by Andrew White | April 24, 2012 | Comments Off on “Love in” with my Economist Again
As luck would have it I had this week’s Economist with me on my flight up to Baltimore, Maryland, to our BPM Summit. The 90 minutes were well spent – I had another of those unforgettable “love ins” where several articles really caught my eye and got me thinking. Here is a quick summary of them:
From the US print edition, April 21st to 27th, 2012:
International section: Transparency – Light and Shady. This is a short piece referring to the oxymoron that is “open government”. Too many governments around the world are doing poorly at their open government initiatives. It’s not that they are not trying; it is that what is “open” is not consistent across the world. Does it mean, free search, or does it mean that data available as a dump, or does it refer to statutory filings access, and other capabilities? Additionally, and this is the main point of the article, the consistency and quality of the data being pushed “out there” in the interests of openness is not exactly worth writing home about. Worse, there are few third parties that can come forth and clean up the bad data, since who (after all) policies government agencies? Don’t answer that – its meant to be a rhetorical question.
Business Section: Drug Research – All together now. There are analysts at Gartner that are promoting some observations in the pharmaceutical industry as “game changing”. There is approaching a pending “cliff” of profitability (or the lack of it, once you go over it) whereby branded companies will lose patent’s for very profitable drugs that do not have a steady stream of new patents to follow on behind. As a result, so the observation goes, firms that were once closed, private and competitive are now opening up their inner secrets, systems and data to erstwhile competitors, and even consumers, in the interests of collaboration. It is working, in that some pharmaceutical companies are reporting “new innovations”. However, before you go expose your inner most secrets to your competitors, the article highlights the obvious. This is a part ruse. The reality is that the creation of a new solution to an old problem (the origination of the innovation) is not actually the problem – and collaboration does help. The wrinkle comes when decision rights to the resulting IP needs to be allocated. Collaborating consumers and competitors are all knives at this point. No amount of cuddling and collaborating will solve the ultimate land grab that is IP. There may evolve various IP-share or even resulting revenue-share models, but it remains a vicious land grab. Collaboration does work, I have seen it. But it does not trump competitive drivers. Look to my favorite theories of competition and collaboration in biology. Is the gene really selfish, or does it cooperate?
Free Exchange: Joined-up thinking – Can a Limited version of Eurobonds help solve the Euro Crisis? The Economist has been banging the drum for a while now on a number of solutions to the Euro Crisis. One of these is a Eurobond, which the Germans are dead against. The idea is that risk from bonds would be shared among the whole community, rather than be silod in each country. On paper this is a great idea. Even the temporary ECB 3-year loans seem only to be partially effective; Spanish bonds and Italian are under strain again. But the article points out the reality. For a Euro bond to work, the price of the bond would have to reside somewhere between what Germany pays for its own bonds today, and what Greece (at the other end of the extreme would pay). Such a bond would have two impacts. First, profligate countries would be less incented to fix their own houses, since they would not get access to funds at a great discount. The main problem, massive structural imbalances across Euro economies, will continue and like a pressure cooker, build up to another crisis only this time sooner than the last one. The second issue, much less talked about, is that Germany would suddenly lose access to cheap credit. This would put pressure on the Germany political body, that does not see why it should pay through the nose for other countries profligacy. So there you have it. There will be no Euro bonds. No amount of tinkering by the ECB with loans will solve the problem. The pressure cooker is set to “high” and its gonna get hotter in the kitchen.
Science and Technology: Sexual Strategies – I just Called…to ask about my grandkids. Fascinating article that looks at men and woman and the sex of their immediate social network (best friend, next best friend), as they age. The charts in the article are simply cool. Men, it seems, incur frequent social interaction with females form around 18 and onwards. The weight (towards woman) slows from around 30, but it remains oriented to females. For woman, the too focus on men from around 18, and this also shows signs of “slowing” around 40, but by the age of 55 (near menopause), the chart suggests that woman’s prime social friend are other woman. Analysis suggests that this in in fact what is referred to as the “grandmother hypothesis”, that is older women will invest more time in their daughters, as they themselves are less (evolutionarily) productive in order to assist the development of their own progeny. What is even more interesting is the ‘second best friend’. Analysis of social interaction data suggests that for men, our second best friend is in fact a chum. In early years, 18 to around mid 40’s, it will likely be a male, but after that it is a tossup if the sex is male or female – we don’t really care. For woman though, there is a difference. Like men, from 18 to around late 40’s, woman’s second best friend will be a “chum” in that it will be another woman. But after that, the second best friend will be a male, from 40 onto about 65, and from there is equates to a tossup (as with males). Great stuff. No wonder my wife ignores me (joking).
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