Conscious DecouplingQcy我爱范文库

A new book explains how managers struggle with changing customer behaviorQcy我爱范文库

Think about the companies like Uber and Airbnb that have burst through into public consciousness in the past ten years. While many of them depend on the internet, their success is not down to any particular technological innovation of their own design. Instead, their secret lies in their business model.Qcy我爱范文库

Thales Teixeira of the Harvard Business School argues that the principle that underlies a lot of these models is called decoupling. In his book “Unlocking the Customer Value Chain”, he explains how this concept applies across a wide range of industries.Qcy我爱范文库

Buying a product will involve at least four stages. First, customers will evaluate the items available; then they will choose one or two; then they will buy them; finally they will consume them. In the traditional model, the first three took place inside a single retail store. Customers would look at the TVs or dishwashers on offer, pick one they liked with a price they could afford, pay at the till and then take the item home or arrange for the retailer to deliver it.Qcy我爱范文库

These steps are all part of what Mr Teixeira calls the “customer value chain”. Disrupters have muscled in on some parts of this chain. One example is the practice of “showrooming”. Shoppers enter an electrical store like Best Buy and examine what’s on offer. But instead of purchasing the item in the store, they buy it online. Amazon has even created an app allowing customers to scan a product’s bar code, or take its picture, and discover its online price. The selection of products has been decoupled from their purchase.Qcy我爱范文库

Other examples of the decoupling process cited by Mr Teixeira include Zipcar, where driving a car is separated from purchasing and maintaining it; TiVo, where watching TV is delinked from sitting through ads; and Birchbox, where customers are sent samples of beauty products, eliminating the need to visit a store to try them.Qcy我爱范文库

This is not, as the author points out, a particularly new idea. Budget airlines like Ryanair have long since decoupled flying from the services and amenities that usually accompanied it. Passengers have to pay separately for the extras, like seat selection and the carrying of baggage. Other airlines have followed suit.Qcy我爱范文库

Customer services have for some time been disrupted by a trend with the ugly name of disintermediation, the cutting out of middlemen. Most holidays are now purchased directly, rather than via travel agents; shares are bought via low-commission services, rather than through advisory stockbrokers. New entrants can gain market share if they can offer customers a lower cost or greater convenience. Decoupling doesn’t subtract middlemen but still results in lower costs to the consumer.Qcy我爱范文库

The beauty of the decoupling approach is that the only limit to innovation is imagination, rather than technical brilliance. For example, Mr Teixeira cites Trov, a company which allows customers to buy insurance solely for specific items for specific periods of time. If you want to insure your latest smart phone for a two-week holiday, you can do so; and then insure it again for a weekend trip later in the year. The need for insurance is decoupled from the hassle of buying an annual policy.Qcy我爱范文库

Suppose that you like a restaurant’s ambience, but not its food. In theory, you could book a table but order the food from elsewhere, paying separately for the service and the cooking. If 3D printers become ubiquitous, design and manufacture could be decoupled, with consumers paying for the digital blueprint.Qcy我爱范文库

Mr Teixeira argues that decoupling is a customer-driven phenomenon-bottom-up rather than top-down. Successful businesses will spot how consumer tastes are shifting, and that may involve looking at other industries as well as their own. For example, they can look at the success of Netflix’s subscription-based model; what works for TV programmes may also work for other goods and services. Already, there are companies that will deliver socks or perfume on a regular basis, decoupling this from a trip to the mall.Qcy我爱范文库

The challenge for existing managers is that they must worry about more than whether their overall costs are lower than those of their immediate rivals. If a part of their process is inefficient, or inconvenient for consumers, the decouplers may well grab hold of it.Qcy我爱范文库















How Birdwatchers, Others Can Help Migrating Bird PopulationsQcy我爱范文库

The kinds of birds coming through your neighborhood are probably changing, and so is the timing of their migrations.Qcy我爱范文库

Birdwatchers noticing these differences are playing a big part in understanding how climate change and severe weather events are affecting bird populations.Qcy我爱范文库

John Rowden is director of community conservation at the National Audubon Society, which aims to protect birds and their environments. He said, “Birders have to be much more alert to when birds are coming through than they used to be, since birds may be coming through much earlier or much later…”Qcy我爱范文库

Birdwatchers are increasingly seeing birds in their area that are usually found elsewhere, Rowden says. And, they are seeing fewer of the birds that usually travel through.Qcy我爱范文库

“... Just because we’ve seen these birds year after year doesn’t mean they’ll always be there. They are declining in numbers because we’re throwing so many things at them, so we need to do what we can to help them,” Rowden said.考生如果怕自己错过考试成绩查询的话,可以 免费预约短信提醒,届时会以短信的方式提醒大家报名和考试时间。Qcy我爱范文库

At least 314 species of American birds are expected to lose 50 percent or more of their range by the end of the century. Those species are listed by the Audubon Society as climate-threatened or endangered, Rowden added.Qcy我爱范文库

A United Nations science report issued Monday says 1 million species of plants and animals are at risk of disappearing from Earth.Qcy我爱范文库

Scientists who issued the report blamed development that has led to loss of habitat as well as climate change, overfishing, pollution and invasive species.Qcy我爱范文库

Environmentalists say there are a few easy steps people can take to help struggling bird populations. These include planting native species, which leads to more native insects for the birds to eat.Qcy我爱范文库

The Audubon Society’s Plants for Birds website provides plant suggestions for people in the United States, based on where they live in the country.Qcy我爱范文库

During spring and fall migration seasons, people can help migrating birds by keeping outdoor lights turned off and covering reflective surfaces like large windows. People also should make indoor plants less visible to passing birds.Qcy我爱范文库

The Audubon Society also runs a community science program called Climate Watch. It aims to collect data on how bird ranges – or the places they are found – are changing. Rowden says the program asks people to count the numbers of each species they see. The program goes from May 15 to June 15.Qcy我爱范文库

Geoff LeBaron, director of the Christmas Bird Count at the National Audubon Society, says he has seen the effects of climate change firsthand.Qcy我爱范文库

“I’ve been a birder since I was a little kid,” he said. “It’s clear that climate change is affecting and will continue to affect birds on a global scale, and it’s a question of whether or not they can adapt to what the climate is throwing at them.”Qcy我爱范文库

Record droughts, floods, hurricanes and more are having a major effect, he said. Hurricanes usually happen during migration season, LeBaron noted. They have an especially big effect on sea birds, whose migration paths might change by thousands of kilometers as a result.Qcy我爱范文库

Experts say sea birds and grasslands birds are most at risk from climate disasters. Birds known as aerial insectivores are also at risk because the insects they eat are getting harder to find.Qcy我爱范文库



















Global Impact: Nowhere to HideQcy我爱范文库


China’s newest export is its financial system, for good and for illQcy我爱范文库


Some of the finest infrastructure to be found between Singapore and Dubai lies in the south of Sri Lanka, close to the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean. Broad highways connect a deep-sea harbour to a silvery, angular convention centre and, further inland, to an elegant airport terminal with vaulted wooden ceilings. But it does not take long for visitors to see that something is awry. Wild peacocks scampering across the roads easily outnumber the people using the state-of-the-art facilities. The port sees less than a ship per day and the airport, which has been open for three years, no longer offers regular flights. The Sri Lankan government’s debt on the complex runs to at least $1.5 billion, or nearly 2% of the country’s GDP. And almost all of that is owed to Chinese banks.Qcy我爱范文库


Sri Lankan officials are careful not to blame China for the mess. It was the previous president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who wanted all these facilities built near his home town of Hambantota, even though there was little commercial justification for them. But privately they feel that the lender must also bear responsibility. Were it not for Chinese banks extending vast amounts of credit with minimal safeguards, Sri Lanka would never have been saddled with these debts. Moreover, the Chinese banks charged unusually high interest rates on at least some of the loans. The term “odious lending” comes to mind, says a Sri Lankan government adviser. Partly because of its debt load and big looming repayments, Sri Lanka turned to the International Monetary Fund this year for a bail-out.Qcy我爱范文库


Tracking the ways in which the Chinese financial system affects the global financial system is far from straightforward. Since China is the world’s biggest trading nation, the fate of its economy clearly affects most of the globe. The slowdown in its construction industry has already battered commodity exporters from Mongolia to Brazil. But direct financial connections between China and the rest of the world are much more limited. In China, itself regulations cap the involvement of foreign institutions, and Chinese banks, insurers and brokerages have been remarkably diffident about expanding abroad. Nevertheless, the promise and the problems of China’s financial sector are rippling beyond its borders.Qcy我爱范文库


As Sri Lanka can attest, one crucial, if often overlooked, linkage is China’s funding for other emerging markets. At the end of last year, the combined overseas loan book of China’s two leading development lenders, China Development Bank and Export-Import Bank of China, reached $550 billion, a multiple of the World Bank’s roughly $150 billion. Some of that lending has gone to Chinese firms doing business abroad, but the bulk has been for governments and companies in developing countries.Qcy我爱范文库


A great deal?Qcy我爱范文库


It might seem churlish to criticise China for lending to poor countries, but loans are not gifts. The recipients have to repay them, so it is fair to ask whether they are getting a good deal. The evidence is mixed. China’s money has built many useful things, including power stations, roads, dams and railways across Africa, Latin America and South Asia. It has also offered a lifeline to emerging markets suffering capital outflows. Last year, China’s two development banks lent $29 billion to hard-hit Latin American governments, three times as much as in 2014, according to the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think-tank.Qcy我爱范文库


But Chinese money is part of what got these countries into trouble in the first place. Its development banks have exported some of the worst excesses of the Chinese financial system: lending out huge dollops of cash with few strings attached, other than that Chinese contractors must do much of the construction. In the case of the airport and port in southern Sri Lanka, officials say there was insufficient analysis of their viability and no competitive bidding. “Would it have been bad to insist on these conditions? These are things we needed to do,” says Harsha de Silva, a critic of the original loans who is now deputy foreign minister. Allegations of corruption and waste have also followed Chinese loans around from Pakistan to Angola, Ecuador and Venezuela.Qcy我爱范文库

不过,中国的贷款也是这些国家当初陷入困境的原因之一。其开发银行向外输出的是中国金融系统中严重过剩的资金:大笔的现金贷款,除了要求大部分的建设工程由中国企业承包以外,几乎没什么附加条件。以斯里兰卡南部的机场和港口为例,政府官员说这两个项目没有进行充分的可行性分析,也没有竞争性招标。现任斯里兰卡外交部副部长的哈沙德•席尔瓦对当初的贷款持批评态度,“当初坚持这些要求难道不对吗?这些本来就是我们该做的。”从巴基斯坦到安哥拉,从厄瓜多尔到委内瑞拉,中国贷款所到之处,对当地政府腐败和浪费的指控如影随形。 There are some signs that China wants to mend its ways. It has started being tougher on loan recipients, and is hoping to emulate the World Bank’s best practices in running the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a multilateral lender it established last year. Yet the legacy of the past decade is that a number of poor countries are now deeply in debt to China, sometimes with little to show for it. China, to its credit, has so far been accommodating to those in trouble, extending maturities and providing new financing. But if China itself hits the skids and loses more foreign-currency reserves, it will have fewer dollars to spare for others. That would make the outlook for those already in hock to China even grimmer.Qcy我爱范文库

有迹象表明,中国意欲改变贷款方式。先是对贷款对象国提出了更严格的要求,同时也希望效仿世行的最佳实践来管理亚洲基础设施投资银行——亚投行是中国去年成立一个多边贷款机构。然而过去十年的遗留问题在于,数个向中国借款的穷国已经债台高筑,而且有时拿到贷款却毫无建树。值得赞扬的是,到目前为止,中国对那些深陷泥潭的国家还算义气,延长了债务期限,并提供新资金。但是如果中国遇上麻烦,有更多的外汇储备流失,能给别国用的美元就不多了。果真如此,已经深陷中国债务泥潭的国家的前景就将更加暗淡。Tiny, but not for longQcy我爱范文库


For advanced economies, the picture looks very different. Chinese banks have only a minor presence there, so the dangers of a China-led credit crunch are much smaller. At the end of last year overseas loans by Chinese commercial banks totalled just $410 billion, less than half the loan portfolio of Wells Fargo, America’s largest bank by market value. Chinese banks have been wary about making international acquisitions after ill-timed investments by China Investment Corp, a sovereign-wealth fund, just before the global financial crisis. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s $690m purchase of the London-based trading unit of South Africa’s Standard Bank is one of the most ambitious overseas forays by a Chinese bank ever – yet it is worth less than 0.03% of ICBC’s assets.Qcy我爱范文库


Whatever happens to the domestic economy, it seems inevitable that Chinese financial institutions will increase their weight in developed markets in the coming years. If growth in China holds up well, they will have even more cash to deploy abroad; if their own economy stumbles, they will have an extra incentive to look abroad. For now, less than 3% of Chinese banks’ 102 trillion yuan in loans are in foreign currencies. Just serving Chinese companies as they venture abroad will ensure a big increase: they have accounted for nearly a third of all global cross-border M&A deals so far this year, according to Dealogic. Of Chinese insurers’ 13 trillion yuan in assets, a mere 2% are currently overseas. Insurers are starting to grab headlines with their overseas investments, such as Ping An’s acquisition of the Lloyd’s building, a London landmark, and Anbang’s bid for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, owner of the Sheraton and Westin brands. More are sure to follow.Qcy我爱范文库


In some ways, this is to be welcomed. Over the past 15 years China has transformed earnings from its trade surplus into foreign-exchange reserves, most of which in turn were stashed away in American government bonds, which are safe but low-yielding. Foreign investment and overseas acquisitions, if well managed, are a more productive use of China’s savings.Qcy我爱范文库


Yet these outbound forays also harbour serious dangers. In the vanguard are state-owned enterprises, many of which are already leveraged to the hilt at home. Take ChemChina, a chemicals giant that bid $44 billion for Syngenta, a Swiss rival, earlier this year. If approved, this will be China’s biggest overseas takeover in history. Yet ChemChina’s debt-to-equity ratio is 234%; Syngenta’s is a much more conservative 44%.Qcy我爱范文库


In normal circumstances, banks might be reluctant to fund companies already carrying so much debt. But Chinese banks are only too willing to back SOEs, especially when international expansion is part of their national mission. Foreign banks, too, assume that government support for SOEs is rock-solid. These deals are spreading China Inc’s indebtedness to foreign markets; the balance-sheets of its acquisition targets will become much more vulnerable to a downturn in growth.Qcy我爱范文库


Mercifully, direct global exposure to the dangers within China’s financial system is still small for now. That is thanks in large part to a regulatory wall around the economy: foreigners can own no more than 20% of local banks, and can invest in stocks and banks only through strictly controlled channels. As a result, foreign investors own just around 1% of the Chinese stock market and even less of the bond market.Qcy我爱范文库


International banks, for their part, account for only 1.5% of total commercial bank assets in China. More than half of those assets are concentrated in the hands of three institutions: HSBC, Standard Chartered and Singapore’s OCBC Wing Hang, according to KPMG. Several others, including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citi, previously had large investments in Chinese banks but sold them for chunky profits in recent years.Qcy我爱范文库


For foreign banks with big operations in China, its slowdown clearly poses risks. Standard Chartered got a taste of that in 2014, when it set aside about $175m to cover losses incurred in lending to a Chinese trading company, which had pledged the same stockpile of metals as collateral many times over to different banks. That scandal also dragged in Citi, HSBC and others. But they have generally been careful, partly because they have no alternative. Chinese banks, with their deeper local connections and rapid lending, have scooped up the vast majority of domestic clients, including the most indebted ones. Foreign banks, by and large, still serve international companies, which are among the safest borrowers in China. “The joy of being a drop in the ocean is that you can choose your drop in the ocean,” jokes one foreign veteran.Qcy我爱范文库


The next few years could bring dramatic changes on multiple fronts. Regulators have opened new channels for foreigners to invest in stocks, creating a link between the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges; another link to the Shenzhen exchange is also in the works. As part of making the yuan a more global currency, China is also opening its bond market to institutional investors.Qcy我爱范文库


And some foreign banks want a bigger foothold, believing that China’s growth prospects outweigh its risks. International bank lending to Chinese residents in mid-2015 amounted to $1.2 trillion, close to an all-time high and more than three times the 2010 figure, according to the Bank for International Settlements. HSBC, the biggest foreign bank in China, considered shifting its global headquarters to Hong Kong earlier this year, though in the end stayed put in London. Even those firms that want to insulate themselves from China will find it difficult to resist the gravitational pull of the world’s second-largest economy. “For serious investors, it’s no longer optional to be here,” says Eugene Qian, China head for UBS.Qcy我爱范文库


Many are still holding off, believing that Chinese growth and the yuan have further to fall. But it is only a matter of time before major benchmarks such as the MSCI world equity index start to incorporate Chinese stocks and bonds. As that happens, funds from university endowments in California to pension providers in Sweden will follow their lead, adding onshore Chinese assets to their portfolios. Based on their current trajectory, China’s capital markets could be the world’s biggest within a decade. “Investors in America won’t be able to go to bed without knowing where China is trading,” says Luke Spajic of the Asian arm of Pimco, a giant fund manager. The pace may vary but the trend seems inexorable: Chinese and global financial systems are becoming intertwined. With each passing year, China’s problems will increasingly be the world’s problems.Qcy我爱范文库





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