Earth Wars: the battle for global resources

In this book, veteran Asian business correspondent Hiscock looks at the issue of the supply of global resources, against the background of rising population and the desire for higher living standards. The battle for these finite resources is becoming more intense.

Until recent times, the West has controlled these resources but increasingly it is China and India that will be the engines for global growth and their drive to expand is already bringing them to the forefront of the supply-demand equation.

Hiscock rates India’s chances of growing its influence highly. It has democracy, demography and a dynamic diaspora among other things. However, China’s dominance of the world economy is not a foregone conclusion.

There are matters of technology, logistics, markets, skills and funds to resolve, the author notes. The decline of the US may also be overstated as it has a number of redeeming features. If the earth wars were a sporting contest, the score in 2012 would have the US leading followed by China, Europe and Japan, Russia, India and Brazil but, as Hiscock concludes, contest can throw up unexpected results.

The Future Proof Formula

Sir George Buckley. John Wiley & Sons. €24.99

In this thought-provoking book, the author describes the secrets that rescued and revived the 3M Corporation, of which he was once chief executive, and how they can be applied to other businesses.

The reality for any 21st- century business is that without a proven strategy for constant innovation, and a blueprint to make your strategy work, the most you can hope for is to hold on, white-knuckled, to what you’ve got, he says.

The key idea here is to develop what is called a “markets of the future” approach. This suggests you think creatively about the entirely new things that you could be doing in order to ensure that you grow robustly in five, 10 or 15 years.

There are three parts to this. The first is a mega-trend market scan to identify related market areas to your business that are projected to grow steadily, stably at least 5 per cent a year into the future. Secondly, you need to connect these future growth markets with your core and finally, you need to find your enduring franchise.

The possibilities, Buckley argues, are amazing. There are dozens of growth market areas. The key is to play to your current advantage.

The New Tycoons

Jason Kelly, Bloomberg Press. €24.99

Subtitled Inside the Trillion Dollar Private Equity Industry that owns Everything, Kelly tries to demystify the complex world of private equity through telling the stories of the leading characters and key firms in the industry.

A Bloomberg news reporter, Kelly is familiar with his subject and he traces the mushrooming of this industry from a relatively small niche area of financial service into a globally powerful phenomenon.

The book has a timely edge given the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney, a former chief executive of Bain Capital, and is certainly well researched.

Kelly notes that he is trained to look for surprise and that as he researched the book, the omnipresence of the industry surprised even him. So much is owned by the industry, and the appetite to run the numbers on businesses that are not, appears to be relentless.

Kelly does his best to make the complex simple with glossaries and charts; it is a challenging read nonetheless.

Although interesting for the general reader, the book will be of most interest to those who work in the global financial services industry and who can relate readily to the firms under consideration here.

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