In his weekly economics column in the Guardian, Larry Elliott speculates that the huge amounts of money being mentioned in connection with the desire of various banks to acquire ABN Amro may be a sign that the stock market boom is approaching a peak. The only larger takeover was that of Time Warner by AOL, a harbinger of the popping of the internet stocks bubble.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has just published a raft of research on income and ethnicity which shows that South Asian Islamic people living in the UK are likely to be hugely poorer than average, and that generally the correlation between ethnicity and poor economic outcomes in the UK are as discriminatory as we might imagine.
A short while back I mentioned the Ministry of Defence’s latest 30-year trends snapshot. Since then, I’ve come across a recently published small book that takes a rather different perspective on the trends which will affect defence and security. Beyond Terror, by Chris Abbott, Paul Rogers, and John Sloboda is an update of a report last year from the Oxford Research Group, now published by Rider at £4.99. It argues that terrorism is broadly a product of some rather larger global trends. From a futures point of view, it’s also interesting for the way it reframes the security discussion by suggesting a competing discourse from the conventional military view.
The speed at which the issue of waste is becoming a significant trend in the UK is seen in Friday’s front pages. The Independent‘s lead is headlined ‘WASTE NOT!’, about its campaign to persuade the government to get retailers to reduce the amount of packaging on products. The seond lead on the front page of the Daily Mail is about its campaign to keep weekly local council rubbish collections, in which they are claiming some success. For completeness’ sake, the pocket cartoon on the front of the Daily Telegraph is also about weekly collections. On the face of it, these look like conflicting views, but I’m not sure that they are. (more…)
The current (April 2007) issue of the CBI magazine Business Voice has a pretty succinct summary of the ecological challenges to China’s economic growth, written by its Director-General Richard Lambert following a visit to the CBI’s recently opened Shanghai office. No need to summarise: it’s pithy enough already, perhaps one of the benefits of having a former journalist in the job:
“The economy is hugely inefficient in its use of energy resources. And with 16 out of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, China is potentially a major victim of climate change. According to a recent report by the Chinese government, the output of major crops such as wheat, rice and cotton will fall by up to two fifths in the second half of the century if no action is taken. Rises in the sea level will subject coastal areas to flooding and storms. And Northern China will face ever-deepening water shortage and mounting droughts.”
Fred Pearce is a reporter (for New Scientist, among others) and When The Rivers Run Dry is a reporter’s book (he visits places) rather than a work of theory, but he’s been following the subject for long enough to have a strong understanding of the issues. This is close to essential reading for anyone interested in the future of the planet. There’s a summary of the argument below.
Google got the headlines in Millward Brown’s second global BRANDZ top 100 report with the news that it had dumped Microsoft off the top spot (Microsoft ended up in third place, also behind GE, which may also be a sign of the times). And of course the whole exercise is a masterpiece of the art of the best guess, despite interviewing squillions of consumers and combining this with financial analysis. But the trends identified in the survey are also worth noting.
The freeview platform says it has overtaken Sky as the largest digital TV platform in the UK, according to the online media news service mediatel.co.uk. Their news service Newsline reports that 1.7m Freeview boxes were sold in the first quarter of 2007, of which 500,000 went to homes new to digital. The Freeview platform is now the main source of viewing in 8.2m homes in the UK, taking it past Sky for the first time.