Welcome to the September 10, 2007 edition of Carnival of the Capitalists, a traveling weekly roadshow of the best of the business blogosphere.
Outside the BoxI wanted to call particular attention this week to three really excellent posts that offered intriguing insights into economics, capitalism and business from unexpected sources:
Neil G presents Boring Insurance and a Ho Hum Catastrophe posted at Drawing The Line. What happens when a situation opens a market to a company's competitors, but competitors don't want to be there in the first place? And what happens to those consumers who are no longer served? Despite its title, I actually found this one of the most intriguing post this week.
Golbguru presents Rising Milk Prices, Emerging Economies, And Stolen Cows posted at Money, Matter, and More Musings, saying, "Milk prices are making people steal cows! Who says thieves are not entrepreneurs. :) With the current market scenario, it appears that cows could be better in terms of future returns than stocks. :)" I was wondering why milk prices have jumped so much in the past two years -- now I know. And with my family's 150-gallon-a-year habit, I think I deserve to.
Markets and Economy
Ian Welsh presents Bad Job Figures, Stimulus and a Likely Rate Cut posted at The Agonist, saying, "What the latest job figures tell us about the economy." I still don't know after reading it, but the one thing that's clear is that the U.S. government doesn't seem to know either.
Stirling Newberry presents The Last Wave of This Expansion posted at The Agonist. Stirling picks up where Ian left off and takes a pretty scathing look at the potential effects of the current administration's economic policy.
Kurt Brouwer presents Snapshot of Our Economy posted at Fundmastery Blog, saying, "Economy Coming or Going?: Economic growth for the second quarter was revised upward to a real annual rate of 4%. That’s the good news. However, since then the whole subprime lending mess has laid waste to jobs in construction, lending, finance and other sectors..." Mixed signals and more uncertainty.
Super Saver presents Mortgage and Credit Crisis - Has The Fat Lady Sung? posted at My Wealth Builder. The government is promising FHA loans to some borrowers and suggesting other possible steps to create "a good balance between credit crisis and a bailout of those who made risky investments or took out risky mortgages."
James Hamilton presents Borrowing short and lending long at Econbrowser, offering his take on the causes of the current financial turmoil, particularly the new institutions that are outside the regulatory structure of the banks, including hedge funds, conduits and structrued investment vehicles.
Babak presents Insiders Tripping Over Each Other To Buy posted at Trader's Narrative, saying, "Something amazing happened just as the stock market hit a bump in August. Corporate insiders were tripping over themselves to buy cheap, beaten down stocks. The only time they were more enthusiastic was at the bottom of the bear market!"
Career, Personal Finance and Wealth Mindset
Gavin Ingham presents Finding your personal motivation posted at Gavin Ingham. Gavin offers 10 strategies for finding "more energy, more vitality and more drive." Good stuff - I bookmarked this one for action.
Silicon Valley Blogger presents Top 10 Wealth Building Ways Of Ordinary People posted at The Digerati Life. It's refreshing to see a reminder that there are so many different paths to financial success, rather than a sales pitch for one particular method. One size doesn't fit all.
Henry Stern presents at InsureBlog, saying, "Health care costs keep going up, and coverage keeps going down. InsureBlog's Henry Stern discusses the newest piece of the financing sector: borrowing money (often at zero interest) to pay for procedures and meds." But be forewarned... with the tightening of credit in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis, the people who need financing the most may be the ones least likely get it.
FMF presents Don't Quit Your Job Before You Get Another One posted at Free Money Finance, saying, "Here's some career advice you can ignore at your own peril." I've done it three times each way, and I can definitely say that based on how painful it was the one time out of three that I didn't follow this advice and it didn't work out well, this is good advice.
Nina Smith presents Ten Money Questions for James Robertson posted at Queercents, saying, "Why is a conference needed to connect gay business school students with potential employers?" This guy is clever and insightful -- a very entertaining read.
Matthew Paulson presents Self Employed? Get Inexpensive Health Insurance with Sam’s Club. posted at Getting Green, saying, "When all is said and done, you’ll be able to save about 25% compared to what you would pay on the open market." I would be interested to see a direct comparison to programs offered by NFIB and NASE, though.
Marlon J. Broussard presents The 7 Immutable Laws of Building “True Wealth” posted at MoneyBlog, saying, "I have come to realize that my core beliefs about economics, finance, capitalism, business, money, consumerism, and the like, are all contrary to how our world functions today." Marlon advocates principles that will be familiar to libertarians like me, but it's always good to hear the reminders.
CA presents Secrets revealed: Rank high in SERPs using SEO posted at Atlantic Canada's Small Business Blog. This is a nice concise overview of search engine optimization for the beginner. And in case you're wondering what SERP is, it's Search Engine Results Page.
Edith Yeung presents Be The Best at Just One Thing posted at Edith Yeung.Com: Dream. Think. Act.. This is the story of a business that needs no advertising -- not even a sign -- but focuses instead on simply being the very best at one thing. I readily admit that this works for some, but there are others (like me) who would be bored out of our skills focusing on only one thing. There's more than one recipe for success.
David Kam presents How to Create a Radio Ad posted at MarketingDeviant.com. Not quite a step-by-step tutorial, but it does show that it's really not that complicated to put words and music together for a radio spot. Still, considering the learning curve, is it the best use of your time? And some people just don't have a "radio voice" -- that's why there's voice talent.
Sue Kleiner presents Trade Show Booth Design - The important facts posted at Trade Show Display Exhibits, emphasizing the importance of adapting your message to each trade show's unique audience, and how working with the booth design team with that in mind from the beginning can help you do that cost-effectively.
Pat B. Doyle presents 23 Great Ideas For Blog Posts posted at Pat B. Doyle, saying, "Have you run out of things to say on your business blog? Here are some fresh ideas." Nothing radical here, but I still bookmarked it for the next time I get in a rut.
Vihar Sheth presents Powering a Paperless World posted at Vihar Sheth, looking at the trade-off of the higher energy consumption of going paperless and highlighting the need for internet companies in particular to "think green" regarding their power consumption.
Todd Earwood presents Are You Built for a Big or Small Company? posted at Todd Earwood, saying, "What are the key differences to work for a big or small company? Find out from this video interview with Noah Kagan, an uber networker, successful blogger at OkDork.com and organizer of the valley conference, Community Next." This was a really entertaining interview -- I'm looking forward to checking out Mint.com. The only thing wrong with this interview? Way too short.
Rob presents Why I Gave Up Desserts To Become a Better Entrepreneur posted at Businesspundit, telling his personal story of practicing self-discipline in his personal life in order to be better able to exercise it in his business.Self-discipline is an admitted weak spot for me. I could definitely use a self-discipline workout regime.
Wayne Hurlbert presents Business ideas: Don't chase mirages posted at Blog Business World, saying, "It is the very nature of business people to seek new and exciting business ideas. That relentless search for profit is the lifeblood of the economy. Making money through constant innovation, and from novel business concept creation, is a matter of survival for entrepreneurs and small business people. At the same time, some very tempting money losing ideas must be avoided to prevent disastrous losses. Business people must avoid chasing shimmering mirages."
Christopher J. Brunner presents How You Know It's Time to Grow posted at GreatFX Business Cards, saying, "There are some clear indications that it is time to expand your business, and being able to recognize those signs will help to eliminate some of the anxiety that accompanies such a change, since you will know it is necessary."
Management and Leadership
Wally Bock presents Magical Thinking and Management at Three Star Leadership Blog, saying, "Human beings have a natural tendency toward magical thinking, and sometimes it can even be helpful. But making management decisions and committing resources without getting the facts and understanding cause and effect can be very disastrous indeed. That's why you need specific ways to overcome magical thinking and make the best decisions possible." A great follow-up read to Wayne's post above about chasing mirages.
Louise Manning presents Goals, objectives and performance standards posted at The Human Imprint. Thank you, Louise, for asking the question. I have seen so many times that companies are measuring and tracking things, and the cost of measuring and tracking them so clearly outweighs any possible benefit. Just because something is measurable doesn't mean there's value in measuring it.
Daily Idea presents How to Earn More and Work Less: The 4HWW posted at Daily Idea, offering a video blog take on Tim Ferriss' The 4-Hour Workweek. Regardless of whether you really believe you can get to a 4-hour workweek, or would even want to, the book is full of good ideas of making more money with less effort. These are a good start.
Pawel Brodzinski presents Don’t Look Back posted at Software Project Management, saying, "Very often management has tendency to dig in things which happened looking for ones to blame and lamenting over spilled milk. It's a waste of time which is usually not needed to fix the situation. Maybe blaming others boosts ego, but that's definitely not the wisest thing to do." Thought-provoking. I see Pawel's point, but I think it may be over-stated. If you manage projects, it's definitely worth a read and joining in the comments discussion. See you there.
Leon Gettler presents Interview with Thomas Homer-Dixon posted at Sox First, saying, "Here is an interview with Thomas Homer-Dixon, professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto and author of The Upside of Down. We talk about the limitations of growth and what businesses need to do to create sustainable operations." I found his comments about the consequences of the huge income gap between the rich and the poor very compelling.
Jack Yoest presents Management Training Tip #2: Writing an employee evaluation? Try 101 helping sentences. posted at Yoest.com, saying, "Academia and the Army have one thing in common. Yes, there is something. Your Business Blogger is a former Armor Cavalry Officer and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Management, so I was surprised to learn of some overlap. Perhaps the only intersection is the willingness to share with with fellow servicemen or teachers various helps needed for the efficient and effective transference of knowledge." Jack goes on to offer 101 examples of positive ways to communicate an employee's strengths in an evaluation.
Charles H. Green presents The Cold War, the Hot Line and Twitter posted at Trust Matters, saying, "Effective and considerate communication deals with veto power, permission and relevance." Charles says that there is such a thing as too much communication and explains why he's not all a-twitter about Twitter.
Millionaire Mommy Next Door presents The Powerful (and Addictive) Nature of Giving posted at Millionaire Mommy Next Door, saying, "I've come up with an idea that has me covered in goosebumps every time I think about it. And that's a feeling I want to pass on." Inspired and inspiring -- very cool idea. I love the possibilities of micro-lending.
Shannon Christman presents How to Use the Better Business Bureau posted at SavingAdvice.com Blog. Good advice on using it to file a complaint and get help resolving an issue, but as one commenter pointed out, it's important to start by checking with the BBB before making a major purchase in the first place.
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