How crazy is this? A company has been created to pay you for your click as they are making money in the arbitrage between what they pay you and the amount that the advertiser pays them. Aivars Lode
Monday, August 18, 2014
This is totally in line with where the jobs came from in Aussie over the decade following the crash in the 90’s. Aivars Lode
What's the crucial career strength that employers everywhere are seeking -- even though hardly anyone is talking about it? A great way to find out is by studying this list of fast-growing occupations, as compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Sports coaches and fitness trainers. Massage therapists, registered nurses and physical therapists. School psychologists, music tutors, preschool teachers and speech-language pathologists. Personal financial planners, chauffeurs and private detectives. These are among the fields expected to employ at least 20% more people in the U.S. by 2020.
Did you notice the common thread? Every one of these jobs is all about empathy.
In our fast-paced digital world, there's lots of hand-wringing about the ways that automation and computer technology are taking away the kinds of jobs that kept our parents and grandparents employed. Walk through a modern factory, and you'll be stunned by how few humans are needed to tend the machines. Similarly, travel agents, video editors and many other white-collar employees have been pushed to the sidelines by the digital revolution's faster and cheaper methods.
But there's no substitute for the magic of a face-to-face interaction with someone else who cares. Even the most ingenious machine-based attempts to mimic human conversation (hello, Siri) can't match the emotional richness of a real conversation with a real person.
Visit a health club, and you'll see the best personal trainers don't just march their clients through a preset run of exercises. They chat about the stresses and rewards of getting back in shape. They tease, they flatter -- maybe they even flirt a little. They connect with their clients in a way that builds people's motivation. Before long, clients keep coming back to the gym because they want to spend time with a friend, and to do something extra to win his or her respect.
It's the same story in health care or education. Technology can monitor an adult's glucose levels or a young child's counting skills quite precisely. Data by itself, though, is just a tool. The real magic happens when a borderline diabetic or a shy preschooler develops enough faith and trust in another person to embark on a new path. What the BLS data tells us is that even in a rapidly automating world, we can't automate empathy.
Last week, when the BLS reported that the U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in May, analysts noted that one of the labor market's bright spots involved restaurants and bars. Waiters, cooks and bartenders accounted for a full 16% of the month's job growth. As the Washington Post's Neil Irwin put it, "A robot may be able to assemble a car, but a cook still grills burgers."
Actually, it's the people in the front of the restaurant -- and behind the bar -- that should command our attention. The more time we spend in the efficient but somewhat soulless world of digital connectivity, the more we will cherish a little banter with wait-staff and bartenders who know us by name. We will pay extra to mingle with other people who can keep the timeless art of conversation alive.
By George Anders
Monday, August 11, 2014
Australia repleals the carbon tax. Hmm, what do you think a backwards step on good enviromnetal stewardship or the elimination of a tax set will do to AL Gore's riches? Aivars Lode
By MICHELLE INNISJULY 17, 2014
SYDNEY, Australia — Opposition politicians and environmentalists in Australia reacted with dismay Thursday to the country’s repeal of laws requiring large companies to pay for carbon emissions, saying that it made Australia the first country to reverse progress on fighting climate change.
The Senate voted 39 to 32 on Thursday to repeal the so-called carbon tax after Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s conservative government secured the support of a number of independent senators. The House of Representatives had voted earlier in the week to repeal the unpopular measure, which has been a highly contentious issue in Australian politics for seven years.
The tax was devised to penalize hundreds of Australia’s biggest producers of carbon emissions, setting a price of 23 Australian dollars, or $21.50, per metric ton of carbon dioxide when it was put into effect in 2012 under then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard of the Labor Party, which is now in the opposition. The price rose to 25 Australian dollars this month.
Mr. Abbott, of the conservative Liberal Party, who took office in September, made repealing the tax a central pledge of his election campaign, arguing that ending it would reduce electricity prices and enhance economic growth. But he struggled twice to get the measure through the Senate before the vote Thursday. The government now plans to introduce a range of measures that it says will encourage business to reduce pollution, rather than penalizing polluters.
After the vote Thursday, Mr. Abbott characterized the tax as a “useless, destructive tax, which damaged jobs, which hurt families’ cost of living and which didn’t actually help the environment.” He called it a “9 percent impost on power prices, a $9 billion handbrake on our economy,” and said the repeal would save the average household 550 dollars a year.
Australia is among the world’s biggest producers of carbon emissions on a per capita basis. The government is committed to reducing emissions to 5 percent below levels recorded in 2000 by 2020.
Politicians from Labor and the smaller Greens party said the repeal would undermine Australia’s efforts to address climate change. The Labor leader, Bill Shorten, described Mr. Abbott as an “environmental vandal.”
“Today, Tony Abbott has made Australia the first country in the world to reverse action on climate change,” Mr. Shorten said. Christine Milne, a senator from Tasmania and leader of the Greens party, said, “History will judge Tony Abbott harshly for his denial of global warming and his undermining of Australia’s effort to address it.”
John Connor, chief executive of the Climate Institute, a Sydney-based advocacy group, said that some governments had pulled back from carbon reduction targets, including Japan after the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in 2011, but that “no one else in the world has repealed a working, functioning carbon pricing mechanism.”
“We are taking a monumentally reckless backward leap even as other countries are stepping up to climate action,” Mr. Connor said in an interview. He said that Australia is the highest per capita emitter of carbon in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the group of developed countries, and that it ranks in the top 20 globally, emitting around 25 metric tons of carbon dioxide per person every year. “Australia’s economy is much more carbon-intensive than the U.S. economy,” Mr. Connor said.
Mr. Abbott has said that the repeal will lead to lower energy costs for consumers. But Mr. Connor said that while Australian electricity prices have indeed risen, that was due in part to power companies investing in infrastructure. “The government effectively used the carbon tax as the scapegoat for higher energy costs,” he said.
But representatives of major industries, including agriculture and mining, said that the costs passed along to other businesses because of the emissions penalty were high. While the agriculture sector was exempt from directly paying the tax, its costs “hit Australian farmers every time they paid for essential electricity, fertilizer, chemicals and fuel supplies,” Brent Finlay, president of the National Farmers’ Federation, said in a statement.
Brendan Pearson, head of the Minerals Council of Australia, said in a statement that the removal of “the world’s biggest carbon tax is an important step towards regaining the competitive edge that Australia lost over the last decade.” The council estimated that the tax cost the mining industry 1.2 billion dollars per year.
A representative of independent grocers also applauded the repeal, saying that the cost of electricity and refrigerant gases had skyrocketed since the carbon tax was introduced. “A small, corner store operator will save about 17,000 Australian dollars a year,” said Jos de Bruin of Master Grocers Australia, which represents about 2,400 independent supermarkets.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Where will the next rising star countries come from? Aivars Lode
Southeast Asia is one of the world’s fastest-growing markets—and one of the least well known.
China remains the Goliath of emerging markets, with every fluctuation in its GDP making headlines around the globe. But investors and multinationals are increasingly turning their gaze southward to the ten dynamic markets that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Founded in 1967, ASEAN today encompasses Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam—economies at vastly different stages of development but all sharing immense growth potential. ASEAN is a major global hub of manufacturing and trade, as well as one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world. As the region seeks to deepen its ties and capture an even greater share of global trade, its economic profile is rising—and it is crucial for those outside the region to understand its complexities and contradictions. The seven insights below offer a snapshot of one of the world’s most diverse, fast-moving, and competitive regions.
7 Things you need to know about ASEAN
The ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations collectively comprise the seventh-largest economy in the world. Here are some critical facts.
1. Together, ASEAN’s ten member states form an economic powerhouse.
If ASEAN were a single country, it would already be the seventh-largest economy in the world, with a combined GDP of $2.4 trillion in 2013 (Exhibit 1). It is projected to rank as the fourth-largest economy by 2050.1 1. Based on forecasts by IHS.
Labor-force expansion and productivity improvements drive GDP growth—and ASEAN is making impressive strides in both areas. Home to more than 600 million people, it has a larger population than the European Union or North America. ASEAN has the third-largest labor force in the world, behind China and India; its youthful population is producing a demographic dividend. Perhaps most important, almost 60 percent of total growth since 1990 has come from productivity gains, as sectors such as manufacturing, retail, telecommunications, and transportation grow more efficient.
To capitalize on these trends, however, the region must develop its human capital and workforce skills. In Indonesia and Myanmar alone, we project an undersupply of 9 million skilled and 13 million semiskilled workers by 2030.
2. ASEAN is not a monolithic market.
ASEAN is a diverse group. Indonesia represents almost 40 percent of the region’s economic output and is a member of the G20, while Myanmar, emerging from decades of isolation, is still a frontier market working to build its institutions. GDP per capita in Singapore, for instance, is more than 30 times higher than in Laos and more than 50 times higher than in Cambodia and Myanmar; in fact, it even surpasses that of mature economies such as Canada and the United States. The standard deviation in average incomes among ASEAN countries is more than seven times that of EU member states. That diversity extends to culture, language, and religion. Indonesia, for example, is almost 90 percent Muslim, while the Philippines is more than 80 percent Roman Catholic, and Thailand is more than 95 percent Buddhist. Although ASEAN is becoming more integrated, investors should be aware of local preferences and cultural sensitivities; they cannot rely on a one-size-fits-all strategy across such widely varying markets.
3. Macroeconomic stability has provided a platform for growth.
Memories of the 1997 Asian financial crisis linger, leading many outsiders to expect that volatility comes with the territory. But the region proved to be remarkably resilient in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, and today it is in a much stronger fiscal position: government debt is under 50 percent of GDP—far lower than the 90 percent share in the United Kingdom or 105 percent in the United States.
Most of the region has held steady so far, despite concern about the effect on emerging markets of the potential end of quantitative easing by the US Federal Reserve. In fact, ASEAN has experienced much lower volatility in economic growth since 2000 than the European Union. Savings levels have also remained fairly steady since 2005, at about a third of GDP, albeit with large differences between high-saving economies, such as Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore, and low-saving economies, such as Cambodia, Laos, and the Philippines.
4. ASEAN is a growing hub of consumer demand.
ASEAN has dramatically outpaced the rest of the world on growth in GDP per capita since the late 1970s. Income growth has remained strong since 2000, with average annual real gains of more than 5 percent. Some member nations have grown at a torrid pace: Vietnam, for example, took just 11 years (from 1995 to 2006) to double its per capita GDP from $1,300 to $2,600. Extreme poverty is rapidly receding. In 2000, 14 percent of the region’s population was below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day (calculated in purchasing-power-parity terms), but by 2013, that share had fallen to just 3 percent.
Already some 67 million households in ASEAN states are part of the “consuming class,” with incomes exceeding the level at which they can begin to make significant discretionary purchases (Exhibit 2).3 3. Defined as households with more than $7,500 in annual income (in purchasing-power-parity terms).That number could almost double to 125 million households by 2025, making ASEAN a pivotal consumer market of the future. There is no typical ASEAN consumer, but some broad trends have emerged: a greater focus on leisure activities, a growing preference for modern retail formats, and increasing brand awareness (Indonesian consumers, for example, are exceptionally loyal to their favorite brands).
Urbanization and consumer growth move in tandem, and ASEAN’s cities are booming. Today, 22 percent of ASEAN’s population lives in cities of more than 200,000 inhabitants—and these urban areas account for more than 54 percent of the region’s GDP. An additional 54 million people are expected to move to cities by 2025. Interestingly, the region’s midsize cities have outpaced its megacities in economic growth. Nearly 40 percent of ASEAN’s GDP growth through 2025 is expected to come from 142 cities with populations between 200,000 and 5 million.
ASEAN consumers are increasingly moving online, with mobile penetration of 110 percent and Internet penetration of 25 percent across the region. Its member states make up the world’s second-largest community of Facebook users, behind only the United States. But there are vast differences in adoption. Hyperconnected Singapore has the fourth-highest smartphone penetration in the world, and almost 75 percent of its population is online. By contrast, only 1 percent of Myanmar has access to the Internet. Indonesia, with the world’s fourth-largest population, is rapidly becoming a digital nation; it already has 282 million mobile subscriptions and is expected to have 100 million Internet users by 2016.
5. ASEAN is well positioned in global trade flows.
ASEAN is the fourth-largest exporting region in the world, trailing only the European Union, North America, and China/Hong Kong. It accounts for 7 percent of global exports—and as its member states have developed more sophisticated manufacturing capabilities, their exports have diversified. Vietnam specializes in textiles and apparel, while Singapore and Malaysia are leading exporters of electronics. Thailand has joined the ranks of leading vehicle and automotive-parts exporters. Other ASEAN members have built export industries around natural resources. Indonesia is the world’s largest producer and exporter of palm oil, the largest exporter of coal, and the second-largest producer of cocoa and tin. While Myanmar is just beginning to open its economy, it has large reserves of oil, gas, and precious minerals. In addition to exporting manufactured and agricultural products, the Philippines has established a thriving business-process-outsourcing industry. China, a competitor, has become a customer. In fact, it is now the most important export market for Malaysia and Singapore. But demand from the United States, Europe, and Japan continues to propel growth.5 5.“Ten of Asia’s most dynamic export processing zones that you’ve never heard of,” Asia Briefing, April 24, 2014, asiabriefing.com.
Export-processing zones, once dominated by China, have been established across ASEAN. The Batam Free Trade Zone (Singapore–Indonesia), the Southern Regional Industrial Estate (Thailand), the Tanjung Emas Export Processing Zone (Indonesia), the Port Klang Free Zone (Malaysia), the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (Myanmar), and the Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone (Vietnam) are all expected to propel export growth.
The region sits at the crossroads of many global flows. Singapore is currently the fourth-highest-ranked country in the McKinsey Global Institute’s Connectedness Index, which tracks inflows and outflows of goods, services, finance, and people, as well as the underlying flows of data and communication that enable all types of cross-border exchanges.6 6. For further details, see the full McKinsey Global Institute report, Global flows in a digital age: How trade, finance, people, and data connect the world economy, April 2014. Malaysia (18th) and Thailand (36th) also rank among the top 50 most connected countries. ASEAN is well positioned to benefit from growth in all these global flows. By 2025, more than half of the world’s consuming class will live within a five-hour flight of Myanmar.
6. Intraregional trade could significantly deepen with implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community, but there are hurdles.
Some 25 percent of the region’s exports of goods go to other ASEAN partners, a share that has remained roughly constant since 2003. While this is less than half the share of intraregional trade seen in the North American Free Trade Agreement countries of Canada, Mexico, and the United States and in the European Union, the total value is climbing rapidly as the region develops stronger cross-border supply chains.
Intraregional trade in goods—along with other types of cross-border flows—is likely to increase with implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community integration plan, which aims to allow the freer movement of goods, services, skilled labor, and capital. Progress has been uneven, however. While tariffs on goods are now close to zero in many sectors among the original six member states (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand), progress on liberalization of services and investment has been slower, and nontariff barriers remain a stumbling block to freer trade.
While deeper integration among its member states remains a work in progress, ASEAN has forged free-trade agreements elsewhere with partners that include Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. It is also party to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade negotiations that would form a megatrading bloc comprising more than three billion people, a combined GDP of about $21 trillion, and some 30 percent of world trade.
7. ASEAN is home to many globally competitive companies.
In 2006, ASEAN was home to the headquarters of 49 companies in the Forbes Global 2000. By 2013, that number had risen to 74. ASEAN includes 227 of the world’s companies with more than $1 billion in revenues, or 3 percent of the world’s total (Exhibit 3). Singapore is a standout, ranking fifth in the world for corporate-headquarters density and first for foreign subsidiaries.7 7. Headquarters density is the ratio of the revenue of all large companies (defined as those with revenue of $1 billion or more) headquartered in a given country to that country’s GDP in 2010. For further details, see the full McKinsey Global Institute report, Urban world: The shifting global business landscape, October 2013.
Consistent with this growth, foreign direct investment in ASEAN has boomed, surpassing its precrisis levels. In fact, the ASEAN-5 (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand) attracted more foreign direct investment than China ($128 billion versus $117 billion) in 2013.8 8.Based on data from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In addition to attracting multinationals, ASEAN has become a launching pad for new companies; the region now accounts for 38 percent of Asia’s market for initial public offerings.
Despite their distinct cultures, histories, and languages, the ten member states of ASEAN share a focus on jobs and prosperity. Household purchasing power is rising, transforming the region into the next frontier of consumer growth. Maintaining the current trajectory will require enormous investment in infrastructure and human-capital development—a challenge for any emerging region but a necessary step toward ASEAN’s goal of becoming globally competitive in a wide range of industries. The ASEAN Economic Community offers an opportunity to create a seamless regional market and production base. If its implementation is successful, ASEAN could prove to be a case in which the whole actually does exceed the sum of its parts
Looks like the Aussie banks had some exposure to European loans, this will probably depress their earnings. Aivars Lode
NAB to Sell Some Commercial Real Estate Loans
By Robb M. Stewart
NAB to Sell Some Commercial Real Estate Loans
By Robb M. Stewart