Think Bigger. Aim Higher. Go Further.

Month: November 2009 Page 1 of 3

Goldman Sachs: Bernie Madoff on Steroids

(Editor’s note: in all fairness, the GS initiative does represent a fundamental shift away from the Friedman doctrine of amoral capitalism.)

Money does not represent gold, solver, or oil.  Money represents human productivity – yours and mine.  Goldman Sachs is about to award the greatest ANNUAL payout for its employees – over 700,000 dollars EACH.

The words “money” and “productivity” should be interchangeable. So, what exactly did Goldman Sachs produce in order to amass such astonishing amounts of “money?”  Where is the corresponding astonishing productivity?

The line of fire is quite obvious; the productivity is really “future” productivity in the form of debt – yours and mine.

WSJ: Some of the largest shareholders in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have urged the Wall Street firm to reduce the size of its bonus pool, arguing that it should pass along more of its blockbuster earnings to investors, according to people familiar with the situation.

Uhhmmm…15% of the shares are owned by the Goldman employees – sounds like the 2nd tier of the pyramid are getting anxious.  Like a street gang, they battle for a piece of the turf.  Perhaps Goldman should do something for the 3rd tier too.

A Definition for Innovation Economics

unimotocycleInnovation economics is an economic doctrine that reformulates the traditional model of economic growth so that knowledge, technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation are positioned at the center of the model rather than seen as independent forces that are largely unaffected by policy.

Innovation economics is based on two fundamental tenets. One is that the central goal of economic policy should be to spur higher productivity and greater innovation. Second, markets relying on price signals alone will not always be as effective as smart public-private partnerships in spurring higher productivity and greater innovation. This is in contrast to the two other conventional economic doctrines, neoclassical economics and Keynesian economics.

A Definition for Innovation Economics

Fattest Cat Bets Against Dollar (and what we can do about it)

In 2006 John Paulson (of no relation to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson ) bet that the sub-prime mortgage market would tank and housing prices would fall on a national scale, according to a new book The Greatest Trade Ever by Greg Zuckerman. He cleaned up with 4 billion dollars in personal gains, 20 Billion for his firm.

Wonder where your money went?

“John Paulson took it,” wrote Peter Cohen of BloggingStocks. Want to know what Paulson is buying this year? Gold. Betting against the dollar is his latest ploy and so far seems to be working. Ummmm…this means that the rest of us are basically screwed, again.

Paulson’s investing lessons:

1. Don’t Rely on Experts
2. Bubble Trouble
3. Focus on Debt Markets
4. Master New investments
5. Insurance Pays
6. Experience Counts
7. Don’t Fall In Love
8. Luck Helps

Hey Kids, let’s learn from the master:

1. Don’t rely on Experts: They are the crooks. The Mexican Peso crisis was not caused by foreigners; it was caused by Mexican elite running away from their own currency and sparking a wider run. See Johnny Run….

2. Bubble Trouble: Further evidence is seen in speculative bubbles appearing in mundane fixed assets like land, minerals, and alternate currencies around the world.

3. Focus on Debt: If you have cash, you’ll lose it to inflation. But if you have debt, you’ll lose that too. If you have too much debt and you’ll go bankrupt. If you have too much cash and you’ll become equally broke. The trick is to hold just as much cash as you hold debt and when it’s all over, you’ll be no better or no worse off.

4. Master new investments: In the old system, if I trade a dollar for an apple, I lose the dollar but gain an apple. In the next economic paradigm, I share an idea but I still retain the idea; and currency multiplies – master the new investment!

5. Insurance Pays if you know how to play; if you can identify the peril, you know the probability that it will get you, and you know the consequences of the loss – you can “play” insurance. People must reorganize around an “insurance system” enabled by social networks that can influence these factors.

6. Experience Counts; While corporations are laying off older people, social media is capturing them in a knowledge inventory. We must develop, produce, and access this knowledge inventory.

7. Don’t Fall in Love: This means diversify and don’t be afraid to try new things. Innovation is the art of putting many different ideas, concepts or objects together and yielding new wealth creation. What better mechanism than social media.

8. Luck helps: Social media is like a cloud. Nobody can control and the only way to engage with it is to talk to the cloud. After a while the cloud will deliver rain, and your garden will grow. John Paulson calls this luck, we call it inevitable.

We, the people, need to introduce a new economic paradigm – nobody will do it for us. We may lose the dollar as a currency but we must not lose our personal ability to produce and trade our ideas, plans, and actions for the things that our families need to grow. Wealth is created by sharing. The Next Economic Paradigm shows us how we, as a society, can reorganize ourselves around an economy built upon social media. Sounds far out but it can be done today if we move quickly to understand the power – near absolute – that people can have in social media. If John Paulson were really smart, he would bet on us not against us.

Palinism; It’s About The Ice, Not The Puck

PalinWhat does Sarah Palin tell us about ourselves as a culture, a nation, or as individuals?

No matter whether you like her or not, you can’t help but feel something for her. The Cinderella launch into worldwide stage, full public disclosure of her laundry room, dumped at the altar by the grizzled groom, sent back to Alaska with a scarlet letter (take your pick) tattooed on her forehead. Alas, the epiphany: God speaks to the persecuted one; “Rise Up and serve thy mission!”

The thing that America has in common with Sarah is the time table. All of this happened in 16 months. The same 16 months of time as a new genre of bad news was also thrust upon us: astonishing job losses, crippling deterioration of wealth, unspeakable corruption, and complete disregard for what happens to a family when they a kicked out of their home by the law they elected.

“Too big to fail” means the rest of us are too small to succeed. Then here comes Sarah reminding us of ourselves; so much to blame on others and absolutely nothing that can be done about it. The only thing she has left is the moose horn. Let me tell you, if I had a moose horn like hers, I’d yell into it every day, all day long until someone smarter, stronger, and with less dignity (or nothing more to lose) steals it from me. This says a lot about the people who can’t shut Sarah up.

As president, she would be woefully inadequate, but as a Hockey Mom, she’s quite talented – when everyone else plays with fire, she plays the game of ice. The home team hates her, the opposing team hates her, the coaches conspire against her – nothing she says makes much sense anywhere else except those few seconds of a game long ago played – at least her mission, whatever it may be, is being accomplished.

Bovine Economics

Money does not represent gold, silver or oil. Money represents human productivity – yours and mine – otherwise nobody would work (i.e., be productive) in exchange for it.  Therefore, the words ‘Money’ and ‘Productivity’ should be synonymous and interchangeable – right?

Not so fast.  The following headlines were produced from a ‘Google News’ Search that contain the word “money”.  Next, I replaced the word “money” with the word “productivity”[in brackets].  The headlines don’t make any sense.

Yes kids, try this at home. If the headline still makes sense with the word swap, then you can enjoy the article in full confidence that you are being nourished with useful knowledge.  If, however, the headline doesn’t make a damn bit of sense after the swap, then you are experiencing Bovine Economics – suitable only for mushrooms and methane

Canada [Productivity] launderer shows holes in Vegas casinos

GM to start paying back bailout [Productivity]

Some taxpayers may have to return [productivity] from a new tax credit

[Productivity] talks in Afghanistan, says army counter-insurgency manual

“Stimulus” [productivity] going to 10 Ohio congressional districts that don’t exist

Our government is minimizing breast mammography to save [productivity] not lives

Prisons, education feel [productivity] pinch

[PRODUCTIVITY] MARKETS-US rates futures gain on Bernanke remarks

On Healthcare, Don’t Follow the [Productivity]

(Editor’s note: This series is an experiment and we’ll get better at picking the gems. Let me know if this is interesting enough for a weekly feature article)

Intellectual Property in Bloggerville

Most bloggers invite you to share their content far and wide on any one of many aggregation sites.  But some people get really upset if you post that article on your own aggregation blog (even with full credit and back links).

I am always amazed when I get that proverbial chest thumping quasi-barrister “cease and desist” letter, followed by remedial citation of copyright law, and always ending with some pathetic accusation of irreparable damages and criminal violation.   They get upset if you change the content and they get upset if you don’t.  The worst is when it comes from a self-proclaimed social media guru who touts all ‘dat social media Kool Aid in their consultancy propaganda.

Reality Check:

The Great Currency Shift

Dollar FallI am seeing an increasing amount of articles and ideas related to an alternate financial system. The continued traditional media narrative implies that the current system is unstable and corrupted with insider deals, Ponzi schemes, bribes, and high profile acquittals of financial crime. The underlying age-old assumption is that the wealthy (merchant class) will win and the rest of us (the working class) will lose.

Keep in mind that the Mexican peso crisis was not caused by a foreigners, it was the internal wealth leaving their own currency for safe haven elsewhere that sparked the run on the Mexican Central Bank. The absence of a currency other than the dollar and the integration of the dollar among all other currencies is the only thing keeping that from happening in the US. But this may change.

1. Either a new global currency (like a garden salad of currencies and/or commodities) will arise as a ‘less-risky’ diversified alternative,

or

2. A virtual currency will arise from any number of new developments in social media.

Of course the first option seems far more realistic. But keep in mind that the nature of “Disruptive Innovation” is where the dominant player does not even see the disruptor until it is too late. The thing that social media has not yet figured out is how to capitalize and securitize an alternate currency. But we are getting close. After that, the rest is easy because money is simply a social agreement. What would you rather hold, debt backed currency or innovation backed currency?

Nobody can really say that the entire 65 trillion dollar world economy is not vulnerable to a disruptive currency. Please review The Next Economic Paradigm for a complete specification of Innovation Economics. Thanks!

Seeding the Clouds of Social Media

cloud seedingOK, so what part of: Governments and industries have no intention of fixing things that they broke are we still having trouble with? The climate change summit ended in a draw after Kyoto ended in party pooper. You can count the financial crisis, endless warfare, world hunger, slave labor, forest-to-dump consumerism among the same pile of sun dried bullshit. Does anyone still trust the “leaders”?

There is a way out. People need to organize themselves around their a social media financial system. This is actually a relatively easy thing to do. Social media is like a big cloud – a big gray mass with no beginning, end, center or physical boundaries. The only way to engage the cloud is to talk to it. If you talk to it the right way, it delivers rain. If not, the well stays dry.

Now here is the trick. As social media applications continue to integrate, a correlation between conversation and rain becomes “diversified”, the randomness begins to disappear. Steady, consistent, and sustainable conversations across a wide array of social action will delivers steady, consistent, and sustainable rainfall across a wide area of social landscape.

At some point, someone will notice the similarity between the social media rainfall and the behavior of large diversified cash flows. They will develop a financial instrument to “capitalize” this value because it has become predictable. Predictable value flows can then be “securitized”. Unfortunately, the dollar is a debt backed currency and a productivity backed currency will need to arise in its place.

China accuses the weakness of the US dollar for driving speculation bubbles in anything and everything of “value” that is not a dollar. The problem is that the dollar is the only game in town. If there were an alternate currency with superior representation of human productivity, all dollar denominated assets will be converted to the new currency. The entire 50 Trillion dollar debt pressure on the US dollar will convert to a productivity backed currency forced to drive innovation at a comparatively astonishing magnitude – almost on the scale of the problems that face humanity.

A productivity backed currency means that those who are most productive earn the most money. Think about that for a minute, then go read The Next Economic Paradigm.

The American Civil War 2

I am deeply concerned with the Liberal / Conservative flame wars. Countless Facebook discussions start with a casual reference to one position or the other, then quickly devolve into deeply divisive language. I see it in forums, chats, comments on blogs, news articles and YouTube Videos.

It’s getting worse – people can no longer agree to disagree.

I do not believe in big government. On the other hand, I do not believe that corporations should be the sole protectors for safeguarding the social charter. Call me an idealist, but I truly believe that given the right incentives, people can govern themselves to a very large degree.

Weapon of Mass Reconstruction

We have at our disposal the most powerful tool ever created for the potential benefit of humanity. Societies since the beginning of our time would have envied us beyond words – as their villages were pillaged, as the plague spread, or as the hurricane hit shore – if they had a system that could unify and organize people as we can do today with social media.

My fear, is that we will use this tool to divide instead of unify.  Traditional media and the advertising industry are in deep trouble as people go online to self-select their news and content. This is no fault of Mr. O’Reilly, Mr. Beck or Mr. Limbaugh – they are entitled to their jobs.  Nor is it the fault of emerging Liberal opportunists looking for pick up a used G4 for the Holidays.

Trust me, I’m your friend

Unfortunately, traditional media (TV, print, and Radio) are under extraordinary pressure not just to maintain ratings, but to increase ratings to subsidize less successful areas of the enterprise. As a result, the content must become more and more sensational in order to keep people watching commercials.  If I earned one dollar for every minute of YOUR time that I could waste, would you trust me?  Yet people do.

The Terrorist Within

I am terrorized by the notion that Americans will turn against Americans.  The problems facing this nation are so complex, so controversial, and so far reaching into the past and the future that it is unlikely that any intelligent person is more qualified than any other intelligent person to hold the highest office. Barrack, Hillary, John, would all have the same pressures pushing back on every move leading them down 95% similar paths. None could be better and none could be worse – we’re officially in this together.

So until the super-star with extra-human discernment rides out of the clouds, People should really really be looking for a third way through this. Pure Communism is a Failure, Pure Socialism is a failure, and we are quickly learning that Pure Capitalism will also runs out of track.

The Next Great American Civil War will be a battle against ourselves – all of the artifacts of past generations that pull at our subconsciousness; the reactionary fight or flight instinct of our ancestors. We are being called to something new. Let’s get on with business and find out where this road leads – together.

I am released the draft copy of Part I from my book; The Next Economic Paradigm. It can be downloaded here. Please let me know if you have any comments. I will publish the remaining 2 parts shortly.

Is Virtual Currency a Problem?

Editor’s note; The following analysis by Daniel Indiviglio from The Atlantic regarding a NYT article is foreboding of an unknown future.  Half insightful synthesis and half tongue-in-cheek, this article suggests that virtual currency may impact the current monetary system.  The conclusion is brilliant suggesting that the national debt could be paid in virtual currency.  It seems quaint now, but what would happen if the dollar fails?  During the Mexican Crisis, citizens emptied WalMart because today’s peso would be buy fewer Levies tomorrow – and it happened very fast. Get this and get it well: currency is a social agreement. People will trade what ever people agree to trade.

by Daniel Indiviglio

Is Virtual Currency A Real Problem?

All that time spent playing video games may finally be paying off. Literally. According to a fascinating New York Times article today, virtual currency — credits to buy stuff in video games — is being taken very seriously. China worries that make-believe video game money could affect its ability to control its money supply. As a result, it’s slapping limits on virtual currency. I’m not kidding.

From the NY Times:

Some people have even traded virtual currencies in China, and exchanged them for clothes, cosmetics and other goods. Last year, nearly $2 billion in virtual currency was traded in China, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. Some experts say they believe there is a much larger underground economy in the virtual world.

And it gets wackier:

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