Debate? I Wanna Rebate

The debate is tonight. Forget everything you know about the election so far because it is about to change. Clinton is going into this with a decent, but not commanding lead so it’s up to Trump to reverse things.

Can he? Will he try to do something big and bold? Or will he go with what got him here, more or less constantly hitting even if the punches are pretty low?

I’m going to argue that it doesn’t matter. This is Clinton’s election to win, and we’ll see why very shortly. If she can erase some of the negativity surrounding her simply by being in charge and very Presidential she can ice this thing. That’s what counts.

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Why We Say “Black Lives Matter”

Another day, another person dead from a police bullet. Another night of unrest as anger spills out into the streets. Another heated round of angry statements from all sides shouting past each other. Another opportunity missed to speak words of healing, love, and respect.

We say “Black Lives Matter” because it is not at all obvious that our nation believes this. It seems obvious enough that “All Lives Matter”, but when you focus on those of us who are darker life seems much more disposable, much easier to kick to the curb and forget.

When we say Black Lives Matter we say it not as a direct challenge in opposition to the officers in uniform or to white people. We say it as a challenge to the systems that produce far too much death far too easily, and as with everything bad in our nation that death falls heavily, horrifically on black people. That is why we have to keep saying it until it is true – Black Lives Matter.

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Terror Sinks In

The bombing on Sunday by Ahmad Khan Rahami has left behind a large number of questions. Why did he do it? Was he directed in any way? How was he “radicalized”? How did he get past the FBI? There appear to be a few answers to what was clearly a “lone wolf” attack not directed by Da‘ish (ISIS) but clearly inspired by them, and not many answers are satisfying.

It seems that we will have to get used to these attacks, which is a chilling or angering thought to many Americans. For that reason, the resonance of this attack in the wake of the Orlando Pulse shooting and a stabbing in St Cloud, Minnesota has a greater effect than the more deadly coordinated attacks in France. Da’ish is leaving it’s mark.

But what will this mean in an election year? We can’t say yet. The possibility that this may play into Trump’s hands is even more chilling, as that would mean lasting damage to the US.

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Formal E-Mail – Tips & Concepts

Long ago in a High School far away, we were all taught how to write a formal business letter. It included the date, return address, and all the pertinent information needed to either file it away or write a reply. It also had a standard format, not terribly different from the standard five paragraph theme.

Today, everything is done in email. Everything. The sorting and replying are automatic, the formality is limited, and the attention span of the reader is probably short. What is the right format for a formal email to a client or prospective employer?

There is no right answer. I have been asked this by many clients over the years, and I have my own format that seems to work. If you have your own, please share with us and let’s see what we all come up with.

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Simply Too Big

Perhaps you believe, as many people do, that the largest banks in the nation such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs should be broken up. They are simply “Too big to fail” and the cost of a bailout by taxpayers to avoid a systemic failure is too great. Who should break them up? The federal government, by legislation? The Federal Reserve, by regulation?

How about the free market – because they are not as profitable?

For all the shouting and consternation about big banks, one simple fact has gone overlooked. With their tremendous size and ability to “make the market”, as shown by the “London Whale” incident, they do not actually rule the world. They are about as profitable, and usually less so, than smaller banks. The reasons are not obvious but they are demonstrated. And those who should be doing the shouting are not the “99%” but the shareholders.

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Clinton Stumbles!

Hillary Clinton has pneumonia. Or maybe Parkinson’s. Or she’s something like a propped-up corpse who is barely alive. It all depends on what you think “the real story” is.

If it all seems crazy, it is. Much of the crazy is simply what we can expect in an election season, hopped up a bit in an internet age when anyone can publish a “news story”. But the most important craziness is actually rather sane in that Clinton, for better or worse, is presumed by nearly everyone to be the next President. She is being held to a higher standard on many topics – including the state of her health. Just as it would be big news if Obama had pneumonia, it’s a equally important when Clinton gets it.

Is that higher standard unfair? Is it sexist? Is it really just an excuse to tighten up the race to make it all more interesting? Yes, to all of that and more. But all of this will be washed away in another month once we are into the debates, so it really doesn’t matter.

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Shipping Meltdown! (or not?)

Santa Claus isn’t coming this year! Global shipping has collapsed! Big ships are stranded as the companies can’t even pay the docking fees!

Clearly, it’s time to panic. The bankruptcy of Hanjin shipping has created a wave of horrifically bad stories predicting the end of international trade as we know it. Recession must be just around the corner as the global system collapses, right?

Um, no. Not even close. The story we have been told is a good example of two key features of financial reporting today. The first is that no one has the slightest idea what they are talking about and the story is completely free of the context anyone might need to understand it. The second is that the only big news is bad news – probably in part due to the first problem.

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