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A amazingly thought provoking documentary of Don McCullin

I will be honest in that i did not know who Don McCullin was until a month ago, when i watched this documentary. But i can say that this is one of the most influential movies i have ever seen.

don mccullin portrait photo

Don McCullin is an English photojournalist who is renowned for shining a light on the dark side of humanity, telling the story of those impoverished, war stricken people all around the world. Growing up on the mean streets of Finsbury in London and doing a stint in the RAF eventually led him to take the photo of a notorious gang that ran in the Observer in 1959. It was this photo that started his journey of storytelling, across all continents and of all cultures from Biafra and Northern Island to Vietnam and parts of Africa through the AIDS Epidemic. Often finding himself amongst brave, shocking and horrific tales of human suffering he earned himself a reputation as a fearless truth teller. Starting out as a self-confessed ‘war junkie’ he develops an incredibly deep and sensitive consciousness that i believe is reflected in the tone and timing of his photographs.

As the Falklands reared its ugly head he was not allowed to go, which was at the time believed to be because the government of Margaret Thatcher did not want his hard hitting photos to hit the pages of the papers, reducing sentiment for the actions of war. Wikipedia states that this was not the case, but was infact a simple lack of Royal Navy ‘press passes’.

He is one of those people that you cannot stop listening too, and this film is no different. Intelligent and reflective of his actions he makes no attempt to glamorise his work,  and is openly abhorred by the lows our species can stoop to. This film was directed by David Morris and Jacqui Morris and nominated for 2 BAFTA awards.

Inspirational, uplifting, terrifying, sobering and questioning; this story must be heard.

Here are some of the photos that he has taken, showing the cold face of many human crisis and often being responsible for questions to be asked by the populations to those in power.

don mccullin soldier photo black and white

Lebanese fighters playing guitar don mccullin photo

starving mother feeding baby don mccullin photo black and white

Londonderry catholics jumping a wall domn mccullin

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Enron – The worlds largest corporate crime

Ok Ok, if you don’t know about this then you need to. Watch this unbelievable documentary called “The Smartest Guys In The Room” about the Enron Scandal from 2001.

enron_chartEnron was an American company based in Houston, Texas, founded by Kenneth Lay, and traded in energy. The company performed all manner of dubious activities, and artificially drove up the price of energy, capped the retail price for electricity and even caused region wide blackouts, dubbed the Californian Electricity Crisis.

The company performed large scale accounting fraud, hiding billions of USDs of debt, with Arthur Anderson and thus provided vastly inflated share prices at the time. The scandal was revealed in October and as you can see from the graph the share price plummeted (even though it had been decreasing for a while).

All this criminal activity eventually led to the largest bankruptcy reorganisation in history (a USD40 billion claim from shareholders) of the whole Enron Corporation alongside the dissolution of Arthur Anderson which was the largest audit failure ever. Just a side note, this was the largest bankruptcy in history until that of WorldCom the next year.

This documentary will illustrate all the key points, and is certainly worth a watch if you have about 1.5 hours (109 minutes to be exact). So go get a cuppa and sit back to learn about one the largest corporate frauds in human history.

The Smartest Guys in the Room (well not that smart…) – this is only the trailer as the whole video has been removed from Youtube 😦 But i strongly advise you to do some digging so you can watch.

@Billgates talking about the future of Energy

Bill Gates is a good guy. Lets be honest. He is one the wealthiest people in the world, a true philanthropist and he has founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which believes all life on earth has equal right to equal opportunity and is dedicated to achieving this. They believe in optimism, rigour, innovation and collaboration to get there. Make sure you check out their website by clicking the link.

Bill understands that reducing the cost of energy and the carbon constraint is important for the development of the human race, and in particular this will assist in pulling the poorest in the world out of poverty. He pontificates we need to move towards near zero carbon emissions and suggests that we require one of five pariahs within the energy sector to materialise. He talks of carbon capture, batteries, alternative energy sources, fourth generation nuclear power plants, investment into renewables, good economics and innovation to get where we need to go.

Interestingly i was reading an article called Marketing Myopia by Theodore Levitt within the Harvard Business Review. He talks of dying industries, such as the Railroads, as they limited themselves by not understanding they were there to add value to customers. In it, he states that the ‘Oil’ businesses are in for a rough road, unless they expand their views to understand what they really give customers. I dont buy gas for my car, i buy the right to travel another 100 miles. Should these ‘Oil’ companies be focusing more on alternative sources of energy, becuase if they dont someone else will and then the ‘Oil’ industry might go the way of the railroad industry. Down.

I digress… watch video of Bill Gates to be inspired and hear about entrepreneurship in energy.

Fight of the Century… Keynes vs Hayek Round 2..!

Well, i am not 100% sure this is the fight of the century, perhaps more the fight of all centuries. Another great take on the continuing battle between liberal Hayek economic theory and the Government intervention promoted by John Maynard Keynes.

This video has been put together by EconTalk‘s Russ Roberts and John Papola, and i strongly advise you get involved in the fantastic set of podcasts from Econtalk. check the website here http://www.econstories.tv.

Having balanced on the edge of the edge of a depression after the financial slump seen in 2008, there are still many questions being asked by economists and policy makers so as to speed up the recovery in many capitalist nations, as growth and employment are slow to recover than anticipated. Should we push for more fiscal stimulus, should spending be steered and from the top down or does prosperity come as green shoots from the bottom up?

Listen to this great rap video, to get a take on all these and more.

Another great talk from Paul Krugman on #Globalization

As i begin to write my fist assignments on Economic factors, both micro and macro, that are changing in this complex world i have stumbled across this great lecture from Professor Paul Krugman in October 2009, regarding the history and future of globalization. This was part of the Citigroup Foundation lecture at the Ford School of Public Policy and International Policy Centre.

In this video Krugman highlights that this is not a new phenomena, and walks us through the standard theory of comparative advantage and how this is perhaps not entirely relevant in todays world. He talks about a new Economic geography, including clustering and specialisation, and the demands that the complex value chain has on firms. He goes onto mention by products of globalization to include an integration of thought (ie all people thinking the same when faced with a crisis), and how perhaps globalisation needs policy coordination.

Have a listen to this, as i think it is well worth the hour and half.

 

 

“Fear the Boom and Bust” rap battle, Hayek vs. Keynes.. heavi!!!

This is truly amazing. F.A Hayek battles it out against John Maynard Keynes in this brilliantly put together spoof video. The two large theories of Keynesian Economics and Monetarism battling it out.

Just listen…

The World Economy in Crisis: Debt, Double-dip, Employment Outlook. What Happens Next?

A friend of mine from the University West Of England Executive MBA course just sent me this fantastic youtube video, of Boston University’s School of Management’s first event in the Dean’s Speaker Series. Entitled “The World Economy in Crisis: Debt, Double-dip, Employment Outlook – What Happens Next?” it kind of describes it all.

The Panelists included:
Jeffrey L. Knight, Head of Global Asset Allocation, Putnam Investments
Lawrence Kotlioff, Professor, Department of Economics
Michael Salinger, Professor, Markets, Public Policy & Law
John Zhao, CEO of Hony Capital

Boston University School of Management Dean, Ken Freeman, moderated the event.

http://management.bu.edu/

Be sure to watch this video, as it gives some great insights into what the great minds of today, are suggesting we do for tomorrow. I will aim to give this video some more time on this blog as some great concepts are talked over. I found it very inspirational, and almost a challenge to go and make ‘it’ work. But for now, here is the video….

Richard Koo believes Europe and the West has another disease…

Japan has had a long and protracted economic crawl over the last 15 years. It has not really followed any norms of current taught economic theory. In economics there are certain rules we look to embrace, otherwise we have little founding on which to base arguments and theories. One such rule is that all business managers aim to maximise profit, but Richard Koo has a theory (based on acute observations made over the last 15 years in Japan) that these rules of engagement are being broken in this current economic climate.

Normal recessions will be brought about due to an overproduction of something, the tightening of monetary policy or inflationary pressure. But in this instance this is not the case. He suggests that this is a not a normal recession, but instead a new disease. He calls it a Balance Sheet recession. This is when business managers are looking to minimise debt instead of maximising profits.

Normally when interest rates are low, business managers will look to borrow money so that they can invest and grow sales. However Richard Koo suggests that although the current interest rates are low business managers are not looking to borrow more money, but are instead paying down debt.

He argues there are two forms of bankruptcy. You can be bankrupt without cashflow or with cashflow. If you have no cashflow and your balance sheet is ‘underwater’ you go out of business. Simple… However, if you are bankrupt with cashflow, the best for all stakeholders in the company, from shareholders to workers, is to use this cashflow to pay down debt. The idea being that if you can reduce this debt over a few years, then the company can work its way out of this liquidity issue and re-emerge to trade normally once more. This is the right thing to do at a micro level, but Richard Koo asks us to look at the macro level.

In the ‘assumed economy’, bank deposits are used by the financial sector to loan to other business to generate further sales and profits. However, if your balance sheets are in jepordy then business will not look to take on further loans but instead pay down debt. If all business are looking to pay down debt, and thus are not borrowing nor spending then affects are protracted. He equates this current economic dilema to the Great Depression, and says that this is what has been happening in Japan for 15 years.

He believes that only the opposite of public saving and debt reduction from the government can actually solve this issue. Government borrowing and spending, as in China in 2007, is the only remedy to this ‘pneumonia’.

Are we seeing a returning argument for the role of mixed market economies, and Keynesian Economic Theory?

Some interesting ideas to take into my first economics lectures next year. I swear this is one of the best/worst times to be learning about economics!!!

Jeremy Rifkin talks about the need to evole into Homo-empathicus

The RSA Organisation is a true inspiration to myself, with many lectures and articles from some of the best intellectual minds on the planet. Jeremy Rifkin is one such mind, and is a bestselling author, political adviser and social and ethical prophet. In this lecture he explores the evolution and development of empathy and the ways in which this has profoundly shaped our development as a species and our social interaction within communities. Mr Rifkin calls for a more empathetic world, one where we can extend our empathy outside of our blood line, religion, and nation to include the entire population of the world, the animals within it, and the environment itself. He claims that the 6.8 Billion people of today (now actually over 7 Billion) are decendents from 2 individuals, ie we are all family. In the words of Rodney King;

“Why can’t we all just get along?”

As we have evolved our consciousness over time, from the early hunter gatherers, to the coffee drinking shoppers of today, we have expanded our levels of empathy to include people further and further afield. Taking Haiti as an example of the state of Global Empathy reached following the devastating earthquake there, Jeremy Rifkin suggest that we can evolve further using technology to communicate and spread the word. He believes we can evolve into a more empathetic species, called Homo-empathicus where we are concerned and feel for all people of this world and the world itself. Without this development, he states, we are doomed to self-destruction. Mr Rifkin calls for the beginning of a global debate to bring about empathic socialability and to begin to rethink the institutions (educational, political, commercial, societal) to promte a more empathetic world. And i suppose in short, this is what the RSA Organisation stands for.

I believe that unless the individuals within the business world begin to function with a higher level of morality and empathy towards others and with a better social vision that we will see a period of Global Destabilisation that will rock our species to the core, and will cost the Global Economy untold Trillions and set us back into the dark ages. Many people believe that Milton Friedman, the prophet of Free-Trade, to be an evil man but i feel this is a vast oversimplification. I am aware that he was involved in some dubious dealings and that his theories have caused hardship for many around the world, but i aim to look at his economical ideology rather than the results of such ideologies. But he once wrote;

‘our minds tells us, and history confirms, that the great threat to freedom is the concentration of power’. 

Although in this he was talking about the centralised government, and the need to ensure a more de-centralised base for political and governmental power i believe this can be applied to a concentration of wealth, as it is easy to see that economic power can lead to political leaning and thus enable monopolies of power and self-interest. We, as business people, need to ensure that we are able to view anothers situation and seek empathy for that person so that we can share the resources of this world and promote freedom around the globe.

As ever, a truly enlightening and thought-provoking lecture from the RSA Organisation.

For another post from the RSA Organisation about motivation please click this link.

Please let me have any comments you have, so that we can aim to develop conversations and debate over this topic.

 

 

What Gerald Celente says.. China, 1.3 Billion people and a Million problems

Here is a quick 20 minute interview with Gerald Celente from the Tommy Schnurmacher Show, on the 09.11.11. We are all aware that Gerald Celente has been scarily correct with many of his predictions on economic and social events, such as the 2008 financial crash, the London Riots, the Gold Bull Run and even the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Some say he is a living Nostradamus, but that could be a little sensationalist. He does however, paint an interesting picture, and has some scary predictions and I believe his viewpoint is definitely worth hearing. Founder of the Trend Research Institute and Direct Democracy Now he is a big advocate in shifting the current economic and political systems, to spread the wealth and power around to all constituents, rather than just a few.

In this interview, he states that the world economy is more connected than we could ever imagine, and that the engine we believed was going to pull the world from this current Financial Crisis, China, is not working. If the West does not consume, the Chinese does not manufacture and that Chile and Brazil will follow suite as a supplier of natural resources. Mr Celente suggests until we have hit rock bottom we do not act, and that this is Global Destabilisation.

In this he also talks of a ‘New World Order’ that has been passed around as a Conspiracy Theory for years, but begins to argue that this is happening now. As the US Federal Reserve lends Trillions of US $’s to Banks, which lend to Governments that default on loan payments, the power shift toward the economic elite is enormous. This could be classed as a land grab, for all the natural resources, electric supply, land and farming by those in control. He argues that bailouts are not bailouts, but instead control through debt. The more indebted a country, the higher the taxes, the more the people work to pay the loan interest owed to a few.

Its all pretty scary stuff, but i think that this is important to hear, so that we can aim to develop and implement a plan to avert this pending shift. Although my question is, seeing as the Global Economy is so very complicated that not only can we not fully understand it, what actions can actually be taken to make change?

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