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Monday 26 January 2015

Why Washington Is Misunderstood: Why Judgment Is Rare

Our elected and political leaders are expected to lead. 
Most of all, they are expected to use, not merely their intelligence and their loyalty to their mission, but also their best judgment.
Public leaders are often misunderstood. That is because the core competency of their "job" revolving around good judgment is one shared by very few people.
The average person, even the average employee, rarely exercises what can be called judgment. These people are on a mental auto-pilot. Call them drones, call them zombies, but they are doing predictable, often menial tasks, even if they are "white collar" workers staring at blinking colored pixels on a screen and tapping alphanumeric sequences on a keyboard into a document or database.

For More: Why Washington Is Misunderstood: Why Judgment Is Rare

Thank You,

Friday 23 January 2015

The Value of Reciprocity

Life is a two-way street and anyone successful, whether in a personal relationship or in business, and definitely in politics, learns to execute this principle without fail. 
There are people who act as if the person who asks them for a favor is committing a grave offense. Such people imagine they are above doing favors -- or at the very least, doing favors for you. The problem is that society is about trades, and many relationships are transactional. A non-trader, as it were, will only transaction with you if he "wins" the trade. Recognize this person as the non-reciprocator that he is. 
You are not and cannot ever build anything with this person. If he is a client prospect, consider whether his business is worth it, for these people are too often far more trouble than they're worth. If he is an employee, consider finding ways to get rid of him. That's what Human Resources is for -- to get rid of your problem employees! Your relationship with the non-trader will never be respectful, will never be symbiotic.
Win your encounters with the non-trader, and then avoid and shun him. Show no more respect than you're shown, and show neither hesitation nor mercy. Be decisive. Ships last long if they avoid icebergs.

Thank You.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

People Do Business with People

They say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.

I cannot but (finally and after having ruminated the question for years) wholeheartedly agree.

Some of my greatest ideas and projects went nowhere because I didn’t know the right people yet. And some complicated deals went ever so smoothly simply because I knew the “person in charge”.

In my 30 years in business, this famous quote that my father kept repeating to me ever since I was a teenager, is probably the single most potent business lesson that I have learnt.

At the end of the day and no matter what technological miracles are conceived, people do business with people.

The greatest deals in the world are sealed by a simple handshake (as some are broken over simple personal animosity).

We at Blackhawk Partners have carefully but surely been building our contact network the world over.

For More:  People Do Business with People

Thank you,

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Cronies: Flying The Friendly Skies And Revealing Insider Secrets To The Rest Of Us

Crony capitalism -- the skewed playing field and sometimes the "hidden" second set of rules -- is alive and well. Best of all, it's not even hidden. Thanks to government "sunshine" laws and a lot of other laws mandating public disclosure, a wealth of information is legally required to be disclosed, and you can find it if you know (or hire someone who knows) where to look.
As first reported in the website, a major commercial real estate broker, CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), on whose board sits Richard Blum, has landed the contract to find buyers for up to 56 properties held by the United States Postal Service. 
Now, if you're a competitor, maybe you're wondering how CBRE got that business. Particularly since the seller is a government entity. 
Maybe...just are some facts that will get you to ask some questions.

Thank You,

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Remember Albert Einstein?

Remember his famous quote “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones”?

I am afraid this is where we are headed unless of a miracle…

Since the 1990s, I’ve been studying the so-called “cycles of war” — the natural rhythms that predispose societies to descend into chaos, into hatred, into civil and even international war.

Although very few people are willing to even discuss the issue today, I foresee a major war happening within the next year in the Middle East which implications could be absolutely huge.

Yes it is all due to the global economic malaise we are experiencing the world over and the emboldening of the rogue states given our failed foreign policy in the Middle East over the last three decades.

It is a fact throughout history that currency wars lead to trade wars, which often lead to hot wars. The last time there was a series of competitive devaluations … it ended in world war two….remember?

For More:  Remember Albert Einstein?

Thank You,

Thursday 8 January 2015

Art of the Deal – The Rules of Negotiation

I negotiate with hundreds of people a year – both online and offline – haggling, whether it is with customers, suppliers, investors, or would-be employees.

I can humbly say I learned over the years to negotiate like a “true master” though we all sometimes get into trouble – when something careless just slips out.

Here are a few but priceless tips as to what to avoid if you are really keen on improving your negotiation skills.

1. Avoid the word “between.” It often feels reasonable—and therefore like progress—to throw out a range. With a customer, that may mean saying “I can do this for between $10,000 and $15,000.” With a potential hire, you could be tempted to say, “You can start between April 1 and April 15.”

But that word “between” tends to be tantamount to a concession, and any shrewd negotiator with whom you deal will swiftly zero-in on the cheaper price or the later deadline. In other words, you will find that by saying the word “between” you will automatically have conceded ground without extracting anything in return.

For More:  Art of the Deal – The Rules of Negotiation

Thank You,

Evaluating Crude Oil Prices - Ziad K Abdelnour

Having been in the physical trading of commodities on and off for over a decade now, I am stunned to see how many people – mostly brokers – who claim to trade oil derivatives know so very little if any about how crude oil prices are evaluated.

So for the sake of clarifying it all to everyone concerned, I thought of sharing this blog with all our readers in the hope they become more educated brokers and traders alike.

For all of those of you who still don’t know, there have been successive price regimes since the beginnings of the 20th Century.

1. Between 1930 and 1970, it was the so called “seven sisters pricing regime”, where the prices where controlled and posted by oil companies.

2. Then, until 1985, the prices were controlled by the producing countries, a period known as the OPEC pricing regime.

3. After a short period of netback pricing regime (crude oil price was tied to the price of refined products), the reference pricing regime was adopted. This is the system that we still use today.

For More: Evaluating Crude Oil Prices

Thank You, 

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Salvaging the US Shale Boom

Many oil analysts have attributed the recent increase in global oil supply to increased production from US shale producers, which has ramped up sharply in the last couple years.

Is the shale boom today on par with the dot-com boom or is it all a power play with OPEC to ensure US energy independence?

I believe OPEC's objective is to "clean up" the US shale market, and that oil prices will eventually rise - in my opinion though not before early 2016 - when OPEC completes its objective of cleaning up the American marginal market.

The more obvious losers in the current oil climate are Iran and Russia — the former of course being Saudi Arabia's archrival in the region, and the latter being no great friend of the Saudis' either.
Thank You,

Monday 5 January 2015

My 6 Top Geopolitical Predictions for 2015

If 2014 proved anything, it’s that guessing at the state of the world a year down the line is a vain or even slightly embarrassing endeavor.

Indeed, who could have expected a year ago that Russia would take over Crimea, ISIS would break out of Al Qaeda and declare a caliphate, the US would start bombing Syria and Iraq while approaching a nuclear deal with Iran, or that Ebola would ravaged three west African countries and scare the world?

Nevertheless and being a physical commodities trader deeply involved in and abreast of world affairs I thought I’d share with you my 6 top geopolitical predictions for 2015

For More: My 6 Top Geopolitical Predictions for 2015

Thank You,

Friday 2 January 2015

Is Free Market Capitalism Dead?

Americans have traditionally believed that the "invisible hand of the market" means that capitalism will benefit us all without requiring any oversight. However, the man (i.e. Adam Smith) who came up with the idea of the invisible hand did not believe in a magically benevolent market which operates for the benefit of all without any checks and balances:

Smith railed against monopolies and the political influence that accompanies economic power ...

Smith worried about the encroachment of government on economic activity, but his concerns were directed at least as much toward parish councils, church wardens, big corporations, guilds and religious institutions as to the national government; these institutions were part and parcel of 18th-century government...

Smith was sometimes tolerant of government intervention, 'especially when the object is to reduce poverty. Smith passionately argued, ''When the regulation, therefore, is in support of the workman, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favor of the masters.'' He saw a tacit conspiracy on the part of employers ''always and everywhere'' to keep wages as low as possible. 

Thank You,