Category Archives: Germany

Twenty Five Years Ago Today

Due to a miscommunication, the Berlin Wall Fell (a day before it was supposed to) and Germany was united. (See the Wikipedia History.)

It’s both a reminder of how a situation can literally change over night and of how fast the world moves on. For example, a report over on notes that while most of Germany wants to look ahead rather than reflect on their recent history that consisted of a divided Germany, 58% of the 14-29 demographic would like to find out more about the history of the communist East German state and the German division because they feel they don’t know enough about their own history.

Today’s fast paced world is moving so fast and focused so much on the future that recent history is being overlooked because the older generation, who still remembers it, feels that it’s recent enough that it does not need to be discussed. However, it is not yet making the school curriculum and being taught in enough detail to the younger generation in a manner that will allow them to understand why the older generation just wants to focus on the future and what the lessons to be learned from the past are.

But we have to remember, because if we don’t, we’ll make the same mistakes, and more importantly, we’ll forget how to deal with the situation when it rises again. For example, the Ukraine is in the process of splitting just like Germany was split after World War II, and may, or may not, reunite someday. As long as there is conflict, borders are destined to change, border crossing rules are destined to be revised, and new trade restrictions will be created while old ones removed. So we have to remember, learn, and prepare.

The New Silk Road Might Be the Biggest Boon to Supply Chain Finance This Year

In yesterday’s post, we asked what impact will the new silk road have on global trade. Specifically, what impact will the new Russia, China, and Germany trade partnership have on global trade — besides simplifying and building Eurasian trade relationships.

One thing it will do is strengthen the resolve of these countries to not only de-couple their currency from the dollar and launch a new reserve currency backed by their union, but to trade in local currencies as well. As trading in local currencies becomes more and more common, banks will become more and more inclined, and even comfortable, to lend in foreign currency denominated debt as well as local currency. Private lending institutions will not only follow, but begin to lead the way.

This will be a great boon to foreign companies which, until now, have been limited to either borrowing from local lenders, at high interest rates, but in the local currency, or a handful of global lenders, at slightly lower interest rates, in a foreign currency, that could cause their debt to skyrocket if their currency weakens with respect to the foreign currency.

The whole point of Supply Chain Finance is to help the cash-strapped supplier. Early payment or dynamic discounting doesn’t help the supplier if the discounts are too high. Arranging for third party lenders to lend using your credit score, and not the suppliers, doesn’t help if the supplier has to take a risk in a foreign currency. And factoring isn’t a solution at all! (Since a third party will only buy your suppliers’ receivables if it can make money off of them — loan sharks at their finest.) Arranging for lending in your suppliers’ local currencies on your credit score when you can’t pay early is safest for your supplier and probably the best supply chain finance solution we’re going to see for a while.


What Impact Will The New Silk Road Have on Global Trade?

Russia is decoupling its trade from the dollar, decoupling its hydrocarbon trade from the petro-dollar, and working with China to re-open the old Silk Road between China, Germany, and Russia. Powered by the Eurasian Land Bridge that is a rail transport route for moving freight and passengers overland from Pacific seaports in the Russian Far East and China to seaports in Europe using a transcontinental railroad and rail land bridge (by way of the Trans-Siberian Railway and the New Eurasian Land Bridge through China and Kazakhstan), the New Silk Road will increase Eurasian trade, most likely at the expense of North America.

The immediate consequences of Russia’s actions will amount to the BICS, and BICS partner countries, following Russia’s lead and decoupling their trade from the dollar, especially in hydrocarbons (which is a Trillion dollars a year in Russia alone), to local currencies and trading partner currencies. Furthermore, China has been in the process of decoupling from the dollar for months and is focussed on the yuan’s ascendancy.

The follow-on to this, as described in this recent article over on on Russia and China announce decoupling trade from Dollar – the End for the USA is nigh, is that the BRICS are preparing to launch a new currency — backed by a basket of their local currencies — to be used for international trading, as well as a new reserve currency. As a follow on, a new international payment settlement system, replacing SWIFT and IBAN, is expected, which will bust up the effective monopoly held by the Bank for International Settlement (BIS) in Basle, Switzerland. Currently, China has two small operations in London and Frankfurt to process trading cash flows directly between Euros and Yuan, but that is expected to grow.

But the new economic Silk Road, which is going to use Duisburg, the world’s largest inland harbour (and a historic transportation hub in Europe), and link Russia and China through the world’s fourth largest economy, as well as with Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Poland, has the potential to overshadow all of this from a trade perspective. The effect of decoupling from the dollar just means that some currencies rise at the expense of others that fall. It doesn’t alter trading volumes substantially. Some countries, not having to buy an overpriced dollar, might be able to buy a little more, or some, for which the dollar was relatively weak to their currency, might have to settle for a little less, but overall, the change will likely be limited and controlled.

But a new trading route, which can get things from China to Duisburg in 18 days or less, could significantly shift the global balance of trade, see less trading between the West and the East, and even increase trading on the Eurasian continents. It’s hard to say what will happen, but chances are some ocean carriers will lose considerably, as more goods will be moving over land, and carriers servicing the ports along the New Silk Road will gain, as trade shifts to minimize the amount of time cargo needs to spend on the ocean (as time is money). It’s a situation to be aware of at least.

the doctor’s Top 10 Cities for Supply Management Centres of Excellence (Where Should Your Supply Management Organization Be Located? Part V)

Yesterday, I gave you the top 10 mega-regions in which to locate your Supply Management Centre of Excellence, and indicated the major cities in each region that should top your list. For those of you keeping count, I listed 46 cities. If you’re indecisive, that’s a lot of cities to choose from! So, today, I am going to give you the doctor‘s top 10 cites for your Supply Management Centre of Excellence and his rationale!

Rank City Mega-Region Rationale
10 Dallas The Dallas Triangle The telco corridor. Oil and gas USA. Just a few hours north of Silicon Hills. Finance. More Fortune 500 headquarters than any other city in the USA. The centre-point of the largest metropolitan area in the south and the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the USA. East-West and North-South focal point of the interstate highway system — get anything, anywhere, anytime. One of the largest, and busiest, airports in the world (so you won’t miss Chicago). Sports, sports, and more sports. The world famous Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. People named JR. A great education system. Birthplace of Amy Acker, who, before taking the Whedonverse by storm, made sure that those of us who were adults with young children didn’t get the short end of the Wishbone.
9 Frankfurt The Frankfurt-Gärtringen Corridor The stock exchange, renewable energy, great transportation and telecommunications infrastructure, and German engineering! And let’s not forget Frankfurther Rindswurst. Woot! Woot!
8 Rio de Janeiro The Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo corridor It’s not the CRIB, it’s the BRIC, and it starts with Brazil. It’s the emerging South American powerhouse, which is the most visited city in the southern hemisphere (and home to Carnival), on the coast, and surrounded by a great transportation infrastructure. It is the headquarters of many state-owned companies, the centre of the oil and gas industry in Brazil, and the second largest industrial producer in the country. Foxconn, who produces all of Apple’s iPads and iPhones is down the corridor in Sao Paulo, so you know that Brazil, and Rio de Janeiro, is here to stay as a major player in global trade.
7 Paris Greater Paris La ville des lumières. La ville de l’amour. La vie en rose. Audrey Tautou. La mode, l’architecture, et la philosophie. Quoi d’autre avez-vous besoin?
6 Seoul Greater Seoul A megacity with a population over 10 Million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world, that is home to major multinational conglomerates and one of the world’s top ten financial and commercial centres. A very technologically advanced infrastructure and an openness to the Western Way of doing business. Architecture, fashion, and culture extrude from every crevice. And it’s home to the Wonder Girls of K-Pop. How can you go wrong?
5 Amsterdam Amsterdam – Brussels – Antwerp Central European location, an almost universal understanding of English, great international relations, strong fashion and tourism industries, architecture, and culture (even excluding its world famous Red Light District). Plus, lots and lots of conventions — no travelling required!
4 London London – Leeds – Chester More visits from The Doctor than any other place on earth (and the most likely city to be the first to participate in intergalactic trade). On a more current note, the LSE, the fashion scene and haberdashery shops, and the entertainment industry draw all shapes and sorts of creative talent. Plus, it gave us The Clash and Generation X. What more can you ask for?
3 Tokyo Greater Tokyo Domo arigato gozaimashita! You have to interact with a lot of people everyday. And not all of these people are polite. Why not go somewhere politeness reigns? Plus, it’s the home of Sanrio (hello kitty) and the J-Pop explosion. How can you go wrong? (Oh, and the financial clout, hi-tech infrastructure, and the wide range of cultural pursuits from ikebana and origami to shopping and whiskey, doesn’t hurt either.) And if that’s not enough, anime, manga, and gaming central! (If you think Gibson is inspired, just wait until you read Masamune Shirow!)
2 New York Boston – New York – Washington Corridor If you’re gonna be in Supply Management for the long haul, you gotta have Heart. And since New York is The Heart of Rock & Roll, it’s as good a place as any to start. Plus, the easy access to capital doesn’t hurt!
1 Los Angeles The California Coast Despite our desire to move to a paperless office, we still have to deal with a mountain of paper every day. Purchase Orders, Goods Receipts, Invoices, Import Forms, Export Forms, RFXs, etc. etc. So why not base your Supply Management organization in the home city of Wil Wheaton, the guy who made collating paper cool!

the doctor’s Top 10 Mega Regions for Supply Management COEs (Where Should Your Supply Management Organization be Located? Part IV)

Our first post in this series began the discussion of where a better-than-average Supply Management (SM) organization on the path to becoming a world-class Supply Management organization should locate its new Centre of Excellence (COE) for its new centre-led Supply Management organization. We discussed the traditional factors of customer proximity, supplier proximity, business incentives, infrastructure, and the local talent pool and ended up demonstrating that the only thing that really matters in the end is the local talent pool. (This is because it is the people, not the process or the technology, that ultimately identify and drive the results.) Our second post discussed what type of talent you were looking for and where they were likely to be found. We concluded that you were definitely restricted to major urban areas, but did not identify which particular urban areas are likely to contain the talent your organization needs. Then, in our last post, where we dived into the findings of Professor Richard Florida, as chronicled in Who’s Your City, we illustrated that your new Supply Management COE should be in one of the top 40 mega regions, and a mega region with a strong innovation focus and a lot of open minded talent. We then indicated that, if you intended to be North America based, that you should be focussing on one of the following five mega-regions: the Boston-New York-Washington (D.C.) corridor in the Northeast; Miami and southern Florida in the Southeast; the Houston, Dallas, and Austin triangle in Texas; the San Francisco Bay Area down to LA on the West Coast; and the Portland-Seattle-Vancouver corridor on the West Coast. But kind of left you hanging if you were looking for a global SM COE outside of North America.

So, today, the doctor brings you his top 10 Mega Regions for Supply Management COEs, culled from the list of the 40 Mega Regions based upon North America data, cultural analysis, and emerging or current trends.

Rank Mega-Region Economic Clout Major Cities Rationale
10 The Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo corridor 230 Billion Rio de Janeiro, São José dos Campos, Sao paulo, São Bernardo do Campo Culture, fashion, finance, and the centre of the emerging South American Economy, lead by Brazil (but followed by Colombia and Argentina).
9 The Dallas Triangle 400 Billion + Dallas, Austin, Houston Finance, Oil, easy access to the Gulf of Mexico, and a good old fashioned “don’t mess with” attitude.
8 Greater Paris 380 Billion Paris, Versailles Culture, fashion, architecture, and a strange attractor for top talent across Europe and the Americas.
7 The Greater Seoul Region 500 Billion Seoul, Incheon, Ansan, Hwaseong, Suwon The economic power-house of South Korea and an economic powerhouse of Asia with a new generation culture that, unlike their predecessors, is (openly) embracing western styles of business, fashion, and life and that is the most willing of all of the Asian nations to take risks (which are often necessary for true creativity and innovation).
6 The Frankfurt-Gärtringen Corridor 630 Billion Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Cärtringen The Frankfurt stock exchange, renewable energy, and German engineering!
5 The California Coast 1280 Billion San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego Fashion, Entertainment, Technology, a global innovation leader, and home to the largest ports on the West Coast.
4 London – Leeds – Chester 1200 Billion London, Northhampton, Leicester, Nottingham, Leeds, Manchester, Chester, Birmingham Not only do we have (one of) the major financial, fashion, and trade centre(s) of Europe in London, but we also have the home of the Commonwealth. The UK may have been overtaken by the US in the final years of the 19th century in GDP production, but it is still in the top 20 and will always be of prominent importance.
3 Greater Tokyo 2500 Billion Tokyo The world’s largest mega-region in terms of economic clout, Greater Tokyo cannot be ignored. And while the Japanese are typically wary of uncertainty and risk, unwilling to commit to deadlines, very orderly in business, extremely respectful of hierarchy, very shy, and extremely respective of face, Tokyo is an exception. The younger generation have adopted a lot of western values, have no problem relating to the west, and are even willing to behave like outsiders in their soto groups. It’s also close to other major centres (and mega regions) in Asia.
2 Amsterdam – Brussels – Antwerp 1500 Billion Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Brussels, Antwerp The world’s fourth largest mega-region in terms of economic clout, one of the most open and advanced regions in Europe in terms of broadband penetration and clean technology, and close proximity to the UK and Germany, two European powerhouses.
1 Boston – New York – Washington Corridor 2300 Billion Boston, Hartford, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington As the world’s second largest mega-region in terms of economic clout, the centre of the North American finance and fashion industries, and the nation’s capital, there is serious clout and talent readily available here.