How Davos talks about unemployment

DAVOS – In a conversation with a fellow journalist here in Switzerland, we settled on an unofficial motto for the attendees at Davos: there’s a lot we could be doing, but we aren’t.

That’s the overriding theme at Davos about the global unemployment crisis. It’s a slower-moving crisis than the European debt problems that consumed the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering last year. Still, you can hear unemployment being regularly mentioned as a “headwind” in the comments of policymakers and executives at Davos. Several attendees even cited the latest data: Today, Spain announced that its jobless rate hit 26 percent; 60 percent of Spanish citizens under 25 are jobless. Globally, some 200 million people are unemployed, according to the International Labour Organization, with 5 million people expected to be added to the ranks of the unemployed this year.

But this is decidedly not the kind of crisis that Davos is well-equipped to solve: WEF founder Klaus Schwab warned in a blog post Europe’s rising unemployment problem, but also wrote that young people will no longer have jobs “handed to them on a plate; they will have to create them for themselves.”

Jamie McAuliffe, the CEO of Education for Employment, a nonprofit that helps match unemployed Middle Eastern and North African youth with employers, said he’d love it if the Davos crowd would do more. “If we could move some of these conversations to more of an expectation that people are leaving here with commitments, that would be very powerful.” McAuliffe, for what it’s worth, is also the chair of the WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Youth Employment.

Instead of commitments, there were panels and panels (and more panels), which featured a few good ideas and a lot of familiar rhetoric.

from Photographers' Blog:

The water of life, the spirit of Scotland

Craigellachie, Scotland

By David Moir

Scotch whisky is big business. With sales well over 5 billion pounds per year it’s an industry that has gripped the growing middle classes around the world. Including in countries where sales previously struggled and with drinks industry companies eager to quench that thirst with huge modern computer run distilleries being built around the globe producing more and more of the liquid.
But one thing still remains true in its production, oak casks.

Whisky isn’t Scotch Whisky unless it has been distilled in Scotland and matured for a minimum of three years in an oak cask which comes in various capacities from a Pin to a Butt. ‘Cooper’s’ are the tradesmen who build and repair the oak casks and barrels, their skills passed down from generations show no signs of entering the hi-tech world. They use tools such as a dowelling stock, flagging iron, inside shave and a hollowing knife to name a few.

I visited the Speyside Cooperage which started as a family business in 1947, in the small village of Craigellachie in northern Scotland, or the Malt Whisky Trail as it is also lovingly known. There they repair and build up to 150,000 oak casks a year, with each ‘cooper’ still being paid per cask, working on 20-30 per day like it always has been. The hardest workers can earn up to 60,000 pounds.

Ping Fu’s dramatic journey from captivity to computer entrepreneur

Ping Fu, co-founder of Geomagic, shares her harrowing personal story with Reuters Editor-at-Large Sir Harold Evans. Fu, author of “Bend, Don’t Break,” talks about growing up during China’s Cultural Revolution and how she came to the United States with next to nothing and managed to build her own software company. YouTube Preview Image

Image: REUTERS/Screengrab

On time: Q&A with Hodinkee founder Benjamin Clymer

At the most recent Pop Up Flea, a temporary Americana brand and menswear bazaar in New York City, one unexpected vendor stood out. Not only was the sheer size of its crowd impressive, but it wasn’t even a traditional retail store. The popular booth featured the watch blog Hodinkee—pronounced ho-dinkey—founded by former UBS consultant Ben Clymer.

Clymer was there to sell vintage watches, owned by others, as part of a larger marketing effort that he hopes will make Hodinkee the online destination for all things watch. So far, the strategy seems to be working. Clymer says Hodinkee gets about 300,000 unique visitors a month from more than 50 countries. Traffic to the site doubled in 2011 and grew 120 percent in 2012.

Hodinkee already has partnerships with online retailers Gilt, Park & Bond and Club Monaco. Clymer helps those outlets select watches to sell on their sites. John Mayer is a regular contributor to Hodinkee and Clymer is in talks to launch a web series on Jay-Z’s Life + Times YouTube channel. Clymer says there are currently no plans for a retail operation, but Hodinkee continues to add new products, including straps, pouches and ties to its online store.

Small businesses face holiday expense filing crunch

While many of us are making merry, it’s hardly the most wonderful time of the year for the accounting staffs at many small businesses.

A rush by employees to submit their expense claims so they can be reimbursed before the holidays, makes today the busiest expense-filing day of the year, according to data from online accounting services firm Concur (NASDAQ: CNQR).

On this day U.S. small businesses will process more than twice as many expense reports as the daily average. That’s a lot of unhappy accountants.

Entrepreneur, VC offers shortcuts to help startups be more successful

Image courtesy of Mark Hopkins.

Suggesting there are shortcuts entrepreneurs can take to improve their chances of success would appear to refute Malcolm Gladwell’s popular “10,000 hours” theory.

But instead of picking a fight with the “Outliers” author, entrepreneur and fund manager Mark Hopkins is just trying to be provocative to get people to pick up his own book: “Shortcut to Prosperity: 10 Entrepreneurial Habits and a Roadmap For An Exceptional Career”.

“I’m not at all refuting Gladwell’s 10,000 hours,” confessed Hopkins, 53, who actually references Gladwell in the book. “The shortcut is really a way to get people to pick up the book and for me to say: ’If you do these things then you have a good shot at it, but it’s going to be a lot of work.’”

Jim Koch on owning your own business

In the latest episode of Impact Players, Robert Wolf interviews Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Company, the brewer of Sam Adams beer. The two discuss entrepreneurship, the happiness that comes from owning your own business, and of course… beer.

Loans, optimism scarce for most small businesses

For entrepreneur Maurice Lopes, the plight of today’s small business owner is epitomized by a cartoon that depicts a bunch of people staring through the window of a bank, while a policeman swings a club to try to get them to disperse.

Lopes said the punch line read: “What’s the matter? Never seen somebody get a loan before?”

All joking aside, Lopes confessed it’s not a pretty picture for startups and small firms trying to raise what he called “gap funding” of less than $500,000 in the current economy.

Small business owners “nervous” about looming fiscal cliff

Eric Blinderman, who had to shut down his two upscale New York restaurants for a week in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, said the approaching fiscal cliff could mean a “double whammy” for his business heading into the busy holiday season.

With a package of $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to come into effect on January 1 if President Obama and Congress fail to agree on an extension or reach an alternate deal, small business owners like Blinderman will be hit with additional costs that could seriously impact their bottom line and ability to grow.

“That uncertainty is what leaves me so nervous,” said Blinderman, who operates two restaurants, both named Mas, in Manhattan’s affluent West Village that employ about 100 people.

Video: No easy profits for auto wreckers after Hurricane Sandy

For some, Hurricane Sandy has meant more work for their small businesses. With some 250,000 cars destroyed by the storm, one auto wrecker is suddenly very busy, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. In this Reuters TV spot Sally Maggio, a New Jersey car garage owner, explains why this boom in business is actually undercutting her profits.


Image: A car is seen in the debris of a home that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in Mantoloking, New Jersey November 12, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Thayer