thinking outside the tank

Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

Nil By Ear

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Prius Exchanging a Prius for a recumbent tricycle as my main form of transport. Windcheetah 749


Well, because of climate change. According to some web-based calculators, the Prius needs 425 calories per mile which is equivalent to 4.7 small bananas. It’s fantastic that the Prius is so efficient, but those calories come from petrol (0.1 pints per mile if I drive carefully). The Prius puts 166g per mile of CO2 into the atmosphere. The recumbent, however, needs only 50 calories of my energy to carry it for 1 mile; that’s about half of a small banana. Although I’m breathing out CO2 at a higher rate than when I’m standing still, the beauty is I get to eat the banana as well as exercising my heart muscle and keeping fit.

Stephen Fry tweeted recently about a campaign organised by Avaaz to make some noise on 21Sep09 in order to wake up world leaders and urge them to action on climate change:

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Claiming the moral low ground

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In their own language, ‘we will take no lessons’ in the morality of large bonuses in the financial sector from politicians who claim ‘no wrongdoing’ when dipping their snouts in the trough of allowable expenses for second homes. To me there is substantially no difference between an employment contract which has a bonus written into it and the rules of parliament that define the expenses that MPs may claim. These are legal arrangements.

What MPs don’t seem to see is that this is a moral question not a legal one. There is moral outrage at the ongoing delivery of taxpayers’ money to the architects of financial failure. Likewise, there is moral outrage that MPs claim money that they don’t need, simply because the rules allow it. If this kind of abuse were occurring in the real economy, Revenue and Customs would be seeking actively, and retrospectively, to close the loophole.

I once worked alongside a North Sea diver who was paid more the deeper he went. He admitted looking for depressions in the seabed that he could step into to claim extra money. In a moral topography he would find those low points filled with both bankers and politicians.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst 2009

Written by netkingcol

March 22, 2009 at 9:51 am

Quantitative Easing and Not For Profit – The Perfect Match

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So, throwing taxpayers’ money at the banks didn’t work. We saved them, admittedly out of necessity, but they still don’t feel like reciprocating by releasing some of those billions to the real economy in the form of loans, overdrafts, and mortgages. You can’t really blame them; they share the same fears as everyone else – while the economy is in recession houses, jobs, and savings are at risk. But, if they don’t want to be part of the solution, I suggest that we ignore them – and don’t give them any more money.

The main problem in the economy is the supply of money. In normal times making money cheaper by lowering the interest rate is the tool of choice to stimulate the economy, and by and large is the only tool you need. But these are not normal times. The cost of money is lower than ever, but you can’t wheedle any out of the banks. The next tactic that might be tried is called ‘quantitative easing’. We musn’t call it ‘printing money’ in case people go to their garden sheds to service the wheelbarrows they would need to carry the money about. It won’t be real money; it will be money given, again, to the banks to pad their balance sheets in the hope that this time they’ll do the decent thing. Fat chance.

We need more money circulating in the economy and the confidence to spend it. Here’s my suggestion:

target the quantitative easing on the not-for-profit sector

This would have several beneficial effects. The beauty of charities is that they are very keen to spend the money they receive; it would go straight into the economy. Charities buy goods and services and they provide employment; they pay for research, direct aid, helplines, field-workers, and much more. Even better, rather than creating wealth they create well-being. They spend their cash working hard to solve fundamental social and medical problems, and they are very effective drivers of social change. So, instead of priming the banking pump, again, why not open the flood-gates of not-for-profit spending? A mere £10 billion, a trifling sum compared to the trillions glibly quoted in the media, would be a good start.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst 2009

Written by netkingcol

February 5, 2009 at 11:33 am

Google, #googmayharm, and the power of viral networking

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I understood but didn’t really feel the power of viral networking until yesterday when Google confused the world with its “This site may harm your computer” message which appeared against every search result. If you still don’t know about this, take a look at:, which is Google’s explanation of what happened.

If you did know about this already, how did you discover it? Perhaps you were googling and it started to happen. If so, how did you react? I wonder how many people believed what they read and didn’t try to access the search results. If you mainly listen to the radio then, in the UK at least, you wouldn’t have heard about it until Sunday morning. However, if you were logged in to a micro-blogging site and you have a reasonable number of connections to other users, the chances are you read about it within minutes of it happening. My own experience was as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by netkingcol

February 1, 2009 at 10:59 am

How’s your strategy? Does your business have VIM?

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The Value Influence Model (VIM) is a tool to help your business understand its current strategic position. If you want to survive and grow you have to know what kind of shape you’re in, what’s going on around you, and know whether you have the right resources – skills, machines, information – for future operations.

There’s a whole raft (no, a Titanic) of strategic analysis tools out there, so one should hesitate before burdening the hard-pressed manager with another. The Value Influence Model is slightly different in that it encourages, even requires, you to perform those other analyses and then offers a different, more powerful way to view the results. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by netkingcol

January 17, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Short selling is back – some say it never went away

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Short-sellers in the stock market are back in business and Barclays was the first target. I think I understand how short-selling works and how it is supposed to enhance market efficiency by driving assets to their true value.

It wouldn’t work quite so well if the other short-sellers, those who were not prevented from trading, had not been so very active over the last five months. I refer to the media whose peddling of gloom is unrelenting.

To some extent the short-sellers will thrive on the self-fulfilling forecasts of rising unemployment, falling house prices, and business failures. I don’t even want to repeat the numbers. I strongly believe that at this point of the economic cycle the media should restrict themselves to delivering news i.e. things that have actually happened, and to keep to themselves the unreliable, uncertain forecasts that look good as headlines but do no service to the economy.

Copyright © C.Hazlehurst 2009

Written by netkingcol

January 17, 2009 at 11:21 am

Exciting times ahead – defining the new economy

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Do you remember how Sarah in the film Labyrinth has to cross the Bog of Eternal Stench by leaping from one stepping stone to the next, and each stone starts to sink as she lands on it? 

It’s the same with the UK economy. Industrialised Britain petered out during previous recessions and the noises from Jaguar and Land Rover are the last few sucking sounds as manufacturing sinks, almost, without trace. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by netkingcol

January 15, 2009 at 8:39 pm

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