If the cult of economic efficiency is not abandoned, then machines which can emulate and sometimes surpass human thinking are likely to bring lower wages and more unemployment. But robots provide a wonderful opportunity to combine low labour productivity with high prosperity.
GDP growth in China and India is too low for investors to risk their now-costly capital. This is dimming the lure of these large developing nations. Without reforms to boost returns, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” campaign will face testing times.
Bilingual CEOs should be the norm, not fuel for the kind of media frenzy that greeted the Facebook founder’s Q&A in Mandarin last week. Learning a foreign language doesn’t just help conquer new markets. It fosters risk-taking and new thinking, and helps eliminate biases.
Recent rollercoaster markets are a symptom of a more concerning malady. They reflect the shock accompanying recognition that widely accepted assumptions about everything from monetary policy to geopolitics, and even the state of global health, are dangerously flimsy.
The epicentre of last week’s fright was the 18-nation currency bloc, whose three big economies – Germany, France and Italy – are in their own ways stuck. There is a grand bargain sketched out by Mario Draghi that might shift the malaise. But it won’t materialise soon, if at all.
Car service Uber raises its prices to balance supply and demand when drivers are reluctant and customers are eager. That works, but the method has an anti-social edge. For the common good, it’s better to start with just prices and add allocation by patience, need or merit.
Matteo Renzi’s Plan A is to push through domestic reforms, hope the ECB manages to get inflation ticking up, and keep his fingers crossed that the economy stops shrinking. But if this fails, a mega wealth tax, debt restructuring and/or exit from the euro beckons.
The supply of the raw material of finance can be varied far more easily than any physical commodity or human skill. If central bankers really grasped that, monetary policy could have been far more radical – both pre- and post-crisis.
In an era when everything is shared or rented, including music, there’s a premium to be paid for actual experience – like, say, a festival. That partly explains the media mogul’s interest in Live Nation, which is stalking the promoter behind Lollapalooza and other big gigs.
Tesco, Barclays and BP offer useful lessons about what to do (and what not to do) when disaster strikes: take things seriously and apologise. It is also best to start off with a stock of goodwill.