December 4, 2013 - Environmental economists have a useful framework to analyze limited, but renewable, resources. It is called maximum sustainable yield. For a fishery, maximum sustainable yield measures the number of fish that can be harvested each year without impairing the future viability of the fishery. Violate this level long enough and you have the case of the Grand Banks cod population that was overfished for decades until it completely collapsed in 1992. Usefully, these economists also bring a long-term perspective (a VERY long-term perspective), which is critical to understand systemic problems that compound over generations.
December 4, 2013 - 57 projects – all in flight at once. 3 people working on them. Same meetings happening over and over again. Stakeholders in revolt. A team demoralized and struggling to serve. Confusion. Frustration. Demotivation. That’s where we found ourselves 12 months ago at Square 1 Bank. The current process for evaluating, prioritizing, and completing technology work was not working.
December 4, 2013 - Ahhhh, behold the holidays. A time of hustle and bustle, feasting and imbibing, and friends and family (sometimes in that order!). It is quite likely that no other 8-week period throughout the year consumes as much energy, emotion and money as the time from Halloween through New Year’s. And we lament how quickly the time goes, as if we inadvertently stepped into Mr. Peabody’s WABAC time machine and somehow missed days, if not weeks. On this occasion, perhaps such a trip would be of use to review the fixed income markets in 2013 to set the stage for the year ahead. Alas, it will be 2015 before long…
November 14, 2013 - While it may be a surprise to some in the startup community, the last few years have seen record high profit margins for the largest U.S. corporations. In fact, over the last few years, corporate after tax profits accounted for the largest ever share of gross domestic product (GDP). As encouraging as this may seem, a major reason for this stems from the low wages that employees are now earning. In fact, as of 4Q 2012, total wages fell to a record low of 43.5% of GDP. Historically, wages typically account for roughly 50% of GDP. So, in short, corporations have never been more profitable and employees are getting an increasingly smaller share of the pie.
November 14, 2013 - The immigration debate has been bubbling below the surface for years. Every now and then our esteemed representatives in Washington get serious about rationalizing our chaotic patchwork gauntlet that confronts new arrivals. It is a delicate dance for the two national parties. The key political objective if you are a Republican or Democrat is to ensure that if the millions of illegal immigrants become legal voters, then they will arrive at the polling place with kind thoughts about you and your brethren.
November 14, 2013 - In my day-to-day role helping to run the Square Roots program for Square 1 Bank, one of my most important responsibilities is to be a connector. Often, this manifests itself in introductions between a company and a potential investor or service providers. From time-to-time, I’ll meet a job seeker who wants to break into the startup world. I usually ask a series of questions to understand exactly what the person wants to do, and then attempt some mental matching with companies that may be a fit for their profile and talents.