Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Unraveling continues....

I mentioned in my last post that I'd go on to explore the nature of the current global financial crisis and the part that the U.S. has in it:
The above are highlights of the materials which I've gathered in the accompanying Concept Map under the following headings:
  1. The "Madoff" in the System
  2. What transpired
  3. One Year after the crash
Based on these analyses, the general prognosis on Wall Street is not an encouraging one. Risking over-generalization, it might be said that the same die-hard attitudes leading up to the financial crisis have stubbornly prevailed:
  • OPM: Other People's Money
  • IBG: I'll Be Gone
Worse still, as described in this New York Times video, despite tremendous changes to the Wall Street "landscape" (such as the collapse of Lehman Brothers last Sept.,) "none of the building blocks that led to this crisis has changed." There is even a sense that those who have "made it to the other side" are "emboldened" by the experience.

Recently, President Obama had some strong words against the "reckless behavior" of Wall Street. Nevertheless, it seemed quite apparent that persistence of irresponsible self-interests in the system might be too deep-rooted for him to bring about any of the real changes that are desperately needed.

If the above brief summary generally matches reality, what this means is that history is repeating itself. Astronomical amount of taxpayer money has been funneled into the federal bailout by the U.S. government. However, what this is doing might be not much more than containing a catastrophic global financial meltdown by creating yet another giant bubble that is large enough to cover the burst one; financed by borrowing heavily from the global financial market.

To quote Thomas Friedman above: "If that isn’t a pyramid scheme, what is?"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

蝴蝶效應:How the world has changed!!

Question to ponder: What have integrity in government and Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. got to do with the near-instantaneous metamorphosis of what was originally a Wall St. investment gimmick, the BRICs (金磚四國), into a joint declaration of shifted economic stance among 4 major world powers, which otherwise share little common cultural, geographical, or ethno-religious interests?

A lot, as the accompanying Concept Map with this post implies; and the connections appeared far more traceable than how the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas.

To be specific, on the anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers on Sept. 15 last year -- the event that set off the series of chain-reactions which sent the whole world economy into synchronized chaos -- as we examine the extent of the transformation that the world has entered into as a result, one cannot but be impressed by how much the position of the U.S. in it has diminished.

This is hardly accounted for by what has come to be known as the "rise of the rest" -- a line of thinking that was popularized through the last U.S. Presidential Election. In this Newsweek report, Fareed Zakaria, who coined this phrase in his book: Post-American World, summarized four areas in which he saw the U.S. as being far ahead of the rest of the world, which was deemed ground for the conviction that "the U.S. has not lost the ability to lead."

But leadership is primarily not about staying ahead. In most surviving ancient cultures, it is about inspiring confidence through words and deeds. In Confucian teaching, people and government alike are judged by the integrity of their words and action: 「聽其言,觀其行」,「先行其言,而後從之」, 「民無信不立. In the past eight years, the U.S. first dragged the whole world into a war with allegations which right from the beginning were unfounded; then in the past year, sought to come out of a home-grown global economic crisis in ways which are totally contrary to the financial discipline that she has all along mandated the rest of the world to follow. This is hardly the kind of leadership that inspires confidence.

For most parts of the world as it is for most Americans, there is little doubt about the exceptional superiority of strengths which the U.S. possesses for many more years to come. What is beginning to be questioned though -- at home and abroad -- is the consistency with which her words are put into action. In the next post, I shall think more about the nature of the current financial crisis and the involvement of the U.S. in it. In the Concept Map that comes with this one, I'd simply highlight some developments in world events which might be linked directly or indirectly to the fall of Lehman Brothers and the crisis that followed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Self-referencing: 變不離道, 亂中有序

承接上一篇文章:ConceptMap-aided blogging: How it works請看以下一些在不同渠道遇上,本來互不相干的「沈寂」資訊,怎樣經過「釋義」活躍起來 -- 「埋堆」成組,串連整合 -- 化爲「導想圖」(Concept Map),一幅能引導思想的圖畫

  1. 問得好:孔子是先有「從心所欲」? 還是先有「不逾矩」? --這是我在網上踫上的問題。
  2. 也請問:齊白石畫蝦的風格,是自由 ? 還是規範 ? --這是我回應上述問題心中的提問。
  • 「高山滑雪」(downhill skiing)
  • 「方程式賽車」
  1. 一本較前衛的管理學著作,透過高端科學理論探討所謂的「自組織理論」 (Self-organization):Leadership and the New Science by Margaret Wheatley。
  2. 一個自然界裡與「自組織理論」十分吻合的例子:How things in nature tend to sync up? (TED video Dec., 08; 這輯短片我在本博客的第一篇文章"Question Peter Drucker's Questions"中曾經引用過。)
  3. 一篇在網上搜羅到的Wikipedia文章:"Self-referential Encoding", 藉以進一步了解上述著作常提及,與「自組織理論」相關的另一概念:Self-reference(「自參照」)。
  1. 資訊(一)提出的兩個問題,也同樣是資訊(二)兩項運動所面對的挑戰:「自由」與「規範」。
  2. 資訊(二)的兩項運動:滑雪和賽車所要求的速度,都不是直接來自運動員的體力本身,運動員的主要角色看來是「應變」;若資訊(三)可以冠以「變更管理」(Change Management)爲大標題的話,則與資訊(二)的關係明顯非常密切。
  3. 孔子七十而「從心所欲,不逾矩」,相信這也正是齊白石透過他的畫所展示出來的境界 --資訊(一)。問:長時間地不斷「自組織」,「自參照」,是否可以達致這樣的成果? --資訊(三)
現把由上述思維所引進的各項相關資料,放入導想圖中繼續「孵育」整理,讓其中的潛在信息都得到浮現發展 -- 整個過程,其實就是不斷的「自組織」,「自參照」-- 讀者請看看,是否成了一幅意義「呼之欲出」的圖畫?有興趣把您在當中得到的一些想法用文字描述出來嗎?