Monday, February 23, 2009

A Confidence Game

The state of the economy is must see TV every night. It's like watching a bad reality show or a very slow, very gruesome train wreck. Seriously, it is engrossing. Given all the expert opinions and such, it can be easy to lose site of an important fact - the economic recovery is a confidence game.

Think back to 2004. You know, back when you had just bought that new Cadillac Escalade to park in your track home that was so new the paint was still tacky to the touch. Did you give a second thought to buying that gas hog? Not a chance. After all, this is what everyone did. You bought a house and then a bunch of toys. If you needed money, you could just refinance your home. Intelligent cocktail party discussion consisted of debates over how low rates had to go before you could refinance again.

Looking back, those days seem tragically funny compared to now. Of course, looking back always involves 20/20 vision, but there is something at the heart of those times that has fundamentally changed now - confidence. One of the biggest issues confronting us as a nation and, indeed, a world is consumer confidence. In technical terms, this phrase refers to an analysis of how you will shop for things. I am talking about something else.

What are you doing with your money these days? Obviously, you try to pay your basic bills for housing, energy, food, clothes and so on. What about any additional cash that you have? Are you going out and spending it or are you holding onto as much of it as possible because you aren't sure how you'll be doing a few months from now? My definition of consumer confidence is simple. If you are going out and spending the money now, then confidence levels are high. If you are hoarding it, then your confidence levels are low. Guess what you, me and most people are doing? We're hoarding it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


If you talk with the average American walking down the street today (well, the streets of Raleigh, North Carolina), most of them would regard China as a threat to the sovereignty of the United States. They would say that China is going to over take us in military and economic power over the next 20 years and our country will eventually have to square off against them.

No so fast, I say. The future of China is definitely bright, but that doesn't mean that both countries can't coexist and prosper. In fact, the recovery to the United States economy would be expedited if China were to turn around first. Why? China's unprecedented growth offers both import and export opportunities that will drive up the economies of nations around the world.

In the United States, many of our industries are dependent on foreign nations growth. For example, many of the shipping companies traded on the Dow saw their stocks demolished as Chinese demand for shipping evaporated over the past year. Commodity companies such as US Steel saw their demand flat line this year after unprecedented growth from Chinese demand the past 5 years.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

World Economy Shrinking to Globalization

What has lead to integration of economies worldwide cannot be just a simple, single phenomenon? From the angle of ‘globalization,’ world economy cannot be bifurcated. It has to be viewed as a single market even at the macro 'global' level. This beautiful vast concept that has come to the shore after the signing of WTO in April 1990, can best be compared to a string of multi-colored beads that has incorporated different flowering economic divisions round the seven seas together. The International Monetary Fund defines globalization as a “historical process” involving “the increasing integration of economies around the world, particularly through trade and financial flows.” (“Globalization: Threat or Opportunity?” January 2002.)

“Globalization and deregulation of finance capital had happened so fast and so massively and so recklessly as well that more than stable investment for productive activity and trade, what was experienced was huge flow of destabilizing speculative capital. By 1990, it became the very force driving the world economy.” (Sundaram, N M. May 2006.)

It has become a catch-up concept to describe a range of trends and forces leading to openness, integration and interdependence of economies. In short, LPG process—liberalization, privatization and globalization—has engulfed the earth, ignoring the international boundaries to quiet an extent.

Cost-benefit estimate and discussion of policy measures to mobilize the global response is a routine for economists that can never be termed as mundane with minute-to-minute new developments. They cannot afford to ignore it as these days production area is not regional or sub-sectoral, rather it’s a set of national economies linked by trade and investment flows.

Friday, December 5, 2008

2008 US Presidential Elections

There were a series of various events like straw polls, debates etc. sponsored by different parties early this year. These events aimed at helping the voters to know more about the candidates.
For instance, a series of debates and candidate forums were organized by the Democrats in Nevada and South Carolina In the first half of this year.

A televised debate was hosted in May, 2007 by the Republican Party at the Ronald Regan Library in California. Besides, they also organized the popular Ames Straw Poll in Iowa in August this year.
As per the news agency reporting and the consensus listings, “front runner status” was given to six candidates by July, 2007. These candidates leading the pack are Giuliani, Obama, Clinton, Edwards, Mc Cain, and Romney.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Analyzing Obama's Successful Fashion Strategy

First, consider the claim that he builds his wardrobe on five different colored, but identical suits. Letting it be known that his suits were, in Mr. Obama's own words, "fairly standard", and that he typically bought five of the same suit, was in a word, brilliant. That simple statement helped to establish the candidate as a "regular guy" that we could identify with. Never mind that his suits are tailored, and that the price tag for each is in the neighborhood of $1,500.00. In fairness, that isn't an overwhelmingly exorbitant price, but in these tough economic times, $7,500.00 for five suits isn't a drop in the bucket for many of us. Nevertheless, the impact of the statement itself appears to have been positive.

Second, let's examine wearing the suit without the necktie. From the outset of his campaign, then Senator Obama needed to connect with as many factions of the American public as possible. The presentation of a clean-cut, well-dressed African American personality was well planned and perfectly executed. In repeatedly appearing without the tie, another important connection was made, to the younger voters. Sadly, even in professional fields, today's young adults often tend to consider men's neckties a fashion accessory rather than a requirement. The record turnout of young voters in this election confirms how successfully Mr. Obama connected with young Americans.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Obama Effect

The lines have been drawn in the sand and consumer brands and their pr teams better sit up and take notice. For years affluent African-American moms have been crying foul regarding campaigns that show them as loud, brash, cold, and bossy. Until now their grumbles have been relatively contained to the beauty salons, churches, and at Sunday family dinners. Black moms have remained vexed and embarrassed by the portrayal of them as one of two models; either ebonic-speaking, booty shakin', sex-pots, or, ignorant, obese, and domineering. Black moms have been troubled by this depiction in mainstream media but have remained relatively silent in communicating those frustrations publicly- until now.

This week the world held its breath as Americans elected Senator Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. In President-Elect Barack Obama's acceptance speech he gave a short but moving tribute to his African-American wife, partner, biggest supporter, and mother of his children, Mrs. Michelle Obama. Black women across the country wept at such a public expression of love and respect for a woman whose physical image reflects their own. Some have never witnessed such an outpouring of affection over an entire lifetime. Finally the world was seeing an educated, nurturing, accomplished mother who looks, talks, and shares the same goals, values, and aspirations as them. For the first time, on the world stage was a Black woman that seemed so familiar; someone who could fit in easily at a book club or at the local Mocha Mom or Jack and Jill group. The minute Michelle Obama came on the national scene the passive stance of Black mom consumers changed. Black moms are now chanting "No more!", and they are putting their purses where their mouths are. This is indeed the Michelle Obama Effect.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Business and Promotional Calendars

How many calendars do you have in your home? How many are at your work place or office? I imagine the number of calendars is greater than you think. Calendars are in cars, offices, school, businesses, in wallets and purses, and libraries. In fact, just about anywhere you find people you will find a calendar. People need calendars. They look at them almost daily.
You, as a business person, can take advantage of that fact. With a simple magnetic promotional calendar that has your information on it, you can get your business name in front of hundreds or thousands of people. The beauty is that they will look at it numerous times, and each time they will see your name. They won't consciously read your business name and phone number each time, but they will be slowly burning it into their minds. It's a fact that an advertisement must be heard/seen many times before it becomes something the listener/viewer remembers it. Each time a person refers to your promotional calendar, they are becoming more familiar with you and your product or service.