VII. "What's Goin On?"

  • William Laraque, Managing Director at US-International Trade Services

  • 15.07.2015 01:00 am
  • undisclosed
I deliberately chose Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin On" for article VII and John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change" for article VIII, for a reason. These songs are not rock. "What's Goin On?" is Motown, (Motor Town) Detroit! Remember the reference to George Will. As all our MRAPs (Mine Resistant Anti-Personnel) vehicles and tanks were pulling out of Iraq, I heard George Will say, "We can't rebuild Detroit, how are we supposed to rebuild Iraq." Nation-building requires different skills and technologies than those with which we built the industrial world.

I also chose this song on this day because it contains the words “war is not the answer, only love can conquer hate. The song does not indicate that love meets or deals with hate. It conquers hate! Marvin Gaye was shot and killed by his father. In America, we denigrate and shoot the messengers of peace.

Beyond Shock and Awe

The post-Industrial world is being built. Building it requires a different mindset than that which served our leaders and managers in the past. Please read the MGI, the McKinsey Global Institute Report in I. "Start Me Up" in order to understand both the opportunities and limitations I am referring to, what’s goin on! The MGI Report reads in part;

"The management intuition that served us in the past will become irrelevant. Long held assumptions will give way and powerful business models will become upended." "Emerging market growth, disruptive technologies and an aging population have created such volatility that the usual management assumptions and decisions are irrelevant and obsolete."

The seed corn of the post-industrial economy is not investment in capital goods; it is investment in the monetization of intellectual property.

"The past is never dead; it is not even past." - Faulkner

Relevance, Trade Finance and Sleep

Banks and financial institutions have lost relevance in regard to trade finance. All business regardless of how mundane or exotic is based on trust and confidence. Trust and confidence are founded on integrity.

In compromising their integrity with innumerable violations and the collapse of cybersecurity protections, the public trust in banks is eroded. After Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, trust is also eroded with our political and military leadership. The issue is who can we trust?

I worked in banking at a time when businesses trusted accountants and bankers most of all. Since 2008, this trust and confidence have washed away with the tide of corruption, crime, tax evasion and stupidity engaged in by banks. The worst crime of all is the boring delivery of important messages. When I hear them, I am tempted, like Cyrano to order Montfleury off the stage.

Raoul Castro just met Pope Francis. He was so impressed that Raoul may return to Christianity. His brother Fidel was once a Jesuit seminarian. How does this relate to trade finance? Directly!

The governor of NY recently assembled in LI, NY, where I live, the players in the financial, government and business community. Cuba, from which the governor has just returned, represents opportunity for local exporters and would-be exporters. This program will fail! We saw this scenario before. In 1982, every politician hailed the ETC or Export Trading Company Act as the greatest thing for U.S. exporters. All the flat-footed hustlers were the first ones at the table. The moment you mention financing or free lunch, the hustlers come out of the woodwork. After the free breakfast or lunch, when the bankers hold forth, nearly everyone falls asleep. It's nap time. The press attends these things so dozing off with your eyes open, has the value of a core competence. The few who are still awake, gaze through the haze of incomprehension and irrelevance.

Pope Francis" exhortations about justice, equality and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable to everyone. Why do we keep shooting the messenger? The messages apply directly to opportunities in business and trade. They are also transformative depending on who is bearing the message. They apply directly to financing of local and global trade. This assumes of course that the audience is still awake.

The Masters of the Universe

Sancho Panza tilted at windmills in his knightly quest, his dreaming of the impossible dream. The modern "masters of the universe" are no less guilty of the crime of absurdity as they tilt at the Tower of Babel.

Warren Weaver, a machine translation founder, said that "no reasonable person thinks that a machine translation can ever achieve elegance and style."

Algorithms cannot be expected to solve all of our problems. This has not dissuaded those who persist in following Panza into battle. They do not mount donkeys, they mount computers. They do not tilt their spears at windmills but wield code and programs at the Tower of Babel and are thus reassured of their relevance. They are but a clanging cymbal, a walking shadow on the stage of life if they, the future Rock stars have not love. A clanging cymbal, full of sound and fury signifying nothing, like Shakespeare's Idiot. As my mother told me, empty vessels make the most noise. Yesterday was the 14th of July, my late mother’s birthday. It was also Bastille Day, a day of liberation from tyranny, from plutocracy.

The theory of everything

Einstein got close to defining the theory of everything when he wrote, "Gravitation cannot be blamed for the fact that two people fall in love." Love is the unifying theory!

Unless financing is guided by the love, not of me, but the love of humanity, it is not profitable. It is not profitable because it is unjust and inequitable. The pound of flesh required by the merchant, is the merchant's undoing. The quality of mercy is unstrained and falleth..."

What our future requires

Our future, if we are to have one, requires not only a different mindset on the part of our leaders but the protection and empowerment of post-industrial intellectual property. The fisherman, farmer, miner, industrial worker is now "Thinkingman," a creature whose productive capacity is not reflected in capital goods but in intellectual property, in invention and innovation. This intellectual property is being globally deployed. Its monetization is either empowered by democracy in the entrepreneur's pursuit of happiness or stunted by plutocracy. Empowerment or distortion will determine profitability.

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