This is not only the worst global economic downturn of the post-World War II era; it is the first serious global downturn of the modern era of globalization. America's financial markets failed to do what they should have done--manage risk and allocate capital well--and these failures have had a major impact all over the world. Globalization, too, did not work the way it was supposed to. It helped spread the consequences of the failures of US financial markets around the world. September 11, 2001, taught us that with globalization not only do good things travel more easily across borders; bad things do too. September 15, 2008, has reinforced that lesson.
INNOVATION — the tricky, many-step process by which ideas become products and services — has typically been seen, studied and celebrated at the micro level, as a pursuit for entrepreneurs and clever companies. But governments are increasingly wading into the innovation game, declaring innovation agendas and appointing senior innovation officials. The impetus comes from two fronts: daunting challenges in fields like energy, the environment and health care that require collaboration between the public and private sectors; and shortcomings of traditional economic development and industrial policies.
We are frightening children with exaggerations – they believe they don't have a future and that the world is going to end. The continuous presentation of scary stories about global warming in the popular media makes us unnecessarily frightened. Even worse, it terrifies our kids.
Did you hear the one about the old businessman who dies and goes to hell? Bumps into an elderly colleague down in the furnace happily seated with a voluptuous woman on his knee. Guy says to his mate, “This can't be hell, you're not being punished, you're having fun!” To which the friend replies, “It is punishment — for her!” Thinking about new possibilities, as much so in the business life as in any afterlife, sometimes helps.
Toxic Assets Were Hidden Assets. We can't afford to allow shadow economies to grow this big. By Hernando de Soto
The Obama administration has finally come up with a plan to deal with the real cause of the credit crunch: the infamous "toxic assets" on bank balance sheets that have scared off investors and borrowers, clogging credit markets around the world. But if Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner hopes to prevent a repeat of this global economic crisis, his rescue plan must recognize that the real problem is not the bad loans, but the debasement of the paper they are printed on.
Today's global crisis — a loss on paper of more than $50 trillion in stocks, real estate, commodities and operational earnings within 15 months — cannot be explained only by the default on a meager 7% of subprime mortgages (worth probably no more than $1 trillion) that triggered it. The real villain is the lack of trust in the paper on which they — and all other assets — are printed. If we don't restore trust in paper, the next default — on credit cards or student loans — will trigger another collapse in paper and bring the world economy to its knees.