Saturday, May 28, 2011

The business of Free Speech

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sáez: Why next IMF chief must come from developing world

By Lawrence Sáez,

for CNNMay 20, 2011 -- Updated 0909 GMT (1709 HKT)

London (CNN) -- The accusations on the alleged criminal behavior of the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), are causing a great deal of public relations damage to an international institution that was already in serious need of an image overhaul.

As a result of the scandal surrounding DSK, there are already unofficial candidates discreetly nudging to replace him. In my part of the world, for instance, the name of Gordon Brown resonates quite strongly. He was a very capable Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) and later, as prime minister of the UK, he was credited for taking a leadership role in addressing the recent global financial crisis. Of course many would argue that he responded capably to a crisis that he helped create, but that is another story.

The names of other potential candidates to replace DSK have emerged, notably Christine Lagarde, France's current finance minister. What is at issue here is that the only people available to replace DSK are Europeans. Why is this the case? When the three most prominent international financial institutions were created at the Bretton Woods conference, the informal agreement was for the precursor to the World Bank (then known at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) to be headed by an American. The IMF, instead, would be headed by a European. Since then, this informal pact has been sustained. So far, 10 European technocrats (including DSK) have served as the IMF chief. Frankly, none of them memorable (except DSK), most of them outright dull.

In the aftermath of World War II it may have made sense to involve Europeans in the formation of new international institutions. Although devastated by the war, Western Europe remained at the heart of the international economy in the postwar era. At the time, the world's monetary stability depended on the re-emergence of European nations. However, the world has changed since the end of the World War II and the postwar arrangements are clearly anachronistic.


The emergence of China, India, and other large emerging markets has diminished the importance of Europe in absolute terms. For instance, if the province of Jiansu (China) were a country, it would have a GDP equivalent to Switzerland. If measured in GDP per capita terms, the Chinese province of Shanghai would have a GDP per capita equivalent to Saudi Arabia. To think that Europe matters a great deal is an illusion.

In light of the new realities, the IMF needs to refresh its outlook and consider that the large countries in the developing world are critical to the global economy. One way to recognize this change would be to appoint an IMF managing director from the developing world. There are many reasons why the IMF should pursue this option. First and foremost, the bulk of the IMF's lending activities are geared to low and lower-middle income developing countries. However, these countries have negligible voting power and no presence on the IMF's executive board. Given that the IMF has such a large impact on developing countries, it is appalling that developing countries have no representation in this institution.

Over the years, as stated in its Articles of Agreement, one of the self-stated core functions of the IMF is to "to give confidence to members by ... providing them with opportunity to correct maladjustments in their balance of payments without resorting to measures destructive of national or international prosperity." In achieving this mission, the IMF has failed spectacularly in its ability to demonstrate why some macroeconomic policy options (negotiated with countries that have received IMF assistance to repair balance of payment maladjustments) need to be pursued.

Although the IMF has to proscribe very tough macro-economic measures, it has in turn become a pantomime villain in many developing countries. Even appropriate policy responses to repair balance of payments crises are perceived as being imposed from above, from some obscure imperialistic organism. As a result, IMF-inspired policy prescriptions are politically very unpopular in developing countries and they are often derailed. Therefore, the effectiveness of IMF measures is highly constrained.

The IMF would benefit from having a managing director who exhibits greater awareness of the difficulties of managing a fragile economy: in other words the IMF needs to be represented from someone from the developing world. This would not be a touchy-feely symbolic act to appease some malcontents. It would serve very pragmatic goals because there is certainly no lack of outstanding talent from developing countries. Kemal Dervis, Turkey's former finance minister, or Agustin Carstens, Mexico's central bank governor, are highly capable and respected policy makers. If I had a magic wand, I would appoint Raghuram Rajan, a former IMF chief economist and a brilliant professor of finance at the University of Chicago.
Any of these individuals would be able to demonstrate that the IMF is not the enemy of the developing world. This is essential at a time in which the IMF itself is in crisis.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Lawrence Sáez.

Tim Hortons CEO exits company abruptly

The board of Tim Hortons made the announcement Wednesday. Executive chair Paul House, who once held the top job in the company, will take on the role again on a temporary basis, the board said. Tim Hortons 3-month stock chart Tim Hortons would not elaborate to CBC News on the sudden departure of the CEO. But one analyst, who did not want to be named, said Schroeder's abrupt departure appeared to be against his will.

A release from Tim Hortons hinted at the internal strife.

"Don Schroeder has made significant contributions to Tim Hortons during his 20 years of service, and although a transitional arrangement could not be reached, we appreciate his leadership as president and CEO since his appointment in 2008," interim CEO Paul House said in a release."We have a talented, experienced and highly capable executive group, and we will continue to drive execution of our established strategic growth plans and initiatives, which are designed to capitalize on market opportunities, as the board concludes the process to appoint a new CEO."
Two weeks ago, Tim Hortons reported quarterly results that missed analysts' expectations, disappointing investors. The stock price promptly tumbled by more than four per cent. At the time, Schroeder noted that Canadian same-store sales were affected by higher redemptions for food and beverage prizes in the company's popular Roll Up the Rim to Win promotional contest.
The Tim Hortons board said it was already engaged in comprehensive succession planning for the CEO position as part of its strategic planning.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

“Law of Mother Earth” set to pass in Bolivia:

“Law of Mother Earth” set to pass in Bolivia: Will President Morales’ indigenous values save the economy?

by Three Sonorans on May. 22, 2011, under Headline news

Bolivia is a very important country in South America, historically, politically, and for the future.The popular and indigenous President Evo Morales has brought in a series of reforms that some US Economists hate, but that his people love, which has led to a better standard of living for the poor. Now Morales is set to pass the historic “Law of Mother Earth.”With the cooperation of politicians and grassroots organizations, Bolivia is set to pass the Law of Mother Earth, which will grant nature the same rights and protections as humans. The piece of legislation, called la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, is intended to encourage a radical shift in conservation attitudes and actions, to enforce new control measures on industry, and to reduce environmental destruction.

President of Bolivia, Evo Morales.

The law redefines natural resources as blessings and confers the same rights to nature as to human beings, including: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. Perhaps the most controversial point is the right “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

In late 2005 Bolivia elected its first indigenous president, Evo Morales. Morales is an outspoken champion for environmental protection, petitioning for substantive change within his country and at the United Nations. Bolivia, one of South America’s poorest countries, has long had to contend with the consequences of destructive industrial practices and climate change, but despite the best efforts of Morales and members of his administration, their concerns have largely been ignored at the UN.
A decade ago Bolivia was the poorest country in South America, and Bolivia is the country where Che Guevara was captured and killed.

Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

The “Chicago boys” from the Milton Friedman school of capitalism were unleashed up South America, using countries as a live lab for their economics experiments that affected the poorest of the poor drastically.Bolivia was one such country and its response to this attack by American economists may be a model for other countries.To begin with, a whole volume of books can be written about the next statement I will make, but put simply, what Americans believe about their economic system is mostly delusional. People who love their police and fire departments, schools, libraries, and roads and bridges and clean water in their tap, along with government programs such as Medicare are sometimes the first to bash “socialism” without realizing they are directly benefiting from “socialist” government programs.
The top employers in Tucson, Arizona are all “socialist”, with the University of Arizona, State of Arizona, Pima County, and City of Tucson making up 4 of the 5 top employers. The top employer is Raytheon, which gets most of its money from the US Government, unless private citizens in Tucson are going up to the Raytheon shopping line and buying Patriot missiles. Even private construction firms get paid by the government to build roads and bridges and schools, etc. Americans also fail to factor in the very real advantage that slavery has on the economy. With zero labor costs, its not necessary capitalism but slavery impacting the economy, and with exploitation of labor overseas in sweatshops and locally with immigrant labor, and the extraction of natural resources from other countries using the US Military as the security firm to protect these corporations (such as from oil) as they do so, with the permission of the US puppet put into office to run that country… let’s just say it’s the “invisible hand of the market” seems to be worn by Big Brother in the United States.

Back to Bolivia

Pretending that the riches the United States has comes solely from capitalism, the US decided to try some disastrous economic experiments in South America using the World Bank as its main tool.The World Bank is the Payday Loans of the Third-World. At least Arizona, even under Jan Brewer and Russell Pearce, got rid of the predatory loan targeting the poor. What would the World Bank do? They would lend money to the poorest of the poor with certain requirements (usually privatization of some natural resource) that would always allow the country to be further exploited by multinational corporations.
In Bolivia, the resource that was privatized was water. Rather than view water as a right of all people, a public good, water was privatized and was now owned by Aguas de Tunari, which was owned by a company you may have heard of, the Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco. As soon as the water was privatized, the cost of water doubled. Cochabamba is a town of 800,000 situated high in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia. Two years ago, a popular protest there turned into a deadly riot. The army battled civilians in the streets on and off for three months, hundreds were arrested, a seventeen year-old boy was shot and killed, the government of Bolivia nearly collapsed. The issue was water.

The spark was privatization. A private consortium, dominated by the Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco, had taken over Cochabamba’s water system and raised water rates. Protestors blamed Bechtel for trying to “lease the rain.” New Yorker writer William Finnegan traveled to Cochabamba to learn about the water war and to see what lessons could be drawn about privatization, globalization and the growing anger in Latin America over economic inequality.

Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. 70% of its people live below the poverty line. Nearly one child in ten dies before the age of five. The Bolivian economy, never strong, was wrecked by hyperinflation in the 1980s. Desperate for relief, Bolivia has been faithfully following the dictates of the international lending community for the past fifteen years — selling its airline, railroads, mines and electric company to private — usually foreign-controlled — companies. The economic shock therapy tamed inflation but led to severe recession and massive unemployment.

What made this even more egregious was that peasants could not even collect rainwater. ALL the water in Bolivia was now privately owned, and the cost of it just doubled, now costing the average person a quarter of their monthly income. The Frontline – PBS excerpt I linked to above has some video news stories during this time.

President Evo Morales.

The people in Bolivia finally had enough, and in 2005 elected the Aymara-descended indigenous President Evo Morales.The socialist President brought in many needed reforms. Bolivia actually has many natural resources, and need not be the poorest country in South America. But when the country sells it all to an American company to exploit, then the people on that land are left behind in poverty.President Morales is now using many of Bolivia’s natural resources to benefit the people first, not multinational corporations that are already rich enough.Now the Native American President has put Mother Earth in her proper place, the source of all life, and our life, viewed not just as resources to be exploited, mined, a polluted, but as (from above): as blessings and confers the same rights to nature as to human beings, including: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. Perhaps the most controversial point is the right “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities

Trees have a right to live also, and deforestation should not take place just so a few people can become billionaires. Mountains which are homes to millions of lifeforms, trees, bugs, insects, birds, etc, should not be blown up just so that we can get a few of the shiny rocks inside. Protecting the wilderness is not a wild idea, but the best idea. Yes, the economy suffers as consumerism drops, but then again, pretty soon it is going to drop anyways once the oil runs dry and clean water no longer available to many in desert communities (such as Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas). Even desalination will be nearly impossible due to the super-high energy costs.

Indigenous communities in the United States

There are many Third World communities in the United States also, and many are right here in Arizona.
The Navajo reservation is one of them, and it is being exploited like Bolivia was, and every single person living in surrounding states, from El Paso to Los Angeles, are all guilty of this exploitation that takes place to this very day.

The Navajo Generating Station and the Three Sisters of Destruction.

The Navajo reservation is a prime example of environmental racism, and even Democrats are guilty of this in Arizona, such as former “blue dog” Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick who represented the Navajo Nation until 2011, who favors mining over what Native Americans have to say, including siding with Resolution Copper over the San Carlos Apache, White Mountain Apache, Hopi, Hualapai, Yavapai Apache, Camp Verde, and Tonto Apache Tribes. There are many highly-coveted natural resources to be found near the Four Corners area all the way to the beginning of the Grand Canyon and including top tourist spots such as Monument Valley (the famous formations Ford filmed in his westerns were once uranium mines).

Coal-powered electrical generating plants, such as the one that powers Tucson from the Irvington/Alvernon/I-10 plant get coal from Peabody Coal, which comes from the Navajo Nation.
Not only do we get coal from the Navajo Nation to burn here in Tucson, we also benefit from the electricity that is generated up north with coal that is mined from nearby. Among the coal plants you will find on the Navajo Nation are the dirtiest and top carbon-oxide emitters in the entire country, from the Four Corners Plant to the Navajo Generating Station.The pollution is so bad that sometimes a haze covers the Grand Canyon and can burn the eyes of the tourist.

Not only is there lots and lots of coal, but there is lots of uranium to be found there, and the home of the largest nuclear power plant in the United States is the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant outside of Phoenix. It is also the only nuclear power plant not near a body of water in our country, but instead uses 20,000,000,000 gallons of water a year from groundwater and other scarce sources of Phoenix water.All the water that comes to Tucson via the Central Arizona Project (CAP) which pumps water uphill over 300 miles from the Colorado River near Parker, AZ to Avra Valley west of Tucson is powered by the Navajo Generating Station.

Navajo home near the uranium mines. Photo: Rachel Wise

Just as egregious as in Bolivia, the water supply in Northern Arizona has been tapped into by the mining companies and is being sucked dry, and to add insult to injury, many homes on the Navajo reservation have zero power running to them, even with huge power lines running nearby.Cassandra Begay knows what it’s like to be without power. Her home is just 1 1/2 miles away from Arizona Highway 264 where electric transmissions lines hang so near, yet so far away.Another five families live in the area – all without electricity.

“We use kerosene lamps at night, and then some of us that can afford it, we have generators for electricity,” Begay said.For heat, the family uses wood-burning stove. For cooking, the family uses propane. For refrigeration, Begay puts the food outside when it’s cold.“Other than that, I go out daily and get some meat. Just like right now, we went out and got some meat, and we have to cook the whole thing today,” she said pointing to two packages of beef on the kitchen table.
Without electricity, the family can’t pump water, either, assuming they had water to pump.
Asked whether she would like to have electricity, Begay said, “Oh, that would be wonderful.”

Imagine not having a refrigerator in Arizona. Imagine there being no place to charge up your laptop, your iPhone, no internet, no lights, and in the summer, no air-conditioning. How would you feel if everyone was getting energy from the land you live on, siphoning away natural resources while you live in poverty?As bad as things were in places like Bolivia with water privatization, things are just as bad even here in Arizona, and it is the same cycle of oppression, of the exploitation of indigenous peoples that continues to this day, and we are all a part of it. And it is not just the Navajo, but even Tucson’s Santa Rita mountains have already been sold to a Canadian mining company which will profit from the Rosemont Copper mine as Tucson’s economy falls and in a few years we will be left with an environmental disaster, less water, and not even a scenic site to enjoy anymore south of town.
Sometimes those that exploit end up getting exploited themselves, and the cycle continues.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

IMF boss should be chosen on merit say Australia and SA

South Africa and Australia have said the next managing director of the International Monetary Fund should be appointed on merit and not nationality. The pair say the current appointment system undermines the IMF's legitimacy. The body has always been headed by a European, and UK chancellor George Osborne has backed Christine Lagarde, French economy minister, for the post.The position is vacant after Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned last week so he could fight sexual assault charges.

"For too long, the IMF's legitimacy has been undermined by a convention to appoint its senior management on the basis of their nationality," Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan and South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said in a joint statement. "In order to maintain trust, credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of its stakeholders, there must be an open and transparent selection process which results in the most competent person being appointed as managing director, regardless of their nationality."
There is a range of possible contenders for the top job at the International Monetary Fund. Find out about some of them
Christine LagardeFrench finance minister-France

If the post goes to a European, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, 55, looks like the leading candidate. A flawless English speaker, she was voted best finance minister in Europe by the Financial Times in 2009. Counting against her is her nationality since so many previous IMF chiefs have been French.

Peer SteinbrueckFormer German finance minister


Mr Steinbrueck, 62, is a long-shot to become IMF chief, in part because he alienated allies of Germany with his fiery rhetoric while serving as finance minister in conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel's "grand coalition" from 2005 to 2009. He also alienated the United States by openly blaming it for the global financial crisis.

Axel WeberFormer head of Bundesbank


Mr Weber, 54, stunned Europe by announcing in February that he would be stepping down early from his post as head of the German central bank, the Bundesbank. Like Mr Steinbrueck, Mr Weber has a reputation as something of a loose cannon, who speaks his mind without regard to political or diplomatic constraints.

Kemal DervisFormer economy minister


Mr Dervis is credited with bringing Turkey back from the brink after a disastrous 2001 financial crisis, by pushing through tough reforms and helping secure a multi-billion dollar IMF bail-out. He had previously risen to vice-president at the World Bank. Seen as a leading candidate if the IMF post goes to someone outside central Europe.

Trevor ManuelEx Finance minister

South Africa

Mr Manuel, 55, is well-respected in global financial circles, having served as finance minister of South Africa from 1996 to 2009. Born in Cape Town under apartheid, he was imprisoned repeatedly by the South African government for political activities in the late 1980s.

Agustin CarstensGovernor Bank of Mexico


Mr Carstens, 52, has spent most of his professional career as an economic policymaker in his home country, becoming governor of the Bank of Mexico in January of last year after previously serving as the bank's chief economist. He had a successful stint at the IMF from 2003 to 2006.

Gordon BrownFormer UK Prime Minister


The 60-year old former UK prime minister and finance minister has long been seen as a candidate for the IMF job or another big international financial post. But his successor David Cameron - whose support he would need - has dismissed him as a "deficit denier", adding that it was time to look beyond Europe.

Tharman ShanmugaratnamFinance minister/deputy prime minister


The 54-year-old has been the country's finance minister since 2007 and on Wednesday added the new job of deputy prime minister. With degrees from the London School of Economics and Harvard. He recently became the first Asian to hold the post of chairman of the IMF's policy advisory committee.

Montek Singh AhluwliaEconomic adviser to India's PM


Mr Ahluwalia, 67, is an influential economic adviser to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and has been a key figure in the country's economic reforms from the mid-1980s onwards. He supports open markets and has pushed the government to end fuel price controls and remove barriers to foreign business. His age may count against him.

The duo are co-chairs of the G20's (Group of 20 leading rich and developing countries) IMF Reform Working Group. Emerging economies have been calling for an end to Europe's traditional grip on the IMF leadership post.
Although support in Europe has been growing for Ms Lagarde, former South African finance minister Trevor Manuel also has been raised as a possibility.

Other contenders include former German finance minister Peer Steinbrueck; Axel Weber, the former head of the German central bank, the Bundesbank.
Mr Osborne said Ms Lagarde would be elected on a "merit-based candidacy, as she's been an outstanding finance minister and has chaired the G20 finance ministerial meetings this year in an effective and consensual way".
BBC Berlin Correspondent Steve Evans says Ms Lagarde has now also been endorsed "by the two people who matter in the German government".

Chancellor Merkel said Ms Lagarde was "distinguished" and "very experienced", and the finance minister, Wolfgang Scheuble, told the Bild on Sunday newspaper that she was "outstandingly qualified" and "extremely respected and appreciated in the entire financial world."

Mr Scheuble told the German newspaper: "The US and Europe pay by far the biggest share of the contributions.

"It's like in a publicly traded company: Those who hold the majority of shares will also get to name the chairman."

Meanwhile, Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders appeared to also express an interest in the top post.

Asked by a journalist on public television channel RTBF if he would be interested in the post, he replied: "But of course, these are the kind of jobs one could not refuse." However he also conceded that Ms Lagarde was Europe's favourite candidate.

Voting rights
Mr Strauss-Kahn was the fourth Frenchman to have held the IMF's top job.
He is in New York on bail awaiting trial for sexual assault and attempted rape, charges he denies.
In their statement Mr Swan and Mr Gordhan said G20 leaders wanted to reforming international financial institutions, including the IMF and the World Bank.Developed industrialised countries currently control about 57% of the voting rights in the IMF, compared with about 43% for developing nations.

With the recent emergence of Brazil, Russia, India and China, many other global figures - including the head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - had also called for the IMF job to go to a non-European.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Canada's national pension plan (CPP) up 12%

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board ended fiscal 2011 with $148.2 billion in assets, a 20.6 per cent increase over 2010's level. The managers of Canada's national pension plan earned $15.5 billion in investment income, and got another $5.4 billion in CPP payments during the year.The 11.9 per cent annual gain was just off the 14.9 per cent increase during the previous fiscal year. The fund has now earned $31.7 billion worth of investment income in the two years since the recession, CEO David Denison said in a release.

"By adhering to our long-term strategy during and following the recent financial crisis, the fund has benefited from the recovery in the global public equity markets," he said.The CPPIB invests the funds not needed by the Canada Pension Plan to pay current benefits on behalf of 17 million Canadian contributors and beneficiaries.

The Chief Actuary of Canada has repeatedly deemed the found actuarially sustainable for at least the next 75 years. CPP contributions are expected to exceed annual benefits paid until at least 2021.The fund was active in the real estate space during the year, closing major deals for assets in Australia, the United States, and Londo. Just last week, the fund agreed to pay $370 million for a stake in a major German shopping complex.
The year also saw the CPPIB increase its portfolio of infrastructure assets. The fund completed its largest infrastructure investment to date with two concurrent transactions involving the acquisition of a 40 per cent interest in the 407 Express Toll Route outside Toronto during the period, as well as an interest in a toll road in Sydney, Australia.

All 12 of the fund's asset classes were in positive territory for the year. In 2010, five lost value, but they were more than overcome by a major gain in the public equity portfolio.The CPP outperformed its own benchmark by 2.07 per cent, the fund said in a release. The 2011 showing brings the fund's five-year annual performance to 3.3 per cent and over 10 years, that return jumps to 5.9 per cent per year.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pfizer and Prempro- law suits and settlements loom

Pfizer sets aside $772m for drug illness claims

Pfizer has already settled thousands of claims relating to its Prempro menopause drug.The drugs giant Pfizer has put aside $772m (£476m) to resolve claims its hormone replacement drugs cause serious illness.Pfizer, which is the world's largest drugmaker, said the money provides "the minimum expected costs to resolve all of the other outstanding" lawsuits over the drugs.

The company did not say how many cases would be settled. Pfizer has already settled a third of claims relating to the drugs.At the height of the litigation, the company faced more than 10,000 claims. Much of the claims were inherited along with Pfizer's 2009 takeover of Wyeth, which makes the menopause treatment drug Prempro.
In 2002 a study linked the drug with breast cancer. More than six million women took Prempro and related menopause drugs to treat symptoms including hot flushes and mood swings.Wyeth has won dismissals of more than 3,000 cases before they came to be tried.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

9 Things successful People do differently- by Heidi Grant Halvorson

Nine Things Successful People Do Differently

by Heidi Grant Halvorson

Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren't sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.

1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. "Lose 5 pounds" is a better goal than "lose some weight," because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you'll "eat less" or "sleep more" is too vague — be clear and precise. "I'll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights" leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you've actually done it.
2. Seize the moment to act on your goals. Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it's not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.

To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., "If it's Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I'll work out for 30 minutes before work.") Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don't know how well you are doing, you can't adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.
4. Be a realistic optimist. When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don't underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good. Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won't improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Have grit. Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The good news is, if you aren't particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don't have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking .... well, there's no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control "muscle" is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn't get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.

To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you'd honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don't. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur ("If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.") It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that's the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.

8. Don't tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it's important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don't try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time). And don't put yourself in harm's way — many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won't do. Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., "Don't think about white bears!") has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.

If you want change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like "If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down." By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.

It is my hope that, after reading about the nine things successful people do differently, you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along. Even more important, I hope are able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you, and use that knowledge to your advantage from now on. Remember, you don't need to become a different person to become a more successful one. It's never what you are, but what you do.

Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. is a motivational psychologist, and author of the new book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals (Hudson Street Press, 2011). She is also an expert blogger on motivation and leadership for Fast Company and Psychology Today. Her personal blog, The Science of Success, can be found at Follow her on Twitter @hghalvorson

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Microsoft to buy Skype

Microsoft due to confirm takeover of Skype.

Skype had previously planned a share flotation Microsoft will confirm later that it has agreed to buy internet phone service Skype. According to some reports, the deal could be worth as much as $8.5bn (£5.2bn), which would make it Microsoft's largest acquisition.
Luxembourg-based Skype has 663 million global users. In August last year it announced plans for a share flotation, but this was subsequently put on hold.


It's a done deal: Microsoft will buy Skype, probably for a whopping $8.5bn.  That's a lot of cash for an eight-year-old company that's not making a lot of money. So what's in it for Microsoft?
For starters, the firm gets well over 600 million users who make Skype the world's largest phone company for international voice calls. More importantly, Microsoft buys into a lot of potential.

Marry Skype's software with the Xbox Kinect and an HD television set, and Microsoft can make a powerful argument for getting into millions of living rooms.Think beyond teleconferencing for the whole family: there's one-on-one training, home schooling, even patient care delivered remotely and in vision.
Smarten it up for the corporate world, and Microsoft can challenge the telepresence business of firms like Cisco and Polycom.And Skype is multi-platform, reaching into the worlds of Apple and Linux.
Finally, Skype is mobile, and can be paired with Windows Phone 7.

The hitch: Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer will have to work hard to integrate Skype, to ensure the voice/video-over-the-internet company is not strangled by his firm's notorious bureaucracy.

Internet auction house eBay bought Skype for $2.6bn in 2006, before selling 70% of it in 2009 for $2bn.
Skype is now majority-owned by a group of investors, led by private equity firms Silver Lake and Andreessen Horowitz.

Price concerns

Analysts say Microsoft wants to buy Skype to improve its video conferencing services.
Although the reported price tag of $8.5bn would not stretch the US giant, some experts have questioned whether it is planning to pay too much for a company that has struggled to turn a profit. Michael Clendenin, managing director of consulting firm RedTech Advisors, said: "If you consider [Skype] was just valued at about $2.5bn 18 months ago when a chunk was sold off, then $8.5bn seems generous."[It] means Microsoft has a high wall to climb to prove to investors that Skype is a necessary linchpin for the company's online and mobile strategy." This view was echoed by Ben Woods, head of research group CCS Insight. "The big unanswered question is how do Skype assets work for Microsoft... how do you justify the price?" he said. Skype was founded in 1993.

Calls to other Skype users are free, while the company charges for those made to both traditional landline phones and mobiles.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bill Gates on Fixing Capitalism

German Exports at highest level ever

German exports surged in March to their highest level since records began, as the growing global economy lifted demand for its products and services.The country's exports for the month totalled 98.3bn euros ($142bn; £87bn), 7.3% higher than February.
Its imports also reached an all-time high, up 3.1% to 79.4bn euros. Both imports and exports are the most since data started to be collected in 1950.

Germany is the world's second-largest exporter.
Only China exports more than the European nation, and the latest monthly figure for German exports was much higher than market expectations.

"Germany is on the verge of a 'golden decade'," said Christian Schulz of Berenberg Bank.
Fellow analyst, Carsten Brzeski at ING, said the German economy was now "cruising along smoothly".
The latest German export figures provide yet more evidence of a "two speed" eurozone, with the German and French economies continuing to grow strongly, while others, such as Greece and Portugal are struggling against a backdrop of high national debt levels.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Leading Change- Jim Hayes

Commodity prices remain volatile after sharp fall

Commodity prices have seen large swings, falling sharply at first before fully recovering.Brent crude oil initially fell 5.8% to $105.15 a barrel, adding to an 8.6% drop on Thursday, before recovering to above $110 by mid-afternoon.The rebound in the price of major raw materials was given a boost by strong US jobs data, which also pushed European stock markets up by nearly 1%.The volatility comes a day after one of the biggest market sell-offs in years.The sell-off affected most types of commodity.

Industrial metals saw further sharp swings on Friday. Copper futures fell a further 1.75%, following a 6% slide a day earlier, before recovering.Meanwhile, the price of US sweet, light crude oil fell a further 5.5% on Friday morning to $94.63 a barrel, but then recovered to above $99.

Shares resilient

Prices of precious metals - such as gold and silver - held steady during the morning, despite having previously followed other commodities sharply lower during Thursday's market rout.

However, silver prices suffered another wobble, briefly down 5%. The price of silver has fallen more than 30% since it hit an all-time high last week. Stock markets also proved resilient. After falling slightly at the start of trade, European stock markets recovered and pushed higher, rising further when figures showed that more jobs than expected had been created in the US in April.Thursday's commodity price rout was prompted by disappointing data on US benefit claims and German industrial orders.The dollar also remained stable against other currencies on Friday, in contrast with Thursday, when a sharp rise in the greenback contributed towards the fall in commodity prices, which are measured in dollars.

'Scary' correction

"The hope is that the past few days show the global economy moving further away from crisis and the emergency policies that it produced” Stephanie Flanders- Economics editor, BBC News

"When you have this kind of damage, it will take several weeks, or maybe several months... for confidence to be rebuilt," said Dennis Gartman, author of a markets guide."It's not the end of the commodities cycle, not even close. You still have to call this a correction. It's a sizable one and scared the heck out of everybody."However, other analysts suggest that it could mark the beginning of a more sustained fall.

Emma Pinnock, energy analyst at Inenco, sees the oil price dropping back below $100 a barrel within days if not sooner, as markets realign supply and demand."Ultimately the price increases that we saw of almost 12% since the beginning of 2011, due to instability in the Middle East, the Japanese earthquake and the nuclear crisis, were not sustainable," she said. "The poor economic data released from the US and Europe has confirmed fears that the recent high commodity prices could affect global demand."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Springtime for BankersBy PAUL KRUGMAN

Op-Ed Columnist

Last year the G.O.P. pulled off two spectacular examples of bait-and-switch campaigning. Medicare, where the same people who screamed about death panels are now trying to dismantle the whole program, was the most obvious. But the same thing happened with regard to financial reform.

As you may recall, Republicans ran hard against bank bailouts. Among other things, they managed to convince a plurality of voters that the deeply unpopular bailout legislation proposed and passed by the Bush administration was enacted on President Obama’s watch. And now they’re doing everything they can to ensure that there will be even bigger bailouts in years to come. What does it take to limit future bailouts? Declaring that we’ll never do it again is no answer: when financial turmoil strikes, standing aside while banks fall like dominoes isn’t an option. After all, that’s what policy makers did in 1931, and the resulting banking crisis turned a mere recession into the Great Depression.

And let’s not forget that markets went into free fall when the Bush administration let Lehman Brothers go into liquidation. Only quick action — including passage of the much-hated bailout — prevented a full replay of 1931. So what’s the solution? The answer is regulation that limits the frequency and size of financial crises, combined with rules that let the government strike a good deal when bailouts become necessary.

Remember, from the 1930s until the 1980s the United States managed to avoid large bailouts of financial institutions. The modern era of bailouts only began in the Reagan years, when politicians started dismantling 1930s-vintage regulation. Moreover, regulation wasn’t updated as the financial system evolved. The institutions that were rescued in 2008-9 weren’t old-fashioned banks; they were complex financial empires, many of whose activities were effectively unregulated — and it was these unregulated activities that brought the U.S. economy to its knees.
Worse yet, officials lacked clear authority to seize these failing empires the way the F.D.I.C. can seize a conventional bank when it goes bust. That’s one reason the bailout looked so much like a giveaway: officials felt they lacked the legal tools to save the financial system without letting the people who created the crisis off the hook.
Last year Congressional Democrats enacted a financial reform bill that sought to close these gaps. The bill extended regulation in a number of ways: consumer protection, higher capital standards for major institutions, greater transparency for complex financial instruments. And it created new powers — “resolution authority” — to help officials drive a harder bargain in future crises.
There are many criticisms one can make of this legislation, which is arguably much too weak. And the Obama administration has frustrated many people with its too-lenient attitude toward Wall Street — exemplified by last week’s decision to exempt foreign-exchange swaps, a major source of dislocation in 2008, from regulation. But Republicans are trying to undermine the whole thing.

Back in February G.O.P. legislators admitted frankly that they were trying to cripple financial reform by cutting off funding. And the recent House budget proposal, which calls for privatizing and voucherizing Medicare, also calls for eliminating resolution authority, in effect setting things up so that the bankers will get as good a deal in the next crisis as they got in 2008. Of course, that’s not how Republicans put it.  They claim that their goal is to “end the cycle of future bailouts,” under the general rubric of “ending corporate welfare.”

But as we’ve already seen, future bailouts will happen whatever today’s politicians say — and they’ll be bigger, more frequent and more expensive without effective regulation. To see what’s really going on, follow the money. Wall Street used to favor Democrats, perhaps because financiers tend to be liberal on social issues. But greed trumps gay rights, and financial industry contributions swung sharply toward the Republicans in the 2010 elections. Apparently Wall Street, unlike the voters, had no trouble divining the party’s real intentions. And one more thing: by standing in the way of regulations that would limit future financial crises, Republicans are giving further evidence that they don’t really care about budget deficits.
For our current deficit is overwhelmingly the result of the 2008 financial crisis, which devastated revenue and increased the cost of programs like unemployment insurance. And while we managed to avoid large direct bailout costs (a fact not appreciated in public debate), we might not be lucky next time.
More and bigger crises; more and bigger bailouts; more and bigger deficits. If you like that prospect, you should love what the G.O.P. is doing to financial reform

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


US accuses Deutsche Bank of lying

The US Justice Department has sued Deutsche Bank for more than $1bn (£600m) for defrauding the government. The bank responded that it would defend itself vigorously.The complaint says Deutsche's MortgageIT subsidiary lied in order to get Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insurance for its loans.

FHA rules say lenders must make sure the borrower will be able to repay the loan, but the Justice Department claims Deutsche did not do so.A Deutsche spokesperson described the claims as "unreasonable and unfair". "We intend to defend against the action vigorously," she added.
The lawsuit is one of the first targeting mortgage lenders under the federal False Claims Act.

The government says that between 1999 and 2009, MortgageIT endorsed more than 39,000 mortgages for FHA insurance.It says that the lender had powerful incentives to generate as many FHA-insured loans as it could so that it could then sell them on to investors.

Deutsche Bank bought MortgageIT for $430m in 2007.

The government said it had paid out more than $386m in FHA insurance claims and related costs.
The global financial crisis was sparked by mortgages being given to people who could not afford them, with the debt then being repackaged and sold on to investors. The US government has been trying to hold the mortgage industry responsible for the crisis as well as the housing slump and large numbers of foreclosures.

Confessions of an Economic HItman

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chrysler makes first profit since bankruptcy protection

Chrysler has reported its first quarterly profit since it emerged from bankruptcy protection two years ago.
The US carmaker made a net profit of $116m (£69m) in the first three months of 2011, thanks to the success of its newer models and the overall recovery in global demand for vehicles.
The profit compares with a net loss of $197m a year earlier. Chrysler's revenues were up 35% to $13.1bn.

Last month, Italy's Fiat increased its shareholding in Chrysler to 46%.Fiat first bought a 20% stake in Chrysler in 2009, after the US firm emerged from bankruptcy protection. It then increased this first to 25% and then to 30% earlier this year.The Italian carmaker has shared its technology and management with Chrysler, helping the American company to turn around its fortunes.

Chrysler's global sales rose 18% in the first three months of this year, a similar picture to that at Ford and General Motors, the other two of the big three US carmakers. They have also recently reported big rises in profits. Chrysler and Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne said the US firm's improved financial performance showed that "our rejuvenated product line-up is gaining momentum in the marketplace and resonating with customers".

Chrysler last made a quarterly profit in 2007.