Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Adam Smith

Adam Smith made a bold intellectual step in 1776 when he proposed international trade benefits all involved. If you need a case study in the benefits of trade, look at the United States itself. The US economic power derives from unfettered trade between 50 states. Why must the benefits of trade stop at the US border?

While it is nearly impossible to convince the public about the benefits of trade, some in government understand. Protectionism does not keep jobs! If politicians want to keep jobs, they need to ensure an educated, flexible and productive workforce.

(Caption) I am visiting the grave of Adam Smith in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2001. The grave stone is attached to the back of a building on the Royal Mile.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Demand and Supply

Having problems with economics?
Here is an explanation of the basic law of demand and supply in plain and simple terms... (you need to apply this in the context of our leadership class)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cat Food

In his personal finance class, NC State lecturer, John Huggard passes out news clippings with stories of old people crowded into small apartments surviving on cat food. He intended to show the importance of saving for retirement. If you do not save, your future may include cans of IAMS.

Last week President Bush signed into law changes to the corporate pension system, an act that many analysts believe affirms the slow death of traditional pension plan. Congress passed this law as Delta’s pilots lost their pension plans and IBM won the legal change to the forceful buyout all its employees' plans.

Pension plans give guaranteed benefits to workers and remove the worker from financial decisions. The workers never have to contribute to the program and professionals handle the investment. Show up for work and you get paid for life. The system works until corporations renege on the guarantee by going bankrupt. There again, corporations can go bankrupt trying to keep up these guarantees. GM pays $1500 per vehicle it sells to its pension’s healthcare benefit. Pensions force the risk of inflation and long life (yes, long life is a risk) onto the corporations. 401Ks on the other hand push these risks onto worker.

401K plans also its plusses and minuses. On the upside, 401Ks give workers ownership and all the benefits ownership gives. On the other hand, myopia hurts 401K plans the most as people have a tendency to cash out their 401K when the leave a job. Another downside, people do not know how to properly invest their money. Finally, for low-income employees who just make it now, where are they going to find the money to contribute to a 401k?

Nobody should loss his or her pensions and the government should do all it can to prevent it from happenning. I think 401Ks are a better path than pensions, but the government needs better inducements for people to contribute and keep their money in their retirement accounts. Until then, I suggest you buy shares in PETCO.

Monday, August 14, 2006

It is a state! I have proof!

There are roads leading to West Virginia

The "other" Charleston

Who says West Virginia is a poor state with non business savvy rednecks? They are smart, they just invested all their money on a gold domed capitol. Did you know the prices of gold has increased substantially after they recoated the gold. Smart investment!
Jokes apart, this is by far the best looking capitol in the country.

Found this on Wikipedia..

The racial/ethnic makeup of the state is:
94.7% White, not of Hispanic origin , 3.1% Black , 0.7% Hispanic of any race , 0.5% Asian , 0.2% Native American , 0.9% Mixed race .
The five largest ancestry groups in West Virginia are: American (23.2%), German (17.2%), Irish (13.5%), English (12%), Italian (4.8%)

So Alex, this goes against your theory about West Virginians - we are a diverse group
Also, the following people were born/have lived in WV just to name a few:
Classical composer George Crumb
Alias star Jennifer Garner
Booker T. Washington, the writer, educator, and early civil rights leader
NFL superstar Randy Moss
Miami Heat point guard Jason Williams
Former Major League Baseball player and current sportscaster John Kruk
Actresses Ann Magnuson, Conchata Ferrell, and Jean Carson.
Creator of Droodles and television personality Roger Price.
Soap opera actress Lesli Kay who has appeared on As the World Turns, General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful.
Country singer Kathy Mattea
And no, I am not related to any of them.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Country roads, take me home....

So I needed to get away from USC and books and have decided to go to Charleston for the weekend. No not Charleston SC! You know there is another Charleston, which also happens to be the capital of West Virgina. Well, its bad enough that people do not know about Charlie West.. but whats worse is when they do not know about West Virginia. Recently I got carded when entering a bar, and when i presented my West Virginia driver's license and the guy scoffed at me and said "If you're going to use a fake ID, you could at least use a real state!" Seriously!!!! It is a state! And by golly I am going to take pictures this weekend to proove it!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Globalization and Corporate Responsibility

Hommage to Dr. Spicer


...so this is how you sell beef in India...
The only thing creepier is watching a fat guy eat supersized fries.
(Is it just me or does scary clown baby have a severed torso?)


The natural reaction upon seeing this ad is to hope that Ronald McDonald has done the right thing and taken baby Ronald into the woods and buried him in a deep hole.

(Unfortunately, the ad is for McDonald’s delivery service Mumbai)

Why did I pursue a MBA?

In the early 1900s, American universities created the first Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degrees to teach scientist and engineers about business.While the MBA has lost this focus, it remains a popular avenue for people switching careers. In this aspect, I am just one in the herd.

After graduating from North Carolina State in 2000, I have worked in highly technical environments. In my first job, I developed software for a procurement system. In my second job, I worked with a naval contractor building data reporting applications. While I enjoyed both jobs, both left me with the feeling I wanted more. A MBA degree, I decided, would allow me to branch out and explore my entrepreneurial side.

Why the Moore School of Business?

After moving to Charleston, SC in July of 2005, I stumbled upon the Moore School of Business's International MBA program at the University of South Carolina. The program caught my eye because of its international expertise. US News and World Report has ranked the program in the top two for international business for the past 16 years. Other publications have also recognized the school’s quality. The school builds in a four-month language emersion course and a 4-month international internship into the degree.

Given my experience studying in Adelaide, Australia and living in Edinburgh, Scotland, I have established my love for international travel. The Moore School allows me to travel and to get a quality MBA. They had me at hello. Rather than trying a degree online or part-time, I chose to go fulltime.

My fulltime status means I will miss two years of salary and work experience. If I purely considered return on investment, I would have never gone back to school. I am here to expand my horizons and increase my network. I am confident it will payoff in the end.

Allow me to introduce myself...

I am T Bell from Charleston, SC and I live near these other folks. I am enjoying B-school, but I’m not really going to focus on that. I was self-diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) a few years back. I have problems focusing on anything too long. I like to switch it up often. About a year ago I was living in Japan by myself and I had to find things to do with my time. I did a lot of bike riding, attending festivals and traveling across the country to visit my friends The one thing that I missed most while I was in Japan, beside family and friends was music videos. I have been obsessed with hip-hop, especially music videos since childhood. I had an older sister Tiffany (+8 yrs.) and brother Thad (+10 yrs). My brother was really into hip-hop, as it was in its earlier and arguably best stages. Around the age of 5, I began to watch BET with him as he taught me raps and dances. He was an awesome dancer and a great lyricist. He taught lyrics to random raps, which I would sing in the presence of my mother who would flip out because of the incorrect grammar. My sister suffered middle child syndrome and hated me many periods of my life. I was kind of annoying; I wanted to be just like her. Occasionally the three of us would chill and we’d have vinegar-drinking contests and act out scenes from Good Times. Anyway, I fell in love with music, particularly hip-hop and music videos. The soundtrack of my life is beautiful. The most memorable events in my life are associated with songs that bring back nostalgic feelings. If you are a music lover, you know what I mean.

What is Bunko?

These vixens in our class have been having this coven every other week and I really want to know what it is all about. Initially the plan had been to dress up as girls with wigs and all and to show up to their oh-so secret meeting. But my teammate blew it off so it didn’t happen.
My only resort was to use the greatest tool on hand: the Internet, to find what this secret women’s society was all about.

Wikipedia tells me that Bunko is one of three things:

- Bunkobon, a Japanese book format (obviously not that)

- A slang term for Fraud (hum, interesting, are they preparing some large scale scam using their charms? – I’m sure there’s already a list of volunteer guinea pig candidates circulating on our yahoo group)

- Bunko Kanazawa, a Japanese adult film actress (This is funny because I actually lived in the city of Kanazawa in Japan, charming city by the way)

So is Wikipedia just a bunch of useless knowledge?

Answers.com is more insightful:

bun·co also bun·ko (bŭng'kō) n., pl. -cos also -kos.
A swindle in which an unsuspecting person is cheated.
[Probably alteration of Spanish banca, card game, from Italian banca, bank, of Germanic origin.]

This probably indicates why the infamous Moore IMBA Bunko Society is so secret and closed to non-invited members.

After a ingenuous questioning of the head sorceress this afternoon, I have stumbled on information about these enigmatic gatherings. The information is still classified and sources have not been cross checked yet, but it does seem that high heels, underwear and pillows are part of the get-together.

Dear avid readers of this blog, Detective A-Lex shall pursue his relentless search for the truth behind these unorthodox gatherings and shall report to you as soon as more information surfaces the murky waters of Gossiptown.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

¿Dónde está Louis?

Why, oh why, has my track advisor abandoned me.......? *sob*

Pink is my new Obsession!

I love pink!
Is that shocking?
I love to wear pink shirts, I probably have as many of them as blue or white ones: from salmon colored to mashed raspberries, there is a wide array of pink shirts available. How about pink ties, they also look nice (except on a pink shirt, you just can’t wear the same color or tone on top of each other – yes, I know, Donald Trump does it, but that’s why he is in real estate and not in fashion; and just look at his “hair”).
So what’s the big deal about wearing pink? I’ve worn pink clothes as far as I can remember. Probably it’s more common in Europe for guys to wear pink than it is over here. Or so I thought until a couple of years ago, I visited my best friend in Bulgaria. We were in this shop on the main shopping street, buying shirts at a very cheap price: light blue, white, dark blue… Then I asked my friend to ask the saleswomen (I don’t speak Bulgarian) if they had any pink shirts, and the ladies just started laughing, by the time they were done making fun of me in Bulgarian, I was the one who was pink in the face. It seems that eastern European men do not wear pink. They are masculine guys, you see, therefore they don’t wear pink.
Well, somehow, pink is associated with women, and therefore guys shouldn’t wear it.
Not true. Real guys do wear pink. I even found this article about these cowboys wearing pink for a good cause (“tough guys wear pink!”). For those who know sports, the leader of the Giro d’Italia cycling race wears a pink jersey and the most famous sports newspaper in Italy is printed on pink paper (La Gazzetta dello Sport).
But more importantly, a man wearing pink shows that he is secure about his sexuality, that he is not afraid to wear a color other people might attribute to women. And quite frankly, women like that.


Thanks to Ben and his wife Svetlana, we IMBA's can get to learn some latino moves. Svetlana is an excellent instructor... Don't take my word for it, just look at the pictures. This was the first lesson we had, with no-one having had prior salsa experience. Hard to believe. I know.

Its still not too late to join in - Every Saturday, at 4:00pm at Platt. It's a blast!


Check out the moves:
Can you believe this was the first lesson in latin american dancing?

Sunday Night Trivia at Delany's

The fierce Reunify Gondaland team

The mighty Shake & Bake team.

Two quintessential members of ThePimpin IMBAs

Sunday, August 06, 2006

World-wide Free Market Poll

In the Globalization and Corporate Social Responsibility class we have at the Darla Moore School of Business IMBA program, we face a recurrent question: are free markets fair? And are free markets the best system on which to base the future world? Or should governments regulate companies more then they do today?

An interesting insight in this matter is the GlobeScan poll that asked the question whether a majority or plurality of people in different countries agreed with the statement that “the free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world.”

The results are fairly interesting, most countries have responded positively to a free market world, with a surprising positive response from third world countries such as China (74%), the Philippines (73%), India (70%), Indonesia (68%) and Nigeria (66%). France ended with the lowest score, with only 36% of frogs agreeing (and 50% disagreeing) that a free market system would be the best system for the world in the future. The other countries with low scores were Argentina (42% agreeing, 29% disagreeing), Russia (43% agreeing, 34% disagreeing) and Turkey (47% agreeing and 36% disagreeing).

This poll only reinforces my conviction that the population of Europe in general and of France (and Belgium) in particular are not willing to make the sacrifice needed to continue to be important player in the future world. Economically, these countries are not doing well compared to other developed countries (USA in particular) but also compared to developing countries. Since more than 20 years, France and Belgium each totaled only half the economic growth (percent rate of increase in real gross domestic product) of the United States for instance. The percentage in itself is not problematic in itself, what is problematic is that the countries’ leaders and population are unwilling to do anything about it. Germany seems to be on the right track with the Schroeder and Merkel governments implementing changes such as softening labor laws… Something utterly unthinkable in Germany’s francophone neighbors.
In 20 years, it will be countries like Belgium and France that will be clamoring for more handouts from the USA… and China!