The Macroeconomics of the Global Technology Economy (FT Press Delivers Shorts)
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He is free-riding on your work. The monkey is not doing any deep fundamental analysis of the cash flows and business prospects of the companies whose stocks he buys, because you have already done it for him, and you have told him what those stocks are worth. He just has to throw darts. If his dart lands on a good company, he will invest in a good company at a fair price.
If his dart lands on a bad company, the price of the stock will reflect the risks and badness of the company, and will still, in expectation, give him a fair return. The index fund will be cheap. The active managers will be expensive.
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Their gross-of-fee returns, in expectation, will be the same. Greater skill of active investment managers can mean less fee revenue in a general equilibrium. Although more-skilled managers earn more revenue than less-skilled managers, greater skill for active managers overall can imply less revenue for their industry.
Greater skill allows managers to identify mispriced securities more accurately and thereby make better portfolio choices. This resonates even more strongly as we recall that country relationships became even more important during the s. As the political environment shifts, business leaders need to keep a careful eye on how their home countries are realigning their international ties, and engage in their own corporate diplomacy.
Remember too that staying at home is an option. Only about 0. For companies based in large emerging economies, focusing on the domestic market, where they enjoy home court advantage as well as rapid growth, can be a particularly attractive proposition. Leaders must resist the idea that a global company has to compete in every market.
And in light of changes brewing in the policy environment, this seems like a particularly inauspicious time to think that one can go global just by setting up a website or joining an online platform. If you conclude that your company should continue to do business in a variety of markets, you still need to figure out whether to change the type or mix of strategies that you use in response to protectionist pressures. At a high level, globalization strategies have three components, as described in my book, Redefining Global Strategy.
Companies use adaptation when they want to adjust to cross-country differences in order to be locally responsive. They use aggregation to achieve economies of scale and scope that extend across national borders. And arbitrage strategies are used to exploit differences, such as low labor costs in one country or better tax incentives in another.
Take adaptation. Firms should look for opportunities to amp up their adaptation efforts, because becoming more responsive to differences can help reduce the impact of protectionism. The most obvious way for a company to adapt is to vary products, policies, market positioning, and so on to suit local markets.
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However, each variation increases costs and complexity. Therefore, smart adaptation typically involves limiting the amount of variation as well as finding ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of any changes that are introduced. For example, companies can design common platforms upon which local variants are offered. Or they can externalize some of the costs of adaptation via franchising, joint ventures, or other types of partnerships.
But while more adaptation may make sense, multinationals should not automatically put it above all else—doing so would only undercut their sources of competitive advantage relative to local competitors. Global companies—especially those from advanced economies—typically justify their cross-border strategies primarily on the basis of aggregation. In the most classic cases, they invest in intangible technological or marketing assets that they can scale across national borders. Those advantages normally have to be pretty large in order to overcome the home court advantage of local competitors.
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Turning to arbitrage, the opportunities for vertical multinationals to globalize on the supply side rather than on the demand side have narrowed somewhat in recent years, but they still remain large. Even with rising prosperity in large emerging markets, U. GDP per capita is still seven times that of China, and 33 times that of India. Differences in tax regimes across countries are not going away either, and will continue to provide arbitrage opportunities. According to the OECD, the dispersion of corporate tax rates across countries has barely changed since , and progress at curbing tax havens has been slow.
Furthermore, cross-country differences in safety, health, and environmental standards continue to persist as well—although exploitation of these differences raises ethical concerns. Multinationals coming out of emerging markets tend to get their start from advantages rooted in arbitrage—competing abroad on the basis of low costs at home. For example, developed-world incumbents in IT services, such as Accenture and IBM, have expanded their workforces in India, while Indian companies are trying to strengthen their brands and technological capabilities.
But GE—like most other multinationals—cannot give up on aggregation or arbitrage. Except in highly regulated industries, companies have historically treated interactions with governments, media, and the public as an afterthought in setting strategy. I would add to the list the rise of NGOs, the proliferation of social media, and increases in anti-globalization sentiment. Companies are constrained in their responses to these developments by a range of factors.
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First of all, the backlash against globalization is also—in part—a backlash against big business. The general reputation of business is at an all-time low. In a recent survey, the Pew Research Center asked respondents in the U. Business executives ranked next to last, ahead only of lawyers. In such a context, just speaking up more about social issues—as business leaders today are often instructed to do—is no panacea. While it is hard to offer simple instructions about how to cope with these complexities, the law of semi-globalization does suggest one injunction and one insight. First the injunction: Falling in line with what governments want wherever a company operates is unlikely to be a sustainable strategy.
Multinational companies need to craft governmental and societal agendas that are both localized and linked across countries. Anti-globalization pressures require that multinationals deliver more local benefits—and communicate about them—in the countries where they operate.
Such efforts must go well beyond compliance to include contributions in the form of jobs, technology, and so forth.
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The backlash against globalization is also—in part—a backlash against big business. Of course, there are dangers to shifting too far toward localization. Rather than pulling back—even as it became clear that the census IBM was supporting was being used to identify Jews for persecution—IBM sought to grow its business with the Nazi government. The law of semi-globalization affords an important insight as well: Addressing much of our current malaise—including but not confined to anti-globalization sentiment—requires domestic policy changes rather than the closing of borders.
For example, one of the principal complaints about globalization today is the sense that it has contributed to rising income inequality and that a large swath of the population in advanced economies has been left behind. The U. Vinay Prasad. Three-quarters of new drugs get an expedited regulatory review, a process that offers a measure of hope to critically ill patients.
It also thrusts families and doctors into a new world of trade-offs, raising questions about the value of drugs with limited track records. A podcast about money, business and power. Hosted by Kate Linebaugh and Ryan Knutson. Hours after President Trump said Friday he was considering an executive order to add a citizenship question to the census, Justice Department lawyers told a federal judge in Maryland that the administration was still exploring its options.
Huawei has disputed the findings that said its gear is far more likely to contain flaws than equipment from rival companies, characterizing the analysis as incomplete and inaccurate. President Trump said he was preparing an executive order that would lower drug prices so that the federal government would pay no more than the costs paid by other countries. Deloitte and one of its partners is being fined and reprimanded for shortfalls in its audits of a subsidiary of outsourcing firm Serco Group PLC.
The rebuke comes as the country looks to boost the quality of its audit sector. That could bring more tax headaches to some investors.
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Citigroup is offering incentives like paying for your Hulu or Amazon Prime to keep you banking there. Many banks are coming up with other creative rewards in lieu of cash or interest. Investors are buying government debt from Iceland, illustrating how the world-wide bond rally has pushed many beyond traditional havens in pursuit of higher yields. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a tough re-election bid in September, the latest polls show, as he struggles to build a strong right-wing coalition that could be further challenged by the return of an old rival, former leader Ehud Barak.
There has been no sign of a speedy resolution to U. Debt-collection lawsuits have increased in some state and municipal courts, following a decline during a regulatory tightening after the financial crisis. Recycling facilities are deploying artificial-intelligence-guided robots, which can sort streams of waste more quickly and accurately than human workers.
Textile-technology startup Evrnu and others are spinning discarded clothes into recyclable fabric. One company was responsible for some of the biggest wildfires that have swept through California in the past few years.