BBC BLOGS - Stephanomics
« Previous | Main | Next »

The Great Hargeisa Goat Bubble

Post categories:

Stephanie Flanders | 16:39 UK time, Friday, 15 May 2009

goatYou don't get many plays about goats. Or economics. So when they asked me to star in a radio play about a giant speculative goat bubble, how could I say no? The only catch was that I had to play myself.

You can listen to the result, The Great Hargeisa Goat Bubble, below.

Most of the action happens in Somaliland in the mid-'80s, but trust me, it's a tale for our times. The play started life as the first short story ever to appear in the Financial Times.

Poor regulation, perverse incentive structures, securitised debt, and the manic pursuit of wealth - you'll find it all here. Just don't expect things to end well for the goats.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

You can also read the original short story at Julian Gough's website.


  • Comment number 1.

    Excellent - I will download and listen. It reminds me of that story I heard about the toxic asses...

  • Comment number 2.

    The play can't be nearly as bad as the real thing. The listen cost nothing, the real thing was very expensive. Have you been watching the various plays of the governments...mostly tradegies but there is humor in their soliliques. The reviews by the banking news have been favorable but not well received in the popular press. A lot villains but no hero.

  • Comment number 3.

    I've got nothing to say about this, because I've not the faintest idea about iPlayer and am happy with that. I just don't often get the chance to write a comment before your groupies weigh in with some piece of potty dogma (that's not a reflection on your writing - it's how blogs work). So, there we are then. The chance to get a word in and nothing constructive to say. Did you ever hear the Frankie Howerd story about the goat? Perhaps not here.

  • Comment number 4.

    Having not had the pleasure of listening to this "goat story" yet, I think I can guess the plot. Moreover, I'll take an educated guess about who the heroes and who the baddies are!

    More sophistry to get the masses looking the other way?


  • Comment number 5.

    Can't get iPlayer to work when you are out of the UK! Any idea if it will appear on World Service?

  • Comment number 6.

    Got it on radio 4 in the car. It was fantastic!

  • Comment number 7.

    #5 - foredeckdave

    I-Player does not work for TV overseas but it does for steam radio - at least it does here in Hungary. Try

    I am listening to it now.

  • Comment number 8.

    Ever thought of adding music? Anything great grandad can do, I can do better ......
    I suppose Flanders and Goat doesn't quite have quite the same cache

  • Comment number 9.

    Good stuff! I think I learned more about economics in 25 minutes than in half a lifetime:-)

  • Comment number 10.

    Please can we have more afternoon plays like this one!

  • Comment number 11.

    So while everyone gambles with factional reservoir money created from thin aasair on the back of securitised delusion ,the bankers turn it[cash] into their bonus "pot"to get high on at the beginning of the rainbow.

    How could the communists plastic food in otherwise empty shop windows have ever hoped to compete with its capitaaalist virtual reality equivalent .

    Presumably it was easier to reccognise that the plastic stuff wasn't real so comunism colapsed first .

    One day some bright spark will prove that our immitation wealth was more expensive to produce than the real thing and that our economic system was not far removed from the one that produced the pyramids to keep their goodwynner MESMERISING Tutts well uplifted at the expence of those manning the rollercoasters who also thought they were going to get a pension out of it.

    History always rewraps the samediscredited nonsence despite folklore and fairy stories promting us to think carefuly.

    Its the substance rather than the apearance of ponzis that never changes .With the devil trying to re sell TO Adam on credit what he[Adam] already owns .

  • Comment number 12.

    Excellent play, I'm going to listen again.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    14 Lib Kurt

    Hmm, looks like a blockbuster. Coming to the UK soon. Upper reaches of the food chain collapses as extinction occurs lower down. The current economic activity in the west could well be what it is plus a lil' bit for some time.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Tut, Tut, Stephanie.

    Unashamed advertising on the BBC.

    I'm off to tune into your theatrical efforts.

  • Comment number 18.

    Thanks threnodio the link in #7 works.
    So what's the moral of this tale ? - Think outside the box here. You are being pointed at the moral being that : "bubbles are artificial and so markets should be regulated to stop bubbles getting out off control" by the same people - economists who got us in this mess. This is the 'right' answer, the answer clever university people would say as well as vicars, MP's and financial journalists... Don't listen to them - do you own thinking. My own thinking on the moral of the tale is this : During the bubble, Somalia became rich, - there was a posh new runway, people had cars and houses... real wealth. Economics claims to be about the allocation of scarce resources. If this were true then more 'investment' in goats would mean less investment in other areas and, as this was a miss-allocation, then Somalia should have become even poorer in real terms. But that didn't happen in the story and it didn't happen in the West in the real world during our bubbles. What happened in the story and what happens in reality is that the bubble caused rise in bank lending to invest in the bubble. Now when a bank lends money it does not take money out of the current account of savers and give it to borrowers, it creates new money - this is because all money is universally transferable bank debt. Normally (non-bubble times), as a businessman, I pay my workers 1p. Then I want to sell the stock they make for me for 2p - to make a profit. But all the consumers have in their pockets is the 1p I paid them so independent of the quality of the goods or the real demand for the goods or the real resources available to make them, I will not be able to do business so the country will be poor unless someone somewhere goes and borrows (i.e. asks the bank to create new money and give it to them) more money from the banks. At this point, and up until this money gets paid back and hence destroyed, I will be able to be in business and so will other business people so for the short time while the scarcity of financial resources (numbers in a book) is lifted, the real resources of the country will be able to be developed i.e. we will be rich. When the numbers dry up the bubble bursts, there will be a shortage of money (numbers) and we will no longer be able to access the real resources. At the moment we can only be rich by using bubbles because we use a no longer fit for purpose financial system that was invented in 15th Century pre-machine age Venice. If you think this is wrong show me a model of how a businessman can make a profit without someone somewhere going into more and more debt. There is a way for us to be rich without bubbles; we could use NEFS : Net Export Financial Simulation or something like it.
    In short, I reckon the moral of this tale is this : As countries get rich in real terms during bubbles this demonstrates that there is real wealth that is untapped during non-bubble times and hence the financial system, which claims to be an accurate virtual representation of our real wealth is fundamentally wrong - we are being made artificially poor by using an archaic medieval financial system lets fix it !

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.



  • Comment number 21.

    Now that I have read this "fantastic" novelette (BTW, thanks for the link JJ), my suspicion, as I alluded to at post # 4, has been confirmed. Although there are no heroes, it is not too hard to discern what or who the author believes to be the villains; i.e., capitalism and free-markets; which, of course, are untrue.

    What Julian Gough and the BBC do is to promote what Ludwig von Mises described as the "anti-capitalist mentality" by appealing to emotional rather than rational thinking.

    For anyone who is seriously interested (and I include Mr Gough) in why economic bubbles occur, I would recommend Douglas E. Frenchs excellent book: Early Speculative Bubbles & Increases in the Money Supply.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    ahoy Stephanites

    having just rigged out the Old Numpty for a season of Great Lakes piracy over here on the NA side of the pond, I was pleased and surprised to log on and find an enjoyable and topical piece about my homeland

    it is good to see Somalia continue its remarkable growth in the news; and there's a lot about Somalia that could be pointing the way for the future of countries like the UK you know and, speaking from experience, it is perfectly feasible to get by without either a government or a banking system, and we Somalis have never been that careful with our work-related expenses and associated receipts, though I have no idea what a John Lewis list might be

    also good to see that you're taking a more light-hearted approach to the financial problems in the UK; whatever the difficulties, people over there are just too damned miserable for their own good and need to lighten up a bit; like that little MP of yours, the house-flipper, Hazel Blears; she looks like she enjoys a laugh and would be welcome to join me for a bottle of grog anytime, but not before you Stephanie; fancy doing a report on the economics of piracy? it's a big subject but I can give you the inside track on it

  • Comment number 26.

    It seems to me that a goat economy relies on some 'idiot'(wise man) agreeing that there should be a regulation that permitted the goat economy to get out of hand in the first place.

    Our 'wise men' are the usual suspects (just in case) Mervyn King, his late predecessor Eddie George, The MPC, The FSA the current Permanent Secretary of the Treasury Nick Macpherson, and his predecessor Gus O'Donnell - BUT THESE GUYS ARE STILL IN POST AND STILL HAVE THEIR HANDS ON THE CONTROLS OF THE ECONOMY!!!

    They caused the poor regulation and they must go we cannot wait until their terms of office expire or they die of natural causes. They are very dangerous as they select their own successors who will like them be pre-programmed to do the wrong thing.

  • Comment number 27.

    John_from_Hendon (#26) "They caused the poor regulation and they must go we cannot wait until their terms of office expire or they die of natural causes. They are very dangerous as they select their own successors who will like them be pre-programmed to do the wrong thing."

    Difficult, and distasteful though it must inevitably be (it's how the conditioning works after all), I again urge you to seriously consider what I have asserted before, namely that since the end of WWII (and especially since 1979/80) systematic vilification and erosion of statism in support of economic anarchism/political individualism aka 'freedom', is why those you refer to are in the posts they are, and if it were not them, it would just be others.

    The reason for this would be clearer were it not for elaborate post-war neo-liberal propaganda such as this which is constantly reinforced today by the media along with periodic prosecutions of dissidents who threaten to undermine this propaganda campaign which works to sustain free-market neo-liberalism.

    It's getting much more sophisticated too.

    One only needs to listen to any one of the 'three' main party leaders to see why this is unlikely to change any time soon, and why, as a consequence, matters won't improve.

    Just remember, collectively, we help keep them in post, anyone not on message finds themselves out of a job (think of the RRAA) and the Watson case a while back), or more often than not, in positions where they have little influence.

    It's 'cleverly', but egregiously, done.

  • Comment number 28.

    Poor Soddy!

    To think that the error of our ways was pointed out, more than 80 years ago:

    Substitute pigs for goats, and the outcome is the same.

    But then, what would a Chemist know about economics?

  • Comment number 29.


    Yes this message seems to be growing in popularity.

    My view is that debt growth and the increase in supply of money went hand in hand with companies offsetting the inflation by 'deflating' through the use of increasingly cheap labour. Essentially 'globalization' meant the use of foreign manufacturing at deflated rates with domestic branding.

    This cycle of debt fueled importation was able to continue because the suppliers reinvested their earnings into the consumers.

    This caused the debt levels to get too high on the consumer side, which caused increasing 'moral hazard', lax morals in business practices, the need to hide the truth about quarterly earnings and so on. The lack of regulation led to the creation of increasingly woolly financial instruments, which banks and other institutions used to manage risk and liquidity.

    This is what led to the financial crisis. The solutions are obviously either:
    a) Nationalisation to an extreme, isolated econo-systems
    b) Equalisation of quality of life and income distribution

  • Comment number 30.

    It's all built on a promise to pay.

    Unfortunately, the marginal productivity of debt is now negative. In other words, there is not enough primary production (such as food, energy, utilities, housing, transport) plus secondary production (such as education and healthcare) to generate sufficient profits to repay all the debt. The debts outweigh our productive capacity.

    The economy is eating itself alive......

  • Comment number 31.


    Then the means of production must be dramatically improved.

    This is implicit in "Equalisation of quality of life and income distribution" - it is the ability to produce sustainably for everyone that must be addressed primarily, with manipulation of the system of resource allocation (the economy) secondary.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.


    Having said that - I have observed that in response to decreased profits in many cases inefficiency has increased. People are bloating out estimates and over-justifying investments into new projects or restructurings, simply to keep themselves employed.

    The incentive to optimise must be instilled with effective management - the effective management must be put in place by those with an incentive to optimise. It could be a vicious circle that might not easily be broken.

  • Comment number 34.

    #27. JadedJean wrote:

    disagreeing with my view that the responsible regulators should go...

    So JadedJean you want to keep the bunch of people who were responsible for creating and managing the financial crisis creation then?

  • Comment number 35.

    John_from_Hendon (#34) "disagreeing with my view that the responsible regulators should go...

    So JadedJean you want to keep the bunch of people who were responsible for creating and managing the financial crisis creation then?"

    No. As I have said several times, your suggestions are all very sensible. What I've tried to highlight for you is that we just don't have the infrastructure for implementing them, it's being taken away by stealthy design.

    What I've (lamentably) seen over many years, is essentially similar Balkanization/democratization measures applied to the UK, as were applied to Germany immediately after WWII via JCS 1067. It's a blue-print. Now I suspect it's being done in pursuit of what in the EU is refered to as NUTS (each Assembly or Regional Development Agency, overseeing a population of about 6 million) i.e a federated, free-market, anarchistic/neo-liberal, EU enshrined by the Lisbon Treaty. We have been weakened and broken up.

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    I kept looking at the two pictures juxtaposed on the main page. Stephanie, goat, Stephanie, goat, Stephanie, goat, Goatphanie, steph.

    It's a good thing this play is on the radio and not on television. Getting into a goat costume would be no fun at all. Especially the head.

  • Comment number 39.

    31 Frank

    ''Then the means of production must be dramatically improved.''

    It has nothing to do with increasing productivity. That is a red herring. If anything you want productivity in terms of output to drop.

    The answer is you change the product or service. You change the percieved value of what you produce. You look for soft focus not hard focus. When there is too much of something you look to produce too little as that restores value to what you are doing. The whole issue is one of oversupply and people trying to increase productivity as a compensation and it is a waste of time. You just make the problem worse and by following that route you become extinct. You are watching this all around.

    post 33 Frank

    Sorry but you do not appear to know where you are going, so you are still looking at process, it doesnt matter how efficient you are, it is what you are doing which is important. The danger is a man walking somewhere, as in anywhere, and concentrating on how well he is walking not where he is going. Measuring efficiency is popular because is is superfically easy. It is only meaningful if you are comparing two similar processes. The answer is not to have a process which has a comparison. Efficiency has steadily been improved for decades and yet the west has a problem so efficency aint what it is about. Ever higher efficiency is only a measurement of decline. The mainstream reflex is to want to keep on doing what has been done before without significantly looking at changing direction.

    'If you don't know where you are going any road will take you there' George Harrison.

    Whilst there are advantages in being part of a bouyant economy it really does not matter to a business, all that matters is how the business is doing within the framework of its growth, ie demand. The downside of a contracting economy is not a business potential one, it is a collective public services one.

    And if you say coming up with something with no comparator is difficult, then yes it is, but that is why the lapse is to efficiency. If you say that the existing culture you operate in is not innovative and only wants to manage decline, that is the problem of the culture. Cerebral laziness. 'There is a kind of madness is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome' Albert Einstein.

    Incidentally this is why conmen work, they are not bothered about efficiency and they frequently operate on exclusivity, ie scarcity. They appear innovative but are hollow because they have no product and are all marketing. They are at one end of the activity spectrum and increasing efficiency is at the other. Neither is sustainable long term. One is the inverse of the other.

  • Comment number 40.

    37 spanner

    All roads lead to Browntown. And yes Thatcher started the process but the route could have changed - in fact that was the manifesto put forward in 1997, a route change. But it was all talk and no action. Cerebral laziness and lack of prespective drove policy forward. You can arguably see both elements of decline management and con trick in the strategy, whether the strategy was default or design is a seperate issue.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.


    Hi Glanafon

    With most of the planet starving we clearly do not oversupply. I do not agree that efficiency has been improving, though I do agree that efficiency is 'superficial'. As one Unilever (I think) boss said "we have basically been shipping water all around the world", referring to selling bottles of washing up liquid. Of course, their process of shipping bottles of washing up liquid might be fairly efficient, but when marketing and TV advertising has encouraged a bottle of washing up liquid to be 95% water, and when we now begin to focus on cost reduction, rather than sales growth, efficiency starts to take on a meaning that is much more in line with the ecological imperatives of today.

  • Comment number 43.

    42 frank

    Hi. I was commenting within the context of the UK. As far as food goes it is in some cases more attractive to ship into the UK than grow here but that could change.

    The recession is a industrial consumer country initiated problem, it relates directly to industrial consumerism and credit manipulation.

    The shortage in the world of food was there before the recession and continues. That is a lack of will amongst those that could enable, not techology or production knowhow issue.

    The world has an oversupply of hardware for those that can afford to buy. Production generally as relevant to western consumers is not food as only a few percent of the population are working on the land and food consumption per person in the west is presumably fairly stable, and it could be it should decline for health reasons.

    Manufactured goods however get cheaper and cheaper at the factory gate over long periods and production therefore more efficient. The higher the technical content the greater the drop in unit cost with time. Cars and computers are a example. They keep trying to prop up the price of computers all the time, unsuccessfully, by pushing up the technical spec. Lower unit costs mean higher efficiency in production. That is the whole point of the volume unit cost curve and the mature technology unit cost curve, both have unit cost drops. Once the curve has flattened out further unit cost gains stall and all that is left is labour differentials.

    In order to make business or economic advantage you need another product type so you are at the start of the curve, you cannot increase efficency on the old product. The situation is one of decline. The west has in the main opted to continue on the old product and old curve hence the move to the low labour zones, it is the only way to go. The issue is the development of low volume goods, of a novel nature, so a new product curve can be gestated. It has absolutely nothing to do with efficiency as a main activity.

    The decision by soap manufacturers to ship water content was a marketing driven decision not a production driven or technology decision. Deciding to bring the cost of driving water content about into the equation as a marketing issue - whilst leaving out any number of other issues relating to the product and the environment is simply being ingenious and whoever said it knew it. It is hardly innovative.

    China will face exactly the same problems fairly shortly, although they will have: Some scope in migrating up the technology ladder - and developing new domestic consumers which is their main hope, and apparently their main investment, they are sharp. However they already cannot reduce their unit costs, ie increase efficiency, to boost sales elsewhere because they are in the main producing mature products. They are having to start to deal with the environmental issues as well so unit costs will have to rise, ie efficency drop on a mature product. As most of the products they are making are already down the curve - that is why production was shipped to China - it is inevitable (so China already have some decline active even though it is well hidden in their overall activity).

    The issue for growth is creating relatively low volume of goods (within mass prodcution terms) with novel features that are produced relatively inefficently and command a relatively high price and therefore relatively high profit in the marketplace. Simple as that. Almost everything else is in a decline model. That is why the UK, along with other countries, is in trouble. Failure to innovate. Successful management of decline, ie focus on 'costs' and improving 'efficency'. You never hear of anything else.

    But if people don't really want to listen it doesnt bother me, I just state the info in case anybody wants to consider it. We work inefficently here, it is a major focus.

  • Comment number 44.


    Progress, efficiency and innovation are all illusions.

    The only efficient thing that matters is the amount of energy required to do real work. Technology and science (and many of the efficiency drives you mention) are all "net consumers" of energy. There are not many industries that are actually "net producers", except perhaps oil extraction and refinery.

    We have all been watching the wrong measures of progress. Unless we can all start to think in terms of net energy production, rather than consumption, then we will all get a nasty shock.

  • Comment number 45.

    Ah ok - all my comments are referring to the 'globe' as I think that national, isolated economies no longer mean much, though they could well be a future norm

  • Comment number 46.

    Looking purely at the consumer side of the economy -

    Before WWII only rich people owned motor cars, televisions, their own house, took holidays abroad, and ate regularly in restaurants.

    Now all of these have become mass market products. This growth in the mass market means more customers, production of a greater number of units bringing down the unit cost of production, making the product cheaper, therefore reaching yet more customers. Bank loans kept this process going, as the mass market borrowed to buy a faster car or 3 foreign holidays in one year.

    Unfortunately, the mass market consumer borrowed too much, and must now cut spending in order to concentrate on paying off his debts.

    Once the debts are paid down, and the consumer is ready to spend again, what will he buy? In order to keep the economy "growing" the consumer must buy what the rich already have. But what do the rich have now, that the consumer doesn't yet have? Well, I don't think mass market consumers will be buying private jets, motor yachts, private islands and polo ponies. Consumers could keep buying new televisions and mobile phones, but this "renewal" spending won't expand the economy, as it is just replacment spending.

    Maybe, now really is the time where we only work 3 days a week and leave it to modern green technology to manufacture cheap transport, cheap energy and cheap food.

    Affordable leisure time is something the rich already have, but mass market consumers do not yet possess it.......

  • Comment number 47.

    Franksz, Glanafon et al

    It is clear that the scale of the problem determines the scale of the solution.

    In historical times, problems could arise and be (apparently) solved at a sub-global level. With global warming and a global trade and financial system that can no longer be the case.

    In my opinion, the interesting question is not whether we will have functioning global governance - we surely will, and within 50 years. No, the question is how do we get there and what form will it take? Will Big-Brother style surveillance and control (as in Orwell, not Endemol) be required to enforce Frank's second option of equality, after contraction and convergence following global conflict/conquest?

  • Comment number 48.

    46 MrTweedy

    ''Once the debts are paid down, and the consumer is ready to spend again, what will he buy? In order to keep the economy "growing" the consumer must buy what the rich already have. But what do the rich have now, that the consumer doesn't yet have?''

    And therein lies the answer. You have to provide something the rich do not have and the rest do not have. A soft product called lifestyle, which does not necessarily stop a product being involved.

  • Comment number 49.

    44 Hawkeye_Pierce

    There is always sunshine

  • Comment number 50.

    47 ThorntonHeathen

    ''In my opinion, the interesting question is not whether we will have functioning global governance - we surely will, and within 50 years. No, the question is how do we get there and what form will it take? Will Big-Brother style surveillance and control (as in Orwell, not Endemol) be required to enforce Frank's second option of equality, after contraction and convergence following global conflict/conquest?''

    I am afraid equality is most unlikely in several generations, there are always those who wish to maintain differentials, and they are located everywhere on the planet. And if equality occurs the prospects are equally well not good as the planet cannot take the current environmental-industrial model with those numbers as fresh consumers. The likeliest outcome of rising standards is higher levels of consumerism along the current model, in fact the Nano car in India is an example, this is being built for a multimillion consumer market in a population of a billion, and the response to critics of the pollution problem is, so what it is our turn. Next stop - fridges and tvs and aircon, and I am not saying they should not have them, I am saying there is an environmental cost, and that even if all energy and pollution costs are neutral in the West there is no case for the planet being able to cope with industrialisation of that scale elsewhere.

    For me the issue is not economic or governance it is survival and whether adaptation in the use of resources can take place in time.

  • Comment number 51.

    Abundance....there must be abundance of food, time, water, access to countryside, sleep and other such human things.

  • Comment number 52.


    "There may be trouble ahead, but while there's sunshine.........."

    Sure there's sunshine. But it's pretty puny stuff on a day to day basis. Now if you talk about billions of years of sunshine, then well, hey, you get a few hundred billion barrels of oil. Now we're talking. Billions of years of sunshine energy, all locked up and ready for us to fritter away in little more than a couple of hundred years. And we think we're the smartest species on the planet?

  • Comment number 53.


    Whos's been a busy boy today then!? I agree with most of what you say, though I may have annotated it slightly differently.

    If Porter is right in his theory of Competitive Advantage, and I see no reason why he is not, then we have 3 generic options from which to gain advantage - Overall Cost Leadership, Differentiation and Segmentation. I have a hunch that it is a fear of major technological shift that has led all of the developed economies to concentrate their attention on Overall Cost Leadership.

    Whilst we can only speculate what the next major technological developent will be, we can see the that the environment is right for such a shift to occur:-

    Our markets and the technologies that drive them are mature.
    R&D spend is more focused on process than product.
    The cost of achieving higher product performance/benefit is begining to outweigh the expected profit.
    The cost of converting "laggards" outweighs the return.
    Support functions are measured in terms of efficiency rather than effectiveness.

    The above list is not exhaustive but does give us a clue that conditions are becoming right for a major technological breakthrough to take place.

    The car industry gives us a classic example. The big players are pushing their hybrid models as a solution. However, it is not a solution it is a compromise. When, battery, fuel cell or some other technology makes the leap to being 'mainstream' who will want a hybrid car? The Nando may increase Indian car ownership but the effect will quickly be to increase the demand for other 'better' marks from Japan. The trick will be to attempt to maximise the profitability quickly.

    Strategically the choice is to be either an innovator or ME2 player. Unfortunately for the UK we have tried to be both and failed misserably.

    One last point, we actually need more MARKETING in our boardrooms and not less. Here, I am talking about the philosophy of marketing and not the line function that it has been reduced to by the bean counters. When our companies once again realise that their existance is relaint upon meting customer needs profitably (for both sides) and not upon favouring bankers and shareholders expectations, the sooner that we can start to re-build our economy. Carrefour used to have a slogan behind each store managers desk "sans clients nous sommes morte". perhaps we should borrow it!

  • Comment number 54.

    53 foredeckdocksidedave

    My background is technology but I have become increasingly disenchanted with it as a immediate solution for most products, it is just one of a number of tools. The issue is much more one of marketing. Technology breakthrough may happen and would be important but the main driving force for most products remains lifestyle. You refer to the likely hood of consumers wanting to upgrade from the Nano. Why? Lifestyle. Look at the iPod, driven by - lifestyle. Having been involved with a high tech (industrial not consumer) pharma sector at one stage it became painfully obvious that it was dominated by american companies. You need a large population area to develop new high tech products (eg most european cars are multnational cooperative ventures for example) and whilst the EU is big enough to compete with the US it remains fragmented across national boundaries. The UK has a history of invention but the invention being shipped out.

    52 Hawkeye_Pierce

    Well we continue to waste, and fossil resources would be better left where they are for the future. They go on about domestic energy wastage but walk around any town. You could shut a power station down easily with better management of town building lighting throughout the country. Lets use fluorescent lighting, why not use LED lighting. Energy unfortunately would appear to be too cheap still, and that is with 20 odd percent efficiency in generation and distribution. As for BO in the US, 35mpg, is this a breakthrough.

  • Comment number 55.

    #53 "Marketing...the line function that it has been reduced to by the bean counters."

    The bean counters realise a company's "existence is reliant upon meeting customer needs profitably (for both sides)" which is why they keep marketing tightly under control. The problem with marketing is that it is hard to link its cost with its effectiveness. To paraphrase what some sage said "50% of my marketing is effective, I just don't know which 50%"
    Somebody maybe able to correct this quote.

  • Comment number 56.

    You don't see many plays about goats, but there is one that comes to mind. "The Goat" by Edward Albee had a long run in the West End around 2003.

    I can recommend that play thoroughly, but it didn't have much to do with economics.

  • Comment number 57.

    55 tony

    My idea of an accountant is they are only interested in where you have been, so they really want you to walk backwards and shout out to them in detail about the path you have taken. They seem to think this is your main purpose in life.

    This is all very well but unless you are careful you walk backwards off a cliff and impale yourself on the rocks below because you have been too busy looking where you have been, rather then where you are going.

    The accountant following will then shout to you from the cliff edge and tell you where you went wrong in precise detail with the information you have been providing. Apologies to Mr T who may be an accountant, who knows.

    I have a clear memory of a vat squad visit who spent all day trawling through boxes and files of paperwork to try and check something to do with some idiot randomly creating vat numbers on dodgey paperwork for his accounts. At the end of the day they had proven by elimination that the idiot was nothing to do with our paperwork. What a surprise, the idiot was evidently a solo jobbing builder, what would he be doing with IP.

    In the course of the day the main complaint was that less attention should be given to creative business and all that was important was paperwork. It seemed to be completely beyond their ken that they only existed and had money to collect because of all the dreadfully irritating creative business.

  • Comment number 58.

    #53 tonyparksrun

    Which is more than matched by "know the cost of everything and the value of nothing".


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.