The Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside Movement was a government policy in the People’s Republic of China during the 1960s and 1970s. From Wikipedia: “privileged urban youth [were] sent to mountainous areas or farming villages to learn from the workers and farmers there.”
A lot of economists and economic historians study aggregated data, e.g. gross domestic product, inflation, trade flows, or productivity.
Such a high level approach is valuable. However, the macro perspective by definition misses the details. A macroeconomist will typically explain productivity growth by referring to increases in (human) capital and total factor productivity. But how exactly do concrete changes lead to higher output? Continue reading “Down to the corporate side!”
There is a lot of hype surrounding blockchain, ICOs, crypto assets, etc. You can find thousands of articles on distributed ledger technology and its potential applications.
As usual, the quality of these pieces varies greatly. Few are worth your time. Below are some links to explanations that I found useful. Continue reading “Further reading on Blockchain and all that”
“Sooner or later, something fundamental in your business world will change.” – Andrew Grove, Only the Paranoid Survive
Everyone hates banks. This has created an opportunity for business gurus, futurists and charlatans to proclaim the imminent death of banks. Stories on how technology will make traditional banks obsolete are eagerly picked up by the media. Continue reading “Only the paranoid banks survive”
Everybody has heard of bitcoin by now. The price of the cryptocurrency is hitting all-time highs. John McAfee has bet that one bitcoin will be worth $500,000 in the year 2020. Bank chief Jamie Dimon called bitcoin a fraud. His statements were (predictably) followed by articles saying that bankers should be afraid of cryptocurrencies.
It seems there are two bitcoin camps: the true believers and the naysayers. Izabella Kaminska from FT Alphaville in particular has been explaining for years why cryptocurrencies are not the utopia some imagine them to be. In this post, I summarize my own reasons why I don’t think bitcoin is a credible threat to the banking industry. Continue reading “My beef with bitcoin bulls”
One of my business ideas has recently been implemented. My former colleagues at KBC launched a platform where small business owners can find entrepreneurs who want to take over an existing company.
I had this idea when a well-run shop for fishing gear and pet products in my hometown closed down. The owners retired and none of their children was interested in continuing their work.
This was a shame, because a lot of know-how and service to customers was lost. The owners missed out on the sale of a profitable business. A sale of the going concern could have yielded much more than selling separate assets. For the bank, a sale would have brought the opportunity to manage extra retirement funds. In addition, it could offer a loan to the new owner, sell insurance, payment solutions etc.
As I regularly have ideas for startups or other business opportunities that I cannot pursue myself, let me share an idea that I had today. Feel free to implement it! You can thank me later when you’re a millionaire.
Engineers at the US Navy are developing a robot shark. They intend to use this robot to patrol around ships and in harbors. It is normal that the Navy explores military applications first.
A clever startup could market such robots as lifeguards.
But such devices could find widespread civilian use. A clever startup could market such robots as lifeguards. Imagine a robotic lifeguard loaded with sensors that can detect when a swimmer is in trouble. And that can grab them and bring them to the surface or to shore. This would give extra support to human lifeguards. And because it is seaborne already, a robot shark would cut down valuable intervention time.
The market for such a device would be huge. Think of all the swimming pools and beaches that would want to improve the safety of their bathers. Or robot sharks could assist in saving drowning migrants in the Mediterranean.