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Capitalism is in crisis. To save it, we need to rethink economic growth.

Capitalism is in crisis. To save it, we need to rethink economic growth.

That mindless growth, Hickel and his fellow degrowth believers contend, is very bad both for the planet and for our spiritual well-being. We need, Hickel writes, to develop “new theories of being” and rethink our place in the “living world.” (Hickel goes on about intelligent plants and their ability to communicate, which is both controversial botany and confusing economics.) It’s tempting to dismiss it all as being more about social engineering of our lifestyles than about actual economic reforms. 

Though Hickel, an anthropologist, offers a few suggestions (“cut advertising” and “end planned obsolescence”), there’s little about the practical steps that would make a no-growth economy work. Sorry, but talking about plant intelligence won’t solve our woes; it won’t feed hungry people or create well-paying jobs. 

Still, the degrowth movement does have a point: faced with climate change and the financial struggles of many workers, capitalism isn’t getting it done. 

Slow growth

Even some economists outside the degrowth camp, while not entirely rejecting the importance of growth, are questioning our blind devotion to it. 

One obvious factor shaking their faith is that growth has been lousy for decades. There have been exceptions to this economic sluggishness—the US during the late 1990s and early 2000s and developing countries like China as they raced to catch up. But some scholars, notably Robert Gordon, whose 2016 book The Rise and Fall of American Growth triggered much economic soul-searching, are realizing that slow growth might be the new normal, not some blip, for much of the world. 

Gordon held that growth “ended on October 16, 1973, or thereabouts,” write MIT economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, who won the 2019 Nobel Prize, in Good Economics for Hard Times. Referencing Gordon, they single out the day when the OPEC oil embargo began; GDP growth in

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Three Ways Insurance Companies Need To Rethink The Role Of Agents

Three Ways Insurance Companies Need To Rethink The Role Of Agents

Founder and CEO of SmartFinancial.com: on a mission to make the insurance buying process more efficient.

It used to be that if you asked someone who they’re insured with, they’d give you their insurance agent’s name. Billions of dollars in advertising later, people now name their carrier and barely remember the agent that signed them on. Meanwhile, the brick and mortar agencies are waning in importance, and companies like Nationwide are moving to a virtual workforce model. In my role as a CEO overseeing an insurance-technology platform, I’ve observed one thing that remains the same despite all the confusing shifts over the past few decades: Insurance agents are still the primary sales channel for insurers.

Even though carriers can communicate directly with consumers at a lower cost, insurance agents who bring profitable business to carriers are a valued and integral part of the insurance distribution chain. Here’s how future trends will likely shape the carrier-agent-customer relationship and what carriers can do to stay ahead of the curve.

1. Support agents in their role as advisers.

We see a future where insurance agents become more specialized in various niche insurance products. Agents will bring more value to the relationship with the customer by understanding and explaining coverage options on more complex policies. The agent’s role will also become much more of an advisory role that goes beyond the traditional aim of selling insurance products. Because agents are on the front lines serving customers, they will be expected to demonstrate expertise, not only about the insurance products they sell, but also the many ancillary services that insurance carriers are increasingly offering to add value to their insurance products. Car loans, home loans, cybersecurity prevention and other services will become standard package offerings. And someone has to service them. That’s why it’s

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