Strive to Find Your Voice

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Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!

John Keating (Robin Williams), Dead Poets’ Society

“Do you know what you are?
You are a manuscript oƒ a divine letter.
You are a mirror reflecting a noble face.
This universe is not outside of you.
Look inside yourself;
everything that you want,
you are already that.”

Rumi, the Sufi Poet

Today I met an American poet, Drew Dellinger, over dinner. Someone asked him what inspired him to call himself a poet. Previously he had been a songwriter and also taught at a University. I guess over time, like many of us he had lots of hints at what his mission was in this life. There was a shift in consciousness when he realised that Dante was a poet, and it wasn’t as narrow and niche a field as he thought. Then one day he read a poem by  Rumi wrote and it shook him to the core. Unlike many of us, he acted upon his intuition, risked failure, and he is now a recognised poet.  I tried to look up the poem after our meeting. I wonder whether it was this one.

“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.”

I am always inspired by those that dare to lead “extraordinary lives” as John Keating (Robin Williams) said in the Dead Poets’ Society, a film that always resonated with me deeply.  Most of us are too afraid of what others think. We are terrified of failure. I know that I was, still am perhaps at times? When we are babies, it’s OK to fall over several thousand times before we walk. But somewhere through our childhood the education system, the media and our parents condition us in to this fear  – and for some of us terror! We become so attached to what others think, we lose touch with our own feelings, senses, impressions and imagination. One of my favourite scenes in the movie is when John Keating instructs all of his students to rip out the forward of the textbook on poetry. His message was to have a direct experience with the poems, don’t rely on someone else’s analysis. Be human again. I think this is the key to a more creative, happier, and perhaps more successful life.  And as the planet goes through its turbulence and transition, we will need more and more of us to connect with that infinite place within.

I am looking forward to hearing Drew talk tonight. Braving the possibility of failure and sharing your gift with humanity is not easy for most.

The Emerging Future

I would like new readers to understand that the goal of these letters is to reflect the emerging trends that I perceive, often in live time and using anecdotes as well as external data. These are not fully formed essays, although the occasional one might endeavour to draw together a lot of evidence.  My experience is that drawing on learnings from finance, economics, business, geo-politics, history, psychology, science and even spirituality (whatever that means) gives me the greatest chance of seeing and articulating the emerging future. And the notes also touch upon my journey as a human being, for I think one can learn much from each others’ stories. If nothing else, you can laugh and learn from my mistakes! My desire is that rather than read just the notes with an attractive title, that readers persevere and read each one. It is from there that a picture of the whole will emerge.

The Global Economy — Still forecasting dark times…

As I wrote in a recent post on the Accelerating Planetary Transformation (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/accelerating-planetary-transformation-benjamin-butler?trk=mp-author-card) it does seem that events are speeding up.  Emerging markets like Brazil are really suffering. I heard from friends today that crime has been proliferating in Rio De Janeiro. My friend Patricia said she was forwarded 4 youtube clips of violent robberies by gangs, and she was understandably quite disturbed. The economic data coming out of the country is very bad. The Brazilian Real touched historical lows this week.

6a

[I am very optimistic about Brazil long term – but that conversation is for another day].

The news out of China is still rather negative. Today’s Financial Times points out the last manufacturing data:

China’s crucial manufacturing sector is having its worst month since the depths of the global financial crisis in early 2009, according to a preliminary reading of a closely watched factory survey.

The flash reading of the Caixin China general manufacturing purchasing managers’ index dropped to 47 points in September, down from 47.3 in August, marking the worst performance for the sector in 78 months.”

John Burbank who runs Passport Capital has been betting on the fall in emerging markets and making good performance. This week he said to the Financial Times:

“All of that turmoil around the world will come back and slow down capex and hiring and consumer buying in the US, and that will make the Fed realise they should be easing and not hiking,” he said.

“I think we are on the precipice of a liquidation in emerging markets, and this feels the way that the fourth quarter of 1997 felt.”

Although the fund has made a lot of money this year, he said that he is not covering his short positions.

The Federal Reserve didn’t go ahead and raise rates last week, although quite recently 80% of economists predicted that they would.  It would seem that something is holding them back. I prefer to look at people’s actions – not what they say.  In fact,the last time I looked it seemed that they were even expanding their balance sheet throughout last week. The global economic environment has been deteriorating quickly but also the US leading indicators also do not look so good. Here is one chart among many that highlight the heightened risk that the US is entering – or has already entered – recession.

6b

 

Since November 2013 total business sales have been tepid whilst business inventories have expanded by USD100bn or 6%.  Yet despite this, the Fed and talking heads are all still focusing on US employment data or China. As usual, I recommend decision-makers to note how they manage their days. Its easy to be dragged in to analysing the myopia of irrelevant statistics.

Refugee Crisis

I am also grappling with this “refugee” crisis.  Part of me thinks that this is an unintended consequence of Western meddling and bombing in the Middle East. For the last few years our policymakers have relentlessly tried to embroil us in conflict there, even though the public has pushed back against it. Finally we are there doing what we have done in many countries and this is tearing apart lives.

However, I also wonder whether a friend of mine is correct in saying that European policymakers actually want the refugees to move in despite their public comments. Clearly European demographics are poor and big business would love more young blood. The history of capitalism is the history of mass movement of people. Then I saw this article by insider El Erian, the former CEO of PIMCO espousing the advantages of the forced migration. He agrees that this will be good for countries like Germany, once the people are assimilated. We have been at war in the middle east for a long time, I cannot help wondering why the forced migrations are accelerating now

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/refugee-reform-europe-by-mohamed-a–el-erian-2015-09

Anyway, enough conspiracies. I am off to listen to some poetry…have an extraordinary day.

No – just be extraordinary!

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