Sunday, December 28, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Just a few years ago:
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I feel it in the water
I feel it in the earth
I smell it in the air
Much that once was, is lost...
- The Lord of the Rings
I'm not an economist, I'm a businessman. But I don't think it takes a PhD in the Dismal Science to figure out that things are changing. Permanently. We are not in a hiccup.
We currently have a recessionary situation forcing a cut in manufacturing capacity, in a country that has little manufacturing left and has become dependent on services. In a panic, we have the government running the printing presses 24-7 giving money to all comers, with promises of more to come.
Where's all this money supposed to go?
You'd be stupid to pay off your mortgage or debts - the government is teaching everyone not to pay their debts.
You're not going to invest it in real estate or the stock market.
Your choices are to put it into a zero-yielding bond, give it to a bank that might go broke, or spend it.
So there is an a massive incentive to spend all this government-printed money within an economy of dwindling supply and services. This means inflation, the debasing of the currency.
The only question is how long will it take for those dollars to percolate through the economy and for the spike to start. This week's massive downward spiral of the dollar signals that foreigners are getting it. When will Americans?
And when Americans do figure it out, we are looking, at best, a dramatically different economy, at worst a panic. In either event we are looking straight into paradigm shift.
We're moving into a new age, where the economic assumptions of the past don't work in the present. The only question is what to do about it. And for that I have no concrete answers.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
Let me give everyone some news:
- Giving away money, lowering payments and other programs to bail out homeowners won't save the homeowners
- Giving money to the U.S. car companies won't save the car companies
- Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on "infrastructure" won't save the economy from recession
You have to let people and business fail because whatever you do they are going to fail anyway. If not now, then later after your stupid bailouts give them free money from the taxpayers. It just prolongs the inevitable.
Get the people who should not be owning a home back into an apartment. Take their friggen house away, there is no shame in renting.
Let the companies that should fail, fail. I don't remember the government bailing out my company in 2002 when it failed.
And the government is not going to prevent a recession. It can only print money and hand it out, and pile on debt, hurting the economy even worse in the long run.
- Break the Ice - This is the most common stereotype of salesmen, and it is true. Salesmen will chat you up on all sorts of topics from the meeting room to the conference room. It can be as mundane as the weather, maybe even a warm-up to the business discussion.
- Just Get You Talking - You'd be surprised what people will reveal if you just get them talking - talking about anything. Once talking you can bring them where you need them to go, but if they aren't talking at all you can't get them there, and you get people talking by asking questions.
- Get Them To Correct You - This is one of my favorites. Ask something that isn't quite right about the industry, technology or something related to the business: "I heard SuperGlobalTek was in merger talks with ChinaTek?" The customer will jump right in to correct you to show you how smart they are. "They're not? I had it ALL wrong. So tell me what you heard!" And you're off to the races, getting all sorts of juicy tidbits and getting the customer talking. This also works for email by the way, but has to be used judiciously since you create a trail that could come back and bite you.
- Keep Them Off Balance - I actually do this a lot, not so much to keep a customer mentally off balance, but to keep the talks from getting too serious, keep the customer focused on the relationship more than the tactical business issues (i.e. keep the thinking emotional rather than rational). So I am the guy who throws in jokes and sidelines during the serious business back-and-forth. Not a "clown", but rather subtle observational humor that might get a chuckle or a smile.
And everyone thinks we just do it with our winning smile and personality.
Friday, December 05, 2008
I reviewed mine several months ago, and I have to say it is simply a great product, especially for the heavy traveler. I go on trips with three books, a magazine and a newspaper, something that used to add considerable weight and bulk to my computer bag. I currently have two new releases from my favorite popular authors - Connelly and DeMille - downloaded, as well as some free classics from Project Gutenberg. It's like having a small book that magically has everything on it.
And a nice feature I started using recently - the larger font size - is coming in handy as my eyes start taking a wee bit more time to focus on close-in items (so I can keep increasing the font size each year to fool myself that I am too young for reading glasses).
Motley Fool speculates that the "shortage" is due to Amazon removing their inventory in preparation for the next generation version. As noted in my review there are a few items they could improve - internet browsing and music playback for example - but for basic book reading I think it is already a great product - and use an iPod and PC for those tasks, so don't see myself upgrading if this is true.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
- "Crime and Punishment", Fydor Dostoevsky
A truly remarkable read. It gripped me from the first page and I could hardly put it down. Largely a psychological tale taking place as inner dialog, the book explores everything from morality to guilt, with a very large dose of "why"?
With literary works like this, it makes you realize why Russians drink such large quantities of vodka. If you didn't get to it in college, definitely put it on your long-term reading list.