Economic Policy that only pursues growth will always lead to debt

For some time I have been asking myself on the one hand whether constant growth is either sustainable or desirable, or whether we should develop our plans on the basis of debt.

My brother shared with me an interview contained in SPIEGEL with Tomas Sedlacek:-

“Greed is the Beginning of Everything”

Czech economist Tomas Sedlacek discusses morality in the current crisis and why he believes an economic policy that only pursues growth will always lead to debt. Those who don’t know how to handle it, he argues, end up in a medieval debtor’s prison, as the Greeks and others are experiencing today.

For the first time I have read a paper which intuitively I feel highlights my views. I hope you enjoy…!

To view the article in PDF, please click here:- SPIEGEL Interview with Tomas Sedlacek

Source: http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,822981,00.html

Revolutionary Investment Strategy

Over the past couple of years, I have continually seen a number company’s state that they need to increase their prices now in order that they are able to fund their investment in providing their services. This is particularly the case by companies who effectively have a monopoly or a significant market share.

Maybe I am “old fashioned”. But I have always been brought up on a “diet” that you reap your rewards from making the investment through one of the following:

• Cost savings achieved
• Increase your customer base
• Benefits to customers that you can enhance your revenues

So what are the consequences of this revolutionary investment strategy?

1. Effectively, the investing company does not have to be creative in developing their product or service offering to achieve enhanced returns.

2. Since their capital investment is already funded by the customers, there is likely to be less due diligence or creativity around ensuring that the capital costs are optimized or managed effectively, for either benefit to the customer or the shareholder!

3. Once the investment has been made there is likely to be less commitment and scrutiny to ensure that the revenues or cost savings are accruing in accordance with the business case, as it simply just too easy.

It is absolutely critical that the regulators ensure that these businesses and operators are not able to operate in this manner! Or am I delusional…?

Skoll World Forum (SWF) 2011 – A personal reflection

This was my first visit to the SWF and having had the experience of the Celebration of Entrepreneurship (CoE) in Dubai in November 2011 was really excited about the prospect for my days. I arrived home on Friday evening 1/4/2011, satisfied, exhausted, inspired, energised, humbled, full of learning, connected with so many great people I met and I would like to share my key takeaways.

Many of the key sessions are filmed and on the SWF website www.skollworldforum.org

1. Deep Leadership (Video available) – a great session with number of interesting perspectives including those of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Upon reflection, my own believe after some further thought and analysis is a hypothesis utilising the Heroes Journey. Each time you go through the “storm” within the journey you gain an understanding of your own humanity. By repeatedly going through and coming out of the storm successfully, you increase and enhance your own personal well of “deep leadership”.

Furthermore there is definitely a clear correlation between deep leadership and spirituality however we seem too shy to make the connection!!!!!!!

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Managing social unrest by increasing GDP

Almost no country in the MENA Region experiences the 7-8% GDP growth familiar in the South East Asia economies that is needed to disseminate the benefits of growth to the middle and lower classes. This is largely due to the fact that most Arab nations are rent ridden countries with very little incentive to provide institutions and governance that favour entrepreneurship. In such conditions, only focused countries will be able to create a dynamic, diversified economy within a timeframe that generates gainful employment among the young quickly enough to bring social unrest to an end

Mentoring in Critical Times – EMCC UK Conference

As you all know, I have spent a great deal of time lately promoting the value of mentoring through The Mowgli Foundation. Through this hard work, an exciting opportunity has arisen which I would like to share with you.

On the 29th March 2011, Martin Carver and I will be presenting the Keynote speech considering Mentoring in Critical Times at the 5th Annual Mentoring and Coaching Conference being hosted by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council. The two day conference, will be held at the Holiday Inn, Kensington in London (UK). In addition; Simon Edwards, past CEO of the Mowgli Foundation, will be presenting a master class entitled “Your Mentoring Story”.

Both of these events will provide a challenging look at how mentoring can be used effectively within organisations and business, especially when we find ourselves in times of such massive change.

We are particularly interested in the question ‘Why are entrepreneurs so important to our communities and society?’. We will consider my journey as a serial entrepreneur through the establishment of various start-ups coupled with the personal challenges that arise from life.

Our presentation will focus in particular on the following areas:

  • When does the intervention of a mentor provide maximum value to an entrepreneur?
  • What are the critical stages for mentoring in the life of entrepreneur?
  • What mentoring lessons can be learnt from such an entrepreneur’s journey?

To find out more about this exciting event, please visit the EMCC UK Conference Website at: http://ukconference.org/ for more information.

Aligning business performance and meeting the needs of the community/society

Throughout my life, I have witnessed the conflict between business performance being built around solely shareholder value, and the requirement for business to serve the needs of communities and societies. This particularly came into focus for me when I returned from living in the Middle East to live in England in June 2009. I was stunned by the complete focus on profit generation to the total exclusion of customer value. Companies have learnt to put into place terms and conditions, and business processes that are able to legitimately extract revenues from customers whilst at the same time minimise their cost of serving the customer.

I had the opportunity to read a great article in the Harvard Business Review that I thoroughly recommend to you. Creating Shared Value by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer with the following link:-http://hbr.org/2011/01/the-big-idea-creating-shared-value/ar/1

Why are bankers bonus’s so immoral? – Personal Analysis

The banks are dictating the way in which the financial and economic structures of the world operate financially supported by government, but expect to be compensated as if they were operating in free and competitive markets. Retail bankers operate as oligopolies, but are essentially performing a public service, which should be regarded as important to the security of the country as the military. It is too easy to use cheap Government credit and lend out sparingly at huge mark ups (or even lend back to the Government itself with a mark up) when people have nowhere else to go.

During the last two decades, banks lent imprudently creating economic bubbles, and were able to ratchet up their profitability and bonus’s. Furthermore they found ways to repackage debt into various instruments to further enhance their profits and bonus’s. We know today that much of this lending was suspect at best and reckless at worst yet bonus’s were due. The financial markets collapsed in 2007/2008. If banks wish to be treated as operating in free and competitive manner, then they do not deserve to be completely bailed out by governments. They were bailed out. Without the bail out to the banking industry, no single bank in the world would have survived the contagion effect and chaos would have reigned.

The financial collapse ensured that the economies of the majority of the world collapsed as banks withdrew their support for their economies and in particular withdrew lending from those countries which had the worst problems and from economies that were unlikely to have significant growth and focused upon developing lending in emerging economies.

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What is the similarity between the 2018 Football World Cup and Major Capital Project Business Development?

As many of you will know, the decision was taken by FIFA to award the 2018 games to Russia. How could this happen? What was the basis of such a decision? Were England mistreated?

Whenever one approaches a major opportunity such as the World Cup, the decision-making process comprises three elements: – technical, commercial and political. The 2018 decision was no different. From the outset, I wonder if England had evaluated correctly the likely weighting of these three elements that would take place when the final decision was being made in Zurich. Many capital projects, have a decision-making balance where the technical and commercial components represent >90% of the decision with politics <10%. I should point out that politics can cover both legitimate and illegitimate (i.e. corruption) aspects.

However, based upon what has been reported, the England bid was both technically and commercially superior to the Russian bid. It can therefore only be assumed that the weighting in terms of the decision-making was that political considerations would provide greater than 50% towards the decision. This is perfectly legitimate, in the event FIFA had made this known to the bidders. Alternatively, England should have ensured before they committed themselves to bidding (or their bid costs) of the evaluation criteria in terms of weighting. Was this done?

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Celebration of Entrepreneurship – Dubai, 8th and 9th November 2010

Having spent 44 years of my life living and working in the Middle East, I am used to the desert…….. In 2008, we launched the Mowgli Foundation. Through our exposure in the Middle East, we recognised the enormous challenge that the region faced with requiring to create up to 100 million jobs in the coming ten-year period and as a result chose to focus our efforts upon this part of the world. We wish to spark a revolution by mentoring entrepreneurs in targeted Middle Eastern countries, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Our initial soundings which took place in 2008 and early 2009 was that purely lip service was being paid by governments, companies and NGO to meet the challenge – a desert!

We commenced in 2009 sowing seeds by launching our pilot programme in Jordan/Palestine, culminating to date in our supporting 28 entrepreneurs in this country, and then programmes in Lebanon (16 entrepreneurs) and Syria (14 entrepreneurs). Whilst awareness of the importance of entrepreneurship was heightened by the financial crisis of 2008/2009, still the level of apathy towards taking action and forming collaborative efforts to meet this huge challenge were muted. Mowgli continued to try and find people, organisations who shared our vision. Through a cold call to Abraaj Capital (www.abraaj.com) some six months ago, it was clear that we had met an organisation that shared our vision – our “oasis”. Over the subsequent months, we have engaged in such positive discussions on how various stakeholders can form partnerships and develop the capability to support structure entrepreneurship in the Middle East. When Abraaj Capital first shared their concept of an event to launch their Riyada Enterprise Development Fund and an ecosystem to support this ultimately called Wamda (www.wamda.com), we realised that this was going to be special, but we had no idea how special.

The event that was planned was initially pitching for some 500 attendees, when it was finally held, just under 2,500 attendees were present with a considerable number turned away. What did Abraaj achieve through a most wonderful event? I find great difficulty putting it into appropriate words due to the energy, enthusiasm, excitement and emotion exhibited over these two days.

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The Mowgli Foundation Blog

My Mowgli related blog has moved, and is now located at http://blog.mowgli.org.uk

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Thanks,

Tony Bury