Connected 24 Hours In The Global Economy
Author: Daniel Altman
This is another book that I wouldn’t consider entirely on the personal development side of things, but it does have some very useful information in it and I feel like anybody who reads it would benefit greatly from what they learn. Most people, when they hear the word “economy,” they just think about jobs and income. What these people don’t realize, though, is that the economy, especially the global economy, is much more than that. You could really argue that the word “economy,” itself, is synonymous with the phrase “way of life.”
In the first chapter, Altman uses the well-known internet auction site, eBay, as an example of a company who has a strategy when it comes to their acquisition choices. Why would anybody want to know about ebay’s business strategies? I think knowing details behind why companies do the things they do might help us, as a society, better understand what’s going on behind closed doors. Simply put, I feel like when we know what’s going on we make it easier to protect ourselves from the big businesses. Anyway, the reason Altman used eBay as an example of a business using less obvious reasons for acquisitions is that in 2002 eBay bought PayPal, the world’s most popular online payment system. EBay had their own payment system set up, but PayPal was more popular and eBay didn’t want to take the chance in losing customers due to unpopular payment options. EBay later bought Skype, one of the first voice-over-internet companies. Why did eBay need Skype? Well, other larger companies, like Google, were getting involved with the voice-over-internet business. If any of those companies, later on, decided to get into auction services then eBay would be left behind.
Altman spends quite a handful of pages explaining, quite frankly, how many big businesses screw their customers and competitors on a regular basis, often times illegally. His argument behind this is that these big businesses don’t really care.. because if and when they get caught, their punishment is minuscule in comparison to whatever profit or benefit they obtained. One example used is Microsoft. Many times, Microsoft has been raided and fined by the FTC for illegal practices. One of those times, for instance, was in 2004 when the FTC accused Microsoft of forcing Japanese computer companies to forfeit their patented technologies in exchange for selling their machines with Microsoft’s software.
This is probably my favorite part of the book. Altman spends a lot of pages talking about global corruption and how it affects everyone, everywhere. He first points out that every country has some corruption, even ours. Not like that’s much of a surprise. When it comes to where countries rank on the corruption scale, it’s a fact that the wealthier countries the least corrupt. Could be because the countries’ wages are high enough to live off of, but there’s no solid evidence to prove that. We’re not talking about just political corruption here, either. Altman points out a handful of links from corruption to the black market. Something like a bartender making you pay more for your drinks if you’re using your credit card because the transaction is recorded electronically. It’s easier to skip out on paying some taxes when these types of transactions are done with cash. So you get charged more to make up that difference.
There is a lot of info in this book. I don’t know if all of it is very useful for most people, but as I said before, I think when we know first hand what’s going on with our economy we are better prepared to keep ourselves safe. I would only suggest this book to people who are truly interested in learning what makes the global economy clock tick.