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jerryking : precarious   6

He Grew Up on a Farm. Now, He Helps Protect Them.
Oct. 3, 2019 | The New York Times | By Norman Mayersohn.

Books: Warren Buffett biography, “Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist,”

Few livelihoods offer as many paths to failure as agriculture. Throughout history, farmers have been at the mercy of nature — be it weather, pests or crop diseases — even as the survival of people and livestock depended on their success...... Thomas Njeru, is a co-founder and the chief financial officer of Pula, a four-year-old microinsurance firm that serves 1.7 million smallholder farms of 0.6 acres or less in 10 African countries and India. Microinsurance — think of it as an offshoot of the microloan programs that kick-start businesses in impoverished areas — provides protection for low-income individuals who do not have access to conventional coverage....Pula, based in Nairobi, Kenya, partners with government agencies and loan providers to cover the cost of the insurance, which is included in the price of seed and fertilizer; there is no direct charge to the farmer. Among the coverages Pula provides is weather index insurance to cover failures of seed germination, using satellite data to determine whether there has been sufficient rainfall. Longer-term coverage, called yield index insurance, compensates farmers with replacement supplies in the event of a poor harvest......People in Africa don't invest in agriculture because the chance of them losing their money due to the vagaries of the weather is huge.........Pula’s mission is to give farmers confidence by providing risk mitigation. Our solutions protect a farmer’s investment by pairing it with insurance. We build business cases to persuade Fortune 500 companies, seed and fertilizer suppliers, lending institutions, and governments in Africa, that embedded insurance will help deliver better results for both businesses and food security....The sad reality is that farmers are one drought or one disease outbreak away from sliding into absolute poverty......the penetration of agriculture insurance in Africa is less than 1 percent. The reason is that insurance companies’ business models are not set up to serve the unique needs of smallholder farmers......scaling Pula’s business model to the point that insured seed and fertilizer become ubiquitous in the market......The average annual insurance premium per farmer is about $3 to $5. This includes the cost of product development, pricing, underwriting, claim adjustment and, of course, the claim costs. We use artificial intelligence, mobile-based registration systems, remote sensing and automation tools...Agriculture insurance is a cemetery of pilots and trials..
Africa  agriculture  behavioral_change  books  Bottom_of_the_Pyramid  crop_insurance  farming  insurance  Kenya  low-income  microfinance  mobile_applications  poverty  precarious  Pula  seeds  smallholders  start_ups  risks  risk-mitigation  Warren_Buffett  weather 
october 2019 by jerryking
This Thriving City—and Many Others—Could Soon Be Disrupted by Robots - WSJ
Feb. 9, 2019 | WSJ | By Christopher Mims.

In and around the city of Lakeland, Florida you’ll find operations from Amazon, DHL (for Ikea), Walmart , Rooms to Go, Medline and Publix, a huge Geico call center, the world’s largest wine-and-spirits distribution warehouse and local factories that produce natural and artificial flavors and, of all things, glitter.

Yet a recent report by the Brookings Institution, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and McKinsey & Co., argues that the economic good times for Lakeland could rapidly come to an end. Brookings placed it third on its list of metros that are most at risk of losing jobs because of the very same automation and artificial intelligence that make its factories, warehouses and offices so productive......As technology drives people out of the middle class, economists say, it’s pushing them in one of two directions. Those with the right skills or education graduate into a new technological elite. Everyone else falls into the ranks of the “precariat”—the precariously employed, a workforce in low-wage jobs with few benefits or protections, where roles change frequently as technology transforms the nature of work......One step in Southern Glazer’s warehouse still requires a significant number of low-skill workers: the final “pick” station where individual bottles are moved from bins to shipping containers. This machine-assisted, human-accomplished step is common to high-tech warehouses of every kind, whether they’re operated by Amazon or Alibaba. Which means that for millions of warehouse workers across the globe, the one thing standing between them and technological unemployment is their manual dexterity, not their minds.... “I think there will be a time when we have a ‘lights out’ warehouse, and cases will come in off trucks and nobody sees them again until they’re ready to be shipped to the customer,” says Mr. Flanary. “The technology is there. It’s just not quite cost-effective yet.”
artificial_intelligence  automation  Christopher_Mims  disruption  distribution_centres  Florida  manual_dexterity  precarious  productivity  robotics  warehouses  cities  clusters  geographic_concentration  hyper-concentrations 
february 2019 by jerryking
The decline of America’s middle classes | Financial Times
Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America, by Alissa Quart, Ecco $27.99, 308 pages

Rana Foroohar is the FT’s global business columnist.

the globalised, computerised, “always on” business world in which 40 per cent of Americans work non-traditional schedules driven by algorithmic efficiency. It’s just one of the challenges for a new class of Americans that Quart dubs the “Middle Precariat.” These people, who range from professors to nurses to caregivers to lawyers, aren’t destitute — they have some means, a degree or two, and have made decent life choices. And yet, they are struggling to stay ahead in an economy in which technology is exerting a deflationary effect on everything (including wages) except the things that create a middle-class life — namely affordable housing, education, healthcare and children.
affordable_housing  books  book_reviews  deflation  downward_mobility  middle_class  on-demand  precarious  Rana_Foroohar 
june 2018 by jerryking
What the Tax Bill Fails to Address: Technology’s Tsunami -
DEC. 20, 2017 | The New York Times | Farhad Manjoo.

Manjoo posits that the Republican tax bill is the wrong fix for the wrong problem, given how tech is altering society and the economy....The bill (the parachute) does little to address the tech-abetted wave of economic displacement (the tsunami) that may be looming just off the horizon. And it also seems to intensify some of the structural problems in the tech business, including its increasing domination by five giants — Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company — which own some of the world’s most important economic platforms.....some in Silicon Valley think the giants misplayed their hand in the legislation. In pursuing short-term tax advantages, they missed a chance to advocate policies that might have more broadly benefited many of their customers — and improved their images, too......This gets back to that looming tsunami. Though many of the economy’s structural problems predate the last decade’s rise of the tech behemoths, the innovations that Silicon Valley has been working on — things like e-commerce, cloud storage, artificial intelligence and the general digitization of everything and everyone around you — are some of the central protagonists in the economic story of our age.

Among other economic concerns, these innovations are implicated in the rise of inequality; the expanding premium on education and skills; the decimation and dislocation of retail jobs; the rising urban-rural divide, and spiking housing costs in cities; and the rise of the “gig” economy of contract workers who drive Ubers and rent out their spare bedrooms on Airbnb....technology is changing work in a few ways. First, it’s altering the type of work that people do — for instance, creating a boom in e-commerce warehouse jobs in large metro areas while reducing opportunities for retail workers in rural areas. Technology has also created more uncertainty around when people work and how much they’ll get paid.
Farhad_Manjoo  preparation  job_loss  job_displacement  Silicon_Valley  tax_codes  corporate_concentration  platforms  income_inequality  short-sightedness  e-commerce  cloud_computing  artificial_intelligence  gig_economy  precarious  automation  uncertainty  universal_basic_income  digitalization  Apple  Amazon  Netflix  Microsoft  Facebook  Alphabet  Google  inconsistent_incomes  Big_Tech  FAANG 
december 2017 by jerryking
Gig economy is not watching out for the wellbeing of workers
"There is no utopian world where the gig economy provides for the worker, where everyone can magically create their own software, or where the government provides benefits to gig workers -- as if getting Congress to pass such controversial and costly reform can be done at the snap of Mr. Harford's fingers!" ...."He encourages everyone to be a "supermodel", using Linda Evangelista as a poster child for stating that she would not "wake up for less than $10,000 a day" when most of the workers he is talking about hardly have an autonomy or stability whatsoever."...."Uber's high revenues do not translate to drivers' earnings"......Without an employer providing benefits and watching out for an employee's wellbeing, both mentally and financially, gig workers are leaving their families and their futures exposed"
letters_to_the_editor  Tim_Harford  gig_economy  precarious  freelancing  self-employment  independent_contractors  employee_benefits  Uber  Pablo_Picasso  inconsistent_incomes 
august 2017 by jerryking
There needs to be a sober examination of our state of affairs Georgetown, Guyana
December 6, 2013 | Stabroek News | Frank Fyffe.

Said Fenty: “I now lament the stark fact that politics, governance, discrimination, corruption, management of resources and lack of employment among other factors, have caused young Guyanese to yearn to leave this homeland still rich with resources. Do you realise what national hopelessness means amongst the larger portion of our population?” But who can honestly look you in the eye and deny that? And I’m not denying the hard, perilous and precarious times many are faced with abroad, but the very fact that they crave madly the opportunity to leave paints a picture and tells a different story ‒ too many things are amiss and adrift.
Guyana  letters_to_the_editor  failed_states  misgovernance  hopelessness  brain_drain  emigration  politics  governance  discrimination  corruption  mismanagement  unemployment  precarious 
december 2013 by jerryking

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