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On Leonard Cohen

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"So come, my friends, be not afraid.
We are so lightly here.
It is in love that we are made;
In love we disappear."

Happy posthumous birthday, Lenny.

You tried, in your way, to be free. Thank you. Now go join that great gig in the sky. So I wrote a year ago, when Lenny left us. However, the legend lives on - listen for example to How the Light Gets In.

'We Love Leonard Cohen' celebrated his 81st Birthday, and then, for his 82nd and final birthday, Leonard gave us a present. "You Want It Darker" is the title track to last album, his 14th studio album in his 49-year recording career. (See also Leonard Cohen Makes it Darker.)

"Leonard Cohen offers the possibility of living with grace, dignity, and integrity, without submitting to illusions, without succumbing to indifference, and without indulging in denial of our own failures and flaws, in a world that is too often corrupt and malevolent" - Allan Showalter

On Freedom


The Wikileaks saga presented a dilemma around freedom and transparency vs. security. I was initially rather gung ho in supporting the march towards transparency, even signing an Avaaz online petition in defending Wikileaks, which I promptly withdrew from my Facebook profile after being flamed by someone whom I had no wish to upset, nor to engage with in a debate about the the finer points of freedom as they might look to people outside e.g. the U.S. In any case, as time has gone on I've become increasingly convinced that this is a very nuanced debate. For example, the "Open Source revolution" is led by an ex-CIA agent who trained more than 66 countries in open source methods and who calls for re-invention of intelligence.


What Happened? - Africa

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Please see below selected pre-2016 intelligence about Africa. This is a synthesis of major recent developments at corporates, business schools, thinktanks, media, commentators, and other key influencers.



  • The “Africa Rising” narrative gained momentum around 2010. As is the way with these things, it arrived about a decade late - and just as things were about to go pear-shaped. Investors, hungry for yield, alighted on the only continent where living standards had not yet visibly begun to converge on those in the west. Their bet was that Africa had turned a corner. Were they wrong? These days, the mood has darkened. Nigeria and South Africa, which account for half of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product, are at or close to recession. Nigeria has squandered its oil boom. Long-sluggish South Africa has failed to meet the pent-up expectations of its black majority. The hopes of other resource-rich countries — including Angola, Mozambique and Zambia — have faded along with commodity prices. A flawed election in Uganda, plus a cavalcade of leaders clinging grimly on to power, from Zimbabwe to Burundi, undermine the idea that governance is on the mend. Those who helped change the Africa narrative, however, are sticking to the script. Among the true believers is the consultancy McKinsey, whose 2010 “Lions on the Move” report did much to feed the original story. This week it published a follow-up . Call it “Africa Rising: The Sequel”.



December 2015






What's Happening? - Urbanisation

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What's Happening? - Risk

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Please see below selected recent intelligence about risk. This is a synthesis of major recent developments at competitors, business schools, thinktanks, media, commentators, and other key influencers in our external environment.


Q3 (July-August-September)

September 2016

  • Eurasia Group founder Ian Bremmer talked with IMF chief Christine Lagarde about managing risk in a complex world.

Managing Risk in a Volatile World - TGF 2016 - September 12 from IEFA on Vimeo.


June 2016


  • Eurasia Group noted that euroscepticism is increasingly evident in national politics: China has made clear its intention to further promote its semiconductor industry, focusing on overseas acquisitions this year; Germany's government has agreed to prioritise investment in digitisation; Turkey's new cabinet will prioritise near-term growth, weakening the medium- to long-term outlook; Canada's climate change plan, if approved, would put energy-intensive industry under significant pressure; the Korea Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of Korea, are feeling the pinch from weak global demand.


See also:



What Happened? - Work

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Please see below selected pre-2016 intelligence about work. This is a synthesis of major recent developments at corporates, business schools, thinktanks, media, commentators, and other key influencers in our external environment.


December 2015






  • A new book, The Refusal of Work, argues that the time has to come to challenge the work-centred nature of society. The author, David Frayne, an academic who looks at consumerism and radical approaches to work, describes the powerful view that jobs are an expression of our creativity and selves. There is for some, a religious devotion to work. He writes: “Gratifying work is a fantasy that we have all been trained to invest in, ever since our teachers and parents asked us what we wanted to ‘be’ when we grew up.” Moreover, he argues that “those activities and relationships that cannot be defended in terms of economic contribution are being devalued and neglected”. How different this is from economist John Maynard Keynes’s prediction in 1930 that in 100 years we would devote most of our week to leisure. 


  • Real estate billionaire Jeff Greene warned that technology will kill white-collar jobs. He says new forms of technology will only exacerbate the growing gap between the rich and the poor, because, he claims, we have left ourselves unprepared for the inevitable automation of many jobs traditionally done by humans. He said: “What globalisation did to blue collar jobs and the working class economy over the past 30 or 40 years, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics will do to the white collar economy - and at a much, much faster pace.”




What's Happening? - Economics

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Please see below selected recent economics-related intelligence. This is a synthesis of major recent developments at corporates, business schools, thinktanks, media, commentators, and other key influencers.


Q3 (July-August-September) 2016


June 2016


  • PwC's Economics team launched its monthly Global Economy Watch for June. This month, PwC economists indicate that productivity growth in Ireland and Spain – the top performing peripheraleconomies in the Eurozone – has outstripped that in Germany, France and the Netherlands. But sectoral fortunes have been mixed, with PwC analysis showing that in several Eurozone economies, productivity in the manufacturing sector has grown at a relatively rapid rate. Meanwhile, figures reveal that the eurozone economy grew faster than the US in the first quarter of 2016. But PwC analysis shows that the economic - and to a greater extent, the labour market - recovery has been uneven. For example, the range of unemployment rates in the eurozone at this stage of the recovery is the highest it has ever been compared to past recoveries.



  • The United Nations cut its global growth forecast for 2016 to 2.4% from its forecast 2.9% in December; however it is attributed largely to the downward revisions for Africa. Global growth is projected to rise marginally to 2.8% in 2017, remaining below pre-crisis trends. The protracted period of slow productivity growth and weak investment weigh on the longer-term potential of the global economy.

  • In its latest twice yearly global assessment, the OECD warned that the world economy is “stuck in a low-growth trap”. The organisation said monetary policy alone could no longer be relied on to deliver growth and governments should be using the fiscal tools at their disposal, such as increases in investment spending, to stimulate demand. It also pointed to several downside risks to global growth, the most immediate of which would be if Britain votes to leave the European Union in a referendum on June 23rd.


See also:



What's Happening? - EY

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Please see below selected recent intelligence about EY.


July-August-September 2016







June 2016


  • EY launches legal offering in Chile and Argentina and hired a partner from Norton Rose Fulbright in Toronto to lead its Canadian business law team. The accountant has hired Jorge Garnier from Argentine power company Genneia, where he was senior legal counsel, as an executive director to build a team focusing on corporate law. 









What's Happening? - Diversity

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 Please see below selected recent intelligence about diversity. This is a synthesis of major recent developments at corporates business schools, thinktanks, media, commentators, and other key influencers.


October 2016

  • Does the gender of executives make a difference to business performance, asked the Financial Times? The evidence is mounting that it does, claimed the FT. In some developing economies, women are joining the top ranks of business management at the same pace as those in western countries. Click here to read more work and careers coverage.


June 2016




May 2016




  • Bain & Company recently launched a study that asked more than 1,000 men and women in a mix of US companies two questions: “Do you aspire to top management within a large company?” and “Do you have the confidence you can reach top management?” Women with two years or less of work experience slightly led men in ambition. But for women who had more than two years on the job, aspiration and confidence plummeted 60% and nearly 50%, respectively. These declines came independent of marriage and motherhood status, and compared with much smaller changes for men, who experienced only a 10% dip in confidence.