Thursday, March 31, 2016

Former CEO of BP at Harvard

Lord John Browne

Oil will be between $35 to $90 although oil is becoming more expensive to produce.  
North America and Europe are the biggest consumers of oil and changes there are more important for demand than China, India, and others.  Efficiency globally is driving down demand.
Renewables are about electricity
Not corporate social responsibility but radical engagement.  CSR good when it is aligned with clear business purpose but now it is detached and institutionalized.  Boards now bored with it - what boards talk about at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon.  Radical engagement is listening to stakeholders on their own terms.  Unilever is one example of a company that is doing this.
30% of corporate profits depend on regulation 
30% risk [for a company] of having the wrong relationship with society “We estimated it was about 30 per cent.” As it happens, after the emissions scandal broke, VW’s stock price fell by the same amount. “That is not meant to be the perfect, single-point validation of the theory [put forward in the book],” he went on, “but it’s an interesting observation.”
30% of time dealing with regulators
2% per annum increase in performance by companies which have strong engagement with stakeholders
Talk was in support of Browne's book Connect
Every incident is handled before the incident happens based upon your preparation and engagement - vis a vis Macundo blow out.
Black Rock  [VC firm] asking for more detailed business strategies now


Asked him after the event about peak oil and he seemed to agree that peak has already happened for conventional oil.
Also asked him about stranded costs of fossil fuel carbon.  He indicated that only coal would have to be left in the ground and he wouldn’t speculate when I raised the issue of divestment.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Big Money

James Houston was the man who brought Inuit art to the world, retrieving throw-away carvings to be sold in Montreal, Ottawa, and New York back in the early 1950s.  Here is his story of how he taught Inuit people the economics of art and they taught him something else. 
(from page 276 of his book _Confessions of an Igloo Dweller:  Memories of the Old Arctic, Houghton Mifflin Co, Boston  1995 ISBN 0-395-78890-0)
While they understood the idea of barter or trade perfectly - these furs in exchange for these bullets and this kettle - helping Inuit understand the use of money was anything but simple at first.  Big Red Pedersen lent me a white fox pelt for a demonstration to the printmakers.  Next to the fur, I spread out its current value in Canadian dollars and coins then explained denominations under the watchful eyes of hunters.  I began by changing a blue five-dollar bill into five green one-dollar bills and so on.

"Only paper," they would sigh.

Paper had always been fragile and useless in their lives except to wrap a cigarette and burn it.  To dispel that thought I displayed one of their prints, a stone block or stencil, printed on paper, then laid out beside it all the various dollars it would gain.

"Bigger money can be made from printmaking than from trapping foxes," I stressed.
After one of these heand-spinningly clever monetary discussions of mine I slid home and slept as soundly as Disraeli must have slept after purchasing the Suez Canal for the British government on the strength of his financial prowess. 

Early next moring, when I went into the senlavik, print shop, I discovered on the drying line the printmakers' idea of what I had meant in my demonstration.  Hanging between two clothes pegs was a huge, chest-wide, stencilled print of a green dollar bill - the monarch's head in the center and a "one" on all four corners.  That's big money, I thought!

Perhaps the whole idea of printmaking was coming through to them.  Or was that marvelously naive piece of Inuit folk art just one of the better jokes they played on me?