THE HOYOS FILE: Escaping the intoxicating world of ‘As If’
Sometimes, there is just no letting up in the world of business. This past week proves my point – as Banks used to say – “exactly”.
I mean, despite all the intractable no-win political situations around the globe, sometimes the often staid and, okay, I admit, slightly dull business scene can erupt, like a volcano lighting up the night sky.
We began with new iPhones and the new Apple Watch, plus what Apple is touting as the first successful way to use a smartphone as a credit card (we shall see), then followed with Alibaba’s initial public offering setting a record, not only in hype to rival Apple’s, but in actual monetary value, and along the way we noted sustained economic performances over several quarters in Britain and the United States, two of our major tourism markets.
And if that were not enough, there was that nail-biting Scottish referendum.
What does that, you say, have to do with business? Well, apart from the understandable wish of the Scots to have much more say in their own affairs (which is going to be the upshot of this vote despite the loss for the Yes campaign), it was really all about the business side of things.
You couldn’t read or listen to any discussion of the issue without hearing what it meant for business – how the banks would do, how Scottish companies might face having to suddenly export to England and Wales, and at the bottom of it all, how North Sea oil revenues would help, or not help, a newly-independent Scotland.
I am still so embroiled in retracing the key points of all of these issues that you will please forgive any loss of sticking to one theme this week. Sometimes the actual experience of it all happening at the same time is the real take-away.
Here are the brief headlines:
ITEM: Alibaba, the e-commerce company started in 1999 with US$60 000 put together together by Jack Ma and his friends, has raised US$21.8 billion in a US initial public offering (IPO), on the sale of around 13 per cent of Alibaba’s shares – 320 million, in fact – for US$68 each.
That price, which was true to the market prediction, values Alibaba at US$167.6 billion, and made the IPO the largest by any company in US history.
But Ma and his friends were helped, says Bloomberg, by a stock market that is starting to grow way beyond expectations, producing, in fact, “an almost non-stop rally in shares in the US – where about US$15 trillion has been added to the value of equities amid three rounds of monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve,” leading to an expanding economy and record profits.
ITEM: Apple stores attracted long lines of shoppers in many countries when the latest iPhones went on sale recently. The iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus became available in nine major markets, including Australia, Japan, France, Germany, Canada and the US.
Apple’s iPhone range generates more than half of the company’s annual revenue of US$171 billion and the company is counting on it to maintain its growth. Meanwhile, Samsung immediately embarked on a campaign accusing Apple of copying its ideas and promising its own earth-shaking event next month.
ITEM: Scottish voters turned out in their numbers on September 18 and stepped back from the brink of ending their country’s 307-year-old union with England and Wales. The no campaign won the referendum by a comfortable margin.
But the yes campaign scored a handful of notable successes, despite the no camp winning victories in some areas that could have gone to the yes campaign.
So, seizing the moment, Prime Minister David Cameron explained his plan to execute a proposal, which former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown called ‘Home Rule within the UK,’ to increase the Scottish parliament’s powers.
Cameron’s government does not want to create demand for a second referendum, as happened in Canada – you know, the one that nearly led to Quebec going it alone in 1995.
And that was only the half of it. All of this actual doing of things provided a colourful contrast to Barbados, where politicians take victory laps for what they are looking at doing, or plan to pass into law soon, or for things which we are told we can take for granted as done despite that tiny little problem of actually doing it.
And, of course, the ever-increasing number of projects – those about to start, those in the process of being negotiated, and those in the pipeline somewhere between idea and reality – is guaranteed to expand the mind, which like the Cloud, must keep adding storage space to hold it all.
Living in an economy being run on the intoxicating fumes of the “As If” fragrance, that sweet, mind-altering nectar of a perfume made up entirely of politicians’ hopes, dreams and imaginary deeds, it was something of a refresher (borrowing a legal term) to at least vicariously live for a few days in a world where things really actually, truly, and, without a doubt, do happen.