Friday, May 01, 2009

Swine Flu Fear (SFF) Now a Pandemic

Palo Alto (AP*) --- Invariably newspapers spread terrifying information that undermines the emotions. The Centers for Fear Control and Prevention (CFC) reported today that the number of confirmed cases of Swine Flu Fear (SFF) in the United States may have surpassed 100 million amid increasing global anxiety over a menace that authorities around the world are struggling to contain.

The increase is not surprising. SFF is highly contagious, and even a brief exposure to someone afflicted can produce the condition. For days, CFC officials have said they expected to see more confirmed cases and more severe forms. Officials across the country have stepped up efforts to look for cases, especially among people who had traveled to Mexico.

Already, SFF has led to school closings, store shutdowns, and travel restrictions. Economies are teetering as a result. Confirmed cases of swine that have died due to the fear pandemic have been reported in many countries, and the number is expected to swell dramatically.

Hospitals and hotlines have been flooded by people who fear they may have been exposed to or are suffering from symptoms of swine flu, which can mimic everyday conditions such as the common cold and seasonal allergies.

The world has no vaccine to prevent SFF. Prior exposure to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) fear does not appear to confer sufficient protection against swine flu fear. The SARS fear (SARSF) pandemic in 2003 failed to be contained and sent the continent of Asia into a momentary recession as schools closed, factories shut down, and travel came to a halt. In the recent avian flu panics, millions of chickens and other birds lost their lives in an attempt to treat human fears.

The cause of the SARS fear epidemic, the SARS virus, was purportedly implicated in the deaths of 774 people, which represents only about 2% of the approximately 36,000 people that die yearly from the common flu, which does not progress to a fear pandemic due to sufficient natural immunity.

CFC issued the statement, Swine flu fear may end up revealing more about the viral nature of memes than the viral nature of viruses in our interconnected world.

*Angst Press, (copyright) 2009

Friday, April 06, 2007

cost of not living here is higher than cost of living here

email me at if you have questions about this title for upcoming book

real estate squeeze

we may be about to see an ugly real estate squeeze in the mid peninsula. not downwards, but upwards. experts have called a 50% price decline, 30% decline, 10% decline, flat, 10% gain. no one has predicted a >50% gain, which means this is the most likely scenario.

the inventory is miniscule. every smart person i know is waiting for prices to fall. which means the exact opposite is going to occur.

london has doubled in 6 months despite calls for pricing collapse. NY boom has started. there are signs everywhere that bay area prices are poised to make a historic run upwards.

headlines are focused on bubbles and subprimes, etc.

stealth tech boom

2005 was 1995. 2006 was 1996. 2007 so far feels like 1997. we're in the middle of a tech boom. signs are everywhere. you can feel it in coffee houses and bbqs. you can see it in traffic. commercial real estate is tight.

the boom should be bigger and more durable than the last given experienced entrereneurs, memories of bust, and real business models. there are jobs everywhere.

the headlines remain negative to silent. we're in year 3 of a silent tech boom.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

the hand that cradles the rock

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

what word describes the feeling of being envied?

Was interesting to hear a pitch onluxury furniture online catalog company. She says selling to wealthy is all about selling the exclusivity experience. It’s the same old furniture but how you shape the experience. Large premium on having what others can’t get.

Someone recently bought an Aston Martin. His favorite part of the car is that the parts have “made for John Doe” written on them. That is a low-cost, high-value way to sell the exclusivity experience. Nice margins.

What would be a good neologism for the counterparty of envy? It’s what the envied pursue. They want to have something others can’t have and thus will envy. What do you call the pursuit of something for the purpose of making others envious?

What word describes the feeling when one has something and someone else doesn’t have it? (whereas envy describes the feeling when someone else has something – be it a car, girlfriend, skill, feature --- and one doesn’t).

Once you define the word, you are ready to start a luxury-goods consumer franchise.

golden age of consumerism

Basic Tenets of Consumerism
Consumerism is a supply-side phenomenon. Those who purchase are consumees. Envy is the basis of human consumerism, not greed. Proliferation of communication technologies has expanded distribution channels for fear, then envy. Sell fear or sense of inadequacy, juxtapose product that creates envy, then sell product. Product differentiation has enabled further confusion of the public and increased exploitation of envy. Globalization is enabling export of fear, then envy, then product.

Favorable trends for consumerism
1) increasing stress among the masses. Mass distribution of fear, inadequacy and desperation through social isolation, negative news, and adulation of the wealth class
2) wealth polarization: 20 years ago there was 1 billionaire in the fortune 400, now all 400 are billionaires. There is burgeoning wealth polarity throughout the world through maturation of finance, buffeted by common law which enables wealth hoarding. In the old world you could only keep what you could physically protect. Now lawyers and police help protect what you keep.
3) There is a fallacy that economic stress will keep a lid on consumerism, such as inflation, debt, oil prices. however, according to recent article by Ajay Kapur of Citigroup, 60% of consumption is done by top 20% in wealth while the bottom 20% only accounts for 3% of consumption. This is a massive change since even 15 years ago when the numbers were more like 35% and 10%. This is a tectonic shift in consumerism that few seem to have noticed. In other words, those that are sensitive to economic cycles (the bottom 20%) account for a negligible amount of consumption while those that are immune to economic cycles (wealthy 20%) do most of the consuming.

Thus, we are entering the golden age for consumerism, especially if you are dealing with products or services with real or perceived scarcity. Take a look at the price of any luxury item or collectible. It has been inflating the last 20 years much faster and CPI. Now we are globalizing all of these trends.

It all hinges on the definition of prosperity which ought to be “how one feels about oneself”. Once people are made to feel inadequate, and are given products to compensate, consumerism takes hold.