Archive for August, 2010

two worlds

Thursday, August 12th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

I am just returning from another week in Indonesia where I had the great opportunity to work with the same group of young leaders across all sectors in society that I mentioned before. Again, it was a powerful and deepening experience. I feel as if we are living in two worlds: one is the world of the dying institutions around us—the old stuff that no longer works. That’s the world that is decaying, crumbling, collapsing and yet holding on to its old resources of power. That world solves social problems by manipulating people from outside (sticks, carrots, ideology).

But then there is another world that opens up a whole other universe of deepened connection. In that world we are part of a holding space that gives birth to a new universe of connections and creativity that we can discover among and within our Selves. It’s that OTHER world that gives us energy, inspiration, presence, and hope. That world solves problems, not by manipulation from outside, but by accessing a deeper level of awareness from within through collective sensing of a current situation with one’s mind and heart wide open.

The funny thing is that we as human beings participate in both of these worlds. The one that dies and the one that is being born. Every single day. That’s how it feels anyway. So how are we linking the tension between these two worlds? In Indonesia, the answer to that question is LAUGHTER. In this group we laugh a lot. That’s how it started early this year and ever since we seem to do it more and more. So humor is one way to create the link. What other forms have you seen? Do you also experience this funny situation that you find yourself participating in two very different universes or worlds? How do you cope with that? And how do you sustain YOUR Source of reconnecting with the presence of that OTHER (emerging) world?

13 Bankers

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

i have been travelling outside the US for the past seven weeks. although the challenges in Africa, Asia, and Europe are by no means small, its feels as if the mood in the US particularly… gloomy. Oil spill. Dollar spill (mega bank bailout followed by enormous mega bank profits). Deficit spill (money printing until the global community one day will loose its trust in $). Spill of negativity (absence of real dialogue in the political process)… you name it. But the biggest issue probably is that most of these issues are only discussed on a surface not a root level.

A notable exception to this rule is the recently published book: 13 Bankers, The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown by Simon Johnson and James Kwak.

here are a few key excerpts:

Six Megabanks (Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley) together control assets amounting to more than 60% of the countries GDP, continue to hold the global economy hostage with their excessive risk taking toxic business practices.

Hedge funds: in 2007, five fund managers earned at least $1billion each for themselves, led by John Paulson, who made 3.7 billion successfully betting against the housing market and the mortage backed securities built on top of it.

The financial sector was getting bigger between 1980 and 2000 and the financial sector profits grew faster: from an average of 13% of all domestic corporate profits to an average of 30 % from 1998-07 (85)

The three main mechanisms that Wall Street used to influence Washington:
–traditional capital: money: campaign contributions and lobbying
–human capital: revolving door
–cultural capital: “what is good for Wallstreet is good for America”

Three steps in responding to a financial crisis: ending the panic, preventing economic activity from collapsing, laying the groundwork for economic sustainable recovery. The US did well on no one and two, but not on no three.

Summing up: “the megabanks used used political power to obtain their license to gamble with other peoples money; taking that license away requires confronting that power head-on. It requires a decision that the economic and political power of the new financial oligarchy is dangerous both to economic prosperity and to the democracy that is supposed to ensure that government policies serve the greater good of society.” (p. 221)

Its that lack of common will of confronting that political power that drags not only the US down, but also all the rest of us. 13 Bankers is essential reading!