Dangers of Euro Exit or Devaluation

Sep 18

The European Union, comprised of 27 member states, may be considered together to represent an economy larger than the United States. Globally the European Union represents about 20% of the global economy (based on the CIA World Factbook). Over the last decade and a half, 17 of those member states have adopted the Euro, a common currency intended to make commerce between member states and global partners easier. The countries that have adopted the Euro are sometimes referred to as the Eurozone or Euro area. The four largest countries to adopt the Euro are Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Together they account for 76.6% of the GDP among the Euro member states. Other countries that have adopted the Euro range in size from the Netherlands on the higher end to Malta on the lower end. In terms of languages and cultures, there is a large diversity. In matters of perceived power distance and individualism, there are significant differences between member states in the Eurozone. These differences factor in to various aspects of risk, including risk of Euro abandonment and devaluation risk. Power distance and individualism have a significant impact on the political process and the social circumstances that influence currency decisions within a country. Specifically, these can range from austerity measures imposed for financial assistance to political ideology that shapes negotiations. The impact of any country moving away from the Euro could range from disruptive to catastrophic. The magnitude of that range is expected to be proportional to the size of the economy that leaves. This means that a larger economy, like Germany, would have a more profound impact, while a smaller economy, like Malta, would have a lesser impact. However, even a smaller economy exiting the Euro, like Malta or Greece, could have a destabilizing effect far more significant than their proportional representation within the Euro. The two scenarios under which this might happen include a country electing to leave the Euro and the EU member states ejecting a country from the Euro. There are various ways that this could happen, the most probable relating to politics and social pressures. Devaluation of the Euro, also referred to as the collapse of the Euro, due to unchecked debt and general default...

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Chavez and Castro are Dead

Sep 02

When considering the last four decades of American politics (speaking broadly of the American continent(s)), two extraordinarily influential figures are Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. Ideologically, many of their political inclinations were formed by the very country which they spent much of their lives, and political fortunes, attempting to undermine, namely, the United States of America (USA). Their dislike for what they perceived as United States imperialism shaped not only their personal convictions, but through them it influenced an entire region and generation. Political The preeminence of the United States economy over the past century has had an understandably profound influence on the political landscape both domestically and abroad. From this position of leverage, the US economic engine has extended its influence outward to shape many developing and emerging economies. Objectively, it would be difficult to assign a definite positive or negative to the shape the US influence has promoted, but subjectively, it has occasioned both. In the case of Fidel Castro of Cuba, he adopted a very strong anti-imperialist posture, which drove him at an early age to fight against United States involvement in Cuba. Though this initial attempt was unsuccessful, he spent the following years organizing a group that would overthrow the Cuban government, allow him to assume political and military power and align with the communist Soviet Union. His socialist agenda was a further departure from western influence and encompassed health care, education and the press. Hugo Chavez experienced similar early setbacks in his initial attempts to seize power, but eventually he succeeded in introducing a new political party referred to as the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. His political focus was more decidedly socialist, though he did align himself with the Castro regime in Cuba and Evo Morales in Bolivia. Social Socially, one possible motivation for a dislike of US influence may have to do with perceived inequality economically. Poverty, when contrasted with great power and wealth, can have an appearance of unfairness. It’s conceivable that the seemingly disparate economic circumstances of the US and Cuba, or other Central and South American countries, could promote a socialist viewpoint. It must be tempting as a leader to want to solve problems for the people rather than direct...

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Framing Organizations

Aug 26

Having just finished the course for Organizational Dynamics, I wanted to summarize my main take away from the course. The material covered leadership, strength assessment and four frames through which organizations can be viewed. By far the most valuable insight for me came from exploring the four frames, which are: Structural Political Symbolic Human Resources Structural The structural frame focuses on the hierarchical structure of an organization. Who reports to who, titles, roles, responsibilities. The primary argument from this frame’s perspective is that organizational issues can be solve by changing the structure of the organization. Cases in which this can work include organizations which have well defined roles based on commodity skills, where workers with those skills are widely available. Some examples might include retail or manufacturing. Political The political frame views organizations as power structures where influence is gained by forming coalitions and leverage. The primary argument from this frame’s perspective is that success in an organization depends on one’s ability to navigate the complexity of political relationships and gain power and influence to drive key decisions. Organizations in which this can work include industries where there may be multiple successful solutions to a given problem or where the value of an outcome depends on human evaluation. Some examples might include a law practice or an advertising agency. Symbolic The symbolic frame views an organization from the perspective of symbols that emotionally drive and motivate the workforce. These can come in the form of stories, myths and other objects of significance that carry special meaning. Motivation and alignment with company objectives can be powerful and effective, often compensating for deficiencies in structure. This can be especially effective in organizations that have an emotional component, such as non-profits. Human Resources The human resources frame focuses on the human needs of the workers within the organization. These may include family, entertainment, acceptance and achievement. From the perspective of this frame, an organization is most likely to be successful when the needs of its workers are met. Conversely, workers whose needs are met are more fully available to address the needs of the organization. Some examples of this type of focus include companies that provide meals, transportation and access to gym...

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Bullying and Corporate Takeovers

Aug 03

Politics in the workplace are brought about by “interdependence, divergent interests, scarcity, and power relations inevitably spawn political activity”, according to at least one author. Most references to politics in the workplace relate to intra-corporate affairs involving managers and employees. It’s important to recognize that when ownership in a company is divided, such as a publicly traded corporation, these same characteristics can promote political posturing in extra-corporate affairs. While politics drive interactions both internal and external to a company, there are some unique conflicts that arise when ownership is divided. Some owners may have little interest in the long term prospects of a company, or its relationship to the environment or a community or even its employees. In this case, they view their ownership interest as little more than an investment, and any measure available to increase the immediate value of that investment is in their best interest. Naturally this can be in direct conflict with the interests of the managers, employees, communities and even the broader economic interest of a region or a country. It can even be at odds with the interests of other owners. The overarching aim of a company is no longer to provide long term, healthy growth, but rather short term gains, even if those gains come at the expense of the long term interests of other interested parties. Dell Takeover One situation that can become very charged politically is that of a corporate takeover. Corporate takeovers occur when a majority interest in a company changes from one entity or group to another. In this case, the conflicts of interest mentioned above can become critical. What changes would the new majority owner(s) make to the company? Recently in the news we’ve seen many articles related to Michael Dell’s efforts to take his company private. Obviously there are scarce resources at play, and not all investments can be pursued. There is clearly a power play between Carl Icahn and Michael Dell. There are questions about the future of the computing industry. All these issues lead to uncertainty of future, pressure to change and even a lack of flexibility to set a meaningful vision for the company. Stock price has a significant impact on financing decisions, which...

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