Belgium, Business & Creativity, Numbers

Savings Interest Reduction

Yesterday, I received a notification from my bank announcing yet another savings account interest rate reduction, effective the first of September. I do understand that this has much to do with the upcoming recession and the overall slowdown of the world’s economies. But mind you, this is the same bank that have emailed me several times in the past, encouraging me to open an investment account with them.

I have been shown graphs and projections of how my money will almost certainly grow in the investment account, and how sorry my savings account balance will be in comparison. If the investment department of this financial institution is so confident, why is it not using my savings to invest in things that pay better returns, thus making money for both of us? Instead, I was prompted with all sorts of marketing tricks, and lured with small cash gifts. There has been quite some efforts on their part to make me move my money from savings to investment.

Again, why can they not just use my savings (or part of it), invest and make profit, charge a small commission, and then pay me better interests?! I am not smarter than a financial institution, so there is no way I am sticking my head out into the chaotic free markets. So…what the heck?

Business & Creativity, Food & Drinks, Numbers

Three Ninety Nine

I started using Too Good To Go a week ago. Yesterday, I bought my second surprise bag of grocery. The economical advantage is obvious because I am paying only a third of the cost of food I receive. The environmentally aware part of me is proud to be saving some food from being toss away. Admittedly, there is a teeny tiny part of my brain that is telling me that this is not a perfect deal. I am quite aware that I am consuming more, and of things that I usually do not have on my grocery list. I am eating more because I do not want to waste any of the expiring food.

So yeah, I know that the €3.99 I pay is the thin line separating me from a true dumpster diver!

Business & Creativity, Numbers

Economics Of Currencies

The Chinese Yuan was purposely allowed to devalue to its lowest level since a decade ago. All this because of a stupid and ongoing American Chinese trade war…

Twenty-four hours ago, the EUR/USD exchange was at 1.1096 and today this particular exchange rate is at the 1.1210 point.

Big economies which depend on each other, should not be getting themselves into ridiculous quarrels.

Belgium, Business & Creativity

Consumption Idiosyncrasy

July, the sales month, has ended yesterday. Business news reported that it had been a good month for summer outfits. There was of course the mention of the challenges that traditional retailers faced from online competitions. And then there was the announcement, that instead of shredding their unsold items (an on-going and horrible deed!), some businesses will be donating these items to charities.

Oh joy, some of us are not destroying new unsold clothes anymore. And then, my question is: wait, which charity?

Will we be sending these unsold items back to where they came from? Are these donations going to poor third world countries, which labour and resources we have already taken advantage of in the first place?

Imagine that you are a factory-line seamstress who earns €5 a month, working 10-12 hours a day, everyday of the week. I wonder how it feels to receive a bag of donated clothes that you have sewn with your own hands?

We need to change our minds significantly when it comes to consumption. Let’s not act like idiots and start watering our plants with energy drinks….

Business & Creativity, Events

FACTS Spring 2019

Three out of the seven guests showing up at this year’s FACTS are well known villains in films and tv series.

Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter) was a charismatic person. He spoke his mind and was quite funny. Dolph Lundgren (The Expendables) whom story D and I were most eager to hear has alas seemed too tired or too jet-lagged to share his very interesting life. He has lived a life that can easily top any standard Hollywood film. Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal Lecter in the tv series Hannibal) turned out to be very charming and interesting. No wonder he is very popular amongst the female fans who called themselves Fannibals; female fans of Hannibal.

Thumbs up to the three screen villains born this side of the Atlantic!

Business & Creativity, Human Nature

Little Consumers

Yesterday, D and I went to Kortrijk to buy tickets for an upcoming event. Unfortunately, the shop has stopped selling these since last October, and we would need to purchase the tickets online. So, D and I did some window shopping at the mall and went for a short stroll in the city before proceeding to our other errands. Before leaving the mall, D purchased a nice summer jacket which he really like.

Kortrijk on a Wednesday afternoon, when school was out, were crawling with teenagers! The heaviest concentration seems to be at the the mall. I noticed that a lot of them were actually buying things and have little shopping bags with them. When I remarked that kids are spending their parents earnings, D reminded me that our niece has been working in the weekends to earn some extra cash.

I am all for the hard-working teenagers. I find it wonderful that some youngsters are becoming aware of the rewards they can get in exchange for their time and energy. Hopefully, they are also appreciating and saving their earnings for greater goals, and not be converted into little consuming zombies by the big businesses.

We live in a different and more challenging world now. A lifestyle of mindless and endless consumption is simply unsustainable.

Business & Creativity, Jibber Jabber

Who’s Recording?

Just read What Google Knows About You.

Out of the six suggested methods of limiting what Google knows, I am only able to protect myself with the first three. I am constantly signed in and use email regularly. To my surprise, I also seem to watch quite a number of YouTube how-to videos – and Google knows!

My question is, who exactly is the watcher? Is it like your creepy nosy neighbor? Or is it more similar to your loud mouth cousin who cannot keep any secret? The general consensus says that it is a humongous emotionless electronic brain which filters out the juicy stuff, trading these off to businesses, which will then haunt you with your own regurgitated data.

Which is it?

Business & Creativity, Malaysia

Palm Oil

I just read How The World Got Hooked On Palm Oil. The article is interesting, informative, and rather alarming because all this is happening too close to home.

I read the article with an open mind, and with a grain of salt. The information was digested slowly and decisively because I have no efficient way to check the accuracy of all the data provided. Who is to say that the statistics has not been manipulated at all?

Regardless, the last paragraph of the article does make a point:

Products that are sustainable are those produced and consumed locally; when buyers are able to witness the production process, they will demand that it occur in line with their values. When it’s out of sight, it’s difficult to get enough of them to care. Changing that may require more than a little magic.

All I need to do is think of my home-grown Belgian endives.

Business & Creativity

Broken Demand Supply

A week ago, I watched a short documentary about global food waste. In Salinas California, trucks after trucks lined up to dump tons of food away. We see bags of pre-washed salad leaves being dumped into landfills by the thousands. These were removed from grocery store shelves not too long ago. My heart ached for the waste of still edible food, for the labourers, for the waste of resources such as water and electricity, for the many millions whom are starving or in need of a decent meal.

Yesterday, D and I went to the shopping mall. Despite the many stores and the dizzying amount of products, we were unable to find what we were looking for. Unable to find the right size of the desired piece of fashion which is the current trend. Ah yeah, said D, we were too late. All the good stuff are gone.

What will happen to the not so good stuff then, if they are not sold within the year? What will happen to the no-longer-desired items? Do they get dump into landfills, like those thousands of bags of pre-washed salad in Salinas?

Demand has shrunk. Even though I am rather sure that the economic well-being of the masses is the main factor, I shall not write off the possibility of environmental awareness as one of the many influencing factors.

Time for the suppliers to slim-line their productions. The current supply-demand system is broken. It is blind, dumb, and simply unsustainable.