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Thanks for this thought-provoking bit! When we think of automation, the construction industry rarely comes to mind. But, given the short supply of skilled labor and craftsmen, the industry is ripe for automation & digitalization. The ideas about BIM and “Uber for Labor” might be groundbreaking and might improve both the time and cost required for construction. Given the inevitability of these innovations in the construction industry and resulting efficiencies leaves me with the question of what might this mean for real estate as an asset class. Will lower costs and shorter lead times result in erosion of wealth for people who hold most of their net-worth in real estate?
I think O&G companies across the world have to reinvent themselves in the face of increasingly stricter environmental regulations and growing awareness amongst consumers. I believe that it is high time that companies such as Exxon start comprehensively assessing not just their financial performance, but also environmental performance. Not just will such measurements help Exxon improve the public perception, but also guide its managers in making decisions which might look financially inviable right now, which might be strategically crucial going forward. Energy companies such as BP have already embarked on that path and might soon start lobbying governments to impose stricter controls on its peers to get a competitive advantage. I believe that Paris Agreement is just a start of a much stricter environmental regime across the world and Exxon needs to take note!
Although isolationism is re-shoring jobs back to the US as of now, I wonder if this will reduce the global competitiveness of GM in long term. As you rightly pointed out, automation might reduce the dependence of costly labor but it goes against the fundamental premise of why trade policies were put in place in the first place. Also, drastic measures such as these would expose companies such as GM to inefficiencies in short-term as it might take years to set up new localized supply chains, hire and train workforces, raise fresh capital and develop new automation technologies, leaving more globalized competitors with the opportunity to create better synergies and rapidly gain market share. Another aspect to think about is social and political tensions arising out of localization of trade. Free flowing trade has been a crucial factor in global cooperation. With every country following the path of isolationism, are we trading off a global optimum for a local optimum?
Thanks for this very interesting article. You brought up a very important point that every industry, including education, is affected by isolationism. Isolationism is a result of an incomplete understanding of how economy & markets work. I think Brexit was a knee-jerk reaction to slowing growth internally by blaming external factors. I believe that it is upon institutions such as Oxford to go against these undercurrents and position themselves as institutions which support international cooperation. I really like the idea which you have presented about opening a campus in France. When a coveted institute such as Oxford shows that they believe that they support international cooperation at all costs, it would send a strong signal to the government as well as to the common people of UK and spark a debate about the long-term ill-effects of isolationism.
Great summary of the various initiatives taken by Nike to reduce the carbon footprint of their products. What I liked the most about Nike’s actions is that all their steps make economical as well as environmental sense. The fact that the consumers don’t have to pay more for an environmentally friendly shoe will ensure that these initiatives will sustain. What I would be keen to see going forward is how Nike can change consumer behavior to encourage more and more people to recycle their shoes. The sustainability loop is not closed if a shoe ends up in a landfill at the end of life.