Category Archives: Economic development

Updates from McKinsey

Five ways that ESG creates value
Getting your environmental, social, and governance (ESG) proposition right links to higher value creation.
By Witold Henisz, Tim Koller, and Robin Nuttall – Your business, like every business, is deeply intertwined with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns. It makes sense, therefore, that a strong ESG proposition can create value—and in this article, we provide a framework for understanding the five key ways it can do so.

Just as ESG is an inextricable part of how you do business, its individual elements are themselves intertwined. For example, social criteria overlaps with environmental criteria and governance when companies seek to comply with environmental laws and broader concerns about sustainability. Our focus is mostly on environmental and social criteria, but, as every leader knows, governance can never be hermetically separate. Indeed, excelling in governance calls for mastering not just the letter of laws but also their spirit—such as getting in front of violations before they occur, or ensuring transparency and dialogue with regulators instead of formalistically submitting a report and letting the results speak for themselves.

Thinking and acting on ESG in a proactive way has lately become even more pressing. The US Business Roundtable released a new statement in August 2019 strongly affirming business’s commitment to a broad range of stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and, of course, shareholders.

Of a piece with that emerging zeitgeist, ESG-oriented investing has experienced a meteoric rise. Global sustainable investment now tops $30 trillion—up 68 percent since 2014 and tenfold since 2004.

The acceleration has been driven by heightened social, governmental, and consumer attention on the broader impact of corporations, as well as by the investors and executives who realize that a strong ESG proposition can safeguard a company’s long-term success. The magnitude of investment flow suggests that ESG is much more than a fad or a feel-good exercise. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

The questions that will shape the future of capitalism
Advocates of free markets must engage in the public debate about them
By John Paul Rollert – What is the promise of capitalism?

That may seem like a strange question, and when I ask it of my MBAs, I suspect they regard it as an exercise in the pedagogical pastime Guess What Teacher Is Thinking. Still I ask it, for I hope it prompts my students to think about the kinds of problems capitalism is equipped to solve as well as those that are beyond its compass.

This is hardly a matter of idle speculation, especially for those who have good reason to believe that they will someday enjoy a disproportionate amount of the system’s spoils. Those fortunate individuals sometimes need to be reminded that free markets, however mighty, will not mend their marriage, relieve their cold, or stop their brother-in-law from bragging about his golf game. Indeed, there are plenty of things capitalism can’t do, and reflecting on them is a good way of distinguishing what it can do—and what it should.

Naturally, what capitalism can and should do are not one and the same. The first is a technical matter best left to economists; the second is more of an ideological affair, the province of moral and political philosophy. The distinction is an important one, but it tends to fade whenever one believes that free markets will solve most any problem: moral, social, and political as well as economic. If capitalism can do anything, so the thinking goes, then it should do everything.

Now, with the kind of intellectual prodding the question above intends, almost no one honestly believes that capitalism can, or should, do everything. Yet up until recently, it passed for conventional wisdom, in the United States and throughout most of the developed world, that capitalism could do most things, that the obvious solution to nearly any pressing problem of social organization was freer trade, fewer regulations, and far less government intervention. more>

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Class struggle à la droite

Populism is boosted by economic crises, but its roots are cultural.
By Claus Leggewie – Populism is a method. It works by mobilizing an imaginary homogeneous entity called ‘the people’ against an equally ill-defined and generally despised ‘elite’, thus radically simplifying the political and social field. Such simplifications have served to orchestrate conflicts since the 19th century and in particular during economic and cultural crises—on the left, in terms of a class struggle against the powers that be; on the right, in terms of a confrontation with an ‘other’, be it foreigners or minorities.

Sometimes these two tendencies have gone hand in hand—for instance, when migrant workers have been portrayed as wage-squeezing competitors. In fact, though, a populism that purports to be about solidarity with the ‘common people’ always promotes social disunity.

As a catchphrase in political debates, populism may be useful; a productive analytical concept it however certainly is not. The ‘people’ our modern-day, nationalist populists champion are no longer defined socioeconomically (as in the ‘proletariat’). Rather, the populists employ ethnic constructs (such as Biodeutsche or français de souche), which suggest a homogeneous community with a shared ancestry, a long history and a solid identity.

It is to these ‘people’—not the actual, pluralist demos—that populists ascribe an authority which exceeds that of institutions: ‘The people stand above the law,’ as a slogan of the Austrian ‘Freedom Party’ goes.

In this view, there is no legitimate ‘representation’ through democratic processes. Instead, ‘the people’ form movements which back charismatic leaders and legitimize them retroactively by means of plebiscites. Right-wing movements may be diverse, but what they all have in common is a worldview that is utterly authoritarian (and usually patriarchal and homophobic too).

One’s own nation, ethnically defined, takes center-stage—think ‘America first!’ or La France d’abord! more>

Updates from Ciena

Expanding business models of managed wave services with Adaptive Networks
It goes without saying that no other method of network transport has ever surpassed the speed and performance that is delivered over optical networks. The many innovations in optical communications form the backbone of the robust, reliable, high capacity networks that connect our world. But what is less talked about are the billions in revenues that stem from innovative business and service models delivered over optical networks as managed connectivity services (aka managed wave services). Ciena’s Niloufar Tayebi details what can happen to evolve managed wave services in the era of Adaptive Networks.
By Niloufar Tayebi – Let’s step back in time to take a snap-shot of what service interfaces have previously thrived in managed wave service offers. In a managed wave service, the service provider is able to offer a wide range of client service interfaces: Ethernet, SONET/SDH, DWDM, storage area networking (SAN) interfaces and more.

For these managed wave services, the client is handing off an interface that is required to transport payload connecting two data centers in complete transparency without protocol conversion. This is done by either using a dedicated wavelength over DWDM or through the use of OTN containers (aka ODU).

With the growth of traffic and cost-per-bit declining, client interfaces are now evolving to higher bit rates – as happened with the evolution from SONET/SDH clients to 10Gbps clients – but also expanding in client protocols that supported 10Gbps, such as ODU-2 and 10GE.

One natural path for evolving a managed wave service is to continue the path of offering higher rate, with more emphasis on 100GE and ODU-4 client interfaces. Today it is common to look at a managed wave service and see 100GE and ODU-4 /100Gbps clients supported. With the ongoing reduction of cost-per-bit and higher rate transport, offering managed wave services at higher than 100Gbps client support also makes economic and technical sense.

Ciena’s market intelligence and global consulting teams have been tracking the market size of managed wave services. Their findings show 10GEoDWDM managed wave services are mature services contributing to 60% of managed wave service offers, while 100GEoDWDM managed wave services are the fastest growing wave services at a 30% CAGR. more>

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Saving Capitalism from Inequality

Robust middle incomes deliver the demand that businesses need to produce.
By Robert Manduca – After decades of praise heaped on “job creators,” viewers today may find it disorienting to see the consumer—and a middle-income one at that—cast as the hero of the economy, instead of the investor or the entrepreneur.

Yet Fortune, which produced the video in 1956, was hardly an outlier. In the mid-twentieth century, advertising, popular press, and television bombarded Americans with the message that national prosperity depended on their personal spending. As LIFE proclaimed in 1947, “Family Status Must Improve: It Should Buy More For Itself to Better the Living of Others.”

This messaging was not simply an invention of clever marketers; it had behind it the full force of the best-regarded economic theory of the time, the one elaborated in John Maynard Keynes’s The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936). The key to full employment and economic growth, many at the time believed, was high levels of aggregate demand.

But high demand required mass consumption, which in turn required an equitable distribution of purchasing power. By ensuring sufficient income for less well-off consumers, the government could continually expand the markets for businesses and boost profits as well as wages.

Conversely, Keynes’s theory implied, growing income inequality would lead to lower demand and slower economic growth.

The basic Keynesian logic of demand-driven growth came to be accepted across U.S. society in large part due to significant postwar efforts to explain, communicate, and popularize it. Proponents of Keynesian thinking worked hard to educate the public about the new economic theory and the possibilities of abundance that it foretold. A particularly compelling example is the book Tomorrow Without Fear (1946). more>

Updates from Ciena

The submarine network seascape in 2020
Submarine networks carry over 99% of intercontinental data traffic making it critical infrastructure to be protected and innovated upon at a frantic rate to maintain pace with the approximately 40% bandwidth growth in all submerged corridors of our world. Ciena’s submarine networking expert, Brian Lavallée, highlights key areas for focused innovation throughout 2020.
By Brian Lavallée – There are several key technologies that are the focus of submarine network innovation and will garner a great deal of time, money, resources, and attention in 2020. These technologies will once again allow submarine cable operators to modernize their submerged assets and not only maintain pace with voracious and ongoing growth in bandwidth demand but provide critical competitive differentiation as well. I cover below these key technology innovation areas that I believe will dominate the discussion seascape throughout 2020.

With voracious and ongoing bandwidth growth experienced for many years now, coupled with expanding rollout of 5G services that significantly increase access speeds to content hosted in data centers, cable operators are constantly seeking new ways to increase available bandwidth between continental landmasses for Data Center Interconnection (DCI) purposes – satellite networks need not apply!

Although Submarine Line Terminating Equipment (SLTE) has been constantly innovative upon at a frenetic pace for the past decade, the wet plants they connect to have experienced comparatively little innovation – until now. Wet plants leveraging SDM technology offer more fiber pairs than traditional submarine cables, and although SDM cables support less capacity per fiber pair, they have a much higher overall capacity due to far more pairs (12 and higher), which is further enhanced with power-optimized repeater (misnomer for subsea optical amplifier) designs.

As an industry proof point, the first SDM-based submarine cable deployed is the transatlantic Dunant cable, which supports up to 250Tb/s of overall capacity over an aggregate of 12 fiber pairs, which is many more than the traditional 6 to 8 fiber pairs offered on recent submarine cable deployments. more>

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From the Revolution of 2020 to the Evolution of 2050

By Basil A. Coronakis – European societies are already on the move and 2020 will shape the direction that they go in. Within 30 years, in one way or another, the new world’s political condition will be settled.

The potential options for 2050 are numerous, from too extreme to everything in-between. The point is that whichever option is good, as well as whichever is bad, is a question that cannot be given a reply by either science or faith, but only philosophically.

However, since the “kings” of our society, and not the “philosophers”, will decide for the next big social step to take (or not),

Under the circumstances, we stand before two extreme scenarios and cannot say which of the two is the good and which is the bad, as we are all part of the problem. As a result, none of us can have an objective view. Therefore, will consider scenario A and scenario B without qualifying any.

Scenario A, which is likely to be the most probable as our “kings” are far for “adequately philosophizing”, and which although may have huge collateral damage and a generalized social upside-downs, in terms of long-term survival of humankind is not necessarily the worse.

Scenario A ends with an anarchy dominated chaotic social explosion that, when settled, will bring a new social order where the last will be first and the first the last. Of course, this will be the way of the “Parable of the Workers” from Matthew 20-16 in the New Testament but based on nature’s law of selection according to which the strong survives and the week disappear.

Scenario B is rather unlikely as it provides, after a smooth transition, that we will be living in the ideal city by 2050 – the contemporary version of Plato’s Utopia.

The so-called “in the between” will be simply a prolongation of the status quo, which ultimately will lead to scenario A, though with increased collateral damage. more>

Updates from McKinsey

Redefining the role of the leader in the reskilling era
To enable continuous learning, leaders will need to think and act differently.
By Lynda Gratton, Joe Voelker, Tim Welsh and David Rock – ontinuous learning in the workplace must become the new norm if individuals and organizations want to stay ahead. This places more demand than ever on leaders to take on a new role they might initially find unfamiliar—that of learning facilitator-in-chief.

It’s harder to learn new things as an adult; the pain of making mistakes doesn’t roll off as quickly as it might have when we were younger. So how can leaders foster an environment of psychological safety where employees are supported but still productively challenged? The members discussing this problem concluded that part of the solution may be for leaders to dial up their levels of empathy and humility and focus more on enabling the best in their people, rather than commanding it from them.

When we think about reskilling, our minds immediately go to the idea that you do a program or a course, something concrete that upskills you. Actually, for most people, their capacity to reskill comes from the job itself. So the crucial role for leaders is to be thoughtful about the way they design jobs, how they allow their people to move across different types of positions at the company, and allowing those employees to build their skills and forge a navigable path.

Because for most people, it’s likely that the job they’re in now will not exist in the future—or at least not in the same form. So leaders need to provide ongoing momentum for people to use their agency to decide for themselves, “What am I going to do next?

To give employees the insights they need to make informed decisions, it’s also important for leaders to help people in their organization understand what’s happening in the world—maybe not in 30 years’ time, but certainly in three years’ time. Data show clearly that people want some sort of insight about where they might be going in their organization and what role they might play in it or not. Leaders need to be transparent and honest about those changes, engaging in an adult conversation about what might realistically happen in the future and how it could affect employees. more>

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Updates from ITU

Mapping schools worldwide to bring Internet connectivity: the ‘GIGA’ initiative gets going
By Martin Schaaper – Recently, I participated in a training programme to learn ways to identify and map the location of a learning institution and the level of internet connectivity available.

Held in Jolly Harbour, Antigua and Barbuda, the training provided a great learning experience to understand what it takes to put schools on a map, from a technical perspective, and the available tools and software.

The ProjectConnect training was part of GIGA, a unique partnership launched by ITU, the UN specialized agency for information and communication technology and UNICEF, the UN Children’s agency. The project aims at mapping the connectivity of all existing schools as a step towards ensuring that every school is connected to fast and reliable internet.

Announced during the UN General Assembly meetings in September 2019, it is the vision of this initiative to ensure that every child is equipped with the information, skills and services they need to shape the future they want in the digital era.

Latest data from ITU indicate that up to 3.6 billion people remain offline, with the majority of the unconnected living in least developed countries where just two out of ten people are online. more>

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Low unemployment isn’t worth much if the jobs barely pay

By Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman – Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Employment Situation report (better known as the “jobs report”) to outline latest state of the nation’s economy. And with it, of late, have been plenty of positive headlines—with unemployment hovering around 3.5%, a decade of job growth, and recent upticks in wages, the report’s numbers have mostly been good news.

But those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Are these jobs any good? How much do they pay? Do workers make enough to live on?

Here, the story is less rosy.

In a recent analysis, we found that 53 million workers ages 18 to 64—or 44% of all workers—earn barely enough to live on. Their median earnings are $10.22 per hour, and about $18,000 per year. These low-wage workers are concentrated in a relatively small number of occupations, including retail sales, cooks, food and beverage servers, janitors and housekeepers, personal care and service workers (such as child care workers and patient care assistants), and various administrative positions. more>