The Trump Presidency: Risk or Opportunity?

Many people have written about the risks  of a Trump presidency.  For some, these things look more like certainties than risks.  I do not know.  I list a few of the obvious ones here, in case you have been hibernating.

  • Global warming and the environment generally.
  • Race relations in the USA.
  • Relations between the USA and Mexico, China, the Islamic World and errr… almost everywhere.
  • Too generous an approach to Russia.

That looks pretty comprehensive.  You may, therefore, be surprised then to learn that there are positive risks, or opportunities as I still call them, associated with the incoming Trump administration.  These have been given less prominence in the press and the social media.

  • Donald Trump has promised to spend a lot of money on infrastructure.  Not just The Great Wall of Mexico.  (Is he copying Hadrian or the Chinese?)
  • He has also promised to cut taxes.

People have drawn attention to the fact that these two promises, if both implemented, will inevitably lead to a large increase in America’s deficit.  That is usually counted as a risk, in a negative sense.  BUT…

What if the Keynesians are right and this leads to a big boost for the American economy?

  • It would be good for the USA.
  • It could have a knock-on effect on the World economy.
  • It could create opportunities for Britain to export to the USA.
  • It could discredit austerity economics and encourage Keynesian economic policies in other countries.

So does this cloud have a silver lining?

Let us watch for the opportunities.  Be ready to make the most of them.

Of course, this says nothing about global warming, race relations and all the rest of it.  I did not say there was no cloud.

 

 

How bad is pollution? Another example of the misuse of statistics

I have heard about a controversy over Greenpeace’s latest assertions concerning the harm pollution is doing.

Before looking at the statistics and the specific claims, let’s put this in context.

The quality of the air we breathe is important.  It is affected by many things including exhaust from vehicles and certain industrial activity.   Poor quality air affects our health, especially respiratory problems.  Poor health can shorten your life.

Air quality can be improved by measures governments can take.  These measures usually have a cost to someone if not to all of us.  For example, banning motor vehicles would:

  • reduce pollution
  •  damage the economy
  • restrict our ability to travel.
  • That is without thinking about the effects on specific groups such as motor manufacturers and their employees.

As in most things, government involves choices and compromise.  Like Risk Management, it is a balancing act.

Now for the statistics.

Greenpeace claim that pollution in the UK causes 40,000 deaths a year.  What this should say is that it is possible that pollution is a factor in that number of deaths.

  • The figure is reached by an extrapolation from figures produced in the USA comparing death rates in different cities.
  • I understand that it compared all deaths regardless of cause.  So cities with high levels of pollution might have higher death rates due to crime, accidents, poverty or whatever.

Secondly, Greenpeace alleges that if you live in London, the air pollution is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and takes 10 years off your life.  This is just plain wrong.  Smoking is definitely harmful and to a seriously high degree.  Literally hundreds of times worse than pollution.    To reduce pollution enough to make a difference to your lifespan of anything like one year, they would have to ban all motor vehicles from London.  Be serious!

Thirdly, what Greenpeace  do not say is that air quality in London has improved a lot in the late 20th Century and has leveled off in the last decade.  Room for improvement but also something to celebrate.

There are two sad things about these exaggerated claims:

  1.  There is a risk that the genuine concerns Greenpeace are trying to bring to our attention could be lost in the confusion.  The fact is that pollution is harmful and we should be looking for realistic, affordable measures to reduce it.
  2. Such a cavalier approach to statistics brings the whole of statistics into disrepute.  But we need to measure and compare things to make sensible decisions. See my book How to avoid being misled by statistics  https://www.createspace.com/4767398 or Kindle ASIN B00LPG8VUE

Be honest and scientific when you use statistics.  A good case does not need exaggerating.

The risks of having cakes

There has been a lot of comment about a line seen in an internal government document saying that we were trying to have our cake and eat it.  There was some concern at the lack of security, evident in the fact that anyone managed to see and even photograph a confidential document.  There was also concern that this revealed a somewhat contradictory attitude within government.  Is this fair?

JHM Risk Management

To some extent, I agree with these comments, but I also sympathise a lot with the Prime Minister.  I remember an interview Boris Johnson gave a couple of years ago when he was accused of wanting to have his cake and eat it .  He said, “Let me be perfectly clear as to the Johnson policy on cakes.  It is to eat them and to have them wherever possible.  Absolutely!”  I wrote at the time that I had at least that one thing in common with him.

As to the present situation, surely, when it comes to the Brexit negotiations,  we want the Government to get the best deal all round for our country.  All the benefits of EU membership and none of the costs.  Eventually, there will doubtless be trade-offs.  But let us not start from there.  There would be a risk of neither having a cake nor eating it.

Risk Dice

Tip of the Month: Beware of Jammers!

This has nothing to do with your taste in music.

There are thieves who have got a device for jamming your car’s remote control  for the locks.  So you think your car is locked when it is not.

What can you do?  Simple.

  1. Be vigilant.  See if anyone is hanging around when you get out of the car.
  2. Check it really has locked before you leave it.

This is the thieves’ favourite time of year.   Try to disappoint them.

Why bring religion into business?

For many people this is a silly question.  There is surely no place for religion in business

  • you want to do business with people of any or no religious beliefs
  • there are many successful business people of every religion and none

Soap Box

 

Is that it?  Not quite.

  • If you are religious or not, you need some kind of code of ethics, a moral compass.  Without it you can get into all sorts of trouble.
  • Stress is one of the biggest problems many business people encounter.  How to deal with it?

I can offer some help in addressing its causes by looking at the risks in your business and how you manage them.  That can make a big difference.

Is that the answer?  What else do you need? 

If you are of a disposition that is prone to getting stressed, you may find the Risk Management approach does little to help.  Of course, it will probably benefit your business, but you will probably find something else to stress about.

There are many techniques for helping you deal with your stress:

  • Hypnotherapy
  • Massage
  • Meditation

I cannot say which one is best for you.  Different people report different degrees of success from each one.  I can suggest people you might go to for each of these.

What about religion?  Prayer is a big help to me and a lot of people.  Meditation around a passage from the Bible is another.  Above all, knowing that life is not just random, but is in Gd’s hands, can be a really effective stress-buster.

Think about it.  Meditate even!

 

What has happened to my newsletter?

I have not written a newsletter for several months.  Some of you may be sorry.  Others probably do not care.  There are several reasons.

Fewer people are opening the e-mails each time.

Fewer still are clicking through to linked articles

Many others have the same experience: newsletters are not as popular as they were.

Above all, I have been concentrating on writing my work of fiction and on promoting my existing non-fiction books.

I have just sent a first draft for review by the Crime Writers Association.  When I get their comments, I will probably need some time to revise it.  Then it will need editing.  I hope it will be published by Easter.

Although this means I am cutting back on Risk Management activities, I am still here and will be happy to discuss any RM issues with any of you.

I am not blogging on this website as much as I was because I am doing more blogging on my other site, www.johnharveymurray.co.uk  which is mainly about writing, for the benefit of anyone who is not interested in RM.  I am told there are such people.

I will probably send out a newsletter occasionally, so do not be too depressed.