How the middle class affects political unrest

Ishac Divan of the Harvard Centre for International Development has an interesting theory on the cause of the Egyptian revolution.After comparing stratified inequality data over the past couple of decades, he argues that the reason for the political unrest was not the growing inequality between the poor and the elite.The reason was rising inequality between…

Read More

3 keys to maximising collaboration between people

The people must get along at a personal level. There must be a common language. Collaboration is maximized amongst people of the same discipline (this plays to the first 2 points). Ignore at your own risk.

Read More

Start-ups vs Government on innovation

Comparing tech start-ups and the government is strange, I know. Nevertheless, having just finished a short course on economic development, I’m quite sure there are some parallels in the thinking of professors and civil servants in charge of the economy, and the thinking of the likes of Eric Ries of Lean Startup fame.The first thing…

Read More

Using economic theory for innovation in your company

This post is an adaption of a theory know as The Product Space used by Hidalgo & Haussmann to describe economic complexity & innovation within a country.The company is a forest.The trees are areas of product knowledge (either datasets or individuals).The monkeys are the products.There are different types of trees; the “type” is determined by the productive…

Read More

3 reasons government should pay attention to big business

 Dear government,Please don’t forget small business (i.e.: me), but pay attention to big business.Yours truly, Alan   This is a counter-intuitive statement, but it is true.If government is trying to spur entrepreneurship and create employment, it should spend more time helping big businesses.Why? Big business is the target market for most small to medium sized…

Read More

Apples vs Apple

(Repeated from a presentation by Professor Cesar Hidalgo of MIT Media Labs)   The apple of Adam & Eve fame was first in the world and then in our heads.The Apple of Jobs was first in his head and then in the world.Apple is human imagination manifested in the real world.Everything that is man-made is…

Read More

The 4 types of people in an audience

Whilst in the midst of a short course, I’m immediately reminded of the four categories of students: 1. The guy who is waiting for a chance to tell everyone how much he knows. He does this by ostensibly asking questions, and rather turning it into a lecture drawing on his deep pool of wisdom. I suspect…

Read More

The web is like beer and coffee

It is trending towards personalisation. In America at least, the days of everyone drinking Budweiser and Starbucks are fading. People are moving towards micro-breweries for their beer, and local baristas for their caffeine.Why? It’s probably a case of affordability of the means of production. It used to be economically unfeasible for micro-brewers and local coffee…

Read More

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