Archive for the ‘Forecasts’ Category

Service of the Impact of Being Deep-Sixed: A Forecast

Thursday, September 8th, 2022

Hold on to your hats: Here’s a forecast of a few changes that will cut off some from access to crucial services and might put others out of business.

On the Road Again

Was NYC always so discriminatory?

I’m happy with my MetroCard that New Yorkers use for bus and subway rides. It’s easy to add money and is featherweight.

By the end of next year it will be extinct Anna Rahmanan reported in We’ll all be using OMNY vending machines that take money from a swipe of a smart device or a contactless chip credit or debit card. OMNY stands for One Metro New York.

This sounds great if you own the proper device and welcome a link between your smartphone, smartwatch or fitbit and your credit card or bank account. No such links for me. By next year I assume that all credit cards will be updated with a contactless chip.

Will the OMNY machine know who is eligible for half priced fares? What about those who don’t want to use their credit and debit cards for this purpose or don’t own the devices or cards? Does NYC have a contingency plan for them? One can only hope.

Attending to Business

Alex Harring predicted in The Wall Street Journal that traditional business cards are being replaced by QR codes, jewelry with business details or implanted chips. He calls the traditional cards germ swappers.

He reported that “The technology chief at Boingo Wireless Inc. had a chip inserted, between his left thumb and index finger, that carries his contact information. New acquaintances can use their phones to download the details.” If the recipient doesn’t have the app installed on their phone the technology doesn’t work. Oops.

Harring continued that some use “physical cards with QR codes, scannable digital cards or chips embedded in physical items that allow people to share contact details with a tap.”

The technology had best be flawless and operational wherever people network. Maybe a person should carry a few germ swappers just in case–yes?

What Did You Say?

What’s going to happen to the audiology business now that the FDA has approved over the counter hearing aids?

Woof and Meow

As soon as New York Governor Kathy Hochul signs the anti puppy mill bill there will be no more pet store sales of dogs, cats and rabbits here. Future pet parents are to go to breeders. According to, “‘The Puppy Mill Pipeline legislation would allow retail stores to partner with area shelters like Bideawee and like ACC and rescues to adopt animals,’ Bideawee CEO and President Leslie Granger said.” Full disclosure, all my pets have come from animal welfare agencies and shelters except one who was rescued by a friend from an abusive home. Are legitimate pet store owners in New York State expected to close the door and walk away from their investment of time and treasure?

The questions for this post are highlighted in each section.

Service of Inquiring Minds

Thursday, August 4th, 2022

I suspect the wood planks are heavy and could easily make someone lose balance as they reach for each.

I’ve previously isolated questions in posts even though I end each with at least one.

These people take my breath away.

I started with two in 2016–“Service of Questions” and “Service of Why.” A smattering: Why do mothers give their toddlers in strollers tablets to stare at when there’s so much to see on a walk and why do telemarketers hire people who mumble? 

In 2019 in “Service of Questions—Does Google Have All the Answers?” I asked a few more such as how commuters in cars in the New York metro area fill their time in traffic for as long as 90 minutes? How do pet owners of moderate means afford vet bills when they have more than one?

Here are more that I’ve thought of recently:

  • How come the rise in interest rates seem to impact borrowers immediately but not those with garden variety bank savings accounts? I asked a random customer service person at a bank branch. He said CDs will reflect the interest rate change first and that it will take a few months for anything to kick in for savings accounts. Hmmmm.
  • I marvel at people who work in precarious situations and have snapped shots of some. Is being fearless like this something you can acclimate yourself to?
  • Why is the weather forecast on my iPhone so consistently wrong lately especially when it comes to predicting rain?
  • Why do people glorify a deceased spouse when for years they confided the person had made their life miserable?
  • Why don’t I recall hearing, years ago, about such breathtakingly horrific forest fires as now in the West and in Europe?

What random questions do you have? Any answers to mine?

Climbing on an off this ladder is the definition of precarious

Service of What Will Change and What Will Remain the Same: So Many Questions

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

When I see a street with nobody on it in NYC I’m usually on alert. Now I’m relieved. Will it always be so?

I keep a few hidden dollars around just in case and have for decades. On occasion Homer would leave a note saying he owed the envelope $X. Now it turns out dollars and coins may spread coronavirus. Recently E-ZPass announced it doesn’t accept cash anymore nor will Metro-North Railroad and some restaurants have had this policy for a while. [I wrote about the trend in “Service of Cashless Restaurants” in 2018.] So is cash on the way out permanently? If street vegetable, fruit, coffee and falafel vendors return will they only accept credit cards?

Will we have the option of going to the movies anymore? A friend who just saw “Emma” at her neighborhood movie house suggested to friends that they watch it on Pay Per View as they shelter in place admitting she preferred seeing it on the full screen. Do enough people agree? Will Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Turner Classic Movies fill this hunger?

If hair stylists remain closed will long hair on men of all ages become the fashion and gray/white hair for women of a certain age?

Printed copies of newspapers pile up at the office. Is this the death knell for the print versions?

How about church, temple and synagogue attendance–more or less once the crisis is over and services resume?

Will more people telecommute to save employers the cost of rent? Local hosts on 710 WOR Radio are on-air from their homes now and some save hours a week in commuting time. Speaking of real estate, will more people flee from living in cities where viruses thrive on crowds? We all press L for lobby in elevators.

What about teaching: Will the cost of college shrink as techniques to teach online become more compelling and interaction realistic through technology? Will gathering in classrooms become obsolete? What will happen to all those buildings?

Will enough people have learned to cook and/or to order in to make restaurants less tempting?

Will sports fans have found other interests? Will libraries close forever as people increasingly download books and will borrowed books be forever suspect? What about the classes and lectures held at libraries?

What about auto-pay? If a bank account is bare, won’t people want to strategize about which bills to satisfy and not have vendors grab at the overdraft willy nilly?

Too many questions. Should we not ask them now?

Service of Nature

Monday, April 19th, 2010


Nature is boss and serves to keep things in perspective.

Along with the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004, hurricane Katrina and the January earthquake in Haiti, the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland is another reminder that in spite of all the remarkable technology we enjoy, we can’t control everything.

And what global financial impact nature–the volcanic ash–is having! Airports in Europe and England are still closed or crippled and millions of passengers are stranded with nowhere to sleep. The effect on the airline industry is devastating. Shipments of fragile cargo such as Dutch tulips and life-saving body parts are also marooned. People can’t get to their jobs or offices, to international meetings, conferences and trade shows.

pompeiiMany otherwise blasé types are fascinated by and in awe of such natural phenomena and we don’t forget them. Tourists can’t visit Naples without a stop in Pompeii where in 79 AD the town was wiped out by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. When I was a teen visiting South America with my mom, we were in Chile when an earthquake struck. For years, when my nephews were small, they asked us to repeat the story umpteen times. It became part of family lore.

I was first made vividly aware that nature was in charge when I was caught in the undertow at The Lido in Italy. I was 11. After that I had far more respect for the waves at Jones Beach on Long Island where I’d gone my whole life, and I listened more carefully to news of riptides and got out when the waves became angry. A friend’s son wasn’t as lucky on that New York beach. A strapping man in his late 20s with years of swimming instruction and practice, he was caught up in a wave and slammed down on the sand in such a way that he broke his neck and was killed instantly.

Another friend was crossing his college campus during a thunderstorm and missed being hit by lightening that hit a tree nearby–the first wakeup call that proved he wasn’t invincible.

Our advantage today is that technology allows us to predict some disasters and sophisticated equipment helps in reconstruction. Charity is global and we have mechanisms to immediately send support in the way of money, water, blood, clothing, meds, and specialists from doctors to engineers.

When were you first aware of nature’s power and that you weren’t in total control? Do you think that with persistence man, through technology, will eventually meet all of nature’s challenges?


Service of “What If”

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Hank Goldman, creative director of Goldman Advertising, New York, responded to all the questions this blog asks. He began his communication, “Questions of my own.”

Hank submitted this post early last week. We noticed that on Saturday, September 12 on the front page of The New York Times, Joe Nocera, in his “Talking Business” column, “Lehman Had to Die, It Seems, So Global Finance Could Live,” used the same train of thought. His column begins: “What if they’d saved Lehman Brothers? What if, a year ago this weekend, the government and the banking industry had somehow found a way to keep Lehman from filing for bankruptcy?”

Hank posits:

Have you ever thought about ”what if” you were born into another age or era?

What universal service skill or adaptable-knowledge-skills do you possess that could have flowered in any age?

If you came into the world when I did, early in the 1940’s, pre-transistors, and there were no computers… What would you do or become?  An English teacher? Get involved in math? Early nuclear physics? Run for political office?

If you were artistic, would you be an art director in a mechanical age?

What if it was 100 years ago? Invent the automobile or airplane? No gas stations around so you couldn’t own or run one of those! Work as an ad copywriter? Run for President?

What if now, when everything in a household of the civilized world has a chip in it?  Improve on microprocessors? Create Cloud Computing? Dream up the next big thing? Run for Senator of Massachusetts?

What if you were born 100 years FROM NOW? What might you do?

Your answer:____________________________

We add to Hank’s questions: Is this a period, more than most, where people tend to think in terms of “what if?”

Service of Forecasts

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

How many days ahead do you start listening to weather forecasts when you’ve planned a beach day, picnic or pool party?

Are you involved with product introductions? Does your company belong to a color forecasting organization so that its bathroom fixtures or towels coordinate with what’s cool in ceramic tile?

Much like people who hope for positive signs or good news from a doctor as they sit by the bedside of a sick friend or relative, I read as many forecasts and prognostications about this economy as I have time for and check out every article that seems to have an answer, looking for inklings of a solid turnaround.

These days, coming to your own conclusions and becoming a forecaster is complicated! Just yesterday, a “Marketplace” headline in The Wall Street Journal screamed, “Maguire Properties Warns of Loan Defaults.” {The article says that Maguire is “one of the largest office building owners in Southern California.”}

The same paper, on the same page, but with a smaller sized, less prominent headline, announced: “Networks Hold Back Selling Ads In Advance.” The reason? They are betting that the economy will improve and are hoping to be able to charge more than now. Before I got too optimistic, I saw in the “Money & Investing” section another bold headline: “Debt Burden to Weigh on Stocks: Consumers’ Inability to Drive Economic Growth Likely to End Big Gains.”

My heart skipped a happy beat when, also yesterday, The New York Times declared: “Seattle Paper is Resurgent as a Solo Act,” and reported that the word “profit” is one that now falls from executive lips at the paper in the Emerald City.

And didn’t we–and President Obama–rejoice just a few days ago over the less-than-expected job loss figures? {Is this equivalent to “the patient’s fever is down to 104°?”}

When Paul Krugman agrees with a bailout, do you sleep better? Or when Alan Greenspan furrows his brow, do you follow suit?

What’s your take on forecasters? Has your faith changed? And what about your antenna for predictions–is it picking up strong signals these days?

Service and the Business Cycle

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

In today’s guest post, Frank Paine a retired international banker, regulatory official, and the author of “The Financing of Ship Acquisitions,” tackles a thorny issue. Do those who lead the institutions that serve us–corporate, philanthropic, and governmental or otherwise–properly prepare themselves to address the inevitability of downturns in the business cycle?

He predicts that, “There may even come a time when organization directors will be held personally responsible for the adequacy of the analysis underlying their decisions.”  And adds, “That wouldn’t be such a bad thing…”

Do you agree with his analysis, and if so, with his conclusion?

In one sense or another, every organization exists for the purpose of giving service.  Corporations exist to provide goods and services desired by the market place: auto companies to provide the cars that we all know and love; electric utilities to provide the “juice” for all the appliances that we can’t seem to do without; ships, trains and trucks to transport those goods; “head hunters” to help companies staff themselves;  insurance companies to help everybody manage their risks; non-profits to raise funds for good causes and support the arts, and industry associations to promote their industries and provide networking opportunities that would not otherwise be possible; and schools and universities to provide educational services for our next generations.

The beneficiaries of these services are always multiple. Business organizations service their customers, their shareholders and their employees. Non-profits benefit their members, their particular causes, and, yes, their employees.  Educational institutions benefit their students, their faculties, their administrations, and everybody depending on them to provide well-educated people to the market place, and conduct vital research.  I could go on…

I want to make a plea to anybody directly or indirectly involved in providing service (and that should be pretty much everybody) to think seriously about the impact of the business cycle of the sector they are involved with.  We are now going through the worst recession that many of us have ever seen, and so the evidence of failures to understand business cycles are all around us.  We may be close to seeing the death knell of American automobile production.  We are seeing our banking system being challenged as it never has been in our time.  And non-profits everywhere are seeing their fortunes suffer from whatever is affecting their largest sources of funds.  And so on…

I am getting very tired of hearing organizations acknowledge their failure to see it coming, usually with very self-serving explanations.  I remember having a major oil company acknowledge that throughout its history, it had failed to properly understand when it should order tankers.  Over 30 years ago, I myself correctly analyzed the forces that would cause General Motors to be on the brink of bankruptcy today.  I also correctly predicted the failure of a Brazilian bank two years in advance.  There were plenty of people that foresaw the current banking “crisis” several years in advance.  Etc., etc., etc.

Trust me, I am not a genius-I simply had my eyes open.

It is not true that business cycles cannot be analyzed and understood, but it does take patience and time.  And much of the expertise can be bought-there is an army of analysts, many of them very good that are begging for work.  And there is the body of research provided by universities.

The people who most need the benefit of this analysis and understanding of the business cycle are the Board of Directors/Trustees (or whatever), and the most senior management.  How many times have you found that investments, projects, etc. can only get board approval at the top of the cycle?  It’s so easy to say, “This is a hot market and we need to be in it,” without taking the time and trouble to determine when the investment will actually produce results.

And so, in order to preserve service capacity, boards of organizations should be “opening their eyes” further to fully understand their business cycles, and make decisions in accordance with that understanding.  Who knows? There may even come a time when organization directors will be held personally responsible for the adequacy of the analysis underlying their decisions.  That wouldn’t be such a bad thing…

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