Danilo Broggi

Smart thinking
The rise and fall of an electric drill

The sharing economy used to hold so much promise. 
But like many high-minded ideas, the reality of economic profit risks tarnishing an undoubtedly great way of making our lives more efficient.

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The hazards of smartphone finance

A computer in your pocket makes many things easier, including playing the financial markets. But there are now risky instruments available, which are effectively scams, and regulators are still lagging behind the technology.

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Sharing economy or shakedown economy?

Just because a business makes your life easier through technology and originated in sunny Silicon Valley, doesn’t mean there aren’t any areas of darkness being unwittingly fed by investors.

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What makes incompetent people so self-assured

It’s a vicious circle. If we’re ignorant and incompetent, then we lack the knowledge or skill to judge ourselves accurately. So to compensate we cling to those who think and perform like us.

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No work and all play, is it the best way?

Utopia may be closer than we think. Some researchers are giving serious consideration to the idea of everyone getting paid for doing nothing. Impossible? Despite evidence to the contrary, some say it might be a good idea.

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9-9-6, or working to death

Healthy ambition can be a good thing. But contemporary societies are having to deal with the unhealthy variety. Too much work can seriously harm overzealous employees and employers – even kill them.

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Italy: the urgent need to reverse course

The wealth gap keeps widening while the middle classes have seen their incomes stall or shrink. With children now poorer than their parents, the ground is fertile for populist resentment. 

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The best of city living

Living in urban areas has its advantages. That’s why cities have become magnets for young talents. But what exactly makes one city a better place to live, and which cities are the most livable?

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Pokemon Go: only a game?

To enjoy the next big thing in the internet revolution, you don’t just sit and stare at your device. Rather, you hunt through a vast area of augmented reality, chasing figures superimposed onto your ordinary surroundings.

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Helicopter money: look out below!

One easy solution to spur the stagnant economy would be to drop cash directly on people from a helicopter. That way they’ll immediately run out and buy things. Or will they?

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Crunching the numbers

Have the Brexiters done the math with respect to leaving the EU? Recent studies show that if the UK opts out of the Union, it will be a lose-lose proposition.

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The one-percent's offshore blues

The Panama Papers have blown the lid off a phenomenon everyone knew existed. Could this serve as the impetus for addressing the issue of hidden wealth hoarded in tax havens?

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Italiano, music to the world's ears

 The language of Dante and opera has seen a resurgence among foreign students. is interest, combined with a substantial Italian diaspora, has created opportunities for seducing the world with the sweet Italian tongue.

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Small giants in the market turmoil

Despite difficult economic times, or perhaps because of them, new spaces are opening up for investments that circumvent traditional banking channels and could spur smaller, more dynamic companies.

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Still far from ( fiscal ) paradise

Evading taxes by deftly choosing jurisdictions is becoming increasingly difficult. Still, there are some companies that are hard to pin down to any specific geographical location. 

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New threats to business

Business models are changing. But if that were the only problem, then entrepreneurs would have it easy. The biggest problem, in fact, may come from changes in regulation that these new types of business induce.

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What a country is worth

Gone are the days when a nation’s wealth was determined by GDP. Now we need to take the intangibles into account and evaluate what a nation’s brand is worth.

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The (false) Rheingold

The Volkswagen emissions scandal is proof that capitalism only works if the game is played according to a set of rules that benefits both the system and the individuals who make it work.
 

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Chinese shadows

Everyone knew the runaway growth couldn’t go on indefinitely. Now the question is weather the Chinese leadership can manage a soft landing, or if things have already started to spin out of control.

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Think of me intensely

Communication in the future will be more than just pressing a few buttons and talking into a piece of plastic. Through virtual reality, we will soon be able to share our most intimate emotions with the world telepathically.

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McDonald’s and (de)globalization

Once the symbol of how the Western lifestyle and the free market would gently conquer the world, McDonald’s golden arches are no longer a talisman against war. Globalization is no longer a value in itself.

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Money can’t buy you happiness

The Unites States is a country with an astonishing wealth gap. Now there is a movement to raise the minimum wage, and a host of high-profile figures are joining.

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Vying for (north) pole position

To some it may seem a wasteland, but to many hyperborean governments the area around the North Pole could hold untold treasures. So now there is a race to lay claims to the seabed.

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The rising shale bubble

The shale gas revolution has drastically affected both energy prices and the energy balance of power. But the very effects of the revolution may lead to shale gas’s own undoing.

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Profit is not all it’s cracked up to be

The obsession with return on investment for shareholders may seriously sabotage the world economy. Now a host of voices are rising up to challenge what for so long has been understood to be common business sense.

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YouInc: a hired gun for anything

Thanks to the advent of smartphone apps, getting and selling freelance work has never been easier. However, there are still many problems to be worked out.

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Who’s afraid of the giants?

Many Europeans would like to break up Google simply because it is better than the competition – even though it benefits consumers. Europeans would be better off encouraging the kind of innovation Google embodies. 

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Like salmon swimming upstream

Businesses that have experimented with offshoring are now returning to their roots. For manufacturing powers, this is good news, and more efforts will be needed to bring the wayward companies home.

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Minding the wealth gap

The debate over economic inequality has been reignited. Various proposals to alleviate the situation have been proposed, but there are fears they will all lead to a form of wealth redistribution.

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The Third Industrial Revolution

Advances in technology are giving us the means to produce things individually, with much less intermediation by huge factories and the corporations required to sustain them.

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Lessons from failure

The high-tech industry is a perfect example of the need to fail, even often, in order to finally achieve the success that all new entrepreneurs dream of. In fact, we may be seeing the rise of a culture of failure.

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What’s mine is yours

The sharing economy revolution is proving to be an excellent way of optimizing goods and services. Nevertheless, there are still those who are resistant to the seemingly irreversible trend.

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Future shopping with crypto-currency

Soon the days of paper money and credit cards will become a relic of the past. With the advent of new currencies and wearable technology, the line between desire and purchase may gradually dissolve.

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­­­Mobility challenge

Moving around in cities can involve any number of modes of transport. Integrating those that require massive investment with those that incentivize people to do things differently will be the key to sustainability.

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Brand strategies

Gone are the days when a company could convey to consumers the image it wanted of itself. Now brands have to slalom through countless opinions and information sources to manage their reputations.

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When average is over

The middle class is getting squeezed. As a result, companies catering to high- and low-end consumers are benefitting. Those in the middle must hone their positions or adapt with more drastic changes.

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Video killed the radio star?

Some pleasures can’t be entirely snuffed out by technological advances. For music lovers, LPs are finding a niche in a world of downloads, offering hope for the future of newspapers.

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The urban sprawl

The spread of cities into territory shaped by automobile traffic is an ineluctable phenomenon. But to avoid wasted resources and landscape blight, some form of intelligent planning is necessary.

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Innovation and human capital

Europe needs to encourage research and development in its industries. Only that way will it spur the innovation that is indispensible to competitiveness in a global economy.

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Participatory innovation

The future belongs to crowds. A new paradigm of innovation through sheer numbers is poised to change how we see all the disruptive technological advances transforming our lives.

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Spanning the digital divide

Italy is lagging behind in information and communications technology. Unless it closes that gap, it will be doomed to a lack of competitiveness that will undermine its traditionally dynamic economy.

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Microcredit 2.0

Originally developed to help impoverished populations, microcredit is now being used to help small but innovative entrepreneurs obtain investment capital.

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Five euros for every student

As austerity measures take hold, public universities will inevitably be hit. Cuts in the university system, however, may create a vicious circle of talent leaving the country for places where research is better funded and jobs more plentiful.

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Below the surface

 

The internet we know is just the tip of an iceberg. Lurking beneath the websites we surf on a regular basis  is an obscure, somewhat scary world of shadowy anonymity we have yet
to come to grips with.

 
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Fair play in the corporate world

While some may consider “business ethics” to be an oxymoron, there is no getting around the fact that all companies are social entities and must operate as a community within a greater community. Hence, ethics are indispensible.

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Tweeticians

Just because a politician has a Facebook or Twitter presence doesn’t mean he or she is engaging the electorate in a conversation. In fact, most still use it as a high-tech megaphone. The power of social media is to draw people into the political process through discussion.

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Stopping the brain drain

Having students go abroad is a positive dynamic for most countries. Problems arise when those students see no reason to return to their homes because of lack of opportunity. Investment in higher education and research is the key.

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From Bach to bebop

The symphony orchestra is fine metaphor for how a business should be run. But the jazz band is a better one, because jazz’s emphasis on improvisational skills are more suited to our complex and dynamic times.

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Renaissance redux

There is a long tradition in Italy of innovation and creativity. Italian manufactured products have long reflected this. What’s needed now is a radically new kind of ingenuity.

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Obscured by the cloud

Not long ago, the big buzzword in IT circles was “the cloud.” Everyone was talking about cloud computing. But did anyone really understand what it was or how it would change the IT scene compared to when the skies were clear?

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Aggregate or perish

Italy and Spain’s manufacturing has long been based on small-scale operations. But current economic conditions are forcing both countries to consider a policy that encourages aggregation.

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People of Europe, connect!

If Europe wants to stay competitive, it needs to change its perspective on doing business. The best place to start is in the media and communications industry.

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Sticks vs. carrots

Everyone is familiar with penalties and fines for behavior deemed detrimental to society. But what if instead of punishment we were to reward virtuous behavior with bonuses?

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Banks, companies and the credit crunch

If the economy is to grow, then businesses will need to borrow money. But as a result of the economic crisis banks have become stingier with credit. What the economy needs is for banks to get back into the credit business.

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Research and business

Europe, particularly the countries on the southern rim, is falling behind in innovation. The result is a lack of competitiveness. More integration between research institutions and businesses is one of the first steps to regaining its lost position.

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Diplomacy Inc.

In times when domestic demand falls off and businesses need to rely on exports, countries must help their companies develop abroad. The diplomatic apparatus is well suited to facilitating such development.

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Turn on, log in, and learn

As the Information Revolution gains traction, schools must adapt if they are to achieve the goals of preparing students for the world. It is essential that the education system embrace new technologies and foster continuing innovation.

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University gets down to business

The ivory towers of academia served European society well over the centuries. But with the advent of a knowledge-based economy, universities now need to integrate with the business world to close a detrimental gap.

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The art of sharing knowledge

The management consultancy sector may have slowed down during the crisis, but the need for spurring growth and efficiency, especially in Europe, makes it more necessary than ever.

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Integrity and innovation: Europe’s new challenge

It is possible, in this increasingly technological age, to have one without the other; but when combined, integrity multiplies the capacity for innovation, and vice versa. Policy makers need to commit to a strategy that encourages exactly such a synergy.

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Getting government online

Computerizing public administration is not merely about introducing technology to sclerotic bureaucracies. An innovative approach to organization must first be implemented.

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Still selling abroad

Despite the recession and lack of support structures, Italy is still a leading exporter. Only now it’s aiming at the more dynamic markets.

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A summer of metastasizing finance

Once a means of facilitating investment, the financial system has become a profit-making end in itself. An array of esoteric financial instruments compounded by sheer speed have left businesses and governments absorbed in staunching a relationship with markets that has gone awry.

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Bringing small businesses to the market

Economies that are driven by small and medium-sized companies are often discouraged from being listed on the stock market. A few structural changes, however, could benefit both the businesses and investors.

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The fine art of Public-Private Partnerships

As governments tighten their belts, public-private partnerships offer a flywheel for economic growth. Combining private sector efficiency with a citizen-centered approach, this new solution can spur an array of projects from water management to new roads.

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Smoking billions

A new auction-based European Emission Trading Scheme will supplant a system of permits determined by historical emissions output. The EU foresees a gradual implementation, during which the details of a multi-billion euro industry can be worked out.

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Tell us what you need

Corporate Social Responsibility is a frequently heard buzzword in press releases and management seminars. What it often boils down to, though, is simply listening to the needs and desires of individuals and making an effort to accommodate them.

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Virtual threats are real dangers

The spread of the internet has transformed our lives and our economies. And there is no turning back – not unless we are forced backwards by a cyber-attack. Clearly, the more we become dependent on such a vulnerable system, the more we need to take steps to keep it secure.

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Business betting on risk, again

For many years risk capital from outside investors was shunned among Italy’s small and medium-sized enterprises. But recently the driving force of Italy’s economy has begun to welcome private equity firms.

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Having your cake and eating it too

Sustainable development and economic growth have long been considered mutually exclusive goals – the former a sacrifice for the latter. Now a host of factors are proving such a view to be wrong.

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Building on e-governance

The Middle East and North Africa region should be seen as a building site for the promotion of administrative innovation and integration