The US Behaves Like An Emerging-Market Corporate-Crony Nation: From a former IMF Chief Economist, in the Atlantic, a familiar story, except that, unlike Russia and Argentina and other emerging nations, the US is ‘too big to be allowed to fail’ (charts above are from this article). This is essential reading, and the ‘hopeful’ scenario on its final page is bone-chilling (thanks to Glenn Greenwald for the link):
The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time…
“Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders.”
[Other stories this week on the economic crisis and bailouts in particular:
An Economy Where Almost Everything is Free: ABC interviews Wired’s Chris Anderson on how in the next economy, you’ll give everything except premium ‘wraparound’ services away for free, and ‘make money from zero’, and Jeff Jarvis on the transition to Peer Production, “giving up control of your customers” (actually, giving up control of your enterprise to your customers). Click on the ‘Show Transcript’ button to view the full text. Thanks to Cheryl for the link.
Do Just Three Things Per Day: If you’re having trouble Getting Things Done, Colleen says try limiting yourself to working on just three projects/activities per day.
The Genetically Modified Poem: Another perceptive and conceptive work from Dave B: “You hardly need to read anything else.“
What Happens When Your Local Paper and TV Stations Disappear?: Rob says that, like in any ecosystem that is suddenly devastated, there’s a slow, innovative road to recovery.
The Wisdom of Crowds for Decision-Making: Caterina Fake is incubating Hunch, a new software that aggregates collective knowledge into decision trees that will help you make the decision by asking yourself, and answering, a series of questions. Thanks to Kathy Sierra (via Twitter) for the link.
Why Sharepoint (and Other Overengineered ‘Groupware’) Almost Never Works: Nancy summarizes the finding of just about every user I know that deployed groupware solutions are always suboptimal. Message to companies: Stop deploying these tools, and use simple, ubiquitous, user-friendly tools for social networking instead.
The Dysfunctional State of Info-Sharing in Business: A new survey says that people in organizations mostly share what they already know and agree on, and rely too much on consensus and not enough on critical discussion, and that the amount of discussion and info-sharing doesn’t correlate with the quality of resultant decisions. Thanks to Tony Karrer (via Twitter) for the link.
Why We Shouldn’t Trust Experts: Experts are overrated, but because there’s no accountability, no tracking, we don’t realize that in the long run they’re no better at decision-making and forecasting than random. Want proof? Look at this hilarious prediction from 2006 by Wharton prof Jeremy Siegel, who is still telling us everything’s a deal today.
Shhh! Mexico is Not a Failing State: Yeah, let’s not get Mexico mad at us by suggesting that it is, or they might let loose their corrupt cops, gangster governments, drug mafia, starving and angry farmers, and tens of millions of economic refugees on us.
Obama Plans to Make Canada-US Border Crossing Even More Bureaucratic: For both our sakes, we should cancel NAFTA now. It never worked, except for the corporatists. And it’s looking more and more, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, as if Obama is just as clued out about the futility of imperial wars and massively complicated “security” processes and bureaucracies as Bush was.
An Acronym for Sustainability: LEARN: Localize, Educate, Adapt, Ration, Negative Population Growth. Thanks to Lucas for the links.
Just for Fun: Now you can use Twitter to get each of your plants to tweet you when they’re thirsty and thank you when they’re not. Thanks to Theresa in Vancouver for the link.
Thoughts for the Week: