January 2008


123.jpg

So the world in upside down or so they say.

We have Ben Bernanke panicking about the stock market. Sovereign Wealth-Funds fueling our economy. A horrible mortgage mess, a recession looming, a stock trader who wowed everyone by shorting SocGen US$7 billion. There are candidates that are fighting silly word wars and Kennedy supporting Obama, while Caroline sort of hinting he could be the next JFK.

Hmmm…But it is not all bad…you have to look at the opportunities. One’s misfortune is another person’s treasure. So, don’t fret and don’t freak out, just look at where you can make some extra money. It is not about what is around you, but what you can create for yourself…

Advertisements

Well, Davos is over. But I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the webcasts and I have learned a lot about social responsibility, corporate creativity and global economics. Here are some memorable quotes:

“Where the climate crisis is concerned, in addition to changing the light bulbs, it is far more important to change the laws.”
–Al Gore, Vice-President of the United States of America (1993-2001); Nobel Laureate 2007

“In the Arab world, corporate social responsibility is not just a concept but it is not yet the culture.”
–H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah, of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

“The sub prime crisis could have been largely avoided if the regulators had done their job…what is unique about this crisis is it is a clear case of failure of regulations and failure of regulators.”
–Palaniappan Chidambaram, Minister of Finance of India

“Terrorism has nothing to do with religion because if it had anything to do with religion it would not go to kill people in a mosque.”
–Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan

Quotes from the BBC Davos Blog:

Today’s Davos quote of the day comes courtesy of David Rubenstein, co-founder of private equity giant The Carlyle Group, which manages an investment pool worth $75bn.

“We can’t really call economies like India or China ’emerging’ anymore, and lump them in with countries like Chad. I don’t know what to call them, but emerging doesn’t fit.

“Anyway, what are Western economies right now? Submerging?”

Cheng Siwei, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, and thus a communist (well, in a Chinese kind of way).In one of the many discussions about the state of the global economy, several Americans called on Chinese consumers to spend more, to make up for the downturn in the United States. After all, China’s savings rate stands at 50%, the US savings rate is in single digits.

Persuading the Chinese to flock to the shops would be tricky, said Mr Cheng: “The Chinese save today’s spending for tomorrow, and the Americans spend tomorrow’s saving today.”

davos.jpg

Today was the first day of the 2008 World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting. Last year, I somehow bumped into the World Economic Forum and since then I have been extremely interested in this forum. The World Economic Forum is “an independent international non-profit organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to global, regional and industry agendas”. The forum was originally founded in January 1971 by a group of European business men being led by then Professor of business policy at the University of Geneva Klaus Schwab. Originally the forum was focused in business leaders coming up with competitive strategies so European firms could catch up to US companies. Yet, the forum started accomplishing milestones and hence it grew. In 1974, it was the first year that political leaders were invited. And in 1987, the forum adopted its current name. Presently, the World Economic Forum is a membership driven forum where business leaders from top companies around the world along with politicians gather in Davos, Switzerland to discuss current issues at hand such as world economic trends, environmental issues, poverty and such.

I have mentioned in previous entries that I think the world is being run by corporations. This is the place where strategies and plans are thought out and leaders meet to discuss the future of our “world”. Politicians, congresses and laws are something minimal now. Corporations and businesses talking to political leaders and discussing the real issues at hand is “OUR” future. We live in a world economy now. What happens in the US affects the world, what happens in Europe affects the world, what happens in China affects the world. We are interconnected. We are moving together at a fast pace and we need our leaders of our corporations and governments to discuss current problems, because ultimately that will affect all of us. From the air we breathe, to the type of banking services we use, to how we operate a car. So, if you are just a little interested about your future….go to http://www.weforum.org

Some interesting quotes:

“We welcome Sovereign Wealth Fund investments and we don’t fear it. But the growth in the number and significance means that vigilance is needed.”

Robert M. Kimmit, US Deputy Secretary of the Treasury

Some of the attendees include:

Al Saud, Prince of Saudi Royal Family; Chief Executive Officer, Saudi Plastic Factory, Saudi Arabia

Tony Blair Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1997-2007); Member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum; Co-Chair of the World

Samuel W. Bodman US Secretary of Energy

Gordon Brown Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

François Fillon Prime Minister of France

James M. Flaherty Minister of Finance of Canada

Timothy F. Geithner President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, USA

Jean-Daniel Gerber Secretary of State for Economic Affairs of Switzerland

Al Gore Vice-President of the United States of America (1993-2001); Nobel Laureate 2007

Henry A. Kissinger Chairman, Kissinger Associates Inc., USA; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008

Luis A. Moreno President, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington DC

Peter Piot Executive Director, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and Undersecretary-General, United Nations, Geneva

Rachid M. Rachid Minister of Trade and Industry of Egypt

H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum

Condoleezza Rice US Secretary of State

Susan Schwab US Trade Representative

Dominique Strauss-Kahn Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Washington DC

Jean-Claude Trichet President, European Central Bank, Frankfurt

Pierre-François Unger State Councillor of Geneva, Switzerland

Alvaro Uribe Velez , President of Colombia

Ann M. Veneman Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), New York

Xia Deren Mayor of Dalian, People’s Republic of China

Yi Xiaozhun Vice-Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China

Abdullah Zainal Alireza Minister of State of Saudi Arabia

Zhang Yesui Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China

Robert B. Zoellick President, World Bank, Washington DC

anidifranco.png

Well, last night I went to my first ever Ani DiFranco concert. I must confess I have always been a fan but not a diehard fan. So thanks to my wonderful roomie, I ventured into Ani’s world.

As we walked into the theater (Roxy Theater/Lupos) I was surprised by the very classical architecture of the place. It had a nice and relaxing ambiance. Despite the fact that it was awfully cold in the theater, it was a great venue for Ani. We went upstairs in the Mezzanine level and took our seats. Had a great view of the whole stage.
Once Ani began to play, in a sea of dreads, estrogen and quite the rowdy crowd I began to really fall in love with Ani. She has a great command of the guitar and her voice almost flawlessly travels along the melodies without any effort. She told us that she had been sick and that she had to go to a vocal chord doctor, but despite that, her voice was flawless and relentless.

Oh how sweet is to hear her lyrics. Is as if she says all you feel but you never voice because you are either too afraid or too much of a coward. In a way, I felt sort of liberated. I felt free just by listening to her. I just felt normal that for once all that I feel is not me acting like a psychosomatic delusional nutty woman. And by the looks of it, there were several other women in the crowd that felt the same way. Even men.

So my ode to Ani. Thank you…for making feel a little better about being me. For making me feel a little more comfortable in this age of confusion and desolation. To my roommate…thank you…for taking me…it was a great night indeed…

Roxy Theater /Lupos
79 Washington Street
Providence, RI 02903

beggars.jpg

Yesterday the Economist released their headlining article for this week’s print edition on the “invasion of the sovereign-wealth funds”. So what are sovereign-wealth funds? According to the economist they are “surplus savings of developing countries”. As of late that surplus has come from countries in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and Asia. Surging oil prices and rising imports have given these regions a surplus in funds that have so conveniently come in handy to assist banks such as Citigroup and Merrill Lynch out of this credit woe crisis.

But my question in hand is as follows, what do these funds want? And I mean really want? Because I remember my economics professor in college taught us that there are no free lunches in life and somehow or some way someone wants something in return. I am sure they are not lending US$21 billion just out of their own good will.

The issue with sovereign-wealth funds is that no one knows where their investments come from. They don’t publish annual reports or anything for that matter. What does this show? Well, all economies go through good times and bad times. They are called economic cycles and they have been happening since the beginning of time. Yet, now in our interdependent global economy, global powerhouses such as the United States are becoming more dependent on foreign money. In my humble point of view that just means that the United States’ power is diminishing by a certain amount. So when these funds want their money back, what do they want for it? What is the interest consisting of? How many favors is the United States going to have to comply with so our investors are happy? Hmmm…I maintain my theory that corporations rule this world, including international politics. It is no longer about Hillary, Obama or Bush, it is about how Citi and Merrill are compromising our position in the international arena.

Bush went to the Middle East last week. He met with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia and they talked about increasing oil production to ease gas prices. Yet, Saudi Aramco is having issues of their own trying to meet deadlines on their own projects. And truly, do you think oil companies want to lower oil prices???

Ha…so this inter-comingling of economies and banking relationships is resulting in what? We are the careless child, who lends money to the ones that do not have money to pay a house, go through a crisis, ask our big brother to lend us money since no one else has it and then what?

sex-slaves.jpg

I once heard that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. That might be so, but in my opinion it is still one of the most degrading. Maybe because I am a woman but I feel one ’s self worth goes out the window once they join that line of work.

I have been reading a lot about human trafficking and prostitution the last couple of days. I am working on a project for work in regards to the money movements of all types of trafficking including humans. In my research I have encountered several articles and news clips that report on these horrible crimes. Many of these girls are kidnapped or lied to. Then they are taken to different cities or countries where their only choice is to join brothels or go to the streets.

In my opinion, when a woman has sex she is giving something so personal of herself that a piece of her heart goes with it. Whether she wants to recognize it or not that is another issue. So when these girls are forced into becoming prostitutes and you hear them talk, you can hear their dead spirit talk. Is as if they were lifeless beings that were just surviving or roaming this Earth. They have no love, no passion for anything, no one that wants them or appreciates them. Just empty lives. Shamed. I think the biggest crime about prostitution is not the actual act of having sex, it is the stripping of a soul. The actual killing of a poor girl’s soul.

So men might find this appealing. But what I cannot understand is how a man can pay someone for sex and not feel guilty that they are assisting in the killing of someone’s soul. Is the physical satisfaction that good? Really? Because in my mind there will be no pleasure in helping someone be a slave.

PS. A great read is an article by the BBC: “Grim life for Bangladeshi Prostitutes

Yesterday, I came back from Miami. I woke up at 5am, since my flight was bright and early and I got ready and went to the airport. What a difference from a week ago. Everyone seemed to know where they were going, there weren’t any crazy lines anywhere, and everyone seemed civilized for the most part. I got to my gate on time. I boarded the plane and to my surprise…YES!!! My plane was a 777. I love this plane. I have flown on this plane several times, but I wasn’t aware that American Airlines redid the layout of all the seats. They made Coach Class have similar seats as the ones in First and Business Class. Each seat has their own area and they have three different reclining positions, including one where you lay flat as a bed. Each seat has their own area, so you are never in the way of anybody else. You also have your own TV that allows you to select what you want to watch or listen to on the radio.

myseat.jpg
My Super Amazing and a Little Messy Seat

myseat2.jpg
A view of beautiful Miami from the plane

myseat3.jpg
Beautiful puffy Florida clouds

It was early, and truly I was not in the mood to watch TV. As soon as we were up in the air, I reclined that baby, laid flat as if I was on my own bed and went to sleep. Truly, truly, I have never seen such a happy flight in my life. I don’t think anybody expected this plane and people were just smiling the whole time. Even the kids were happy because they had ample room to play without bothering their neighbors. It was truly a great experience.

myseat4.jpg
Thick New England clouds

myseat5.jpg
White Boston

Once I woke up and we landed in powdery white Boston, I quickly got off the plane and went over to my car. To find it buried in snow. My car is black, but at that given point it was white. Thankfully, I carry a scraper, took the snow of my windows, turned it on and let it warm up and started on my way.

Driving to Providence was funny. As I was driving, chunks of ice were flying off and hitting other cars. In response to the flying chunks there was a car free zone around my car. Truly they were evading me. I can’t blame them a lot of ice flew off. Then when I arrived at my work’s parking lot, the ice was almost all gone, and I had to brace the cold one more time…ahhhh…New England…thank you for the cold homecoming…hahahahaha

myseat6.jpg
Driving to Providence

myseat7.jpg
Ice on the hood of my car flying off

Next Page »