Finland, a very brief summary

5,4million people. Home to 3 of the top iOS games studios in the world, including Rovio, maker of Angry Birds. Commonly regarded as having the world’s finest education system.Sounds like an awesome place, except…Nokia was 60% of total national exports in 2000, and is now staring into the abyss (with their only hope being the…

Read More

The Scrabble theory of growth

The Scrabble theory is used to describe economic complexity for countries. “Letters” can be equated to “expertise” and “combinations” can be equated to “innovations”. The theory dictates that the more letters a country has, the more combinations it can create. The increase in combinations in relation to number of letters is exponential. 7 letters equals…

Read More

3 reasons why Indonesia is cooking…

After the Asian financial crisis of 1998 which culminated in Suharto’s departure, the Indonesian economy contracted by over 13%. Yes, 13%… That’s quite hectic!Since then Indonesia has managed to confound the critics. It has had GDP growth of over 6% per annum for the past six years in a row. Also, more excitingly, it has…

Read More

Wages in SA vs China

According to recent reports, wages in the productive (mostly coastal) regions of China have climbed to $500pm.That is about R4,500pm versus the South African minimum wage of approx. R1,600pm.We can safely discount legislated minimum labour costs as a disadvantage for South Africa over China. To me at least, that is cause for optimism…PS: To be…

Read More

Angola is in a tricky place

Population approx. 20mil. Plenty oil. Plenty mineral resources.A couple challenges.The population is rapidly urbanizing, creating big traffic and accommodation problems in Luanda.The government is not wildly interested in the opinions of taxpayers, mainly because oil money eliminates the reliance on taxes to pay the bills.Long-standing Angolan troops in DRC are causing problems amongst that population,…

Read More

Cry for Argentina

In a follow-up to my Venezuela’s Woes post, I thought I’d touch on Argentina’s current dire situation.Since going bankrupt in 2002, Argentina has enjoyed a brief resurgence followed by decisions reminiscent of those made by the leadership that brought it to ruin in the 90’s.First, they nationalized the public pension fund. “Don’t worry, we’ll take…

Read More

Venezuela’s woes

The great thing about traveling is that I’m reminded that South Africa is not alone in confronting challenges, both political and economic.Take Venezuela for example. Its president, Hugo Chavez, was reelected a couple months ago, whereafter he immediately disappeared into a hospital in Cuba. No one has seen or heard from him in two months.Better…

Read More

Conversation between my 4 year old daughter and her teacher…

In a couple days, my wife and I are leaving for the States for a 2 week “business” trip to see whats happening in the world. Clearly our 4-year-old daughter is worried. Below is a conversation related to us by her creche head-mistress:From: Mickey Olivier Date: 29 January 2013 11:35:02 AM SAST To: Alan Knott-Craig Subject:…

Read More

Touch the box

Chatting to a mate yesterday, we reflected on the spawning multitude of companies in SA that can provide you with cool web design services, whilst there is a dearth of companies that include the grit of logistics (for example, design an online shopping site, and include delivery, customer care and returns in the product.)Touching the…

Read More

USA vs SA 2012

Ok, so I’ve just finished a roadtrip though the USA: 41 days, 13 states, 10,000km.This is my 9th trip to the USA since 1999, during which I’ve worked, lived, studied and holidayed through California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, DC, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and New…

Read More

In defense of big families

You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.  ~William D. TammeusFor a couple of decades now (maybe longer), rich/educated people have been telling poor/uneducated people, “Stop having so many children!”It got…

Read More

7 rules for RV’ing in America

RV rule #1: Be careful where you park. Parking spots are like the mafia. It’s hard getting in; it’s much harder getting out.RV rule #2: Be sure to firmly secure far end of sewage drainpipe. Trust me, things can go truly pear-shaped if the pipe pops loose.RV rule #3: Never make eye contact with other…

Read More