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On December 1, 2017, Samantha_Halpern commented on Rio Tinto: Be Prepared for the Flood :

Great article! Unfortunately, the mining industry is just another example of an industry that has fallen into the vicious cycle of contributing to and suffering from global climate change.

@ChiCon17 – I appreciate your take on the future of the mining industry, given your experience with the topic. I do agree with you that in this highly-commoditized market, it seems unlikely that any one mining company can make significant changes. Change will have to be an industry-wide endeavor that multiple companies buy into.

@SN – You pose an interesting question when you ask if it is possible to effectively retrofit old projects to mitigate risk or will new risk mitigation only take place for future projects. McKinsey offers several suggestions for how digitization might help to improve mining in the future [1]. I would venture to guess that a lot of these digital solutions could be applied to existing mines in addition to the new ones. Some of their proposals include embedding sensors in the mines to improve data capture and using machine learning to better predict future events [1]. Although McKinsey does not specifically call this out, I wonder if some of this new digital technology can be put towards predicting natural disasters and guarding against them.

[1] Geraghty, Ryan, Ferran Pujol, Richard Sellschop, and Hugh Durrant-Whyte. “How Digital Innovation Can Improve Mining Productivity.” McKinsey & Company. N.p., Nov. 2015. Web. 01 Dec. 2017. .

This article does a really good job exploring the impacts of the collapsed TPP on an micro level, looking at individual people, as opposed to the macroeconomic view that is usually taken by politicians and the media. In response to your question about how Vietnam can assess which levers it can pull to increase its attractiveness to TNCs, it’s possible that Vietnam should be looking to make social changes instead of the economic investments presented in your article. With the TPP with the US dead for now, Vietnam is looking to form an agreement with Europe, but is hitting road blocks due to questions about its human rights violations and the way it treats its people [1]. Given the limited resources that Vietnam is working with and the amount of time it would take to implement something like an overhaul of the education system, I think Vietnam should start by looking at some low-cost internal policy changes they could make in the short term to increase their attractiveness to TNCs.

[1] Jennings, Ralph. “Vietnam’s TPP Backup Plan, A Free Trade Agreement With Europe, Is Facing New Obstacles.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 03 Mar. 2017. Web. 01 Dec. 2017. .

Thanks for the great article! In response to the previous two comments above, the cynic in me questions if Mars somehow has something to gain financially by leading the charge toward sustainability. I wonder how much of their initiative is led by a feeling of corporate social responsibility versus a chance to make a future profit, since I would imagine that Mars has a lot to gain if some of its SAGP initiatives are successful. In particular, I see their initiatives to invest in in understanding plant genomes in order to improve crop yields and investing in renewable energy to sustain operations to be two steps that while great for the environment, may also be great for Mars’ bottom line.

On December 1, 2017, Samantha_Halpern commented on Local Content Policies: What is the Impact on Construction Firms? :

Thanks for the very interesting article! Local content policies appear to put a tremendous amount of financial strain on companies and inherently hinder free trade. I really liked your suggestion that Fleur include in its bids an option without local content sourcing, as that will increase transparency about how much money these policies cost companies.

In response to your question about how Fleur can best structure themselves in the future to deal with local content policies, I wonder if it makes sense to split the company into regional or even country-level suborganizations within the larger company. It seems necessary to decentralize the company in order to serve disparate geographies with local content policies in place. If these policies persist, it will become necessary to have most areas of expertise available in all countries in which Fleur wishes to operate.

One thing I found very interesting about local content policies is that while we would expect these policies to help the countries imposing them, paradoxically, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that these policies might actually hinder a country’s own prosperity [1]. Going forward, I wonder if countries will start realizing the negative effects of these policies and roll them back or if they will double down on the new trend of isolationism.

[1] Stone, Susan, James Messent, and Dorothee Flaig. “Emerging Policy Issues: Localisation Barriers to Trade.” OECD Trade Policy Papers 180 (n.d.): n. pag. Papers – OECD ILibrary. OECD Publishing, 01 May 2015. Web. 01 Dec. 2017. .

On December 1, 2017, Samantha_Halpern commented on 6% of the world’s GDP under a survival of the fittest environment :

Thanks so much for the article! I had not previously thought about digitization in the insurance industry or InsurTech, so I appreciate the new perspective on how digitization can be applied to personal finance. One very interesting example of the rise of microinsurance you mention is being done by a Swedish-founded company called BIMA, which is looking to expand microinsurance to the developing market. BIMA allows low-income customers in developing markets to transmit very small payments through their mobile phones in exchange for life insurance [1]. This capability has unlocked an entire new segment in the insurance market that had previously been excluded due to low incomes and lack of accessibility [1].

I am curious what other changes we will see to the insurance landscape as a result of digitization. Based on your article and the information I found about BIMA, it seems like the barrier to consumer entry into insurance has been lowered, and I wonder how that will affect the insurance landscape, particularly for the large players that currently dominate the market.

[1] Williams-Grut, Oscar. “This Swedish Startup Brings Insurance to 24 Million People in the Developing World through Their Mobiles.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 22 Oct. 2016. Web. 01 Dec. 2017. .

On November 28, 2017, Samantha_Halpern commented on A Perfect Fit: 3D Printing Custom Medical Devices :

Thanks for the article, Marissa! The rate at which medical technology is advancing is astounding, and I was glad to learn that J&J is hoping to deliver this technology to developing markets. One thing I do wonder about is how economically feasible the personalized, JIT production system will be, especially if the medical parts have to be delivered across the world. I wonder how J&J (or any other company) might work with local markets to streamline the cost of delivery and implantation of these 3-D printed devices. One thought I had is that local markets could develop their own “hubs” where parts would be delivered and implanted in order to allow for bundled ordering and possibly leverage some economies of scales.