Welcome to this week's Carnival of the Capitalists! Go ahead and poke around the main site, though I'll admit that I haven't been posting nearly as much of late as I did back in, say, February, when I decided, for fun, to do five posts a day no matter what. Without further ramblings, I present the posts, in order of entry. Early bird gets the worm and all.
And speaking of early birds, Steve Pavlina managed a 100%+ Traffic Increase over a three-month period thanks to, among other things, his essay on how to become an early riser. The traffic increase piece is a great summary of how to track your blogospheric fame, gives some insight into how the "virus" of a hot post propagates, and even asks for a little help in figuring out just how those posts were that effective.
Soccer Dad points out how applying a business model to religious choice can explain the US's diversity of faith options, as well as the gulf between American and European religiousity.
Don Baker of Zap*Germs is mystified as to why the CDC is sending a team to West Virginia to investigate obesity "outbreaks" as they would an infectious disease. The otherworldly justifications -- not to mention the bewhildered responses -- are priceless.
Neal Phenes of Et Tu Bloge brutally 'fisks' the New York Times for 1) Running two stories on the glories of upward mobility while 2) Declaring, in the same issue, that upward mobility is basically dead because the rich are so darn rich. Neal nails them on statistics and specifics, here.
Madeleine Begun Kane, from Mad Kane's Notables offers a cogent, clever analysis of the Christopher Cox nomination. An analysis that just happens to be in the form of a poem: "A Pox On Cox's Nomination".
Kelly of Time to Lean details her opposition to the political views of her union. Lots of good points, here, and they've gotten some attention already (a meeting with the union's executive director, so far). This is effective, blog-fueled grass-roots activism at its best.
Dave Greene from BaySense criticizes both sides of the "Smart Growth" debate, explaining that the question of "Mixed-use" versus "Single-use" developments dodges the real issue.
Peter at Fund Universe details the 5 most common investor errors today. Point three is particularly salient: Hedge funds and private equity accounts are not a seperate asset class at all, and it's dangerous to diversify your way into a "hot", volatile, illiquid investment like them.
Jim Logan, of JSLogan, asks the moderately tongue-tying question: "Do you need a super star sales team?" Is the search for the best possible employees at any cost really worth it, or even possible (particularly when there just aren't that many supersalesmen out there. Logan: "But by definition they're rare. There are a lot more great sales people, capable sales people, and productive sales people than there are top guns, rainmakers, and super stars." Or, as Despair.com put it: "Not everyone gets to be an astronaut when they grow up.")
Alzahr, writer of Capital Chronicle, addresses the effects of a French vote against the EU Constitution on Turkey's chances of entering the EU. He certainly brings to bear some esoteric arguments: "The last time Turks got into Europe was 1453 when Sultan Mehmet II was The Man. The resulting exodus of Byzantine intellect to Florence, Ferrara et al from Constantinople spurred the rise of the Rennaisance (Mehmet got zero credit for this by the way) and led to an early example of euro-unification amongst the Italian city-states faced with the eastern threat..." If you're watching the Turkish market, or looking for a good prespective on the EU as a whole, don't miss this.
Joseph DePalma, of Joseph's Marketing Blog opines on The Future of Advertising: He gives a demographics-based deadline for when companies will need to "Shape up or shut down." This is certainly a thought-provoking post: Do people raised on one kind of advertising develop an immunity to it by the time they're adults? And how can companies get around this?
Jeff Cornwall, host of The Entrepreneurial Mind, offers the carrot of a new era of unprecedented, entrepreneur-fueld growth, and the stick of a society unable to move past no-longer-valid business models, in Dance Band on the Titanic. It's a public policy post, so if you're sensitive to a little politics, beware. On the other hand, it's balanced. And dead-on.
FMF, of Free Money Finance, does some slightly scary math on $48,000 pets. And he doesn't even include the cost of time spent on them!
Wayne Hurlbert at Blog Business World offers some unconventional, but very good, advice on "Blog Business Cards". "Hand them out freely, as you would links to interesting blog posts. Business cards aren't there to be hoarded... They are for sharing with others." Even though plenty of savvy business leaders are rushing around looking for the Next Big Thing, there's a lot of money in applying last year's, or last decade's Big Thing to current trends.
Tim Worstall delivers a short and sweet smackdown to Naomi Klein's highly creative craziness.
Roth & Company, P.C. - Tax Updates looks into Iowa's Ponzi-esque maze of taxes and incentives, and gives lots of highly quotable evidence: "These happy perspectives are like looking at the health of an ecosystem based on how fat and happy the mosquitoes are. You can identify how happy the 268 beneficiaries of the fund are, but somebody else is paying for it - the thousands of other businesses that are unable to harvest any tax breaks, and who pay the costs of running the state on behalf of those who do." Not to mention a few points about other subjects: "That's the scariest part of being interviewed: the likelihood of being quoted accurately."
Ezra Marbach at The China Stock Blog takes a look at a talk by Matthews China Fund manager Mark W. Headley on China's current problems, future potential, and the best ways to take advantage of the latter while dodging the former. There's also a list of the fund's main holdings -- a good money-where-your-mouth-is snapshot of high-risk/high-reward emerging growth companies.
Multiple Mentality's Josh Cohen responds to a previous Joseph De Palma post by explaining just where all that media conformity comes from, complete with an appropriately mind-numbing, but jaw-dropping series of examples. Read this, and you will understand how Clear Channel got that way, and wonder just how they stay in business.
"Nosemonkey" (don't you wish the members of traditional media outlets had such charming sobriquets?) at The Sharpener uses compelling evidence and a creative analogy to discuss Britain's rebates to the EU -- sparking a comment-based debate that 1) Drags in lots of outside evidence, 2) Apologies, recriminations, and shifting views, and 3) Comments on Tony Blair's refusal to speak "proper" (read: British) English. Heh.
Carrie MacLaren of Stay Free! Daily (in a post nominated by Don Baker of Zap*Germs) compares McDonald's food to a local diner's fare based on the highly objective criterion of which is more disgusting when left out for a couple days (pictures included!). The plot thickens, as commenters debate whether this means McDonald's uses more preservatives, or just has a cleaner kitchen. (You might complain that this isn't very Carnival-of-the-Capitalistic, but I bet Steven Levitt could have thrown in a brilliant chapter on this phenomenon. Perhaps a Freakonomics-esque analysis is a task for next week's Carnival.)
Random Thoughts from a CTO's Skip Angel discusses The Leadership Paradox: Good managers have less time to be good leaders, and vice-versa, but each is considered a major component of the other.
Joshua Sharf at Three-Letter Monte ("An MBA/MSF Pursues a CFA") examines pass rates for the CFA exams, and looks at how a changing perspective on which exam should be done when has affected test-takers' activities.
Warren Meyer at Coyoteblog is clearly looking for trouble (and I agree with him!) in this post on Why Income Distribution Doesn't Matter in This Country. It's certainly a vigorous post, attacking the infamous NYT wealth-distribution article from several theoretical angles. I'd certainly suggest reading it, whether or not you disagreed with the Times in the first place.
Evelyn Rodriguez, of Crossroads Dispatches asks the interesting hypothetical: "If your marketing intern only had time to read one book...?", and uses that as a launching pad for a quick runthrough on, among other things, how not to screw up when your product suddenly becomes popular.
Gus Van Horn's disturbingly-titled "Final Solution" attacks Universal Health Care Vouchers for being a dishonest reincarnation of an unpopular scheme, which solves none of the problems it intends to and follows the same model as plans to which it's supposed to be an alternative. Ouch.
NOTR at ROFASix asks if we really know how information we give companies is being used. Not only does this post give a few hints about what you can do personally, but it offers broader policy suggestions (and does a lot to discount the stereotype that Objectivists are blindly pro-business).
neelakantan, author of Interim Thoughts... asks whether the world will end up speaking a single language. English is becoming increasingly popular worldwide (which is understandable -- more media will use English if English is popular, and English will be more popular if there are more media that can be accessed by using it).
Steve Conover of The Skeptical Optimist argues both sides of the is-debt-a-problem question, showing that the scary absolute numbers aren't nearly as realistic as the debt-to-GDP figures, while admitting that even debt/GDP leaves some questions unanswered. For someone who has clearly made up his mind, this is a very balanced post.
Barry Welford's BPWrap adopts Enron's old "Ask why" credo: Why is small, as Seth Godin put it, "The new big", and why shouldn't big boast about it?
Ironman at Political Calculations gives a twelve-step checklist to crisis management, along with links to some of the more oddball crises major firms have faced.
BigPictureSmallOffice talks about evangelizing to the apathetic: "It is hard to keep the faith and harder to spread the faith when you are restructuring, right-sizing and otherwise helping people involuntarily choose new career paths. It is hard to show conviction and pass on that conviction when you are pulling back on R&D and marketing and otherwise leaving your field sales and customers with no support."
Half Sigma argues that the information economy is a temporary one, which is currently giving way to the marketing economy. An interesting point: The US led in manufacturing, until foreign competitors developed comparative advantage; we lead in information technology, but it's clear that the comparative advantage is elsewhere; now "Only Americans know what other Americans want to buy. Only Americans know how to create the perception of value where none actually exists." Indeed.
JD's Drakeview looks at the project-management, asset-federation business model and asks how something with such a sorry record could be adopted wholeheartedly and successfully. This post asks some good questions, and throws out some exciting ideas, too.
Two Dogs lives up to the Mean Ol' Meany moniker with an abrasive, but interesting, look at the minimum wage, featuring a story starring someone highly similar to himself, graced with the nickname "Adonis". Sometimes simple parables say it best.
Tony Straka of The Prudent Investor - seeing too many bubbles is treading on dangerous ground: he wonders if "Conundrum" is short for "Surefire indicator of future recession" in Greenspanspeak. Whether or not that's true, I have to ask: Do you really want to further limit what Mr. Greenspan permits himself to say?
Michael McLaughlin, the Guerilla Consultant attacks an unthinking habit among many consultants: trying to find what causes clients 'pain'.
Patri Friedman, one of several contributors to the infamously excellent Catallarchy, uses the phrases "an earful of lemonade" and "a simple failure of Bayesian updating" in the same post on information asymmetry, bad bets, poker, and odd stories.
Michael Higgins, at Chocolate and gold Coins(?!) asksWhat can Finland teach an ethnically diverse country like the U.S. or India about how to run a socialist society effectively?... Nothing. This post presents a pretty interesting hypothesis about how economic systems need to fit in with economic diversity -- if you haven't considered that question (and I certainly hadn't until now), read the post, and be enlightened.
Russell Buckley's Mobile Technology Weblog questions a survey claiming that 64% of businesses want to advertise on weblogs. They're certainly welcome to give mine a shot, but I suspect the truth is more like this: A small fraction of advertisers want to work with blogs, but a large majority know that blogs are big and would certainly like to think they're associated with them somehow.
Interested-Participant looks at a brewery in a Muslim country, manufacturing a product for the "decadent" outsiders. Also, this company's latest product needs a name -- check the post for information on suggesting one.
Mad anthony speculates that AOpen will be sued by Apple for their apparent Mac Mini knockoff, and throws in an anecdote about the E-Machines EOne, a similar ripoff of the iMac. And is maybe just a little to proud to own an EOne, himself.
Photon Courier looks at that most ephemeral of investments, the low-risk, high-return asset. In this case: A college education, which affords lower average unemployment and above-inflation wage growth (unless, I'll note, you assume that the people who enter college are naturally predisposed to do well later in life -- and there's some evidence to support this, too).
Talking Story gives some quick advice on how to get a staff "motivated to take personal responsibility for their jobs". There's some good information here, particularly on how something as inoccuous as "Incomplete ownership" can lead to catastrophic results down the road.
PC4Media gives a long post (with more promised!) about the past phases of online advertising, and where the current trends are taking us. Not only is this a great piece in its own right, but there's a mid-post linkfest worth checking out, too.
Mover Mike indulges in a little conspiracy-theory mongering (but what conspiracy theory doesn't have a grain of truth? Besides the Ike-was-a-communist one. Or that JFK was killed by Martians. Or that... well, okay, most don't make sense. But still) in The Bilderberg Group meeting. Whether or not there's any validity to it, this is a chance to play around with very macro macro-economics: If you were part of a conspiritorial cabal, and you really could manipulate global commodity prices, what would you do with that kind of influence?
Pamela, of the delightfully bombastic Atlas Shrugs, gives a notably enthusiastic series of answers to common blog-oriented questions. The "What do you think blogs will look like in ten years" answer is the least believable, and thus most interesting, of the bunch.
Dr. Wish at Wishing Wealth uses the slightly stretchy, but nonetheless useful, analogy of predicting which rockets will reach the moon to explain technical analysis in general and his strategy in particular, and then switches to the slightly more grounded analogy of different schools of psychological study.
Rattlerd, posting on The Deadman Night Rider, calls John Kenneth Galbraith "Too Square to be Hip", in a post on why a brilliant thinker has been marginalized by people who ought to be his natural supporters.
Anita Campbell's Small Business Trends posts the highlights of a 40-minute interview with Robin Good (the interview is linked to the post) on how musicians, writers, filmmakers, and other creative talents make their money.
Martin Lindeskog of EGO compares trading and gambling, and not only explains the superficial differences, but gives pure, precise definitions of each activity. Which is pretty crucial to the debate.
7:15 or so EST update:
Will Pate at Raincity Studios talks about iterative web marketing: focusing on providing exactly what people are looking for, and using advertising as a form of two-way communication instead of one way pushiness. Best point: "On the surface it may seem risky to sound like a real person, but on the web its what works best. In a medium that so easily allows anonymity, people value honesty most."
Barry Ritholtz at The Big Picture looks at how Britain is following the same path as the US, with high consumer debt, increasing interest rates, and even a real-estate bubble. Scary.
10:05 or thereabouts EST update:
Protagonist over at Wyatt's Torch responds to critics of Robert Kiyosaki (this one, for example, which prompted me to think much more skeptically about Kiyosaki's record). Look over the post; there's some detailed information (plus links to official records) about his dealings. I guess I'll be a bit more skeptical of the skeptics next time.
That's all for this week's Carnival of the Capitalists! Well, not quite -- since the traditional posting time is Sunday afternoon to Monday morning, I'll keep accepting posts and updating (in something vaguely resembling real time) for all entries submitted before 6 AM EST. So, if you're inspired to dig up a great post from the last week, or even to respond to something this week, send in a submission!
One final note: This post is my "Blogger Coming-Out," when I'll finally post with a full name, tell people I have a blog, and tell blog readers I have a life. So, in case you're curious: I'm Byrne Hobart, 18 years old, resident of St. Louis, Missouri, soon to be attending Arizona State University, where I'll focus on Economics and Finance. If you suspected this CotC had a slightly youthful, even juvenile tone... now you know why.
Comments, corrections, and the like are welcome -- if I spelled your name wrong, wrote your link wrong, or otherwise misrepresented you, I'll fix it right away.
Thanks for stopping by, and see you next week at Blog Business World!