International Investing & Business Index


Making international investing and business decisions based around an index of happiness can add depth to your international investment and business decisions.

Understanding what will happen globally is important to everyone’s decision making process on where to do business… where to invest and where to live.

We’ll see below that Ecuador is high on NEF’s (New Economics Foundation) Happiness Index (more on the index in a moment)… but this index is about much more than Ecuador.

This index is about the world… the future…. prosperity and poverty… life and death.  We should know it… especially because it is quite hard to believe.

You’ll see below why:

* Seemingly poor countries may have an advantage in the years ahead.

* The richest countries may not be the best places to invest or start a business.

* How to use new techniques to see what the future may bring socially and economically.

NEF is an independent think-and-do tank that tries to analyze real economic well-being.  NEF’s aim is to improve the world’s quality of life by promoting innovative solutions that challenge mainstream thinking on economic, environmental and social issues.

NEF says:  NEF’s report, the Happy Planet Index: An index of human well-being and environmental impact, published in association with Friends of the Earth, moves beyond crude ratings of nations according to national income, measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to produce a more accurate picture of the progress of nations based on the amount of the Earth’s resources they use, and the length and happiness of people’s lives.

The Happy Planet Index (HPI) strips the view of the economy back to its absolute basics: what we put in (resources), and what comes out (human lives of different length and happiness). The resulting Index of the 178 nations for which data is available, reveals that the world as a whole has a long way to go.  In terms of delivering long and meaningful lives within the Earth’s environmental limits – all nations could do better.  No country achieves an overall ‘high’ score on the Index, and no country does well on all three indicators.

This index is important because everyone is increasingly faced with complicated problems, parts of which are unknown or unreachable.

This index is worth sharing because as I read it,  my first thought was “nonsense.”

Who would have placed the nations of Guyana, Bosnia, Georgia  and Romania above the UK for happiness?  Yet  Guyana is 63rd in the index. the UK 74th.

Here is 63 to 74 on the happiness index.

63. Guyana
64. Belgium
65. Bosnia and Herzegovina
66. Slovenia
67. Israel
68. Korea
69. Italy
70. Romania
71. France
72. Georgia
73. Slovakia
74. United Kingdom

Guyana happier than France and the UK?

I wanted to reject it.

Then it made me begin to realize… the somewhat disturbing fact that as far as potential for happiness goes, Americans are almost at the bottom of this international index… along with the British and most Europeans.

Reading this index made me realize that we cannot use old standards of the past to analyze what will happen in the future.

About the time of this thought, a page from an old John Sanford novel, “The Hanged Man’s Song” came to light.

The prime person in this fiction is a computer hacker… a very logical, scientific thinking person… but who also from time to time uses a totally unscientific way to process information… tarot cards.

The story says:

So I got the cards out, my tarot cards.  I’m not exactly a scientist – I was trained as an engineer-but I have studied the philosophy of science and I’m a true believer.  The tarot as a predictive system is superstitious nonsense. The deck is useful as a gaming device, though and that’s how I use it.

Like this: we are forced to deal with complicated problems, when some facets of the problem are unknown or unreachable, we deal with them in terms of our past experience. That’s almost inescapable. But approaches that are useful with some problems don’t work with others. The tarot deck, when used as a gaming system, pushes you outside past experience and encourages you to think of new ways to deal with it.

Say for example, you are involved in a complicated business transaction and that the group you were involved in a complicated business transaction and that the group you were dealing with, the opposition,consisted of five men and a women. You begin doing the tarot spreads and see a number of indications of female influence.

This does not mean that the deck correctly predicts female influence in the transaction, but suggests that you should sit back and think about the woman on the other side, who might otherwise seem to be just another functionary. Why is she there? What specific influences does she have? Is there a way to approach her that would help the deal?

This has nothing to do with supernatural-it’s simply a human way, and a fairly subtle way to game a problem.

This started me looking at the index more.

international-investing

Sustainability and cost of happiness are a part of the index. This is why we grow some of our own crops at our farm… like the lettuce we harvest around our backyard pool.

The Happiness Index pushes us beyond our past experience.  This international index does challenge mainstream thinking.

Imagine Haiti is 41st on the list.  Denmark 105th.

99. Uruguay
100. Ghana
101. Latvia
102. Australia
103. New Zealand
104. Belarus
105. Denmark

That started me thinking for sure.

NEF is composed of some very intelligent people so their approach does have  logic. NEF calls it a new global measure of progress, the ‘Happy Planet Index’.

The NEF logic factors in the short and long term cost of happiness.

Mainstream thinking uses measurements like growth of GDP… but ignores the relativity involved. If GDP rises 10% this is considered good.  Traditional thinkers do not ask what is the cost of this growth to our environment. How much will we, our children and grandchildren have to pay in the future for this current growth?

Nor does the mainstream paradigm compare the happiness efficiency of a nation.

The NEF Happiness Index takes into account whether a culture is using more than its fair share of the Earth’s resources.

This creates a new international ranking of environmental impact and well-being and reveals a very different picture of the wealth, and poverty of nations.

Environmental Efficiency

NEF’s view is that Happiness Efficiency is a phrase and concept worth knowing and using in consideration of the overall (long and short term) success of a nation.

We all know the benefits of efficiency. Now we have a way to measure a really important long term efficiency.  We could call it the “cost per smile” or “laughter earning ratio”.

This really makes sense because it is the inherent nature of all living things to strive for happiness and satisfaction and avoid stress.  If the population of a nation needs to do and spend a lot to attain it… that nation is likely to have economic problems due to its lack of efficiency compared to other nations.

NEF’s index combines environmental impact with well-being to measure the environmental efficiency with which countries provide long and happy lives.

The results are surprising, even shocking.

The index shows a very different hierarchy of success than we normally assume.

For example, the US is a disappointing 114th in happiness ranking behind  countries like Mongolia, Malawi and Chad.

106. Mongolia
107. Malawi
108. Russia
109. Chad
110. Lebanon
111. Macedonia
112. Congo
113. Madagascar
114. United States of America

NEF’s report also says:

“It is clear that no single nation listed in the Happy Planet Index has got everything right. But the Index does reveal patterns that show how we might better achieve long and happy lives for all, whilst living within our environmental means. The challenge is – can we learn the lessons and apply them? Governments the world over have been concentrating on the targets for too long. If you have the wrong map, you are unlikely to reach your destination”, says Nic Marks, head of NWF’s Centre for well-being.

The HPI shows that high levels of resource consumption do not reliably produce high levels of well-being (life-satisfaction).  This suggests that it is possible to produce high levels of well-being without excessive consumption of the Earth’s resources.

The report also shows that a culture can have a long, happy life with a small environmental impact.   America and Germany have similar life satisfaction and life expectancy. Germany’s Ecological Ecological footprint is barely half that in America.   This means that Germany is twice as efficient as the USA at generating happy long lives based on the resources they consume.

international-investing

Sustainability is important for long term happiness which is why we bought a farm with lots of spring fed water, like this stream that flows in our backyard.

How can we use this index in business and investing?

I am not sure how accurate this index is or how important it will be.  Accuracy is not all that important though because, if nothing else, this index is a thought process put together by intelligent people that can help us see and think outside the box… something we always need to do.

We must always ask, what comes next?  This index might help us answer this question by adding one more small light that reflects of what might be in the days ahead.  Now we can see better how a country is doing now plus how the cost of the current success may affect the future.

Thinking outside the box is almost always a criteria for long term success. For those who believe this, NEF’s Happiness Index will help make them happy!

Ecuador is 25th on the index.  See the top 25 countries on the index and more about Ecuador’s Index here

Gary

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Read the NEF  report at www.neweconomics.org/gen/m1_i1_aboutushome.aspx



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