This post is dedicated to the tens of thousands of Haitians who have lost their lives; to those who will undoubtedly loose their struggle in the coming weeks; to my friends and colleagues at Aimer Haiti and to the wonderful creative economic development ideas we were working on that now mean more than ever before. See previous posts for more information on Aimer Haiti.
Globalization is no longer optional for any nation, company, or person in the world, regardless of their beliefs. The realities of our globally interconnected world are more evident now than ever before given the failures in our global financial systems that are far more intertwined than many realized. This coupled with the shrinking populations in many developed nations ensures that disasters such as Haiti and other atrocities happening in under-developed countries are everyone’s challenges and everyone’s potential. It is now in the self-interest of the developed world that these tragedies are tended to and we band together to allow capitalism and democracy to bring people out of poverty creating new and sustainable consumers and markets for everyone to access. It’s no longer optional; and for me that brings hope.
In order for economies to grow, they require something to create an increase . . . more consumers, cheaper inputs, faster production, more products . . . you get the idea. Until this century, the developed world has been able to primarily rely on their own increases in population, growing middle class, advances in technology, and fierce consumerism to feed the ever-increasing wheel of economic activity. Take a look around today . . .
- Populations in many developed countries are decreasing or slowing
- Consumerism has taken a big hit as many realize debt gone wild is bad and things don’t bring happiness
- The environment is feeling the effects of careless growth increasing production costs around the world
- Non-renewable commodities/resources continue on a trajectory of ever growing costs because, well, they are non-renewable
- Finding cheaper inputs is a strategy of the past, including labor, as the world is realizing its better to pay a decent wage and create a consumer
What does all that mean? It means that the primary resource of capitalism has moved from capital, to labor, and to knowledge over the past 150 years and is now moving toward Connectivity . . . Stronger, deeper, more trusting, compassionate, and creative connections in every direction imaginable will drive the future. You can’t touch connectivity. You can’t buy it. You can’t even learn it from a textbook, but it can be cultivated and societies are increasingly hungry for it. Those who can connect the seemingly un-connectable dots in new and inventive ways will win. Businesses that connect to what their customers and employees value the most will win. Capitalists that figure out how to connect to and serve the Bottom of the Pyramid will win. Those who can embrace the connection between failure and success will win. Those who have the courage to connect to their passion and not to the herd will win. Those who figure out that hording no longer works but collaboration does will win. Those who learn how to tap into the innate energy that exists in every person to do good in the world will win. Those who can disconnect from fear and connect to the creativity in courage will win.
The US, Europe, and the rest of the developed world must realize that in order to continue our own standard of living and our own comforts in life we must begin to help other countries build middle classes and become the productive citizens they desire to be. My hope is that perhaps this tragedy in Haiti can bring light and education to the need for global citizenship and the prosperity it can bring to so many (rich and poor). We have an opportunity to help Haiti rebuild itself and become a model to be used by other struggling nations.
Changing our outlook and expectations from the short-term to the long-term is key. Today, liquidity does exist; it just exists with a short-term expectation of return and is invisible to most of us. So we have what is referred to by some economists as a “wall of liquidity” that is searching the world for immediate arbitrage situations and completely ignoring the long-term opportunities that exist today in many industries and places around the world. That “wall of liquidity” brings a risk of continued global financial instability as it preys on unlikely places such as Russia where the currency will likely normalize in relation to the USD and EUR and monetary policy has allegedly been mismanaged. It is critical that we recognize the many unintended consequences of the past and vow not to repeat them in the future.
“The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt