Archive for the 'TBG-FSEM100J' Category

Just something to ponder

During the discussion in class on Thursday I was reminded of an article I read by Fareed Zakaria.

I recommend reading the whole article because it is quite interesting but specifically Zakaria made this statement,

“Global growth has its own complications. Demand for raw materials and energy is high and will keep rising. Countries that possess such resources—Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia—become islands of exception to the very rules of markets and trade that are sweeping the world. Thus global capitalism produces its own well-funded anti-capitalists.”

I believe Brian did actually bring this up in class (oddly enough I think he is reading a book by Fareed Zakaria, I think) and although I don’t have any deep analysis on this it is still raises many questions. Does capitalism always breed democracy? Or will these resource rich countries be able to avoid it all together? Of course nothing is forever but what possible strife could this cause in the future as economic markets expand and countries grow richer? So many questions that are unanswerable at the moment but its just something to ponder.

Things That Prevent Productivity

I guess I must have been in a cynical mood because after reading Danika’s blog posting on productivity all I could think of were the things that prevent countries from being productive. There are many good ideas that would improve developing nations but there are still road blocks in the way. I am also not an expert in economics or have I taken a class in it (besides this one I suppose) so I apologize for any logical fallacies but constructive criticism is always helpful.

It is true that every country has a comparative advantage in something but can other countries impose regulations and tariffs that take away from this advantage? Or maybe they make the comparative advantage not as profitable as it could be. For my expert study I have been looking at the effects of agriculture subsidies in America and their effect on developing countries, mainly Africa. In Africa their main trade is agriculture products and because they are a developing nation much of the farming is done by hand and there is a lot of manual labor involved. Compare that to the huge farms that are run by advanced technology and filled with pesticides and fertilizers that make sure the crop potential is at maximum. More importantly add to this the massive amounts of agriculture subsidies (usually paid to big farms who produce crops like corn, cotton, and rice) that drive down produce prices. These low prices that we usually think of as a good thing makes it unprofitable for many African farmers and makes it really hard to compete in trade. In fact the prices are so low it is a lot cheaper to actually import food rather than get it domestically. As stated in the ‘NPR:Africa’s Lagging Development’, “…cheap, subsidized powdered milk from Europe has flooded West African markets. If you go through the countryside in Senegal or Mali, you won’t be able to find local milk… because the powdered milk has destroyed the whole dairy sector in West Africa.”

In addition, despite internal improvement in some African countries such as Mozambique the NPR series stated, “Cotton exporters say this part of northern Mozambique should be able to sell cotton at competitive prices. It has plentiful rainfall. Labor, at about $1 a day, is cheap. The main roads have been rebuilt after a lengthy civil war and are in excellent shape, by African standards. There’s a functioning railway linking the area with a port on the Indian Ocean. But growers complain that they’re barely making a living from their crops, and in recent years, several large cotton companies have gone out of business.”

So how can hard working and highly productive (for what they have) compete in a global market and defeat the cycle of poverty if even their comparative advantage is doing them no good? How do they break the cycle when they’re forced to be dependent on imports from other countries in order to survive?

Not only are there economic factors that prevent developing countries from becoming more stable. If you haven’t read the article “The World is J-Curved” by Ian Bremmer (it is tagged under bookmarks) I highly recommend it. To quickly summarize the idea, “Imagine a graph that charts a country’s stability on the vertical axis and its openness (both within the country and to the world) on the horizontal one. If each nation appears as a point on the graph, the resulting pattern looks very much like the letter J. Nations higher on the graph are more stable; those lower are less stable. Nations to the right of the dip in the J are more open; those to the left are less open. This simple J curve captures many of the dilemmas inherent in global politics today.” The article goes in greater detail but if this J-curve is real then the shift from being a closed and stable state to an open and stable state includes going through a period of instability. Many countries still struggle with that shift and some never quite make it so with the possibility of failure many countries are unwilling to open up.

Not to say that many of these things can’t be overcome but right now these are some of the things that I believe prevent developing countries from become productive countries. Isn’t pessimism great?

Warning:Possible Pointless Rambling Ahead

Rather than really analyzing anything in this post I’ve decided to just talk about a few things that have been on my mind. I don’t keep a journal (too paranoid someone would find it and read it) and as long as this is on the internet I think I might post something relatively sane. If you are unable to follow my stream of thoughts its not your fault. I don’t think coherently and sometimes my writing reflects that. I also do not promise that this post has a point to it, but if you care to read it any comments, questions, suggestions (on where I can find the closest psych ward?) would be nice.

While I was thinking today (as I often do to avoid real work for my classes) I have decided there is too much information available. Does anyone else get that overwhelming feeling of drowning in a sea of information? I’ll read an article online and then find a counter argument in another article that is just as sensible. Then I’ll read on another topic, then another topic, and another topic. By the end of the day I have been swamped with so much information from my classes, newspapers, tv and general online surfing its no wonder my brain won’t shut up. Even as I write this post I have changed my mind about 5 times on what to write about. Now I know its not my responsibility to read every article or opinion anyone has ever had but still I find myself persuing information and asking more questions. No one has ever really looked down on intellectual curiousity but I have reached the point where I get into that “what is the meaning of life?, what does it all matter?” mode and its starting to drain my brain.

The world never stops and I’m pretty sure the older you get the faster it accelerates. I don’t watch the news for one day and I’m 10 steps behind. For example I totally missed the whole Kerry told a bad joke issue (some of you still might not have heard) and even though it was a recent event (like Monday recent) I somehow feel 10 steps behind. Not only are people discussing the bad joke but it proliferates and spins off into other conversations. But as I step back and look at the news that comes and goes I wonder, is there just too much information? Would I be worse off I had never been informed Kerry can’t tell a good joke? Somehow I don’t think so and I’m sure in the coming weeks and months I’ll probably forget about the stupid joke. The more I think about this the more questions I have. I also grow more concerned about the media in general but that is a whole other topic unto itself.

Maybe a broad question that would fit my feelings and ponderings would be what will the average citizen be expected to know in the future? What should a college educated person be expected to know about the world they live in?(I’m trying at this point to ignore all those little nagging questions that come with those I have just asked) With so much information so easily tapped into will there be a new standard? Education in schools has changed since my mother was in school because of changing technologies. Before there was the hand held calculator math at a high school level didn’t go much beyond addition, subtraction, etc. With globalization and technology accelerating and flattening the world what will my children be learning in school?

I probably could go on and on with the questions but that wouldn’t get me very far because many of these questions cannot be answered. I suppose the best you can do is try to predict the future based on the the present. As I come to the end of this post I somehow feel I am asking age old questions, but with a present day twist. Does it really matter what time period I am living it? Isn’t it just human nature to want to know the meaning of life? Does man just naturally hope that what they are doing has some actual meaning so that by the time they get to the end of their life they can look back and not feel regret? I’m probably getting into philosophical ideas and ideas that require volumes of books just to begin answer.

If you could actually comprehend my thinking I thank you for reading my rambling. I guess at this point I am supposed to feel better after getting all this stuff out but I think I am actually left with more questions and confusion but who says that can’t be a good thing?

Who Remembers Global Warming?

News fluctuates and whoever yells the loudest seems to gets the most attention, and such is the case with global warming. I recall a few months ago when global warming was at the front of everyones mind, it was on the cover of Time Magazine and people were actually reading a book by Al Gore. But its hard to keep our attention so we move on the next big issue and forget about others.

On front page of the Monday edition of the New York Times there is an article discussing the lack of funding for research in the fight against global warming. It is one of those problems that doesn’t really have short term returns so private investing is may not be as high because combating global warming is a long term project and investors are looking for returns sooner than later. American’s in general don’t like to deal with long term because they are interested in the short term and instant gratification so interest in topics like global warming tend to fade very quickly. The truth is though the impacts are going to hit us a lot sooner the longer we ignore this and if we wait too long we are going to have a huge problem on our hands.

While I was reading this article and thinking about globalization in general many things have become quite obvious. With nations like China and India demanding more energy for their expanding economy and industries this is going to escalate further the carbon dioxide emissions. Of course some of the countries are thinking about ways to lower emissions already and many countries are involved in plans to lower emissions (Kyoto) its still hard to say how all the development will affect our environment. Environmental problems shouldn’t hold back development it is just a key factor that needs to be addressed. More importantly though America needs to do something especially if we ever plan on gaining our respect back in the international community. Hart recently posted about the American complaceny that has swept the nation and I couldn’t agree more. We need to be progressive and quit being the gas-guzzling, over consuming, slobs that have taken a seat on the couch of “we are better than you”, and get up or else fall behind.

Globalization of Healthcare

A recent article in Newsweek entitled “Which Hospital is the Best?”, Dr. Brian Jarman points out that as “health care becomes more a global enterprise, with patients going farther afield in pursuit of the best care, the need for an objective measure of hospital performance has become more pressing.” How far will this expand? I really can’t make any predictions but its just fascinating to think that perhaps that people would go to the best facility to get treatment regardless of location. Of course this possibility is most likely a really long ways off for the average person, it is still none the less a possibility in the future of globalization.

The article also discusses that in the U.S. “more than 3,000 U.S. hospitals participated in a campaign of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in Boston to reduce mortality rates.” Hospitals and doctors have never been in favor of sharing hospitals mortality data but there has been a wave of hospitals willing to share this information with patients, even publishing it online.

With standards being set and hospitals beginning to willingly to share once hidden data will this increase competition between hospitals? Not that there hasn’t been in the past, but will this intensify competition to provide the best healthcare?

“Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sisimpur?”

I’m sure most of the people in class are familiar with the show Sesame Street. You might admit you watched it (or maybe you still do) as a child but its not something we give much thought to now. Things have a way of coming back and you can never escape your past can you? In any case no matter what age you are it is clear that Sesame Street has managed to globalize itself in its pursuit to educate pre-school age children. In the blog that I have been following this semester there was a posting about the recent PBS documentary “The World According to Sesame Street”, the blog poster stated that it is “a fascinating documentary about Sesame Street and how it has gone global, not just as “American” entertainment for children, but as a catalyst for social and economic development by targeting the youngest citizens around the world. The film follows productions in Bangladesh, Kosovo and South Africa and “examines how producers from New York’s Sesame Workshop take the iconic American television show and localize it with indigenous songs, puppets and curricula while facing cultural, political and production challenges.””

If you are interested I highly recommend looking at the website for the documentary. I perused it briefly and it just amazes me that a show I watched as a 4 year old is impacting the world. Sesame Street is played in over 120 countries and has 20 co-production of shows that are similar to the original but are more specified for the area. In South Africa they have a muppet named Kami who is HIV+. The goal is to educate young children about the fast growing problem in South Africa. In Bangladesh (where it is named Sisimpur) they have a girl muppet, named Tuktuki, that “was created to show that girls can have the same opportunities as boys”. Even in Kosovo there has been a creation of a Sesame like show (dubbed in both Serbia and Albanian) in hopes that in educating the young children it will foster a future of peace in the often unstable and violent area. Sesame Stree and its similar “spin-offs” have been highly successful in ratings and have been well recieved in these countries.

Who would have thought that Sesame Street, as radical as it was for the time it was created, would grow into an international phenomenom. Could this create some sort of future cultural unity? If you all grow up on the same street whether its called Sesame, Sisimpur or Takalani Sesame isn’t there bound to be some neighborly love and understanding?

Quick Update

I haven’t posted in awhile but in today’s news I noticed that Wal-Mart has fired its advertising companies and hired new ones. With the latest reports on profits it is apparent they are having trouble attracting the new upper-class customers even with the expansion of grocery section to include organic and the clothing section to include more higher-end clothing. With Wal-Mart’s new goal of bringing in more affluent consumers they have hired a new advertising agency that will hopefully find a balance. That balance being between not angering loyal (usually rural lower class) customers but still enticing more affluent middle and upper class customers.

When Things Come Together

Today as I was reading The Wallstreet Journal there was an article entitled “Increased Collaboration Helps Sales And Marketers Get Closer to the Customer” and it discussed a couple of points that I had made in my last post. The future of advertisting is now in the consumers control and Advertisers are trying to figure out how to deal with it effectively.

The article went deeper though and touched on some of the ideas that we talked about today in class. “The roles of sales and marketing professionals are changing. The gradual merging of these two functions, and the pressure to target the right audience at the right time from the right platfrom with the right message, are making these jobs increasingly complex.” So in short these jobs are requiring more specificity but the problem right now is that very few people actually have the type of training that is a hybrid of sales/marketing, right now. Some companies are shelling out money for their empoyees to get this training in hopes that “this hybrid sales/marketing professional will understand just as much about demographics as they will about neuro-linguistic programming and psychology.”

Here is a real world situation that exemplifies what we talked about class. The future of sales and marketing is going to be a collaborative effort so that they will in effect become closer to the customer. This is why it is important to have an active-mind so that when these changes come along that you can change along with them rather being stuck in the past and possibly the unemployment line.

Advertising on Eggs?

For a couple of days now I’ve been struggling to find a topic to write about but today as I was reading the New York Times I stumbled across an article entitled “Letting Consumers Control Marketing: Priceless”. In a recent meeting of the Association of National Advertisers the main topic of discussion was the future of advertising. Now that the consumer has control over what commercials they watch (via TiVo, etc.) advertisers have been trying to find new ways to get out their message. The solution many companies are coming up with? Let the consumer take control of the steering wheel and in addition, the call to “replace decades worth of top-down marketing tactics with bottom-up, grass-roots approaches”. Do I sense a sort of flattening occuring in the advertising market?

Since this is mainly uncharted territory there have been failures but this sort of exploration is important because without the failures they will never come closer to the “right” answer for the future of advertising. Big names such as Wal-Mart are getting in on this new wave of advertising and as stated by Wal-Mart’s senior vice president for marketing, Stephen Quinn,”Today, the customer is in charge…and whoever is best at putting the customer in charge makes all the money.” Wal-Mart is in a stage of transformation trying to look beyond its “traditional base of rural low-income customers” by “aiming to woo a more affluent and suburban” shopper who’s standards may be higher. The sale of higher price and more luxury items looks to be the future of Wal-Mart but of course this depends on the economic standing of an area so in the future “…more stores will be customized by location,”.

More and more it appears that the future of advertising will be in the consumers hand and rightly so, who better to say what the consumer wants then the actual consumer. Until advertisers find that balance between consumer control and advertising companies there will be many attempts (some of them weird) to grab the consumer’s attention. So where does the whole “advertising on eggs?” come into this scenario? Well, while I was searching for videos on YouTube (another big player in advertising) I stumbled across a segment of the Daily Show that is entitled Back in Black and its basically a rant by Lewis Black. That week he was discussing exactly what I had read earlier in the paper. So although the video clip was a month or two old it still applied to many of the interesting (and weird) ways that advertisers were trying to get the consumers attention. He mentions how HP shelled out $200,000 for product placement in a Jessica Simpson music video, and you don’t even notice it (just check out the video, link at the bottom). Lewis Black also mention’s how CBS used “On-Egg Messaging” in order to advertise for their fall schedule. As cited in USA Today, “More than 35 million eggs will be marked with phrases such as “CSI: Crack the Case on CBS” and “The Class, New Grade-A CBS Comedy” as part of a deal between the CBS Marketing Group and EggFusion, an egg-coding company”. Its a creative idea but will it work? CBS hopes so, this “…campaign is part of what the network is calling its “Outernet strategy,” an effort to reach viewers “outside their homes as they go about their daily lives,”

So are any of the ideas actually going to work? Only time will tell, and who knows what other interesting advertisements they will come up as advertisers have to find new ways to reach their audience.

Also if any of you are interested in watching Lewis Black’s rant it can be found here.

Is Starbucks globalization?

For the sake of argument I’ve decided to make a post in response to Brian’s post on how Starbucks is not globalization. First of all I agree with many of the points made by Brian so this is not taking the completely opposite view but maybe more of a middle ground.

The first point Brian makes is the comparison between Starbucks and McDonalds by saying that although there was coffee and coffeehouses before Starbucks, McDonalds was a revolutionary in its field with food production and service. Although this is very true of McDonalds, Starbucks is not just another coffeshop. What makes Starbucks stand above other cafes? Starbucks in the spirit of competitiveness raised their game; the staff training, the standard of cleanliness, and product freshness has prompted other cafes to raise their standards. As mentioned in the article in First Post, Starbucks was also in innovator in “comfy armchairs, mood music, heat sleeves on paper cups, frappucinos”. Now I don’t know for sure what cafes were like 20 years ago so its hard to know how much Starbucks has really revolutionized the cafe but if any of the articles I’ve read are an indication they have changed it a lot.

The success of Starbucks is sort of based on globalizations ideas. In 1982, Howard Schultz joined the company and after a trip to Milan, he suggested that the company sell coffee and espresso drinks as well as beans. Starbucks started out strictly as a place that sold coffee beans but because of the idea of one man who went on a trip to Milan we now have Starbucks restuarants. The reason why we have all those crazy sounding that come in tall, grande, and venti is because one person took the ideas from Italian cafes and implemented them in America.

Starbucks itself also engages in fair trade coffee which is helping developing countries and in effect spreading globalization. Don’t forget either about the Starbucks that have made their way into bookstores and even the more recent creation of Starbucks Entertainment, yes folks Starbucks is involved in the film industry. So even though Starbucks has had a much greater effect on American culture than anywhere else in the world perhaps we need to give it more time and in the future Starbucks will fit the definition of globalization better.

Brian has made many good points and I do agree that McDonalds is driving the “globalization bus” but we need to give Starbucks its credit. Its representation of globalization may be vastly over blown but that is mainly because of ignorance or misinformation. The anti-globalization community sees Starbucks as a greedy corporation seeking to spread American culture and dominance in the world and monopolize the coffeehouse market in the US. So until people are actually well informed, Starbucks will be the big representation of globalization despite the fact that it is really just “sitting on the globalization bus”.

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