Archive Page 2

Carbon Price Will Fall

The EU approved an action plan on climate change that sets ambitious goals for the bloc. The EU now vows to cut CO2 emissions and energy consumption by 20% and achieve a renewable energies ratio of 20%, all by 2020. However, concessions made to secure approval of the deal, especially to Germany and Eastern European countries, put the stated objectives at risk.

Assessment:
Climate change trends are mixed in the Near Future. The way is open for concerted EU and American leadership on next year’s climate change conference in Copenhagen, but overly generous emissions caps for industries in the EU’s plan threaten to derail the fledgeling carbon market.

Markets Will Receive Boost

Financial trends seem brighter in the Near Future. After the Senate rejection of the $14 billion bailout plan, the White House is now considering allowing the automakers to share some of the $700 billion earmarked for the banking system. In Europe, and after initial strong resistance from Germany, the EU approved a package of €200 billion to stimulate the economy.

Assessment:
The converging effects of this two plans should build some confidence in the market, prompting gains across all main indexes on Monday.

US Will Commit To Emissions Cuts

Trends on Climate Change seem to be improving. The US is set to join the global effort to cut carbon emissions, with Sen. Kerry saying that the US will be willing to lead if other countries commit to emission cuts. The auto industry troubles open a window of opportunity for the government to push for the adoption of a green business model in exchange for aid.

Assessment:
The Obama administration will commit to concrete emission cuts in the Near Future, taking advantage of the crisis to promote a medium and long-term transition to a green economy.

Senate Rejects Auto Bailout Plan

Global economic trends continue gloomy, with ongoing problems compounded by the Senate rejection of the $14 billion bailout for the auto industry. The bill’s collapse sent shock waves through the global market, prompting losses across all the main indexes. However, given the weight of the auto industry in the economy, it is unlikely that the US government will allow for the bankruptcy of one or more of the Big Three.

Assessment: Some deal will be hammered out in the Near Future that will prevent the loss of the 3 million jobs that the auto industry sustains.

There Can Be Only One

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The “team of rivals” concept is utter nonsense. Bringing Clinton to the State Department is a terrible idea, and it won’t take long before Obama regrets it bitterly.

Following intense speculation in the past couple of weeks, it was now confirmed that Clinton will be the new Secretary of State. This is a major event, and one that is bound to shape irreversibly the Obama presidency. In any administration, the Secretary of State is one of the most powerful figures, since it is assumed that the incumbent enjoys the absolute confidence of the President. In this case, the nomination assumes special significance, since it was over foreign policy matters that Clinton and Obama spat more bitterly.

Less than six months ago, Clinton was scolding Obama for wanting to engage in talks with Iran regarding its nuclear program, joining McCain’s line in depicting him as naive and dangerously inexperienced. Obama, on the other hand, was fast to point out the fact that Clinton supported the Iraq War (while he was strongly against it from the beginning) thus portraying her as a backer of Bush’s most loathed policy decision.

Could it be that they’re now seeing eye to eye on matters over which they were tearing each other apart during the primary trail? Or has Obama, despite all the idealistic platform on which we was elected, already succumbed to the real politik diktat, and felt the need to disarm Clinton by having her on the team? Is he living by Corleone’s maxim of “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”?

Obama’s supporters call the move a “master stroke”, speaking about building a “team of rivals” that has the potential to make this the most accomplished Democratic administration since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. One can understand the argument: Clinton is, after all, an undisputed political powerhouse, and, thanks to her former role as First Lady, will be able to hit the ground running when she starts touring the world capitals.

So, by nominating Clinton to the State Department, Obama accomplishes two things: one, he ensures that she is kept on board with the administration, instead of being left loose on the Senate, where she could become a rallying figure for Democratic discontent over unpopular measures he will be forced to take. And two, he gets a Secretary of State with instant face recognition, who will be warmly welcomed in the chancelleries where (right or wrong) Clinton’s consulate is kindly remembered as the golden age of multilateralism.

All this, however, pale in comparison with the immense downsides of having a fake believer on the team. It’s true that, by having her on the State Department, Obama saves himself, and especially the Senate Democratic leadership, the trouble of having to constantly appease her over each and every measure expected to pass the Senate. On the other hand, he risks seeing barricades erupting at Foggy Bottom, with everything, from Israeli-Palestinian peace plans to withdrawal from Iraq to positioning towards Iran subject to endless and paralyzing bickering.

Given the present state of Brand America, and the dimension of the challenges ahead, the last thing the new president needs is to voice a dubious message through a staggering positioning. It is, however, very hard to see how a coherent strategy can emerge out of this “team of rivals”.

Fuck The Recession

Morgans Hotel Group just launched a rallying cry for the hip and cool: “Fuck the Recession!”

It definitely isn’t your typical campaign. After all, how many high-end brands would have the guts to launch a guerrilla campaign that has a big bold FUCK at its center, especially amidst what economists are calling the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, when everyone is afraid to bet on anything but the safest communication’s strategies?

Not many, to be sure. So let’s right now salute the Morgans’ marketing team and The Ito Partnership for the big pair of balls they’ve just shown. But have they also shown sound judgement?

By shouting out loud what everybody’s saying privately, Morgans is bound to generate a lot of approval from the public. You really don’t have to do much market research to get the point that people are fed up with crisis-talk, and want a break from it. So “fuck the recession” is a tagline guaranteed to get enthusiastic cheers everywhere, from Wall Street boardrooms to construction sites.

However, “fuck the recession” is not all that Morgans is saying. After that enraged cry, comes the invitation to forget that your carefully crafted stock portfolio is now worthless, or that you left your workplace last week holding a card box, and just dive head first into a extravaganza of hedonistic excess.

In Morgans dimension, there is no crisis. Just like Twilight Zone, Morgans presents an alternate reality, where everything looks exactly like in the real world, except when you see a guy with an eye on his forehead passing by. In here, there’s no place for such a distasteful thing as a “crisis”, and even the dreaded word “recession” assumes a whole new meaning, being transformed into “recessison”, as in recess-is-on. Bottom line? It’s not time to complain, it’s time to play.

Of course playing doesn’t come free. If you’re planning a weekend in New York, and want to stay at the Morgans Hotel in Madison Avenue, be prepared to fork out around $800 for your two-day stay. And that’s for the cheapest room. So that’s the kind of ticket price we’re talking about for Morgans’ glamorous recess, where the crisis becomes a distant memory.

Aware that, at a time when auto execs are being publicly lambasted for having the audacity to travel to a Congressional hearing on their private jets, such displays of guiltless splurging might generate a strong backlash, Morgans tried to address the issue by getting so-called “ordinary people” to approve the “fuck the recession” message. Which, of course, didn’t prove to be hard.


However, this “average Joe” endorsement doesn’t add any value to the brand story. On the contrary, it adds a dissonant element that makes it look dangerously inauthentic. What, after all, are these people doing in that plot? Can you fit them in the hedonistic atmosphere that Morgans is inviting you to experience? No, of course you can’t.

The average Joe may be saying “fuck the recession” like the Wall Street executive, but he sure isn’t able to forget about it on Morgans’ recess. No, he’ll be too concerned with the mortgage for that. And he is bound to resent those who can just leave those worries at the cloakroom with their jackets. So it would be better for Morgans to have left it out of the picture altogether.

After all, Morgans isn’t exactly catering for the average Joe, is it? So the real question is if this 80’s-oh-so-80’s rallying cry of “Fuck the crisis, we want to party” will work when we’re already verging on the second decade of the 21st century.

Shouldn’t we all be more socially responsible and environmentally aware by now? Shouldn’t we be now behaving more like grown-ups that face problems head-on, and less like eternal teenagers that obliterate them in blaze of self-indulging hedonism?

Yes, maybe we should. But are we? I mean, really?

Economy Deals Online Ad Spending a Hit – eMarketer

There seems to be more bad news about the economy every day, and falling ad spending numbers are part of the mix. Although online advertising is still on a positive growth curve, that growth is slowing and will dip into the single digits for the first time in 2009.

US Online Advertising Spending, by Format, 2008-2013 (millions)

Not only is the new projection lower, but recovery is expected to take longer. In 2010, online ad spending growth will return (barely) into the double digits at 10.9%, and in 2013 it will only hit 13.5%.

US Online Advertising Spending Growth, by Format, 2008-2013 (% change)

via Economy Deals Online Ad Spending a Hit – eMarketer


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