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On December 13, 2015, dreese commented on The misalingment of elections and representation :

Though I agree that the way you explain the operating and business models of the U.S. government are fundamentally at odds with one another, O do not believe the assumptions of the post are valid. The primary assumption which would make this post accurate is that campaign finance and lobbyist spending actually influences which policies are passed and what politicians are put into office. This assumption is at odds with the vast majority of political science literature on the two issues in the United States, especially at a non-national level.

In Green and Gerber’s book “Get Out the Vote!”, a seminal work in the area of campaign finance, they examine the effects of campaign spending in various forms on gubernational, state legislative, national legislative, and Presidential election results. The overwhelming evidence in the book presents findings that show almost no correlation between the amount of money spent and the results of the election. Rather, the results depended primarily on previous year’s economic performance, incumbent party effects, and state level unemployment rates. The primary conclusion of these authors is that money does not actually win votes but rather gives credibility to those who can raise enough to enter races.

Additionally, Baumgartner’s book “Lobbying and Policy Change” (Chapter 7) focuses on the results of policy decisions on lobbying efforts. While there has been an unbelievable amount of scholarly research in this area, Baumgartner’s work is the most frequently cited since it’s publication in 2009. Baumgartner examines the links between actual policy outcomes and voting patterns from Congress and the amount of lobbying dollars spent on the issue being debated. The author’s primary finding showed no effects on past, present, or future votes or favorable policy towards lobbying groups that spent money lobbying for a given issue. The author argues that anecdotal evidence typically provides some “evidence” linking lobbying and policy results, but when looking at macro trends across the entire U.S. political landscape, no relationship exists.

While these are only the most important works in the two areas, the point holds that money does not actually effect the outcome of elections or policies. I think the dependency you imply on the U.S. democracy on money is not founded, to the detriment of what every campaign manager would like politicians to believe!

On December 13, 2015, dreese commented on Aldi’s Crusade Against Costs :

Great job outlining Aldi’s business model. The Reese Group has called on Aldi stores in the U.S. for a few years now and they continue to be successful despite the atypical business model described.

My biggest concern with Aldi is their position to negotiate with manufacturers on package sizes and custom shipping containers. Typically, manufacturers who are able to drive costs down due to some sourcing advantage do not make large capital expenditures in customizable packaging. Many supermarkets and dollar stores are starting to meet or exceed Aldi’s low cost proposition by more successfully negotiating costs within the manufacturer’s current production capability.

Another concern is the lack of trialability of Aldi stores for U.S. consumers. Typically, an Aldi consumer needs to shop a few times at the store before they appreciate the simplicity of the process, but U.S. consumers are more reluctant to try these new methods of grocery shopping when supermarkets with comparable prices offer a more pleasant shopping experience.

Aldi with definitely continue to have an impact in the U.S. as consumers get used to their format, but I don’t think it will have the reach that it does abroad.

On December 13, 2015, dreese commented on Ibstock Brick – No longer a commodity? :

Interesting article, I had never considered brick production as an industry where operating strategies could separate firms. It seems the difference between Ibstock and other firms is the ability to whether the down cycles inherent in the industry. Does their operating model allow for this or is it their financing arrangement with outside entities?

Their numerous and strategically located factories, along with their access to input materials, seems to be more of a result of being an early and long-standing participant in the industry rather than a unique operating model. But I do see how they have leveraged those characteristics to use a different operating model than others in the industry.