TED: What a driverless world could look like

What if traffic flowed through our streets as smoothly and efficiently as blood flows through our veins? Transportation geek Wanis Kabbaj thinks we can find inspiration in the genius of our biology to design the transit systems of the future. In this forward-thinking talk, preview exciting concepts like modular, detachable buses, flying taxis and networks of suspended magnetic pods that could help make the dream of a dynamic, driverless world into a reality.  Here is a direct video link.

Posted in Main Page | Comments Off on TED: What a driverless world could look like

The Behavioral Economics of Recycling

When I was very young, there was no municipal garbage pick up in our village, people were required to take their own garbage to the dump. This caused us to care about how much trash we created. My farmer grandparents naturally composted and sorted waste into recyclables. Pop, beer and milk bottles all had return deposits when you took them back to the stores that sold them. The focus was intuitively on how to reduce and reuse. Then in the 1980’s consumer goods manufacturing moved to Asia, and started shipping to us from overseas. Suddenly packaging refuse exploded.

Today our family is so programed to sort our trash and compost that we are frequently shocked and grossed out when we travel to countries like America and the Caribbean to see still how little trash management is even attempted. Same goes for businesses like Starbucks who hand out tons of packaging and yet often provide no recycling receptacles for customers to sort their trash into. Once it is in your behavior to reduce, reuse and recycle it feels disgusting, rude and unintelligent to toss everything into one trash bag. These behavior patterns are learned. We need more individuals and business owners to help lead change. One easy start is that businesses should not be allowed to sell products in packaging they do not collect or sort for recycling. Full stop.

recycleHere is an interesting article about the behaviors that drive decisions to recycle or not, and how it effects our tendencies to consume. Food for thought.

See: The Behavioral Economics of Recycling: there’s more happening than you think.

Posted in Main Page | Comments Off on The Behavioral Economics of Recycling

Danielle’s weekly market update

Danielle was a guest today with Jim Goddard on Talk Digital Network talking about recent developments in the world economy and markets. You can listen to an audio clip of the segment here.

Posted in Main Page | Comments Off on Danielle’s weekly market update

The big business of food fraud

More reasons to buy whole, local, fresh food that has not been processed.  More incentive to convert redundant retail space into hydroponic food warehouses:  food integrity.

From olive oil that has been cut with cheaper oil to honey infused with banned antibiotics and ground coffee contaminated with corn and sawdust, the food you eat is ripe for fraud.  Here is a direct video link.

Posted in Main Page | Comments Off on The big business of food fraud

Dead retail space needs green re-purposing

Where we live, just north of Toronto, Canada, the consumer credit bust is not yet understood, and retail and commercial space is still being built at a horrifying clip.  Projects planned years ago are now breaking soil, even as vacancy and ‘going out of business’ signs are going viral through existing space.

Veteran retail analyst Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates Inc, which has provided consulting and investment banking services for the retail industry since 1981, says that a surplus of stores means bankruptcy is spreading and half the 1,100 U.S. regional malls will close over the next decade.   Canadian retail is likely to follow suit.

These trends should issue a warning to securitized debt  (CMBS) and REIT investors who have piled into the commercial property sector looking for yield over the past deacde.  Ironically their gushing capital enabled the dramatic over-build which is now falling on its own excess.  See US mall investors to lose billions as retail gloom deepens:

The CMBS industry is bracing for losses to spike as loan servicers struggle to extract any value from problematic malls, particularly those based in less affluent areas.

In January, for example, investors recouped just 4 percent of a $136 million CMBS loan from 2006 on the Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Investor worries about exposure to struggling malls and retailers intensified in August when Macy’s said it would close 100 stores, prompting increased hedging and widening spreads on the junk-rated bonds made up of riskier commercial mortgages.

What to do with all that dead space full of cheap goods made in Asia that no one wants anymore? Well that’s easy. Put these on the roof…

Solar panels on retail
and this inside:

Hydroponic farms
Transforming redundant, dead space into efficient, productive, local, life-sustaining properties with a fraction of the carbon footprint. Smart solutions are everywhere once we start looking for them. But it’s time to start…

Posted in Main Page | Comments Off on Dead retail space needs green re-purposing

Wells employee describes bank ‘lions hunting’ customer ‘zebras’

More excellent evidence on why banks must be run as deposit taking utilities and not allowed to cross-sell financial products to their customers.  These institutions are presently criminal, predatory and socially destructive franchises that are gutting the financial strength of families who look to them for  ‘advice’.  So far we, the people, have let them get away with it, while paying a steep social and financial cost for our apathy.  See “Lions hunting zebras’: Ex-Wells Fargo banker describes abuses:

“Mexican immigrants who speak little English. Older adults with memory problems. College students opening their first bank accounts. Small-business owners with several lines of credit.

These were some of the customers whom bankers at Wells Fargo, trying to meet steep sales goals and avoid being fired, targeted for unauthorized or unnecessary accounts, according to legal filings and statements from former bank employees.

”The analogy I use was that it was like lions hunting zebras,” said Kevin Pham, a former Wells Fargo employee in San Jose, Calif., who saw it happening at the branch where he worked. ‘They would look for the weakest, the ones that would put up the least resistance…”Bankers wanted the quickest, easiest sale — the low-hanging fruit.”

Further to my article in September about credit-pushers plaguing college campuses, see Bank cross-selling bankrupting our nations, the Wells ex-employee confirms why young people are sitting ducks for predatory sales:

…college campuses were considered prime spots for employees seeking to rack up new accounts because younger customers had a tendency to trust a banker’s advice.”

Fortunately some individuals and institutions are revolted enough to use their customer weight to boycott offenders and move their business elsewhere:

A group that coalesced on Facebook has declared Nov. 12 National Close Your Wells Fargo Account Day.  Some people are not waiting until then.

Michael Masterson, who lives in Concord, Calif., posted on the group’s Facebook page about refinancing his mortgage this week to move it away from Wells Fargo.


Posted in Main Page | Comments Off on Wells employee describes bank ‘lions hunting’ customer ‘zebras’