Bubbles, Bailouts, and Stimulus Plans

global_economic_bubblesSo much of the shouting about this economic “downturn” centers on the United States of America. I’m no economist (thank, God!), but it seems to make sense that the epicenter of the econoquake is the USA.

Still . . .

What about other countries? Like:

China, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Taiwan (ROC), Philippines, Romania, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Brazil, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Iceland, and Australia.

One of my constant companions on the Internet Journey is Global Voices. In a recent article, they rely on their global network of bloggers to identify these issues:

“…Jamaica’s dollar-earning bauxite industry has shed hundreds of jobs already because of the downturn in US car production.”

In Bangladesh, the housing bubble is tied to remittances sent by Bangladeshis working in other countries; but, mass layoffs in the US and Europe is ending their property boom.

“Cambodia is also experiencing a property bubble. South Koreans are Cambodia’s biggest investors. Since South Korean businesses have been badly hit by the financial crisis, many of them have already pulled off their real estate investments in Cambodia.”

The Caribbean financial crisis originated, partly, from drops in methanol and real estate prices.

The Brazilian government was claiming the global crisis was having a minimal impact on their economy. But, recent reports show Brazil as the second “most affected” country.

“Bank nationalization schemes have been enforced in some countries like Iceland and Kazakhstan. Trinidad and Tobago banks were rescued not just by their government but also by governments from neighboring countries.”

Hungary is going to implement a tax reform.

“Hiring street sweepers is part of the Philippine stimulus plan.”

There are many more details on the Global Voices site…

Spiritual Quote:

“Central to the task of reconceptualizing the organization of human affairs is arriving at a proper understanding of the role of economics. The failure to place economics into the broader context of humanity’s social and spiritual existence has led to a corrosive materialism in the world’s more economically advantaged regions, and persistent conditions of deprivation among the masses of the world’s peoples. Economics should serve people’s needs; societies should not be expected to reformulate themselves to fit economic models. The ultimate function of economic systems should be to equip the peoples and institutions of the world with the means to achieve the real purpose of development: that is, the cultivation of the limitless potentialities latent in human consciousness.

“Society must develop new economic models shaped by insights that arise from a sympathetic understanding of shared experience, from viewing human beings in relation one to another, and from a recognition of the central role that family and community play in social and spiritual well-being. Within institutions and organizations, priorities must be reassessed. Resources must be directed away from those agencies and programs that are damaging to the individual, societies and the environment, and directed toward those most germane to furthering a dynamic, just and thriving social order. Such economic systems will be strongly altruistic and cooperative in nature; they will provide meaningful employment and will help to eradicate poverty in the world.”
Bahá’í International Community: 1998 Feb 18, Valuing Spirituality in Development

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Cafe owner thrives with no-pricing policy

no_price_cafeI hang out at a local café (you may have noticed I use many imaginative dialogues at the beginning of posts and they’re almost always in a café). I also do some of my own work at the café plus volunteering a little marketing and promotion—basically, I like the place.

However, this creeping, crawling economic downturn (aka recession or crunch) hit the owner of Java Street Café  pretty hard. I’ve spent hours talking business with him and watched as a bright and friendly man became progressively morose and extremely exhausted (when a business has hard times, paying employees becomes a problem and the owner has to not only run the business but literally Work  it).

Months went by, things getting worse, while the owner, Sam, in spite of the grueling conditions, continued  to try various ideas to attract customers…

Finally, last week, an idea he’d been experimenting with became a what-the-hell—”I can’t lose more than I already have”—Decision:

Take All The Prices Off The Menu—let people pay whatever they  feel is a Fair Price!

Sam had his back against the wall, he was willing to try just about anything, and he “happened” to choose and made a commitment to act  on what could seem like a very crazy idea…

That was last week…

Since then, he’s been interviewed on CNN twice, phone interviewed on MSNBC and Fox, appeared on all four of the local channels, been on three out-of-state radio talk shows, will be appearing in a morning cooking segment on the local Fox affiliate, and received calls of thanks from three other states and Canada…

As if that weren’t enough, the blogosphere is starting to warm up to the story and it’s on the edge of tipping into the viral realm.

Why?

Because it’s “crazy” and unusual?

Nope.

That may have been the initial and conscious decision of the media but, after watching it happen and, especially, watching his customers react, the real and deeper reason for all the interest certainly seems to be related to a nearly archaic principle—Business Ethics…

Sam’s customer’s have a variety of reactions when he takes their order then says, “O.K., what do you think is a fair price for what you just ordered ?”:

“Huh?”

“Me?”

“What’s your usual price?”

“Oh, my! I have to think  about it?”

“You’re kidding, right?

Sam’s not kidding, they do have to think about it, his “usual” price is now “your price”, and, when the day is done, the under-payers and the over-payers even out and he’s collecting what he used to get when he had prices…

Of all the various reactions, my personal favorite, and the one that sings  of ethics in business during hard times, is what the woman from Missouri said, when she called to thank Sam for his decision:

“After I saw the story on CNN, I cried…”

Spiritual Quote:

“As a practical step in contributing to a dialogue about development and social transformation that explicitly takes account of spiritual values and perspectives, some 100 influential development organizations, international and government agencies, religious representatives, and academics recently gathered in New Delhi to participate in a colloquium on the theme of Science, Religion and Development. The primary goal of the event was to explore how a unified interaction between scientific methods and religious insights can promote the building of human capacity, particularly in the areas of governance, education, technology and economic activity.”
2001 Jun 11, Universal House of Justice, Overcoming Corruption

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