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jerryking : hollowing_out   22

Thanks to a billionaire, Detroit is new and improved – but for whom?
November 18, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | by ADRIAN MORROW, U.S. CORRESPONDENT

Detroit's urban renaissance has also drawn tough criticism. For one, Quicken and Bedrock are accused of building an affluent island in the centre of a low-income city. While Dan Gilbert’s spending has revitalized the central business district, much of Detroit remains economically distressed with neighbourhoods full of boarded-up businesses and burnt-out houses. Detroit’s racial divides factor in, too: Recent developments have tended to concentrate in the whiter neighbourhoods of a city where 79 per cent of the population is black. For another, Bedrock and its related companies have received US$767-million worth of government subsidies and tax breaks since 2010. To some, this is an egregious use of funds when Detroit’s schools and transit system are struggling. Mr. Gilbert’s critics argue a man with a net worth Forbes estimates at US$6.8-billion has no need for government assistance.
Whether Mr. Gilbert is the hero Detroit needed to pull it back from the precipice or an unaccountable billionaire wielding an uncomfortable amount of civic power, his rise represents an extraordinary moment in U.S. urbanism. The rapid rebirth and future of one of the country’s greatest and most troubled cities rests largely in the hands of one man and his corporate empire, which is both animating the metropolis with its workforce, and directly shaping the look and feel of its streets and buildings........the subsidies have been “necessary,” but the city and state have done too little to extract benefits such as affordable housing and heritage preservation in exchange. Rather than a divide between downtown and neighbourhoods, or Mr. Gilbert and community bootstrappers, she argued, all of these elements have to work together.
anchor_tenants  Dan_Gilbert  decline  Detroit  downtown_core  gentrification  hollowing_out  income_inequality  moguls  property_development  Quicken_Loans   racial_disparities  refurbished  rejuvenation  revivals  subsidies  tax_subsidies  urban_renaissance  urban_renewal  white-collar 
november 2019 by jerryking
An equation to ensure America survives the age of AI
April 10, 2019 | Financial Times | Elizabeth Cobbs.

Alexander Hamilton, Horace Mann and Frances Perkins are linked by their emphasis on the importance of human learning.

In more and more industries, the low-skilled suffer declining pay and hours. McKinsey estimates that 60 per cent of occupations are at risk of partial or total automation. Workers spy disaster. Whether the middle class shrinks in the age of artificial intelligence depends less on machine learning than on human learning. Historical precedents help, especially...... the Hamilton-Mann-Perkins equation: innovation plus education, plus a social safety net, equals the sum of prosperity.

(1) Alexander Hamilton.
US founding father Alexander Hamilton was first to understand the relationship between: (a) the US's founding coincided with the industrial revolution and the need to grapple with technological disruption (In 1776, James Watts sold his first steam engine when the ink was still wet on the Declaration of Independence)-- Steam remade the world economically; and (b), America’s decolonisation remade the world politically......Hamilton believed that Fledgling countries needed robust economies. New technologies gave them an edge. Hamilton noted that England owed its progress to the mechanization of textile production.......Thomas Jefferson,on the other hand, argued that the US should remain pastoral: a free, virtuous nation exchanged raw materials for foreign goods. Farmers were “the chosen people”; factories promoted dependence and vice.....Hamilton disagreed. He thought colonies shouldn’t overpay foreigners for things they could produce themselves. Government should incentivise innovation, said his 1791 Report on the Subject of Manufactures. Otherwise citizens would resist change even when jobs ceased to provide sufficient income, deterred from making a “spontaneous transition to new pursuits”.......the U.S. Constitution empowered Congress to grant patents to anyone with a qualified application. America became a nation of tinkerers...Cyrus McCormick, son of a farmer, patented a mechanical reaper in 1834 that reduced the hands needed in farming. The US soared to become the world’s largest economy by 1890. Hamilton’s constant: nurture innovation.

(2) Horace Mann
America’s success gave rise to the idea that a free country needed free schools. The reformer Horace Mann, who never had more than six weeks of schooling in a year, started the Common School Movement, calling public schools “the greatest discovery made by man”.....Grammar schools spread across the US between the 1830s and 1880s. Reading, writing and arithmetic were the tools for success in industrialising economies. Towns offered children a no-cost education.......Americans achieved the world’s highest per capita income just as they became the world’s best-educated people. Mann’s constant: prioritise education.

(3) Frances Perkins
Jefferson was correct that industrial economies made people more interdependent. By 1920, more Americans lived in towns earning wages than on farms growing their own food. When the Great Depression drove unemployment to 25 per cent, the state took a third role....FDR recruited Frances Perkins, the longest serving labour secretary in US history, to rescue workers. Perkins led campaigns that established a minimum wage and maximum workweek. Most importantly, she chaired the committee that wrote the 1935 Social Security Act, creating a federal pension system and state unemployment insurance. Her achievements did not end the depression, but helped democracy weather it. Perkins’s constant: knit a safety net.

The world has ridden three swells of industrialisation occasioned by the harnessing of steam, electricity and computers. The next wave, brought to us by AI, towers over us. History shows that innovation, education and safety nets point the ship of state into the wave.

Progress is a variable. Hamilton, Mann and Perkins would each urge us to mind the constants in the historical equation.
adaptability  Alexander_Hamilton  artificial_intelligence  automation  constitutions  disruption  downward_mobility  education  FDR  Founding_Fathers  Frances_Perkins  gig_economy  historical_precedents  hollowing_out  Horace_Mann  Industrial_Revolution  innovation  innovation_policies  James_Watts  job_destruction  job_displacement  job_loss  life_long_learning  low-skilled  McKinsey  middle_class  priorities  productivity  public_education  public_schools  safety_nets  slavery  steam_engine  the_Great_Depression  Thomas_Jefferson  tinkerers 
april 2019 by jerryking
Another one bites the dust: Goldcorp sale a further example of the hollowing out of Corporate Canada - The Globe and Mail
ERIC REGULY EUROPEAN BUREAU CHIEF
ROME
PUBLISHED JANUARY 14, 2019

Toronto’s Barrick Gold Corp. always wanted to team up with Newmont Mining Corp. of Colorado. Merging the two giants, which have adjoining operations in gold-rich Nevada, would have created an unassailable industry leader and reduced costs by an estimated US$1-billion a year. On paper, it looked like a dream deal. But it never got off the ground, in good part because Barrick founder Peter Munk wanted the new company to stay in Toronto, not move to Denver.

Were he alive today, Mr. Munk – a Canadian patriot who believed in the value of head offices – would be distraught. In the fall, Barrick bought Randgold Resources but handed management control to Randgold’s executives, who promptly gutted Barrick’s Toronto headquarters, leaving the world’s top producer with a mere 65 employees in its echo-chamber offices on Bay Street. The deal was, in effect, a reverse takeover. The new Barrick will be run from the Channel Islands........Toronto still fancies itself the mining capital of the world, a bold claim given that it is now largely devoid of A-team and even B-team players. Barrick was the last miner in Canada that could be considered world class, and it’s fading from view as a Canadian company. All the big base-metal names are gone, bar Teck Resources. Goldcorp is going. Who’s next? Could it be the well-regarded Agnico Eagle Mines (market value $12.4-billion) or B2Gold ($3.7-billion)?

Aside from the loss of their Toronto stock-market listings, the endless elimination of head offices across Canada rots the country’s social fabric. Head offices provide high-paying, high-skilled job opportunities and create an ecosystem of spinoff jobs, from accountants and chefs to limo drivers and lawyers. Head offices bolster the financial-services industry, which underwrites bond and equity sales and sponsors the arts and charities. When head offices disappear, so does talent. If you want a top-level management job in mining, an industry that shaped Canada, forget Toronto. Today, the opportunities are in London, Johannesburg and Melbourne...........In a largely open economy such as Canada’s (banks, big telecoms and media companies are still protected from foreign takeovers), it’s hard to stop head offices from disappearing. The cult of shareholder capitalism produces unsentimental results, such as the eradication of underperforming companies. But Canadian investors and managers have proven time after time that they’re happier to sell rather than build, happy to take a quick buck rather than take a long-term gamble on a double or triple. The cost of doing so is a hollowed-out corporate sector – a branch-plant economy.
Barrick  Corporate_Canada  Eric_Reguly  Goldcorp  head_offices  hollowing_out  Peter_Munk  sellout_culture  social_fabric 
january 2019 by jerryking
The gutting of Barrick Gold – it didn’t have to be this way - The Globe and Mail
ERIC REGULY EUROPEAN BUREAU CHIEF
ROME
PUBLISHED JANUARY 4, 2019

Most big companies Eric Reguly followed – Inco, Falconbridge, Alcan, Dofasco, Molson, Fairmont, Four Seasons, among others – were flogged to foreigners, their head offices downgraded to branch plants or eliminated. ....Canadians were sellers, not builders.....If there was one company that was safe from the takeover onslaught, it was Barrick Gold, I thought......At the time, Barrick was run by its founder, Peter Munk, the Hungarian-born Canadian patriot who wanted to build the world’s biggest gold miner. After achieving that goal, he mused about creating a diversified resources giant, the equivalent of a BHP Billiton or Rio Tinto under the Maple Leaf. But he was too late: By the time he was ready to put the pieces together, in the middle part of the previous decade, all his potential targets, including Inco, had been plucked clean from the Toronto stock market.....
Eric_Reguly  branch_plants  head_offices  hollowing_out  John_Thornton  large_companies  LSE  mining  Peter_Munk  Pierre_Lassonde  sellout_culture  TMX  Barrick  Corporate_Canada 
january 2019 by jerryking
St-Hubert, Rona and new fears of a hollowed-out Quebec Inc. - The Globe and Mail
KONRAD YAKABUSKI
MONTREAL — The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Apr. 07, 2016

Existing institutions, starting with the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, are increasingly seen as being unable or unwilling to play the gatekeeper role that prevented key businesses from falling into outside hands in the past. The Caisse, which manages investments for the Quebec Pension Plan and other provincial retirement regimes, is much more focused on global opportunities as it seeks the returns it needs to prepare for an onslaught of pensioners.

For former Rona chief executive officer Robert Dutton, that became painfully clear in 2012 when Lowe’s first tabled a hostile bid for the Quebec chain. Speaking out for the first time last week, Mr. Dutton told Radio-Canada that Caisse chief Michael Sabia had always favoured Rona’s sale, but was forced by then Liberal finance minister Raymond Bachand to block the Lowe’s bid in 2012. Mr. Dutton’s ouster and subsequent board changes, he said, were engineered by the Caisse to pave the way for a much richer bid by Lowe’s, a premium made possible by a weak Canadian dollar.

Mr. Sabia has offered a different version of events. In 2012, the Caisse, which owned about 17 per cent of Rona, believed that the Quebec chain could still be a consolidator in the North American home-renovation sector if it boosted its competitiveness. By early 2016, that plan no longer seemed feasible. “Rona was improving, but it was still not well-positioned,” Mr. Sabia said in February.
CDPQ  competitiveness  consolidation  economic_nationalism  gatekeepers  generational_change  hollowing_out  Konrad_Yakabuski  Quebec  M&A  mergers_&_acquisitions  multinationals  weak_dollar 
april 2016 by jerryking
Too much stuff, with no one to buy it: Is this the future economy? - The Globe and Mail
Scott Barlow
Too much stuff, with no one to buy it: Is this the future economy?
SUBSCRIBERS ONLY
The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Feb. 02, 2016

University of California professor Brad DeLong’s “Economics and the Age of Abundance” highlighted the new economic study of global production growth – a new-ish school of thought that attributes much of the economic malaise in the developed world to a technology-driven “too much of everything.....The economic challenges of abundance, however, go far beyond commodities. There’s too many mutual funds, television channels, cereal brands, auto companies (China hasn’t even started exporting cars and trucks yet), land-line telephones, clothing brands, taxis, department stores and, if we’re being honest, journalism. Technology and its ability to increase productivity are to blame for virtually any major market sector beset with poor profit margins and layoffs. ....... The larger problem, and I suspect Mr. DeLong would agree, is that technology increases efficiencies and reduces the need for labour. A dystopian future in which anything can be produced quickly and cheaply, except everyone’s unemployed with no money to spend, is easy to envisage without considerable structural change in the economy.

Unemployment is the most severe outgrowth of abundance and low profitability ....... ......
abundance  economics  economists  Colleges_&_Universities  oversupply  technology  commodities  over_investment  scarcity  innovation  China  productivity  deflation  manufacturers  outsourcing  unemployment  job_destruction  job_displacement  downward_mobility  hollowing_out  books  developed_countries  dystopian_futures  structural_change  developing_countries 
february 2016 by jerryking
The changing face of employment - FT.com
January 30, 2015 12:41 pm
The changing face of employment
Gillian Tett

One widely cited statistic at the World Economic Forum was a projection that automation would end up replacing some 45 per cent of jobs in the US in the next 20 years. And the consensus was that it would be the middle tier of jobs that would disappear. The future of employment — at least according to Davos — is a world bifurcated between low-skilled, low-paid service jobs (say, dog walkers and cleaners) and highly skilled elite roles (computer programmers, designers and all the other jobs that Davos luminaries do). Everything else is potentially vulnerable....What is still critically unclear is how all this investment in infrastructure and training is going to be paid for. Philanthropy? Taxes? It is also unclear how mass access to the internet will recreate those disappearing mid-tier jobs. Given that, it is perhaps no surprise that when I asked a group of Davos grandees for a show of hands on whether income inequality would get worse in the coming years, almost everybody in the room voted “yes” — without hesitation. That is deeply sobering.
Gillian_Tett  WEF_Davos  highly_skilled  innovation  unemployment  mobile_phones  Erik_Brynjolfsson  automation  Andrew_McAfee  middle_class  job_destruction  job_displacement  downward_mobility  hollowing_out  MIT 
january 2015 by jerryking
Run on the firm may signal Heenan’s demise
BRIAN MILNER
Run on the firm may signal Heenan’s demise Add to ...
Subscribers Only

The Globe and Mail

It’s a fate that awaits other mid-level law firms whose business model is no longer working in a rapidly changing environment. Firms like Heenan Blaikie are being squeezed mercilessly both from above and below – by the heavyweights chasing after business they once ignored as unworthy of their lofty status, and by more nimble specialist firms with lower expenses (including less lavish offices) and cheaper fees.

Like accounting firms and investment banks, law firms are also facing the long-predicted downdrafts emanating from the hollowing out of corporate Canada. As Canadian subsidiaries have ceded greater control to their foreign owners, a chunk of their financial and legal business in Canada has migrated to head offices in other countries.

Published Tuesday, Feb. 04 2014
law_firms  Bay_Street  dissolutions  Heenan_Blaikie  winner-take-all  head_offices  hollowing_out  boutiques  specialists  mid-sized  rapid_change  barbell_effect  Corporate_Canada  mercilessness 
february 2014 by jerryking
How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class - NYTimes.com
August 24, 2013, 2:35 pm 30 Comments
How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class
By DAVID H. AUTOR AND DAVID DORN

In the four years since the Great Recession officially ended, the productivity of American workers — those lucky enough to have jobs — has risen smartly. But the United States still has two million fewer jobs than before the downturn, the unemployment rate is stuck at levels not seen since the early 1990s and the proportion of adults who are working is four percentage points off its peak in 2000…. Have we mechanized and computerized ourselves into obsolescence?... Economists have historically rejected what we call the “lump of labor” fallacy: the supposition that an increase in labor productivity inevitably reduces employment because there is only a finite amount of work to do. While intuitively appealing, this idea is demonstrably false. In 1900, for example, 41 percent of the United States work force was in agriculture. By 2000, that share had fallen to 2 percent, after the Green Revolution transformed crop yields…. Fast-forward to the present. The multi-trillionfold decline in the cost of computing since the 1970s has created enormous incentives for employers to substitute increasingly cheap and capable computers for expensive labor. These rapid advances — which confront us daily as we check in at airports, order books online, pay bills on our banks’ Web sites or consult our smartphones for driving directions — have reawakened fears that workers will be displaced by machinery. Will this time be different?
A starting point for discussion is the observation that although computers are ubiquitous, they cannot do everything. … Logically, computerization has reduced the demand for these jobs, but it has boosted demand for workers who perform “nonroutine” tasks that complement the automated activities. Those tasks happen to lie on opposite ends of the occupational skill distribution.
At one end are so-called abstract tasks that require problem-solving, intuition, persuasion and creativity. These tasks are characteristic of professional, managerial, technical and creative occupations, like law, medicine, science, engineering, advertising and design. People in these jobs typically have high levels of education and analytical capability, and they benefit from computers that facilitate the transmission, organization and processing of information.
On the other end are so-called manual tasks, which require situational adaptability, visual and language recognition, and in-person interaction….. Computerization has therefore fostered a polarization of employment, with job growth concentrated in both the highest- and lowest-paid occupations, while jobs in the middle have declined. Surprisingly, overall employment rates have largely been unaffected in states and cities undergoing this rapid polarization. Rather, as employment in routine jobs has ebbed, employment has risen both in high-wage managerial, professional and technical occupations and in low-wage, in-person service occupations….…workers [can] ride the wave of technological change rather than be swamped by it [by] investing more in their education.…The good news, however, is that middle-education, middle-wage jobs are not slated to disappear completely. While many middle-skill jobs are susceptible to automation, others demand a mixture of tasks that take advantage of human flexibility.…we predict that the middle-skill jobs that survive will combine routine technical tasks with abstract and manual tasks in which workers have a comparative advantage — interpersonal interaction, adaptability and problem-solving….The outlook for workers who haven’t finished college is uncertain, but not devoid of hope. There will be job opportunities in middle-skill jobs, but not in the traditional blue-collar production and white-collar office jobs of the past. Rather, we expect to see growing employment among the ranks of the “new artisans”: licensed practical nurses and medical assistants; teachers, tutors and learning guides at all educational levels; kitchen designers, construction supervisors and skilled tradespeople of every variety; expert repair and support technicians; and the many people who offer personal training and assistance, like physical therapists, personal trainers, coaches and guides. These workers will adeptly combine technical skills with interpersonal interaction, flexibility and adaptability to offer services that are uniquely human.
David_Autor  productivity  middle_class  automation  algorithms  downward_mobility  hollowing_out  MIT  Erik_Brynjolfsson  Andrew_McAfee  Luddites  problem_solving  job_destruction  job_displacement  barbell_effect  technological_change  blue-collar  white-collar  artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  interpersonal_interactions 
august 2013 by jerryking
If BlackBerry is sold, Canada faces an innovation vacuum - The Globe and Mail
Aug. 17 2013 | The Globe and Mail | KONRAD YAKABUSKI.

The sale and breakup of a flagship technology company is a reoccurring theme in Canadian business. But this time is different. If BlackBerry Ltd. goes, there is no ready replacement. That’s a telling switch from the situation Canada faced with the sale of Newbridge Networks in 2000 and the demise of Nortel Networks in 2009....Canada has an innovation bottleneck. An abundance of science is generated in university labs and start-up firms but most of it never finds its way into commercial applications. Risk-averse banks and too many businesses of the bird-in-the-hand variety remain the weak links in Canada’s innovation system.

“We punch above our weight in idea generation,” observes Michael Bloom, who leads the Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for Business Innovation. “But the further you move towards commercialization, the weaker we get as a country.”....Innovation can be driven by any sector, even the old-economy resource extraction business of the oil sands. But tech firms remain by far the most R&D-intensive players in any economy.

Hence, the tech sector is a key barometer of a country’s innovation strength. And innovation matters because it has a profound influence on our living standards – it is “the key long-run driver of productivity and income growth,” ...Canadian businesses remain oddly complacent.

“We tend in this county not to look at the true market opportunity of innovation,” Mr. Bloom adds. “If you only see a market of 35 million people, you’re going to see more risk than if you see the market as Europe, the U.S. and Asia. Americans see risk, but also great opportunity.”

It’s no coincidence that many of Canada’s greatest entrepreneurs and innovators have been immigrants. Unlike his American counterpart, the average Canadian business graduate does not dream of becoming the next Sergey Brin, Steve Jobs or, for that matter, Peter Munk.

Mr. Lazaridis and ex-BlackBerry co-CEO Jim Balsillie notwithstanding, how many Canadian entrepreneurs and innovators have truly changed the world, or aspire? By all accounts, not that many. A Conference Board study released last month found that only 10 per cent of Canadian firms (almost all of them small ones) pursue “radical or revolutionary” innovations. Large firms focus at best on “incremental” innovations.
Blackberry  bottlenecks  commercialization  competitiveness_of_nations  complacency  hollowing_out  Konrad_Yakabuski  Newbridge  Nortel  innovation  idea_generation  ecosystems  breakthroughs  incrementalism  large_companies  sellout_culture  Jim_Balsillie  moonshots  immigrants  Canada  Peter_Munk  market_opportunities  weak_links  thinking_big  oil_sands  resource_extraction  marginal_improvements  innovation_vacuum  punch-above-its-weight  This_Time_is_Different 
august 2013 by jerryking
The decline and fall of Canada’s global corporate superstars - The Globe and Mail
Aug. 16 2013 | The Globe and Mail | Eric Reguly.

Here’s a depressing exercise: Scan the upper reaches of the Top 1000 companies in the July-August issue of Report on Business magazine and try to spot Canada’s global winners.

You could call them Canada’s corporate ambassadors, if they existed.

The short list is exceedingly short:
...Why does Canada, a Group of Seven country that encourages open markets, celebrates innovation and risk-taking, pumps fortunes into R&D, votes in business-friendly governments, is blessed with skilled workers and globally competitive tax rates and sits on the doorstep of the world’s largest market produce so pathetically few global corporate superstars?....It can take decades, a century even, to build a company like Inco or Dofasco. Don Argus, the former chairman of BHP Billiton of Australia, the world’s largest mining group, was right to denounce Canada’s sellout culture. “Canada has lost more head offices than any other country,” he said in 2008, at the height of the resources’ buying and selling spree. “Canada has already been reduced to an industry branch office and is largely irrelevant to the global mining stage.”

Of course, BlackBerry doesn’t really play into the hollowing out story. In retrospect, it should have foisted itself on Microsoft, Nokia or Amazon shortly after it became apparent to investors and tech geeks, if not to the deluded executives at BlackBerry itself, that the iPhone was here to stay. BlackBerry’s value destruction since then has been awe-inspiring. Mr. Lazaridis and Mr. Balsillie were superb entrepreneurs, but failed at keeping the company competitive.

So why does Canada lack global champions? Don’t blame government policies. Blame the sellout culture, nice-guy directors with a propensity to protect the wrong executives at the wrong time and Canada’s classic lack of corporate self-confidence. The upshot is a country that turned into a one-trick pony – oil sands – with a few decent, protected banks and insurers at its side. If Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden can churn out global champions, Canada should be able to at least double the rate. The next BlackBerry is not just around the corner.
Blackberry  boards_&_directors_&_governance  brands  branch_plants  competitiveness_of_nations  decline  Eric_Reguly  G-7  global_champions  head_offices  hollowing_out  large_companies  multinationals  oil_sands  sellout_culture  superstars  value_destruction 
august 2013 by jerryking
The Problem With Too Many Millionaires - NYTimes.com
June 20, 2013 | REUTERS | By CHRYSTIA FREELAND.

The rich are getting richer....the very, very rich are doing best of all. The ranks of the ultrarich, whom the report defines as people with investable assets of at least $30 million, surged 11 percent, an even greater rate than the mere millionaires....“We are increasingly becoming a ‘winner-take-all’ economy, a phenomenon that the music industry has long experienced,”...The lucky and the talented — and it is often hard to tell the difference — have been doing better and better, while the vast majority has struggled to keep up.”... the problem is that the rise of the ultrarich isn’t occurring in isolation--it takes place in lock step with a darker phenomenon — the hollowing out of the global middle class. What is worrying is that: (a) labor productivity — which used to be the secret sauce for making everyone better off — has a diminished impact on wages.
(b) declining social mobility. The 1 percent is very good at passing on its privilege, and those born at the bottom are finding it harder to climb up.

That is the great paradox of today’s winner-take-all economy. At its best, it is driven by adopted dropouts like Steve Jobs or struggling single mothers like J.K. Rowling, who come up with something amazing and manage to prosper — and to enrich us all. But the winner-take-all economy will make such breakthroughs for anyone who didn’t make the wise choice of being born into the 1 percent harder and harder in the future, which is why we urgently need to come up with ways to soften its impact.
breakthroughs  Chrystia_Freeland  compounded  elitism  high_net_worth  hollowing_out  income_inequality  Matthew_effect  middle_class  paradoxes  productivity  self-perpetuation  social_mobility  special_sauce  The_One_Percent  virtuous_cycles  winner-take-all 
june 2013 by jerryking
A tech-powered end to the middle class
Feb. 21 2013 | The Globe and Mail | CHRYSTIA FREELAND.
One way to divide people is into those who think this time is different and those who believe there is never anything new under the sun. That split can be a matter of temperament, of politics or even of religion. But today it is relevant for another, more urgent reason: It describes how people think about the most critical economic problem in the industrialized world – the dearth of well-paying middle-class jobs....
"thanks to the tech revolution, the traditional link between rising productivity and a rising standard of living (i.e. wages) for the middle class has been broken. Gore worries that severed link may be causing the economic slowdown in the developed economies: A weakened middle class lacks the spending power to drive growth.

One of the smartest academics studying this phenomenon is Erik Brynjolfsson, a management professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The co-author of a new book, Race Against the Machine, believes the tech revolution is having a powerful and unprecedented impact. “Most of the debate … is missing the tectonic changes in the way the economy works, which are driven by technology,” he said recently. “This is the big story of our time, and it is going to accelerate over the next 10 years.”

Like Mr. Gore, Mr. Brynjolfsson thinks the canary in the coal mine is the decoupling of gains in productivity and in wages. “Productivity since 2000 has grown faster than in the 1970s, ’80s or ’90s,” he said. “But starting in the late 1990s, we’ve had this decoupling of wages from productivity.” He sees this as a historic watershed, noting that there is “no economic law” that productivity and jobs go together.

That change has tremendous implications. Productivity and innovation, the focus of policy makers and business leaders, no longer guarantee widely shared prosperity. “Digital technologies are different in that they allow people with skills to replicate their talents to serve billions,” Mr. Brynjolfsson noted. “There is really a drastic winner-take-all effect because every industry is becoming like the software industry.”

The danger isn’t structural unemployment (as many feared during the depths of the financial crisis). The problem is what kind of jobs, at what kind of salaries, the tech-powered economy of the future will generate.
'90s  Albert_Gore  books  Chrystia_Freeland  downward_mobility  economic_stagnation  Erik_Brynjolfsson  hollowing_out  innovation  Kleiner_Perkins  leading_indicators  Luddites  middle_class  MIT  productivity  seismic_shifts  the_Great_Decoupling  This_Time_is_Different  wage_stagnation  winner-take-all 
february 2013 by jerryking
U.S. political debate stuck in the past -
Aug. 30 2012 | The Globe and Mail | CHRYSTIA FREELAND.

The argument between the Democrats and the GOP about the size of the state comes with little regard for the economic realities of this era. Like generals fighting the last war, U.S. politicians are solving the economic challenges of the past century....Thanks to smart machines and global trade, the well-paying, middle-class jobs that were the backbone of Western democracies are vanishing. The paradoxical driver of this middle-class squeeze is not some villainous force – it is, rather, the success of the world’s best companies, many of them American (i.e. Big Tech, the major platforms)....the knottiest economic problem of our time: Figuring out how to manage an economy whose engines of growth are enriching the few but squeezing the many....It took more than the spinning jenny or the steam engine to transform local, agrarian, family-based communities into national, urban, individualistic ones. New political and social institutions will be needed to midwife the latest shift into global and virtual communities. Inventing those institutions is difficult, and talking about them can be frightening, but that is the political conversation the Western world should be having.
Big_Tech  Chrystia_Freeland  Campaign_2012  globalization  Outsourcing  institutions  middle_class  job_destruction  job_displacement  job_loss  institution-building  downward_mobility  hollowing_out  backward_looking 
august 2012 by jerryking
At Davos, Leaders are Debating Whether Corporations are More Powerful Than Governments
January 27, 2012 | TIME.com | By Rana Foroohar.

The top companies seem to exist in a world apart — they are booming, and their executives are prospering. If there is a meta theme to this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, it is that the world’s largest companies are moving on and moving ahead of governments and countries that they perceive to be inept and anemic. They are flying above them, operating in a space that is increasingly disconnected from local concerns, and the problems of their home markets. And if the conversations here are any indication, they may soon take over much of what government itself does....The problem was nicely captured in this week’s New York Times piece on Apple, looking at why the iPhone is mostly made outside America. As one of the company’s executives put it, “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems.” It’s a sentiment that was echoed on Time’s Board of Economists’ panel, where business leaders blamed for not sharing the $2 trillion in wealth sitting on corporate balance sheets argued that they did create jobs and prosperity — just not in this country.....Labor economist Clyde Prestowitz pointed out as much in an article in Foreign Policy this week where he noted that while Apple may not think American economic issues are it’s “problem,” it certainly depends on the Seventh Fleet to keep Asian waterways safe and clear so that it can deliver it’s products.....A lot of people here in Davos — people like Nobel laureate Chris Pissarides, and a number of high level investors I spoke with — say that we can’t innovate or educate our way out of this problem. It’s only going to get worse, particularly as a coming automation revolution starts to hollow out white collar jobs in rich countries.
Rana_Foroohar  Davos  multinationals  Apple  globalization  cash_reserves  job_destruction  job_displacement  downward_mobility  automation  hollowing_out  white-collar  developed_countries  Nobel_Prizes  large_companies  statelessness 
august 2012 by jerryking
Canada’s vanishing tech sector
Jul. 07 2012 | The Globe and Mail | by SEAN SILCOFF, IAIN MARLOW.
Canada  Canadian  start_ups  technology  hollowing_out  RIM  funding  venture_capital  VC 
july 2012 by jerryking
The head-office exodus - The Globe and Mail
Jun. 29 2012 | The Globe and Mail | ERIC REGULY.

Gord Nixon stated that “we should be asking why so many of our industry leaders are being consolidated, rather than doing the consolidating; why we are losing head offices at such an alarming rate; and what is the cost?”...Hollowing out has turned Canadians into bit players in industries that we used to dominate, or where we at least had a seat at the table....Why are Canadians so keen to sell? Lack of confidence is a good place to start. For decades, Canadian companies had capital handed to them, first by the British, then by the Americans. Now that CEOs face a global fight for capital, many of them seem to be taking the easy way out and selling to, rather than competing with, big-name rivals.

Greed is surely another reason. Canadian investors adore instant gratification, even if it means giving up a long-term growth play....All hope is not gone. We’ve lost head offices in mining, beer, steel and other businesses, but there is an industry where Canada has a chance to become a world-beater: agriculture. We have land, water, technology, potash-based fertilizer and infrastructure, such as rail and ports. Another two billion people will have to be fed by 2050. Canada should, and could, build its own Glencore, Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill or Monsanto.

Oops! We’ve now agreed to sell Viterra and its irreplaceable grain elevators, to Glencore.
Eric_Reguly  exodus  mining  mergers_&_acquisitions  Glencore  agriculture  hollowing_out  Strata  sellout_culture  global_champions  Viterra  head_offices 
june 2012 by jerryking

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