The Great Debate UK
By Torrie Callander, Global Reach Partners. The opinions expressed are his own.
The world’s mighty are currently meeting in Davos, Switzerland to discuss the progress – or lack of progress in some cases – of the global economic recovery. The financial crisis and resulting recession has brought many of the world’s major economies into the same boat. Subsequent years have seen a shift towards collective policy making in order to aid recovery. Here in the UK there has been a major shift in economic policy during that time, as a result of both collective world policy and a regime change at home. But this refocusing of our economic policy has to be taken further.
The UK of the industrial revolution was renowned as the “workshop of the world”. Now, with the overwhelming focus on a world-leading services sector, the UK is barely a workshop at all. This has got to change if we are to meet the Government’s ambitious growth plans.
Britain needs to recalibrate its commercial offering and refocus on manufacturing in order to vastly grow the export sector. The government is making gestures to achieve this aim. Already they have set a target of 100,000 UK businesses entering the export market for the first time within the next five years.
We are already making progress. Exports to the EU – our primary market place – were up 18.3% year on year in May 2011. We are making gains in the emerging markets too, with exports to China up 43.7% and India 43.4% in the same time period.
During the first day at the World Economic Forum yesterday, we witnessed delegates arriving with two things on their minds — how heavy the snowfall was and the realisation that new business models are needed to overcome global economic pressures. (It goes without saying that the mood at Davos hasn’t been helped by the IMF downgrading world growth targets). We all agree that we’re living in a volatile world and it cannot go ignored that there are many uncertainties we face, including currency volatility and high unemployment.
The euro zone crisis will undoubtedly be at the centre of the discussions concerning “uncertainty” but what the attending business leaders, governments and global organisations must understand and discuss, is what they can do together to put in place measures to transform and change, so we can better safeguard our future.
from The Great Debate:
After months of uncertainty around whether Ali Abdullah Saleh has been sincere about stepping down from his post as Yemen’s president, Sunday brought confirmation that he has left the country to seek medical treatment in the United States. Under a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council with United Nations, United States and United Kingdom assistance, Saleh is barred from partaking in the Feb. 21 elections for an interim president. In exchange, he received immunity in an unamendable law -- both nationally and internationally highly controversial -- passed by Yemen’s parliament the day before his departure.
And yet Saleh made it immediately clear that he intended to return to Yemen before the elections to lead his General People’s Congress party, which holds a majority of seats in parliament. This is, of course, somewhat reminiscent of the last time Saleh left Yemen for medical treatment in June 2011. Following a bomb attack on the presidential palace which left several senior government officials dead and Saleh and others seriously injured, he sought treatment in Saudi Arabia amid hopes he would step down from office. He returned to Sana’a as president at the end of September. While Saleh will not be able to hold this office again, his intention of continuing to play a major role in the future of Yemen taints the otherwise good news of his departure.
from The Great Debate:
This is an excerpt from King Larry: The Life and Ruins of a Billionaire Genius, published this month by Scribner.
With over a quarter million employees and a network of more countries than the U.N., DHL remains the largest express shipper in the world. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it was also the first, beating FedEx by several years. By some measures, the little-known (in the U.S., at least) DHL remains the fastest growing corporation in history and was certainly the most visionary. DHL instigated the destruction of the centuries-old tradition of the postal monopoly and invented its own word processor in the mid-1970s. Anticipating e-mail, it employed the grandfather of the Internet as its president in the early 1980s.
from The Great Debate:
General Electric’s healthcare laboratory in Bangalore contains some of the company’s most sophisticated products—from giant body scanners that can accommodate the bulkiest American football players to state-of-the-art intensive-care units that can nurse the tiniest premature babies. But the device that has captured the heart of the center’s boss, Ashish Shah, is much less fancy: a handheld electrocardiogram called the Mac 400.
The device is a masterpiece of simplification. The multiple buttons on conventional ECGs have been reduced to just four. The bulky printer has been replaced by one of those tiny gadgets used in portable ticket machines. The whole thing is small enough to fit into a small backpack and can run on batteries as well as on the mains. This miracle of compression sells for $800, instead of $2,000 for a conventional ECG, and has reduced the cost of an electrocardiogram to just $1 per patient.
By Kathleen Brooks. The opinions expressed are her own.
For the last three years talk about the global economy has been decidedly negative. Firstly there was the sub-prime housing crisis in the U.S., then the sovereign debt crisis, now we wonder whether the euro will survive and whether China will suffer a “hard” economic landing.
But amidst all of this doom and gloom, there seems to be a bright spot: Sub-Saharan Africa. For the bulk of the last thirty years the focus has been on famine, civil war or piracy, which has left a decidedly negative impression of the continent. However, in recent weeks there has been a growing number of optimistic reports about Africa, with some even thinking it could continue to grow while the rest of the world stagnates.
from Africa News blog:
By Isaac Esipisu
Although the role of political parties in Africa has changed dramatically since the sweeping reintroduction of multi-party politics in the early 1990s, Africa’s political parties remain deficient in many ways, particularly their organizational capacity, programmatic profiles and inner-party democracy.
The third wave of democratization that hit the shores of Africa 20 years ago has undoubtedly produced mixed results as regards to the democratic quality of the over 48 countries south of the Sahara. However, one finding can hardly be denied: the role of political parties has evidently changed dramatically.
It used to be Greece that was the canary in the coal mine, these days it’s Hungary. The new year got off to a bad start for the Eastern European nation after it experienced a failed bond auction, causing its bond yields to surge.
This caused major jitters across global financial markets and once again a small, relatively unknown economy is dominating the headlines and causing a massive headache for the European authorities.
from The Great Debate:
By Clay Shirky
The views expressed are his own.
This may be the year where newspapers finally drop the idea of treating all news as a product, and all readers as customers.
One early sign of this shift was the 2010 launch of paywalls for the London Times and Sunday Times. These involved no new strategy; however, the newspaper world was finally willing to regard them as real test of whether general-interest papers could induce a critical mass of readers to pay. (Nope.) Then, in March, the New York Times introduced a charge for readers who crossed a certain threshold of article views (a pattern copied from the financial press, and especially the Financial Times.) Finally, and most recently, were a pair of announcements last month: The Chicago Sun-Times was adopting a new threshold charge, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune said that their existing one was working well. Taken together, these events are a blow to the idea that online news can be treated as a simple product for sale, as the physical newspaper was.
from Ian Bremmer:
In a video for Reuters, Ian Bremmer discusses the biggest risks facing the markets in 2012 and says the next phase in the Middle East and the post-9/11 environment pose the greatest uncertainty:
As we begin 2012, political risks dominate global headlines in a way we’ve not experienced in decades. Everywhere you look in today’s global economy, concerns over insular, gridlocked, or fractured politics affecting markets stare back at you. Continuation of the politically driven crisis in the eurozone appears virtually guaranteed. There is profound instability across the Middle East. Grassroots opposition to entrenched governments is spreading to countries such as Russia and Kazakhstan that were thought more insulated. Nuclear powers North Korea and Pakistan (and soon Iran?) face unprecedented internal political pressure... Read the full top risks report here.