Mercantilist Mistakes

By | 2018-01-16T07:34:14+00:00 January 16th, 2018|Global Market Update|

What is mercantilism? Spanis seaport by Claude Lorrain. Source: Wikimedia Mercantilism is a national economic policy designed to maximize the accumulation of currency reserves through trade. It promotes government regulation of an economy to augment a nation’s economic power at the expense of rival national powers. When politicians complain about a nation’s trade balance, they’re looking at the world with mercantilist glasses. Mercantilism becomes more popular when a country suffers from repeated shortages. If a country doesn’t have enough iron for its growing railroad [...]

The Competitive Edge

By | 2017-09-11T05:33:58+00:00 September 11th, 2017|sans-serif"> Global Market Update, style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Arial"|

Why do good competitors try to become monopolies? Public Domain. Source: Wikipedia Most people enjoy competing. They know the thrill that comes from sprinting for the finish line, or fighting for critical new business. They also know that competing keeps them sharp and helps them improve what they do. If a business doesn’t serve their customers well, someone else will. Competition leads to happy customers and vigorous companies. So why would anyone want to become monopolies If businesses can eliminate the competition, they’ll secure [...]

Healthy Competition (Part 2)

By | 2017-08-15T06:52:28+00:00 August 15th, 2017|Global Market Update|

What is a “wolf tree”? Photo: Michael Gaige. Source: American Forests A wolf tree is a large forest tree with a wide-spreading crown. We often find them in the middle of a dense woods, and they seem to contradict the notion of “crown shyness.” There’s nothing shy about these giants. They appear to push everyone else out of the way. But that’s an illusion. They’re older than the stand around them, sometimes by several centuries. They have gnarled and broken limbs, and the forest [...]

Healthy Competition (Part 1)

By | 2017-08-14T07:22:41+00:00 August 14th, 2017|Global Market Update|

How does competition work? Photo: Doug Tengdin Sometimes we can learn about economics observing how species operate in the wild. Nature is supposed to be “red in tooth and claw” – plants and animals in a ruthless struggle for survival. But that’s not always what you see. The next time you walk through a forest, look up. There’s something interesting overhead. Mature trees spread their branches just far enough to so they don’t quite touch the neighboring tree’s crown. It’s called “crown shyness,” and [...]

Rx: Competition

By | 2017-07-17T16:46:20+00:00 July 10th, 2017|Global Market Update|

What’s wrong with the health care debate? Public Domain. Source: Wikipedia I don’t pretend to have a solution. Health care is complex and multi-faceted, with lots of market and non-market elements. And it’s huge: a sixth of our $20 trillion economy. But one thing that’s so disheartening about the debate is that it mostly focusses on the demand side of the equation. Health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, exchanges – these are all ways that we get access to care. It’s as if we debated food [...]

Competition, Information, and Prices

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:28+00:00 March 2nd, 2017|Global Market Update|

What is asymmetric competition? Photo: Miguel Vieira. Source: Wikipedia Asymmetric competition is when companies are rivals but have different bases to compete from. For example, Jaguar may compete with Mercedes in the luxury auto market, but if there are no dealers that sell Jags within 100 miles of where you live, can you really say that consumers have a choice? They may be rivals, but you can’t really say that they’re competitors. The same thing happens with pharmaceuticals. A big drug company develops and [...]

The Prize Economy

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:34+00:00 December 14th, 2016|Global Market Update|

There’s a prize for that. Photo: Douglas Tengdin Increasingly, organizations are using prizes to encourage innovation. Know of a way to improve smartphone voice recognition? There’s a $10,000 price for that. Design a delivery drone? $50,000. Got a solution for how to repurpose carbon emissions to reduce the potential for global warming? That’s worth over $50 million. If you can think of a persistent, society-wide problem, there’s probably a prize associated with it. McKinsey & Co. estimates that there are over 30,000 significant prizes [...]

Trading Nations

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:41+00:00 October 6th, 2016|Global Market Update|

What effect does trade have on our economy? Diagram of US trade flows. Author: Tony Cohen. Source: Wikipedia Of all the issues raised in the current political season, surely the most overrated has been free trade. To hear the candidates talk about it, you’d think the worst issue affecting our economy has been bad trade deals with Canada, Mexico, and China. While these three countries happen to be our biggest trading partners, trade just isn’t that big a deal in our economy. In the [...]

Something Old, Something New

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:26+00:00 September 30th, 2015|Global Market Update|

What countries are the most innovative? Source: Morguefile It’s not an easy question. In addition to counting the number of patent applications, you need to examine the number of peer-reviewed articles, how widely that research is disseminated, new business formation, royalty and license fees, export revenues, even video uploads onto the internet. Innovation is important. Not only is it a key driver of economic success, but it also can improve our quality of life. In Africa, for example, access to clean water allows children [...]

Healthy Together?

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:42+00:00 July 9th, 2015|Global Market Update|

Why are health insurance companies consolidating? Source: Public Domain Pictures Aetna is buying Humana. Anthem wants to buy Cigna. And United Health wants to buy Anthem. The merger-talk among the big health insurers has a lot of people confused and worried. If all these firms combine, will we just be left with one big insurer? That’s what it feels like. Of course, the U.S. Justice Department will weigh in. If one company looks like it will have too big of a market share, they’ll [...]