Weekend Digest: The End Of The World Edition

by Larry Brannan (ltbrannan@aol.com) 10 views 

For our weekend business and political readers:

Like it was 100 years ago in America, Bloomberg reports Henry Ford’s dream of mass-produced assembly line cars now has taken hold in Asia and China a century later.

Ford vehicles assembled in China and the rest of Asia now outnumber those built in Europe for the first time. By 2015, Ford will have the capacity to produce more cars and trucks in Asia than it made last year in North America.

Wealth in Asia is surging even faster than it did in America following Henry Ford’s manufacturing innovation and the five-dollar workday he introduced the following year. Just as when his Model T became the first car for millions of people, a burgeoning middle class in countries such as China means that at least two of three buyers in these markets are getting their first set of wheels.

And Ford plans to sell a lot of those wheels. “Morgan Stanley said in a report this month that it values Ford’s Chinese operations at $15 billion.” Bloomberg reports that’s more than a fifth of Ford’s stock-market value.

Formerly considered a “straggler” in the Asian market, how does Ford stack up against its competition now, and what are the growth projections for the iconic American company?  Go to this link for the full story.

Every company has a brand, or should, but for start-ups what are the effective tools in parlaying a branding image to consumers?

Many think a logo is the most important element they need, while others have fallen in love with using a forgettable, disconnected, or difficult name for their product or service. The most successful entrepreneurs I know are the ones who are fanatical about what they know and are equally honest and open about what they don’t know. Understanding the power and dimensions of brand is often at the top of the “don’t know” list.

So, what is a brand and what is a “simple framework” to follow when building one?  Fast Company has five “smart steps” at this link.

Forbes reports that “financial decisions made in your 30’s could haunt you in your 50’s” and beyond since the average life expectancy for an American male is 76.2 years and 81 years for a woman.

Financially speaking, a long outlook on life is important, because the decisions we make early on have a significant impact on the remainder of our lives. Specifically, these decisions can make or break our retirement plans.

So what are those important financial decisions made in the 30’s than can come back to haunt in our later years? Forbes has a list of seven. Click on this link to find out what they are.

The co-founder of Microsoft now wants to invent a new kind of power for America from nuclear waste.

The quest is for a new kind of nuclear reactor that would be fueled by today’s nuclear waste, supply all the electricity in the United States for the next 800 years and, possibly, cut the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation around the world.

The people developing the reactor work for a start-up, TerraPower, led by Mr. Gates and a fellow Microsoft billionaire, Nathan Myhrvold.

So how is all of this coming together, what country could build a demonstration plant, and how could Gates’ reactor “eliminate several routes to weapons proliferation?”

The New York Times has all the intriguing details along with a mini-lesson on nuclear waste at this link.

If the looming government shutdown actually happens, how badly would it affect the economy? Badly, reports the Washington Post.

A government shutdown would hinder the economy, waste billions of dollars in federal funds and put a scare in the markets, according to experts. It’s already causing a slowdown in normal operations for agencies and businesses.

“I think of it like moving — it costs you to pack, and it costs you to unpack,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum think tank and former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. “Uninterrupted operations are cheaper than starting and stopping.”

How have shutdowns affected the economy in the past and how are government agencies preparing in case it happens? Click here for the complete, and alarming post.

Even his Republican colleagues are angry at Texas Senator Ted Cruz for blocking a vote to avert a government shutdown next week, with Sen. Bob Corker leading the chorus.

In a highly unusual Republican v. Republican exchange, Corker accused Cruz of delaying a Thursday vote simply to create a “show” to cater to his conservative activist supporters at the expense of making good policy.

“You want the American people and the outside groups that you’ve been in contact with to be able to watch us tomorrow,” a perplexed Corker charged on the floor. “The reason we’re waiting is that y’all have sent out releases and emails and you want everybody to be able to watch. And it just doesn’t seem to me that that’s in our nation’s interest.”

That on top of the ridicule Cruz received for his 21-hour marathon floor speech this past week.

Never before in the the history of the country has a senator delivered such a marathon speech before casting a vote in favor of debating the measure he or she has sought to block.

So what was Cruz’s reaction and what will happen now? POLITICO has the full story and analysis at this link.

POLITICO reports that as a looming government shutdown nears, “The White House’s allies in organized labor are mostly silent.”

The White House hasn’t overtly sought labor’s help in its public campaign against House Republicans, and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka isn’t even in Washington to help the West Wing strategize or rally support, union officials said.

Not that the big labor groups would be keen to rally the troops for a short-term spending resolution that maintains sequester-level spending.

According to POLITICO, the fight for Obama has “been left to top White House aides and Obama’s political arm, Organizing for Action, to deliver the harshest messages about its political opponents.”

What is that message and will it work?  Click here for the full story on this bitter battle.

With many companies re-considering their health care obligations to employees due to rising costs, General Electric is seeking to lower those costs.

One of the largest employers in the nation, it spends more than $2 billion a year offering coverage to 500,000 employees and retirees and their families. And it is using its considerable clout in places like this — where its giant aviation business gives it a major presence — to work directly with doctors and hospitals to improve care and reduce costs.

Over the last few years, G.E. has pushed for the creation of so-called medical homes, in which an individual medical practice closely coordinates a patient’s care by having access to all of the patient’s medical records.

The New York Times reports that “what distinguishes the effort by G.E. is its direct focus on hospitals and doctors. Companies looking to the private exchanges are largely hoping to save money and want to be freed from the headache of administering health benefits.”

How many doctor’s practices in G.E.’s home-base of Cincinnati have already converted to “medical homes” and what approaches are some other major companies taking to lower health care costs? Go to this link to find out.

Hey, if Stephen Hawking says it’s possible, then there you go. And he says it’s possible.

Could your brain keep on living even after your body dies? Sounds like science fiction, but celebrated theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking recently suggested that technology could make it possible.

“I think the brain is like a program in the mind, which is like a computer,” Hawking said last week during an appearance at the Cambridge Film Festival, The Telegraph reported. “So it’s theoretically possible to copy the brain on to a computer and so provide a form of life after death.”

Huffington Post reports that one group is “working to develop technology that would permit the migration of brain functions into a computer.” The Post says, “A separate research group, called the Brain Preservation Foundation, is working to develop a process to preserve the brain along with its memories, emotions. How could it work? Sound too brainy?  Click here for more.

Is the world coming to an end? In about 2.25 billion years says one scientist.

So why study an event so unimaginably far in the future? Because it can give us a better idea of where to look for intelligent life outside our solar system.

How will the earth’s demise occur according to this scientist and how did he come up with his theory? Tested has the planetary scoop at this link.