like this..

We are all much more creative than we give ourselves credit. Sorry for my disconnection with you … I have been trying every which was I can to relate and communicate to non-creative (C level Operations & Executive personnel ) to get them to comprehend what I consider as real business concerns … they consider as irrelevant emotive concepts like customer experience, engagement, feelings, and other more tangible concepts such as sustainable growth (that they understand) and future growth strategies that require innovative and out of the box thinking .. any real growth without innovation is a fantasy .. future real growth will come from disruptive products and services that fracture and re-define the markets

I am certainly passionate about those areas …. where the corporate world think they are operating in a vacuum …. the psychological aspects of individual C Level career success restricts focus, narrows perspective & may break engagement & understanding of customers – I think it more than breaks the connection with the customers … except for those very rare people who have their feet on the ground – not too many of those …
Its amazing the mess that this one issue is causing the likes of News Corp, HP, Netflix, Yahoo and the obvious one is the looming changes facing Mass Media … you know Film, Mass Media (TV)+ Cable + Newspaper + Magazines .. Amazon must be loving this ..

I am been quiet on the blog, because I have been trying to process the so many changes since the uncloaking of the morally reprehensible behaviours of News Corp and a separate free lesson on how to damage your brand and lose over a million of subscribers courtesy of NETFLIX, Yahoo and the bickering … and the fork in the road that HP find themselves — put there through their own bad strategic planning … and lets not forget Delta who are without doubt the singularly worst client and customer culture I have ever observed in a company ….. and finally what the death of a truly inspiring creator, Steve Jobs will mean for Business in general but for Apple in particular, so I will come back here … give me a while to compose my thoughts and we will get at it.

PerhapsI can point to a letter sent by a recent passenger of Delta by my friend Sandra Maxey … here is the link … @sandymaxey Letter to Delta Airlines CEO – http://bit.ly/qcPxoK

But a couple more points while  we are here, I am wondering if we are all in the mess because of the MBA Program … it may make business understandable, but business is not a thing, each company is a life, made up of their own dreams and aspirations, full of individual people whom it might be nice to think are actually going in the same direction as the company, (most aren’t because of flawed Corporate cultures) and the most important aspect, their customers, who are all real people, who want to be valued and engaged … and refused to be categorized and sorted just so it makes it easier for the company to dissociate themselves from this truth .. companies are people … so are customers, people even own it … (maybe not directly) people manage it, operate in it, and who they sell their product or service to … you need to value them or basically become irrelevant .. you will cease to exist.

One last observation, the large aspect of the MBA attitude is one of expedience .. which is kind of abhorrent to me .. however that aside, recently I heard that Harvard and Wharton Schools were adding ethics classes to the MBA .. what a total wast of time, ethics, principles and integrity is not something you can teach, it is something that has to be part of your values, the actual make-up of your personality – if not, when you are put under pressure they (ethics) will not be your go to code of conduct.

So I would say again, to change the way the world thinks we need to teach our children what is really of value – and guess what its not money .. more later

Engagement & Content

Content of an interesting discussion …. starts the thought processes !

My thoughts at the moment, seem to be focused on “engagement”, the reasons why we aren’t and the bigger picture of flawed corporate cultures caused by basic systemic issues … as I said in the feed yesterday “Everyone is connected, but are we really connecting ?” – I think not .. or worse if we are … we are not listening. I have some views on the reasons for this … but it amazes me that organisations including governments seem to just go through the motions and are seemingly indifferent to the reality .. which is why their stakeholders .. us .. are not engaged (normally) with their strategies … this comes down to the education of the “masses” as well, as for the Gods in the marble halls – we are just too ‘aware’ for their own good.

However with the fragmentation of the mass market in all areas, including mass media, the outcome for me is that instead of organisations making systemic changes to move with the social and technological changes to improve their internal cultures and thus the engagement and transparency with “us”, they basically keep going the way they are going, and one day when the financial world is sorting through the carcass of what were “great” organisations (including governments probably) … they will ask .. too late .. “How did this happen” ?

To cut a long story short, there has to be change in the way things are done … we all need to realise that so far as the Universe is concerned we don’t amount to a hill of beans as individuals (but together ?? ) … as Carl Sagan said in his own meditation … we are just this little blue dot in a relatively small galaxy, within the infinity of the Universe, that’s the reality of our significance … numberless blades of grass or the grains of sands on every beach … in every world springs to mind …

So what can potentially makes us different .. one thing, which is “what if” we believed in engagement with each other, in true transparency (not just the words) we can become magnificent working together .. so what exactly is stopping us .. fear of “everything”, ego .. perhaps !

But we need to start, with one small step, how about within your own circle of influence, and then the circle will grow, and soon (this relies on engagement) .. we have the ability to foresee the magnificence which can be a social engaged one world … utopia, even possible ?? … it must be possible as I can see our potential …probable .. I hope so .. I hope I see the start of it before my time is over .. well this time around anyway.

There needs to be one thing, a world wide social revolution, that holds Governments at all levels accountable and likewise all levels of business … how about we bring all levels of abuse and inequity to the surface …. without all of the hype and b/s of the news organisations who are basically there to sell their own product, their content… so we come back basically to transparency and accountability … so long as there is a “rating” to be improved .. we cannot trust in the ethics of the organisation, who are only motivated by money .. for me (now) money is like the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow .. when you get to it, there is nothing there … and I can tell you from personal experience that money and materialism does not make you happy … but I guess that is something you need to find out for yourself.

By the way, if I hear one more time, “We have always done it this way … “ but this is my point exactly … and here you are talking with some organisation that is in need of change, sometimes surgical change. In any organisation, you must be proactive and always be curious and strive for excellence. To drive policy … that is the function, or it is supposed to be of the Board / owner and the CEO .. to work on the question .. here is the direction we we want to go, how do we get there ? Too many CEO’s work in the company and therefore never understand the reality which is that their company is not entitled to anything .. they may have the best / greatest most exciting wiz bang product or idea in the Universe, but unless you really engage with your market, (before – you take it to market, so they are part of the process) – it will rarely succeed.

This post seems more about engagement rather than content … so next time .. content for your publications …

Ok .. time for my exercise …

Limits to Growth

This is a post I wrote last year on one of the other blogs for which I write

Why are we here? And how did we get here… I think you will find that is the question that people should be asking now, and will be asking more and more over the coming years. Let us look at history just for a while, something which we almost never do, there have been Oh so many instances which we can point to where we as a species, did not learn from the past, and there are two culprits for this beside arrogance and all of the platitudes, like “it can’t happen to me”, “Think positive”, “it will all work out” … this position we are in for one reason, the resources of the planet are finite, the call and demand for those resources by the ever increasing population is causing the very scarcity of the resources to finally be brought into focus… the old scarcity principle is well and truly alive, the trouble is this time it really is real.

Why are we surprised with this… since the Club of Rome was formed in 1968 and with their first major publication in 1972 was Limits to Growth – the Club of Rome, seems to have as its charter .. “to act as a global catalyst for change through the identification and analysis of the crucial problems facing humanity and the communication of such problems to the most important public and private decision makers as well as to the general public.”

The original report, examines fives variables which are: world population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion. An update to the original report came out after 20 years, and another after 30 years (published in 2004). Another is expected in the short term, the 40 year report.

In 2008 Graham Turner at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia published a paper called “A Comparison of `The Limits to Growth` with Thirty Years of Reality”. It examined the past thirty years of reality with the predictions made in 1972 and found that changes in industrial production, food production and pollution are all in line with the book’s predictions of economic and societal collapse in the 21st century.

There is huge controversy about some of the claims made in the books, however in essence it sheds light on a simple fact, that resources are finite and are therefore limited. This is so important when we look at non-sustainable energy resources such as Petroleum based products (that currently underlies our entire way of living), rather than using sustainable resources for all our product needs.

This of course gets me to another issue, we need an alternative to petroleum products, not to convert basically many food based crops, such as corn etc, as a base for maintaining the status quo and further polluting the atmosphere, we need dramatic research into a sustainable ways to produce hydrogen, as well as any other form of sustainable ways to produce, portable and peak load electrical energy (the somewhat mythical cold fusion comes to mind), some positive early work is already evident – much more emphasis on this work needs to be shown. If we cannot find a sustainable energy source, what do u think will happen to the civilisation as we know it.. as one of the biggest problems with a global market, is how do you ship products from one point to another when there are no oil products to power the ships, road transport, farming machinery and of course airlines. It seems on the outside looking in , countries should be looking to provide incentives to their local industries to at least make them self sustaining in the essentials of life, food, clean water, and shelter – and being communal animals.. a community. Any thoughts…?

Is Bit Torrent really a threat for Old Media ?

Whilst on the surface the Bit torrent application using Peer to Peer technology has the capacity to do harm , again I look at the response to this in a productive viewpoint, how can the studios benefit from this obvious market potential …

For software applications, it is only a threat if the license key operates with the software –  this comes back to the software providers own encryption and licensing software system.

For Video, it is obvious, from the numbers of users, it is well proven point that there is a market for TV shows and Movies … this can be shown by the number of Torrent participants in the data stream … why isn’t it an option to pursue, that the content producers offer a legal stream of product, such as the Australian ABC does when product is broadcast within Australia, OK it is downgraded and in Mp4 Video format, but for those who have missed the show, or want to keep it for their amusement, what is the harm ? – it is a domestic only quality. Alternatively I can view the content in high quality using the i-View program replay service … for a limited time ?  This is excellent interactive strategy for a transparent relationship with your customer.

For those outside of the studios primary market, which is primarily that of the continental USA, it is impossible to gain access to the content legally –  due to the Networks own licensing restrictions, people outside the studio zone, cannot view the product on-line … so the Bit torrent Software was born and is used as a response to this limitation. I am speaking primarily here of TV programs, the software allows someone to upload a program that was in the Public Domain, as it has been broadcast, so they can viewed in another geographic zone … In Australia none of the Video Streaming services allow access to the content for users in Australia, due to licensing issues, why is this ? Surely if I was subscribing to a US content provider –  streaming content, my own internet id (Geo location) would identify what geographic zone I was in, and thus my licensing region, and thus the content licensee for this zone … in my view the money I pay for access could be quite easily sent to the applicable country license holder for a particular content, by the i/p address as a subscriber … you guys need to start thinking outside of the box, and there is a substantial  increase in income that will flow once you do something so simple, for no appreciable increase in costs, as well as the increase in net due to increases in good will and lack of a confrontation relationship and the lack of a divisive enforcement arm – which lacks any credibility.

Stripping of a DVD to obtain the Video Stream is something that is another kettle of fish all together, as it was a licensed program, for one viewer only (household) –  I can see the harm here, all though it is no way to take as credible the loss of income the studio pundits claim, you cannot view the numbers and directly equate them to lost profits. However I do not agree with the commercial use of the Bit Torrent service where people pirate these streams to produce pirate copies to DVD’s …. however from the research I have undertaken, talking to users past and present, for a single user .. I have been told by many people I have spoken to actually go onto to buy legitimate licensed products, using the downloaded product as a trial if you like.

The content creators themselves have used the Bit Torrent facility, in the recent past and continue to do so. Recently there was the much heralded release of almost the final installment of a major franchise – (one more to go) … a program full topped and tailed (a teaser .. less than 40 minutes long) was released onto the Bit torrent before the theatrical release date … I have written about this as a use by the studios, when it suited them as a “legitimate marketing channel”, they used the Bit torrent facility, that obviously created interest and did make a positive difference at the box office.

However, by creating scarcity, the studios, the content creators / providers have created a secondary market that is so substantial –  what is their response, instead of being constructive and transparent, and working with the internet, to provide a access channel to provide access to this content, they go to these facilitator organisations that further exacerbate the situation, they troll the internet for alleged offenders. I have been so informed that the content providers / studios supposedly farm out their enforcement to self styled cowboys who I have been told send out unsubstantiated claims of infringement … for which they have no way of gaining anything positive from, except that it creates distance between the two parties and a them and us mentality. Nothing will be resolved … hopefully though, we are looking for a solution here … right ?

Surely if the studios, created a way whereby people could legitimately download a copy of the content, a downgraded quality for free or via something like an i-store or similar content provider at a reasonable cost of say $1 per TV episode (bear in mind there is no medium and the user pays for the data downloaded), the problem would essentially evaporate ….. or provide a encryption licensed video feed on something like a i-View format file, to provide the content …. or invest in a new Video file format that could not be hacked with a one user only encryption key.
Further to these claims of loss that is put forward by the license holders and their cowboys, this is substantially a fallacy, as it looks at the numbers of downloads and equates them to sold product at a sell price, this is such manipulation, as those downloads will not transfer to income unless the studio actually puts a 21st century procedure in to capitalise on this … if those that are seeking content could legitimately source product from the studios, free for a lower quality downloaded copy of pay for it at a reasonable price for a quality product then I believe the problem, much of these I am a victim mentality the content providers, particularly the spin the TV studios are pushing, is substantially a beat up and the problem would essentially evaporate.

If we view the actual financial performance of studio licensing, in context of the United States Balance of payments for 2008, 2009 and now in 2010 –  you can see increases in licensing income for overseas content sales which has increased over these years, the is further explained in another post I will do on Content Production and Distribution .. the need to be ready for the future and the change now.

Incidentally there is only one major TV network in the USA that gets it … and coincidentally only one in Australia … that is making an attempt to provide access .. unfortunately the worst network is someone who should know better and I thought that they did

I wrote about this and other aspects of the affect of the internet on Old Media models in a white paper as far back as 2008 … with different ways to re-structure their business models even then, it is obvious that no one is yet ready to see a solution here and start thinking outside of the box now or then.

My view of the Internet and Older business models, is a couple of things, (1) The internet user demands a different relationship with content providers & (2) Use the internet to form communities, and build a sustainable interactive relationship – this is its strength (3) Please think outside the box … you cannot win this – make some money by approaching it another way … and what you can do best, that is to produce excellent content .

My advice to the studios, capitalise on the opportunity …. focus on your craft instead of sending all your profits to the lawyers.

News Limited – the "Daily"

I know that it is the essence of business to explore every option, but this niche opportunity that News is exploring to me verges on wishful thinking.

With the introduction of a new product for a very limited closed product market, namely for the Apple iPad. A very niche market … So what happens when a new hardware tablet is produced, a new “Daily” ?

A brave new venture to say the least, in my humble opinion the likelihood of payback and ultimate success is remote, when there is so much other content out there (all accessible via RSS and free),as well it harks back to the old media mentality of a closed channel for information. This is not how it works, and it is not viable to think that way anymore. Nor are pay walls … but that is seriously another discussion about flawed market strategies and tactics altogether.

In their favour News Limited / Fox will be able to provide a very wide and diverse content from news, comments and media content, but will that be enough, my view is that you cannot transpose old media structure on the internet, its about time that Fox and News Limited actually woke up to this. The internet is not about closed systems., something also which Facebook will learn, if it doesn’t evolve.

Concerning the future, if there is one, The Daily itself, will News have control over content –  or will Apple have some say ? Is it going to be skewed or politically biased like other News Limited content ? Also advertising on a subscription service will be needed to create long term viability –  would you pay for a subscription and at the same time be bombarded with advertising ?  Or turn it around, offer the subscription to the magazine without Adverts or no subscription with adverts… and why only for the iPad .. ?

The only good things that I see here is that News is doing it at all – it will have to evolve or die (after MySpace and their fiddling and controls .. what of this ? ) the thing that is innovative about this new venture, is that a subscription service actually exists to provide content under the Apple iTunes / Apps store, now that is a a new horizon to explore.  Good luck with that.