Friday, 31 August 2018 Gillet: The Poorest Country in Europe Has the Most Women in Tech
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The Poorest Country in Europe Has the Most Women in Tech

By Kit Gillet • AUG 31 2018
The Poorest Country in Europe Has the Most Women in Tech
Why you should care

Because women with great ideas can find their community in Bulgaria.
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Geo facts & figures

When Bulgarian Tatyana Mitkova co-founded her business — ClaimCompass, which helps dissatisfied airline passengers get compensation — she found exactly what you’d expect from the startup sector: Most of the industry’s other founders and investors were male. As the tech industry worldwide attempts to shake off its hoodie-wearing White man image, Bulgaria has become one of the world’s bright spots.

According to Eurostat, the statistics agency of the European Union:
Despite being the poorest country in the 28-member bloc, Bulgaria has the highest percentage of women in information and communication technology (ICT) positions at 26.5 percent.

Bulgaria’s number has actually slipped slightly, even as the nation works to establish itself as a rising tech and software hub in Eastern Europe, but is doing very well compared to the 17.2 percent average across the EU as a whole. American women, in comparison, hold about 26 percent of math- and computer-related jobs, which is lower than in 1960. And Bulgaria is also one of just three countries in the EU that has a higher percentage of female scientists and engineers than male: 54 percent, second only to Lithuania, compared with a regional average of 40 percent.

“If you look back in history, first during the communist times, there were no separations between men and women, and everyone had to work,” says Anna Radulovski, a 26-year-old Bulgarian entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Coding Girls, an award-winning platform dedicated to closing the tech gender gap. Bulgaria is also first in the EU when it comes to the number of female students enrolled in ICT-related courses, at 33 percent, more than double the bloc’s average.
Gettyimages 74388559


Men and women work in the laboratory at the Bulgarian Institute of Microbiology in Sofia, Bulgaria.


“In Bulgaria there are many female role models that are encouraging the next generation of women to choose careers in the computer industries — in a way, the prejudices that exist in the majority of countries are less in Bulgaria,” says Sasha Bezuhanova, a 20-year industry veteran who worked at Hewlett-Packard’s Bulgarian operation before leaving to set up, a platform for social innovation, in 2013.

As of last year, only 2 percent of venture capital funds worldwide went to female-led businesses — even though female-led firms saw a higher return on equity and better results. “Obviously we need to mobilize the leadership, both men and women,” Bezuhanova says, “To present good examples and also set the stage for equal and neutral treatment of business initiatives led by men or women.”

But even in Bulgaria, there are three men in the industry for every woman, and many feel the disparity is worse in the more powerful, better-paying jobs.

“While I’m happy to see the statistics when it comes to the percentage of women in the sector, female founders and leaders are still rare,” says Mitkova. “I didn’t have many female role models to look up to when starting up.” She says investors are also mostly male, and that inspiring examples of women in startups aren’t necessarily well-known or promoted to encourage new talent.

Still, it could be worse. “After spending some time in Silicon Valley, I definitely see a difference,” she says. “Bro culture is not that common [in Bulgaria].”

    Kit Gillet, OZY Author
    Contact Kit Gillet

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Care2 Healthy Living/TreeHugger: 8 Key Nutrients to Include in Your Plant-Based Diet

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8 Key Nutrients to Include in Your Plant-Based Diet
8 Key Nutrients to Include in Your Plant-Based Diet

    By: TreeHugger
    August 30, 2018

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A plant-based diet is great for your health and the planet’s … just remember to pay attention to these key nutrients.

Research shows that eating healthy, primarily vegetarian foods is associated with lower risk of chronic diseases, weight gain and death. Meanwhile, the average amount of meat consumed per person globally has nearly doubled in the past 50 years, a trend with terrible consequences for the environment. So for people interested in, you know, staying alive and doing so on a habitable planet … limiting or cutting out meat altogether is a great thing to do. (It’s also nice for the animals.)

But alas, a vegan or vegetarian cannot live on french fries alone. (And yes, I speak from experience.)

8 Key Nutrients to Include in Your Plant-Based Diet
Nutrients to Watch on a Plant-Based Diet

For anyone newly embarking on a plant-based diet, a visit with your doctor or a dietician is not a bad idea. But it’s also helpful to see a quick summary of the nutrients that may need some extra attention amongst people who are not eating animal products. Here are eight key ones to keep in mind.
1. Iron

Red blood cells love iron; fortunately, steak and liver aren’t the only sources of this essential mineral. Dried beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grains, dark leafy green vegetables, and dried fruit (hi, raisins!) are good vegan sources of iron. That said, people who do not eat meat, poultry, or seafood need almost twice as much iron as is listed in recommendations because plant-based iron (nonheme) is not absorbed as readily as the heme iron of animal foods.
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The recommendation for non-vegetarian adult men 19 to 50 years old is 8 mg; non-vegetarian adult women of the same age range should aim for 18 mg. For those not eating meat, then, the numbers should be doubled.
2. Calcium

We need calcium to keep our bones strong – and most people get theirs from milk and dairy foods. If you are not eating dairy, calcium can be found in dark green vegetables – think turnip and collard greens, kale, and broccoli. It is also in calcium-enriched and fortified products like juices, cereals, soy milk and tofu.
3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for bone health, immune function and keeping inflammation in check – and importantly for those on a plant-based diet, it helps the gut absorb calcium. But it’s a tricky one since it doesn’t naturally occur in very many foods.

If you spend time in the sun, you’re probably pretty good – though Vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. It is added to fortified products like some brands of milk, soy and rice milk, and some cereals. If you don’t eat enough fortified foods, and you have limited sun exposure, you may need a vitamin D supplement, notes the Mayo Clinic.
4. Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 supports the body’s nerve and blood cells and helps prevent anemia. Since it is only found in animal products – not plants – it can be one of the more obvious nutrients for vegans to pay attention to. Lacto-ovo vegetarians can get sufficient amounts in milk, eggs, and other dairy products. Vegans can look for B-12 fortified foods like nutritional yeast, cereals, breads, etc. It is also included in multi-vitamins.
5. Protein

We need protein to keep our skin, bones, muscles and organs healthy. It is obviously in animal products, but you can easily get enough protein from plants as well, especially if you eat a variety of them throughout the day, notes Mayo, adding that “plant sources include soy products and meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains.”
6. Zinc

Zinc helps the immune system defend against vexing bacteria and viruses. It also assists the body in making proteins and DNA, helps wounds heal and is important for proper taste and smell. Who knew? Oysters offer the most zinc – for plant-based eaters, looks for it in fortified breakfast cereals, beans, nuts, and whole grains.

That said, the National Institutes of Health offers this caveat: Vegetarians may have trouble getting enough since they do not eat meat, which is a good source of zinc. “Also, the beans and grains they typically eat have compounds that keep zinc from being fully absorbed by the body. For this reason, vegetarians might need to eat as much as 50 percent more zinc than the recommended amounts.”
7. Omega-3 fatty acids

Our bodies are good at making a number of fats that it needs, but alas, it hasn’t figured out how to make omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for heart health and play other protective roles as well. Fish and eggs are good sources of omega-3s, but one can get them from plants as well; think vegetable oils, nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds, flaxseed oil, and leafy vegetables.

Mayo says that if you only get plant-based omega-3s, “you may also want to consider supplements, since the body doesn’t always convert the plant-based form efficiently.”
8. Iodine

We rely on iodine to make thyroid hormones, which control the body’s metabolism, and regulate growth and function of key organs. Americans rarely are iodine deficient because just 1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt daily provides a significant amount of iodine. But if you exclusively use sea salt or other fancy salt that isn’t iodized, make sure you’re getting iodine somewhere.

Fortunately, seaweed has loads of it. Some varieties of kombu kelp have nearly 2,000 percent of the daily recommendation in one gram! (And yes, you can get too much iodine, so be careful with that kelp. Nori and wakame seaweeds have gentler amounts.) Other good plant-based sources include lima beans and prunes.

by Melissa Breyer, Treehugger

Sources: The Mayo Clinic, National Institutes of Health, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Images via Thinkstock.
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Dr. Mercola: They Absorb Heavy Metals Like a Sponge, Make Sure They're Organic
How to Grow Mushrooms at Home

    August 31, 2018


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Story at-a-glance

    Mushrooms contain some of the most potent natural medicines on the planet. Of the 140,000 species of mushroom-forming fungi, about 100 of them have been studied for their health-promoting benefits
    Mushrooms are excellent sources of antioxidants, copper, vitamin D and other nutrients many don’t get enough of in their diet
    It's important to make sure your mushrooms have been organically grown, as they absorb and concentrate whatever they grow in. Most conventional mushroom producers use pesticides
    The ability to control your growing conditions is just one reason to consider cultivating your own mushrooms. While a bit different from growing other fruits and vegetables, just about anyone can do it
    Basic instructions for growing mushrooms in logs, fruiting, harvesting and storage are included

By Dr. Mercola

Mushrooms contain some of the most potent natural medicines on the planet. Of the 140,000 species of mushroom-forming fungi, about 100 of them have been studied for their health-promoting benefits. Of those, about a half dozen really stand out for their ability to deliver a tremendous boost to your immune system.

Mushrooms are excellent sources of antioxidants in general as they contain polyphenols and selenium, but they also contain antioxidants that are unique to mushrooms. One such antioxidant is, which scientists are now beginning to recognize as a master antioxidant.

A study in the journal Nature1 discusses the importance of ergothioneine, describing it as "an unusual sulfur-containing derivative of the amino acid histidine," which appears to have a very specific role in protecting your DNA from oxidative damage.

Mushrooms also contain a number of unique nutrients that many do not get enough of in their diet. One is copper, which is one of the few metallic elements accompanied by amino and fatty acids that are essential to human health. Since your body can't synthesize copper, your diet must supply it regularly. Copper deficiency can be a factor in the development of coronary heart disease.
Buy Organic or Grow Your Own

It's important to make sure your mushrooms have been organically grown, as they absorb and concentrate whatever they grow in, for better or worse. This is what gives mushrooms their potency. Mushrooms are known to concentrate heavy metals, as well as air and water pollutants, so healthy growing conditions is a critical factor.

Most conventional mushroom producers use pesticides. The ability to control your growing conditions is just one reason to consider cultivating your own mushrooms.2,3,4 While the growing of mushrooms is a bit different from growing other fruits and vegetables, just about anyone can do it.
What You Need to Grow Mushrooms

To grow mushrooms, you'll need a few tools and supplies you may not already have, even if you're a seasoned gardener. These include:

• Mushroom spores, available as plug spawn and sawdust spawn. The latter is a ball mycelium grown in moist sawdust. Plug spawn is mycelium that has grown into small pieces (plugs) of hardwood. Mycelium is the fungal equivalent of the root system of a plant, which you need to get the mushrooms started.

While plug spawn is easier to use, requires no special tools and is less prone to drying out, sawdust spawn is less expensive and grows faster. Popular mushroom varieties include shiitake,5 oyster, lion's mane, phoenix oyster, wine caps, pioppini (black poplar), reishi, chicken of the woods, maitake and nameko

• Fresh hardwood logs. Oak and maple are preferable, and the thicker the bark the better. For shiitake, red oak and white oak are preferable. Each log should be 3 to 4 feet long and about 3 to 8 inches in diameter.

• A spawn inoculation tool, if using sawdust spawn

• Cheese wax or beeswax, wax dauber, thermometer and a small melting pot

Most mushroom supply companies6 will sell everything you need, including logs. If you use your own logs, make sure they're fresh and moist. You don't want to use logs that have started to dry out. Make sure the bark is intact all the way around, to prevent unwanted fungi to contaminate your spawn.

Also check them to make sure there aren't any other organisms growing on them. Mother Earth News recommends cutting your logs about two weeks before you intend to inoculate them, to allow them to age but not dry out. Ideally, start inoculating your logs in early spring.
Basic Mushroom Growing Instructions

The logs will serve as host for your little mushroom farm. Once you have your supplies, drill 5/16-sized holes in the logs. Each hole should be about 1 inch deep, spaced 6 inches apart. Stagger the rows to create a diamond pattern around the entire perimeter of the log.

Next, fill each hole with your chosen mushroom spawn. For inoculation instructions based on your mushroom species, see

Be sure to fill the holes as quickly as possible once you've drilled them, to avoid contaminants. Melt the cheese wax or beeswax in an old pot to about 450 degrees F, and using a wax dauber, seal each hole to prevent bacteria from entering.

This wax plug will also seal in moisture, allowing the mushroom to thrive. If the wax is too cool, you won't get a good seal, so get it as hot as possible without actually burning.

Once that's done, soak the logs with a garden hose and stack them in neat rows in a shaded area. Make sure the inoculated logs are lifted off the ground and protected from both wind and sun. Contrary to other plants, mushrooms thrive in shaded, damp areas.

In order for your mushrooms to survive, you'll need to make sure the logs are kept damp at all times. If they dry out, your mushrooms will die. If you want, you can cover the logs with a fruiting blanket, which will help keep the moisture level high and protect them from the elements.
Fruiting, Harvesting and Storage

Growing mushrooms will require some patience. Once inoculated, your logs will need to be kept in this moist, dark state for anywhere from six to 18 months, depending on the variety of mushroom you're growing and general environmental conditions.

As a general rule, a 3-foot log will produce up to 4 pounds of mushrooms, spread out over 12 crops or "flushes" per year. On average, each flush will produce between one-quarter to one-third of a pound of mushrooms, and a well-cared for mushroom log can continue fruiting for two to eight years.

Shiitake, which will typically fruit in about six months, can be forced to fruit earlier by submerging the logs in cool water for 24 hours, and then placing them in upright stacks to increase air circulation. As for pests, frequently check the logs for slugs and snails, and remove any you find.

Once the mushrooms have fruited, you can start harvesting them. You'll need to check their progress every day, as the mushrooms will mature to full size over the course of several days. If you're growing shiitake, you can start harvesting once the caps are 70 to 90 percent opened.

To harvest, either cut the stem or grab the mushroom by its stem and twist it off. Store your mushrooms in a well-ventilated container, such as a brown paper bag (leave the top open), or a damp cloth bag, in your refrigerator. Avoid storing them in plastic bags or close-lidded containers, as the lack of air circulation will speed deterioration.
The Many Health Benefits of Mushrooms

In 2013, FASEB Journal published nine studies on mushrooms, detailing a wide variety of health benefits,8 including:

• Improved weight management — One study9,10 found substituting red meat with white button mushrooms enhanced weight loss. Obese participants ate approximately 1 cup of mushrooms per day in place of meat. The control group ate a standard diet without mushrooms.

At the end of the 12-month trial, the intervention group had lost an average of 3.6 percent of their starting weight, or about 7 pounds. They also showed improvements in body composition, such as reduced waist circumference, and ability to maintain their weight loss, compared to the control group.

• Improved nutrition — One dietary analysis11 found that mushroom consumption was associated with better diet quality and improved nutrition.

• Increased vitamin D levels through diet — Consuming dried white button mushroom extract was found to be as effective as taking supplemental vitamin D2 or D3 for increasing vitamin D levels.12

• Improved immune function — Long chain polysaccharides, particularly alpha- and beta glucan molecules, are primarily responsible for the mushrooms' beneficial effect on your immune system.

In one study, adding one or two servings of dried shiitake mushrooms was found to have a beneficial, modulating effect on immune system function.13 Another study done on mice found white button mushrooms enhanced the adaptive immunity response to salmonella.14
Examples of Mushrooms to Add to Your Diet

Individual mushroom species may also offer more specific health benefits. Two of my favorites — both of which you can cultivate using the log method described above — are:

• Shiitake — It contains a number of health-stimulating agents, including lentinan, the polysaccharide for which it was named. Lentinan has been isolated and used to treat stomach and other cancers due to its antitumor properties, but has also been found to protect your liver,15 relieve stomach ailments such as hyperacidity, gallstones and ulcers, and has been used to treat anemia and pleural effusion.

One of the more remarkable scientific studies demonstrating shiitake's antitumor effect was a Japanese animal study16 where mice suffering from sarcoma were given shiitake extract. At the highest concentration, all 10 mice showed complete tumor regression.

Shiitake mushrooms also demonstrate antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal effects; blood sugar stabilization; reduced platelet aggregation and reduced atherosclerosis.17 Shiitake also contains eritadenine, which has strong cholesterol-lowering properties.18

• Reishi — Known as Lingzhi in China, or "spirit plant," reishi has also been called "Mushroom of Immortality" — nickname that speaks for itself. It's been used medicinally in Asia for thousands of years. One of its more useful compounds is ganoderic acid, which is being used to treat lung cancer,19 leukemia and other cancers. Other health benefits20 include:

◦ Antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal properties

◦ Anti-inflammatory, useful for reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

◦ Immune system upregulation

◦ Normalization of blood pressure

◦ Reduction of prostate-related urinary symptoms in men
+ Sources and References
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National Review/Victor Davis Hanson: The Truth Will Set Us All Free

National Review
The Corner

Politics & Policy   
The Truth Will Set Us All Free
By Victor Davis Hanson

August 30, 2018 6:30 AM

(NRO Illustration: Elijah Smith; Jason Reed/Reuters)
It’s time to stop the stonewalling, redacting, suppression, leaking to the press, and media hysteria surrounding investigations into the 2016 election.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was star-crossed from the start. His friend and successor as FBI director, James Comey, by his own admission prompted the investigation — with the deliberate leaking of classified memos about his conversations with President Donald Trump to the press.

Mueller then unnecessarily stocked his team with what the press called his “dream team” of mostly Democratic partisans. One had defended a Hillary Clinton employee. Another had defended the Clinton Foundation.

Mueller did not at first announce to the press why he had dismissed Trump-hating FBI operatives Lisa Page and Peter Strzok from his investigative team. Instead, he staggered their departures to leave the impression they were routine reassignments.

But Mueller’s greatest problem was his original mandate to discover whether Trump colluded with the Russians in 2016 to tilt the election in his favor.

After 15 months, Mueller has indicted a number of Trump associates, but on charges having nothing to do with Russian collusion. They faced inordinately long prison sentences unless they “flipped” and testified against Trump.

We are left with the impression that Mueller cannot find much to do with his original mandate of unearthing Russian collusion, but he still thinks Trump is guilty of something.

In other words, Mueller has reversed the proper order of jurisprudence.

Instead of presuming Trump innocent unless he finds evidence of Russian collusion, Mueller started with the assumption that the reckless raconteur Trump surely must be guilty of some lawbreaking. Thus, it is Mueller’s job to hunt for past crimes to prove it.

While Mueller so far has not found Trump involved in collusion with foreign citizens to warp a campaign, there is evidence that others most surely were colluding — but are not of interest to Mueller.

It is likely that during the 2016 campaign, officials at the Department of Justice, FBI, CIA, and National Security Agency broke laws to ensure that the outsider Trump lost to Hillary Clinton. FBI and DOJ officials misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in order to obtain warrants to surveil Trump associates. National-security officials unmasked the names of those being monitored and likely leaked them to the press with the intent to spread unverified rumors detrimental to the Trump campaign.

A spy on the federal payroll was implanted into the Trump campaign. Hillary Clinton’s campaign team paid for research done by a former British intelligence officer working with Russian sources to compile a dossier on Trump. Clinton hid her investment in Christopher Steele’s dossier by using intermediaries such as the Perkins Coie law firm and Fusion GPS to wipe away her fingerprints.

As a result of wrongful conduct, more than a dozen officials at the FBI and DOJ have resigned or retired, or were fired or reassigned. Yet so far none of these miscreants has been indicted or has faced the same legal scrutiny that Mueller applies to Trump associates.

Hillary Clinton is not facing legal trouble for destroying subpoenaed emails, for using an unlawful email server, or for the expenditure of campaign money on the Steele dossier.

No president has ever faced impeachment for supposed wrongdoing alleged to have taken place before he took office — not Andrew Johnson, not Richard Nixon, and not even Bill Clinton, who lied about his liaisons with Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office. With the effort to go back years, if not decades, into Trump’s business and personal life, we are now in unchartered territory.

The argument is not that Trump committed crimes while president — indeed, his record at home and abroad is winning praise. The allegations are instead about what he may have done as a private citizen, and whether it could have reversed the 2016 election.

The only way to clear up this messy saga is for Trump to immediately declassify all documents — without redactions — relating to the Mueller investigation, the FISA court warrants, the Clinton email investigation, and CIA and FBI involvement with the dossier and the use of informants.

Second, there needs to be another special counsel to investigate wrongdoing on the part of senior officials in these now nearly discredited agencies. The mandate should be to discover whether there was serial conflict of interest, chronic lying to federal officials, obstruction of justice, improper unmasking and leaking, misleading of federal courts, and violation of campaign-finance laws.

It is past time to stop the stonewalling, the redacting, the suppression, the leaking to the press, and the media hysteria. The government must turn over all relevant documents to two special counsels and free each to discover who did what in 2016.

Americans need the whole truth to ensure equality under the law and to thereby set us free from this nearly two-year nightmare.

(C) 2018 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

IN THE NEWS: ‘[WATCH] Trump Says Mueller Team ‘Are Looking to Impact’ Midterms’
Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won. @vdhanson
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The Guardian/Nicola Davies: Adopting Mediterranean diet in old age can prolong life, study suggests

The Guardian
Adopting Mediterranean diet in old age can prolong life, study suggests

People aged 65 or older who adhere to diet rich in fish, nuts and fresh vegetables have 25% lower risk of death, study finds

Nicola Davis

Fri 31 Aug 2018 01.00 BST
Last modified on Fri 31 Aug 2018 07.27 BST

Elixir of life? Vegetables and fruits for sale on old fish market La Pescheria in Catania city, Italy
Elixir of life? Vegetables and fruits for sale on old fish market La Pescheria in Catania city, Italy
Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo 

Fri 31 Aug 2018 01.00 BST
Last modified on Fri 31 Aug 2018 07.27 BST

Elixir of life? Vegetables and fruits for sale on old fish market La Pescheria in Catania city, Italy
Elixir of life? Vegetables and fruits for sale on old fish market La Pescheria in Catania city, Italy
Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

It’s been touted as the recipe for a healthy life, preventing all manner of ills. Now researchers say a Mediterranean diet still offers benefits in older age and could reduce the risk of death.

While somewhat nebulous in specific makeup, the diet is typically said to be rich in fish, nuts, fresh vegetables, olive oil and fruit.

“Because we are facing an ageing process all over the world, in particular in Europe, it is particularly important to see which kinds of tools we have today to face this ageing process,” said Marialaura Bonaccio, an epidemiologist at the Mediterranean Neurological Institute, IRCCS Neuromed, and first author of the study.
Mediterranean diet ‘may slow the ageing process by five years’
Read more

“We all know that [the] Mediterranean diet is good for health, but there are few studies focusing on the elderly,” she added. Previous studies have suggested benefits linked to both heart disease and cancer.

Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the study looked at the health and diet of 5,200 individuals aged 65 and over from the Molise region in Italy, who were recruited as part of a larger study between 2005 and 2010, and followed up until 2015, during which time 900 deaths occurred.
Quick guide
The Mediterranean diet

Participants completed a food questionnaire reflecting their diet in the year before signing up, and each was given a score for how close their diet was to the Mediterranean diet on a 0-9 scale.

The results reveal that those who stuck most closely to the Mediterranean diet were also more likely to undertake more physical activity in their free time.
'The Mediterranean diet is gone': region's children are fattest in Europe
Read more

When factors including age, sex, activity levels, socioeconomic status, smoking and BMI were taken into account, those with a high adherence to the diet (scoring 7-9 on the scale) had a 25% lower risk of any caupse of death than those who only scored 0-3. A one point increase in adherence to the diet was linked to about a 6% drop in the risk of death from any cause.

No clear links were seen for specific causes of death, such as cancer or cardiovascular mortality, although there were some signs of a reduction in risk of coronary artery disease or cerebrovascular mortality, and mortality from “other causes”.

The team also looked at whether particular components of the Mediterranean diet were more strongly linked to a reduction in mortality than others, by looking at changes to the reduction in risk of death associated with a two-point increase in adherence to the diet.

The results show that even when individual items are removed, the diet almost always remains beneficial but that a rise in saturated fats, or the loss of fish, loss of a moderate amount of alcohol or fewer cereals, appear to have some of the biggest effects in reducing the size of the benefit.
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The team note that the study cannot prove the Mediterranean diet is behind the effect; it only reveals a link. Also, self-reports of food intake can be prone to errors, and participants were only asked once about their diet and other areas of their life.

Nonetheless, the team say the findings suggest Mediterranean fare could help older individuals boost their prospects for a longer life.

They findings, they add, were backed up by an analysis that included another six studies focusing on older people which, taken together, suggested a 5% drop in risk of death from all causes with every one point better adherence to the Mediterranean diet.
“If you start a good healthy lifestyle when you are young, probably your benefit will be even greater,” said Bonaccio, “But even if you are old and you start having a healthy lifestyle including diet you can [live longer].”

Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow who was not involved in the study, was cautious. “[The] study only suggests [the Mediterranean diet] might be good into older life but it does not prove it as all the data in this paper are from observations and not trials,” he said. “It may be people who keep well have better diets, as appetite can be altered by ill health.”

“I would say developing and maintaining healthier dietary habits is much more important earlier in life as once habits set in, they are usually maintained.”



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Thursday, 30 August 2018

Brett J. Fox: How Can You Be A Successful CEO And An Introvert?

How Can You Be A Successful CEO And An Introvert?
By Brett Fox

It is not a death sentence for you if you are an introverted CEO. In fact, being an introvert can be advantage for you if you take the proper steps.

I'l explain how you can be a successful CEO and an introvert in this short video.

Watch The Video Above Or Read The Transcript Below:

Did you know that over 50 percent of the people in the world are introverts? Kind of an interesting stat, isn't it? And you know what? I'm an introvert too.

At least I call myself an introvert, but I love people at the same time. The question is if you're introverted, which means that if you prefer to be by yourself more than you prefer to be by or with others, how do you build your business?

I've worked with a lot of introverts and the answer is always the same. You have to overcome your shyness.

You just have to get out there step by step, piece by piece because you are the center of attention when you're the CEO. And you have to get used to it. The thing is even us introverts can have a huge rush from getting in front of people from seeing the results of what you're doing and by making things work.

So just because you're an introvert, doesn't mean, and doesn't give you an excuse, you know, to give up and not do the things that you need to do as a CEO. You have to do them. You have to start getting comfortable with doing pitches. You have to start getting comfortable in front of customers, in front of large groups of people.

All of which you can do as an introvert. I've done it and you can do it too.

The key is preparation. The more you prepare, the more you practice, the better you get.

That's all you have to do. So prepare and practice. So how do you do that? Well, I'll tell you what I do is I rehearse,

I tape myself, I listened to how I sound, I see the points for. I'm not really going into a lot of detail and I realize where my answers aren't the best and I work on them again and again and again.

And by practicing and getting used to doing the things that I need to do in front of people, I get more and more comfortable every single day. And as I said, you can too. Just take those simple tips and just go for it. I'm Brett at Have a great, great day. Thank you.

Autocar/Jimi Beckwith: Dyson unveils electric vehicle proving ground

Dyson unveils electric vehicle proving ground
Latest development in Dyson’s automotive project is brand's Wiltshire-based proving ground for upcoming electric vehicles

    Dyson unveils electric vehicle proving ground
    Dyson unveils electric vehicle proving ground
    Dyson plans three-car EV range
    Dyson logo

        Dyson is famous for its vacuum cleaners but will produce a car by 2020

    James Dyson looking pleased

        Boss of Dyson, Sir James Dyson

    Dyson sketches

        Dyson revealed sketches of some of the car's technology

    Dyson electric car to be revealed imminently

        Sir James Dyson has previously denied his company is working on an EV

    Dyson unveils electric vehicle proving ground
    Dyson unveils electric vehicle proving ground
    Dyson plans three-car EV range
    Dyson logo
    James Dyson looking pleased
    Dyson sketches
    Dyson electric car to be revealed imminently

Jimi Beckwith
by Jimi Beckwith
30 August 2018

Dyson’s road car project has taken a step closer to production, with the brand unveiling its proving ground at Hullavington Airfield, Wiltshire that includes test tracks, motorway-like surfaces, high-speed strips and an off-road course.

The plans suggest a diverse range of electric cars. We already know there will be a three-car line-up, with an SUV almost a certainty, on top of the high-end model already mooted. A sports car will not be part of the range, but a top speed of more than 100mph for one or more models is suggested.

With £85 million already spent on restoring two hangars at Hullavington, Dyson's investment in the site will reach £200m once work is completed, with a further £550m of investment planned once the facility is up and running. Handling, rural and off-road courses are confirmed, as is a skid pan and a high-speed runway for high-speed testing at more than 100mph.

Dyson CEO Jim Rowan said: "Our growing automotive team is now working from Dyson’s state-of-the-art hangars at Hullavington Airfield. It will quickly become a world-class vehicle testing campus, where we anticipate investing £550m, creating even more high-skilled jobs for Britain.”
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McKinsey & Company/Lund, Mehta, Manyika, & Goldshtein: A decade after the global financial crisis: What has (and hasn’t) changed?

McKinsey & Company
Financial Services
Executive Briefing - McKinsey Global Institute - August 2018
A decade after the global financial crisis: What has (and hasn’t) changed?
By Susan Lund, Asheet Mehta, James Manyika, and Diana Goldshtein
Briefing Note (PDF–243KB)
Article Actions

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The world economy has recently returned to robust growth. But some familiar risks are creeping back, and new ones have emerged.

It all started with debt.

In the early 2000s, US real estate seemed irresistible, and a heady run-up in prices led consumers, banks, and investors alike to load up on debt. Exotic financial instruments designed to diffuse the risks instead magnified and obscured them as they attracted investors from around the globe. Cracks appeared in 2007 when US home prices began to decline, eventually causing the collapse of two large hedge funds loaded up with subprime mortgage securities. Yet as the summer of 2008 waned, few imagined that Lehman Brothers was about to go under—let alone that it would set off a global liquidity crisis. The damage ultimately set off the first global recession since World War II and planted the seeds of a sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone. Millions of households lost their jobs, their homes, and their savings.
How secure is the global financial system, a decade after the crisis?
Great strides have been made since 2008 to prevent a recurrence of the financial crisis and recession that followed. Yet there is more debt than ever in the global financial system.

The road to recovery has been a long one since those white-knuckle days of September 2008. Historically, it has taken an average of eight years to recover from debt crises, a pattern that held true in this case. The world economy has recently returned to robust growth, although the past decade of anemic and uneven growth speaks to the magnitude of the fallout.

Central banks, regulators, and policy makers were forced to take extraordinary measures after the 2008 crisis. As a result, banks are more highly capitalized today, and less money is sloshing around the global financial system. But some familiar risks are creeping back, and new ones have emerged. In this article, we build on a decade of research on financial markets to look at how the landscape has changed.

    Global debt continues to grow, fueled by new borrowers
    Households have reduced debt, but many are far from financially well
    Banks are safer but less profitable
    The global financial system is less interconnected—and less vulnerable to contagion
    New risks bear watching

Global debt continues to grow, fueled by new borrowers

As the Great Recession receded, many expected to see a wave of deleveraging. But it never came. Confounding expectations, the combined global debt of governments, nonfinancial corporations, and households has grown by $72 trillion since the end of 2007. The increase is smaller but still pronounced when measured relative to GDP.

Underneath that headline number are important differences in who has borrowed and the sources and types of debt outstanding. Governments in advanced economies have borrowed heavily, as have nonfinancial companies around the world. China alone accounts for more than one-third of global debt growth since the crisis. Its total debt has increased by more than five times over the past decade to reach $29.6 trillion by mid-2017. Its debt has gone from 145 percent of GDP in 2007, in line with other developing countries, to 256 percent in 2017. This puts China’s debt on par with that of advanced economies.
Growing government debt

Public debt was mounting in many advanced economies even before 2008, and it swelled even further as the Great Recession caused a drop in tax revenues and a rise in social-welfare payments. Some countries, including China and the United States, enacted fiscal-stimulus packages, and some recapitalized their banks and critical industries. Consistent with history, a debt crisis that began in the private sector shifted to governments in the aftermath (Exhibit 1). From 2008 to mid-2017, global government debt more than doubled, reaching $60 trillion.
Exhibit 1
Public debt increased rapidly after the crisis in advanced economies.

Among Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, government debt now exceeds annual GDP in Japan, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Rumblings of potential sovereign defaults and anti-EU political movements have periodically strained the eurozone. High levels of government debt set the stage for pitched battles over spending priorities well into the future.

In emerging economies, growing sovereign debt reflects the sheer scale of the investment needed to industrialize and urbanize, although some countries are also funding large public administrations and inefficient state-owned enterprises. Even so, public debt across all emerging economies is more modest, at 46 percent of GDP on average compared with 105 percent in advanced economies. Yet there are pockets of concern. Countries including Argentina, Ghana, Indonesia, Pakistan, Ukraine, and Turkey have recently come under pressure as the combination of large debts in foreign currencies and weakening local currencies becomes harder to sustain. The International Monetary Fund assesses that about 40 percent of low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa are already in debt distress or at high risk of slipping into it. Sri Lanka recently ceded control of the port of Hambantota to China Harbour Engineering, a large state-owned enterprise, after falling into arrears on the loan used to build the port.
Corporate borrowing in the era of ultra-low interest rates

An extended period of historically low interest rates has enabled companies around the world to take on cheap debt. Global nonfinancial corporate debt, including bonds and loans, has more than doubled over the past decade to hit $66 trillion in mid-2017. This nearly matches the increase in government debt over the same period.

In a departure from the past, two-thirds of the growth in corporate debt has come from developing countries. This poses a potential risk, particularly when that debt is in foreign currencies. Turkey’s corporate debt has doubled in the past ten years, with many loans denominated in US dollars. Chile and Vietnam have also seen large increases in corporate borrowing.

China has been the biggest driver of this growth. From 2007 to 2017, Chinese companies added $15 trillion in debt. At 163 percent of GDP, China now has one of the highest corporate-debt ratios in the world. We have estimated that roughly a third of China’s corporate debt is related to the booming construction and real-estate sectors.

Companies in advanced economies have borrowed more as well. Although these economies are rebalancing away from manufacturing and capital-intensive industries toward more asset-light sectors, such as health, education, technology, and media, their economic systems appear to run on ever-larger amounts of debt.

In another shift, corporate lending from banks has been nearly flat since the crisis, while corporate bond issuance has soared (Exhibit 2). The diversification of corporate funding should improve financial stability, and it reflects deepening capital markets around the world. Nonbank lenders, including private-equity funds and hedge funds, have also become major sources of credit as banks have repaired their balance sheets.
Exhibit 2
Nonfinancial corporate bonds outstanding have increased 2.7 times over the past decade to $11.7 trillion.

Section 2
Households have reduced debt, but many are far from financially well

Unsustainable household debt in advanced economies was at the core of the 2008 financial crisis. It also made the subsequent recession deeper, since households were forced to reduce consumption to pay down debt.
Mortgage debt

Before the crisis, rapidly rising home prices, low interest rates, and lax underwriting standards encouraged millions of Americans to take out bigger mortgages they could safely afford. From 2000 to 2007, US household debt relative to GDP rose by 28 percentage points.

Housing bubbles were not confined to the United States. Several European countries experienced similar run-ups—and similar growth in household debt. In the United Kingdom, for instance, household debt rose by 30 percentage points from 2000 to reach 93 percent of GDP. Irish household debt climbed even higher.
Would you like to learn more about the McKinsey Global Institute?
Visit our Financial Markets page

US home prices eventually plunged back to earth starting in 2007, leaving many homeowners with mortgages that exceeded the reduced value of their homes and could not be refinanced. Defaults rose to a peak of more than 11 percent of all mortgages in 2010. The US housing collapse was soon mirrored in the most overheated European markets.

Having slogged through a painful period of repayment, foreclosures, and tighter standards for new lending, US households have reduced their debt by 19 percentage points of GDP over the past decade (Exhibit 3). But the homeownership rate has dropped from its 2007 high of 68 percent to 64 percent in 2018—and while mortgage debt has remained relatively flat, student debt and auto loans are up sharply.
Exhibit 3
While households in hard-hit countries have deleveraged, household debt has continued to grow in other advanced economies.

Household debt is similarly down in the European countries at the core of the crisis. Irish households saw the most dramatic growth in debt but also the most dramatic decline as a share of GDP. The share of mortgages in arrears rose dramatically when home prices fell, but Ireland instituted a large-scale mortgage-restructuring program for households that were unable to meet their payments, and net new lending to households was negative for many years after the crisis. Spain’s household debt has been lowered by 21 percentage points of GDP from its peak in 2009—a drop achieved through repayments and sharp cuts in new lending. In the United Kingdom, household debt has drifted downward by just nine percentage points of GDP over the same period.

In countries such as Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and South Korea, household debt is now substantially higher than it was prior to the crisis. Canada, which weathered the 2008 turmoil relatively well, has had a real-estate bubble of its own in recent years. Home prices have risen sharply in its major cities, and adjustable mortgages expose home buyers to rising interest rates. Today, household debt as a share of GDP is higher in Canada than it was in the United States in 2007.
Other types of household debt

Looking beyond mortgage debt, broader measures of household financial wellness remain worrying. In the United States, 40 percent of adults surveyed by the Federal Reserve System said they would struggle to cover an unexpected expense of $400. One-quarter of nonretired adults have no pension or retirement savings. Outstanding student loans now top $1.4 trillion, exceeding credit-card debt—and unlike nearly all other forms of debt, they cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. This cycle seems likely to continue, as workers increasingly need to upgrade their skills to remain relevant. Auto loans (including subprime auto loans) have also grown rapidly in the United States. Although overall household indebtedness is lower since the crisis, many households will be vulnerable in future downturns.

Section 3
Banks are safer but less profitable

After the crisis, policy makers and regulators worldwide took steps to strengthen banks against future shocks. The Tier 1 capital ratio has risen from less than 4 percent on average for US and European banks in 2007 to more than 15 percent in 2017.1 The largest systemically important financial institutions must hold an additional capital buffer, and all banks now hold a minimum amount of liquid assets.
Scaled back risk and returns

In the past decade, most of the largest global banks have reduced the scale and scope of their trading activities (including proprietary trading for their own accounts), thereby lessening exposure to risk. But many banks based in advanced economies have not found profitable new business models in an era of ultra-low interest rates and new regulatory regimes.

Return on equity (ROE) for banks in advanced economies has fallen by more than half since the crisis (Exhibit 4). The pressure has been greatest for European banks. Their average ROE over the past five years stood at 4.4 percent, compared with 7.9 percent for US banks.
Exhibit 4
Banks have posted weaker financial performance since the crisis.

Investors have a dim view of growth prospects, valuing banks at only slightly above the book value of their assets. Prior to the crisis, the price-to-book ratio of banks in advanced economies was at or just under 2.0, reflecting expectations of strong growth. But in every year since 2008, most advanced economy banks have had average price-to-book ratios of less than one (including 75 percent of EU banks, 62 percent of Japanese banks, and 86 percent of UK banks).

In some emerging economies, nonperforming loans are a drag on the banking system. In India, more than 9 percent of all loans are nonperforming. Turkey’s recent currency depreciation could cause defaults to climb.
Visualizing global debt
The dynamics of debt—a global exploration
Explore the changing landscape of global debt in 51 countries since 2000

The best-performing banks in the post-crisis era are those that have dramatically cut operational costs even while building up risk-management and compliance staff. In general, US banks have made sharper cuts than those in Europe. But banking could become a commoditized, low-margin business unless the industry revitalizes revenue growth. From 2012 to 2017, the industry’s annual global revenue growth averaged only 2.4 percent, considerably down from 12.3 percent in the heady pre-crisis days.
Digital disruptions

Traditional banks, like incumbents in every other sector, are being challenged by new digital players. Platform companies such as Alibaba, Amazon, Facebook, and Tencent threaten to take some business lines, a story that is already playing out in mobile and digital payments. McKinsey’s Banking Practice projects that as interest rates recover and other tailwinds come into play, the banking industry’s ROE could reach 9.3 percent in 2025. But if retail and corporate customers switch their banking to digital companies at the same rate that people have adopted new technologies in the past, the industry’s ROE could fall even further.

Yet technology is not just a threat to banks. It could also provide the productivity boost they need. Many institutions are already digitizing their back-office and consumer-facing operations for efficiency. But they can also hone their use of big data, analytics, and artificial intelligence in risk modeling and underwriting—potentially avoiding the kind of bets that turned sour during the 2008 crisis and raising profitability.

Section 4
The global financial system is less interconnected—and less vulnerable to contagion

One of the biggest changes in the financial landscape is sharply curtailed international activity. Simply put, with less money flowing across borders, the risk of a 2008-style crisis ricocheting around the world has been reduced. Since 2007, gross cross-border capital flows have fallen by half in absolute terms (Exhibit 5).
Exhibit 5
Global cross-border capital flows have declined 53 percent since the 2007 peak.
Global banks retrench

Eurozone banks have led this retreat from international activity, becoming more local and less global. Their total foreign loans and other claims have dropped by $6.1 trillion, or 38 percent, since 2007 (Exhibit 6). Nearly half of the decline reflects reduced intra-eurozone borrowing (and especially interbank lending). Two-thirds of the assets of German banks, for instance, were outside of Germany in 2007, but that is now down to one-third.
Exhibit 6
European banks have reduced foreign claims.

Swiss, UK, and some US banks have reduced their international business. Globally, banks have sold more than $2 trillion of assets since the crisis. The retrenchment of global banks reflects several factors: a reappraisal of country risk, the recognition that foreign business was often less profitable than domestic business, national policies promoting domestic lending, and new regulations on capital and liquidity.

The world’s largest global banks have also curtailed correspondent relationships with local banks in other countries, particularly developing countries. These relationships enable banks to make cross-border payments and other transactions in countries where they do not have their own branch operations. These services have been essential for trade-financing flows and remittances and for giving developing countries access to key currencies. But global banks have been applying a stricter cost-benefit analysis to these relationships, largely due to a new assessment of risks and regulatory complexity.

Some banks—notably those from Canada, China, and Japan—are expanding abroad but in different ways. Canadian banks have moved into the United States and other markets in the Americas, as their home market is saturated. Japanese banks have stepped up syndicated lending to US companies, although as minority investors, and are growing their presence in Southeast Asia. China’s banks have ramping up lending abroad. They now have more than $1 trillion in foreign assets, up from virtually nil a decade ago. Most of China’s lending is in support of outward foreign direct investment (FDI) by Chinese companies.
Foreign direct investment is now a larger share of capital flows, a trend that promotes stability

Global FDI has fallen from a peak of $3.2 trillion in 2007 to $1.6 trillion in 2017, but this drop is smaller than the decrease in cross-border lending. It partly reflects a decline in corporations using low-tax financial centers, but it also reflects a sharp pullback in cross-border investment in the eurozone.

However, post-crisis FDI accounts for half of cross-border capital flows, up from the average of one-quarter before the crisis. Unlike short-term lending, FDI reflects companies pursuing long-term strategies to expand their businesses. It is, by far, the least volatile type of capital flow.
Global imbalances between nations have declined

Ben Bernanke pointed to the “global savings glut” generated by China and other countries with large current account surpluses as a factor driving interest rates lower and fueling the real-estate bubble. Because much of this capital surplus was invested in US Treasuries and other government bonds, it put downward pressure on interest rates. This led to portfolio reallocation and, ultimately, a credit bubble. Today, this pressure has subsided—and with it, the risk that countries will be hit with crises if foreign capital suddenly pulls out.
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The most striking changes are the declines in China’s current account surplus and the US deficit. China’s surplus reached 9.9 percent of GDP at its peak in 2007 but is now down to just 1.4 percent of GDP. The US deficit hit 5.9 percent of GDP in its peak at 2006 but had declined to 2.4 percent by 2017. Large deficits in Spain and the United Kingdom have similarly eased.

Still, some imbalances remain. Germany has maintained a large surplus throughout the past decade, and some emerging markets (including Argentina and Turkey) have deficits that make them vulnerable.

section 5
New risks bear watching

Many of the changes in the global financial system have been positive. Better-capitalized banks are more resilient and less exposed to global financial contagion. Volatile short-term lending across borders has been cut sharply. The complex and opaque securitization products that led to the crisis have fallen out of favor. Yet some new risks have emerged.
Corporate-debt dangers

The growth of corporate debt in developing countries poses a risk, particularly as interest rates rise and when that debt is denominated in foreign currencies. If the local currency depreciates, companies might be caught in a vicious cycle that makes repaying or refinancing their debt difficult. At the time of this writing, a large decline in the Turkish lira is sending tremors through markets, leaving EU and other foreign banks exposed.

As the corporate-bond market has grown, credit quality has declined. There has been notable growth in noninvestment-grade “junk” bonds. Even investment-grade quality has deteriorated. Of corporate bonds outstanding in the United States, 40 percent have BBB ratings, one notch above junk status. We calculate that one-quarter of corporate issuers in emerging markets are at risk of default today—and that share could rise to 40 percent if interest rates rise by 200 basis points.

Over the next five years, a record amount of corporate bonds worldwide will come due, and annual refinancing needs will hit $1.6 trillion to $2.1 trillion. Given that interest rates are rising and some borrowers already have shaky finances, it is reasonable to expect more defaults in the years ahead.

Another development worth watching carefully is the strong growth of collateralized loan obligations. A cousin of the collateralized debt obligations that were common prior to the crisis, these vehicles use loans to companies with low credit ratings as collateral.
Real-estate bubbles and mortgage risk

One of the lessons of 2008 is just how difficult it is to recognize a bubble while it is inflating. Since the crisis, real-estate prices have soared to new heights in sought-after property markets, from San Francisco to Shanghai to Sydney. Unlike in 2007, however, these run-ups tend to be localized, and crashes are less likely to cause global collateral damage. But sky-high urban housing prices are contributing to other issues, including shortages of affordable housing options, strains on household budgets, reduced mobility, and growing inequality of wealth.

In the United States, another new form of risk comes from nonbank lenders. New research shows that these lenders accounted for more than half of new US mortgage originations in 2016. While banks have tightened their underwriting standards, these lenders disproportionately serve lower-income borrowers with weaker credit scores—and their loans account for more than half of the mortgages securitized by Ginnie Mae and one-third of those securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
China’s rapid growth in debt

While China is currently managing its debt burden, there are three areas to watch. First, roughly half of the debt of households, nonfinancial corporations, and government is associated, either directly or indirectly, with real estate. Second, local government financing vehicles have borrowed heavily to fund low-return infrastructure and social-housing projects. In 2016, 42 percent of bonds issued by local governments were to pay old debts. This year, one of these local vehicles missed a loan payment, signaling that the central government might not bail out profligate local governments. Third, around a quarter of outstanding debt in China is provided by an opaque shadow banking system.

The combination of an overextended property sector and the unsustainable finances of local governments could eventually combust. A wave of loan defaults could damage the regular banking system and create losses for investors and companies that have put money into shadow banking vehicles. Yet China’s government has the capacity to bail out the financial sector if default rates reach crisis levels—if it chooses to do so. Because China’s capital account has not been fully liberalized, spillovers to the global economy would likely be felt through a slowdown in China’s GDP growth rather than financial contagion.
Additional risks

The world is full of other unknowns. High-speed trading by algorithms can cause “flash crashes.” Over the past decade, investors have poured almost $3 trillion into passive exchange-traded products. But their outsized popularity might create volatility and make capital markets less efficient, as there are fewer investors examining the fundamentals of companies and industries. Cryptocurrencies are growing in popularity, reaching bubble-like conditions in the case of Bitcoin, and their implications for monetary policy and financial stability is unclear. And looming over everything are heightened geopolitical tensions, with potential flash points now spanning the globe and nationalist movements questioning institutions, long-standing relationships, and the concept of free trade.

The good news is that most of the world’s pockets of debt are unlikely to pose systemic risk. If any one of these potential bubbles burst, it would cause pain for a set of investors and lenders, but none seems poised to produce a 2008-style meltdown. The likelihood of contagion has been greatly reduced by the fact that the market for complex securitizations, credit-default swaps, and the like has largely evaporated (although the growth of the collateralized-loan-obligation market is an exception to this trend).

But one thing we know from history is that the next crisis will not look like the last one. If 2008 taught us anything, it’s the importance of being vigilant when times are still good.
About the author(s)
Susan Lund is a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute, where James Manyika is a chairman of and director, and Diana Goldshtein is a knowledge specialist. Asheet Mehta is a senior partner in McKinsey’s New York office.
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Co.Design/Katherine Schwab: The iPhone’s original UI designer on Apple’s greatest flaws


The iPhone’s original UI designer on Apple’s greatest flaws
Imran Chaudhri discusses how we can regain control over our devices–and how Apple can do better.
The iPhone’s original UI designer on Apple’s greatest flaws
[Source Images: Apple, VLPA/iStock]

By Katharine Schwab 7 minute Read

It’s been a decade since the British designer Imran Chaudhri first imagined a user interface that would introduce millions of people to the smartphone. Chaudhri joined Apple in 1995, soon rising to become the design director of the company’s human interfaces group–where he was one member of the six-person team that designed the iPhone.

Imran Chaudhri [Photo: courtesy Imran Chaudhri]
The world has changed dramatically in the decade since. An estimated 2.5 billion smartphone users globally use their devices to connect to each other at lightning speeds today. And while the iPhone is still a groundbreaking invention and irreplaceable tool, its flaws have also come to light: It has ushered in a world of digital distraction, where the smartphone’s irresistibly addictive interface has steadily transformed the way we work, think, and live in general. Many of us are actively trying to use our phones less. Digital detox is a wellness trend. Overuse of smartphones can contribute to mental health problems. One of the iPhone’s other co-inventors, Tony Fadell, has decried the unintended consequences of its mass adoption.

Chaudhri left Apple in 2017, after spending almost two decades designing interfaces for the iPod, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV as well as the iPhone, to pursue a still-under-wraps company of his own. I recently sat down with him to talk about his time at Apple, and had the chance to ask him how he views his legacy now that the downsides of smartphones have come into focus. He cited the challenges of working as a designer at a giant corporation, where his personal ethics didn’t always align with decision-making, but also said something else: That he always knew, even when playing with the phone’s earliest prototypes, that one of its greatest flaws would be its capacity to distract and monopolize users’ attention spans–and that Apple purposely didn’t give users enough tools to maintain their control over the device.

Here are six lightly edited excerpts from our conversation.
[Source Images: Apple, VLPA/iStock]
On designing “Do Not Disturb”

“I think in some ways, many designers that really do understand their domain can foresee certain things being issues. And certainly, when we were working on the phone, I knew we were going to have some issues [with distracting notifications].

“Very early on, when we first started building prototypes of the phone, a couple of us were lucky enough to take them home… By using the phone and living with the phone, I had friends all over the world who were hitting me up all the time and the phone was pinging and the light was going on, so I realized for us to coexist with this phone, we needed to have something to act as a gatekeeper. Very early on, I designed what ultimately became Do Not Disturb.”
[Source Images: VLPA/iStock, Oliur Rahman/Unsplash ]
On Apple’s internal struggle over who controls your device

“Inside, getting people to understand that [distraction] was going to be an issue was difficult. Steve [Jobs] understood it…internally though, I think there was always a struggle as to how much control do we want people to have over their devices. When I and a few other people were advocating for more control, that level of control was actually pushed back by marketing. We would hear things like, ‘you can’t do that because then the device will become uncool.’

“The controls exist for you. They’ve always been there and yet it’s incredibly hard to know how to use them and to manage them. You literally have to spend many days to go through and really understand what’s bombarding you and then turn those things off in a singular fashion. So for the people who understand the system really well, they can take advantage of it, but the people that don’t–the people that don’t even change their ringtone, who don’t even change their wallpaper–those are the real people that suffer from this sort of thing. They don’t have that level of control.”
[Source Images: Apple, VLPA/iStock]
On the possibility of a smarter iPhone, with predictive notifications

“You might install about 10 applications on an afternoon and say, ‘yeah, you can use my camera, you can use my location, you can send me notifications.’ Later on down the road, you find out Facebook’s been selling your data. Later on down the road, you realize that you’ve developed a sleep disorder because these things are blinking every night and you actually don’t really care about them until the morning. The system is intelligent enough to let you know that there are [apps] that you’ve given permission to that are still using your data, and notifications you’ve turned on that you’re not actually responding to. So let’s circle back and let’s reestablish a dialogue between the phone and the customer, where the phone asks, ‘Do you really need these notifications? Do you really want Facebook to be using your address book data? Because you’re not logging into Facebook anymore.’ There’s a lot of ways to remind people if you just design them properly.”
[Source Images: Apple, VLPA/iStock]
On why Apple is finally paying attention

“The iOS 12 [features that help you monitor your phone usage] are an extension of the work that we started with Do Not Disturb. It’s not as if there’s anything new being done. But the only reason why it’s there is because people have been screaming about it, articles have been written about it, and it’s gotten a lot of bad press. There’s been no choice but to respond to that bad press. It’s a good thing for everyone because customers and kids will be getting a better product. Are they getting the best product? No. Because the intentions aren’t right. The intentions are really to just be responsive to the bad press. If the intentions were right, these things would come about by their own accord.

“That’s the complex nature of product design in a large corporation. That’s really it. You’re serving your customer, you’re serving the interest of the company, and you’re serving the interest of you, of your ethics as a designer. It’s really complicated, designing for a corporation. I think it’s very easy for people to dismiss Apple and say that it’s not doing the right thing. It’s a balancing act and it’s really tough. It’s very easy to throw shade on people and in some ways that’s what’s been happening recently. There are some people who deserve a lot more shade than others. But you have to at some point give it up to people who actually come around and listen and make changes. You can argue those changes don’t go far enough. I don’t think they do, personally. But at least there’s a movement in the right direction.”
[Source Images: Apple, VLPA/iStock]
On managing your digital life like you manage your health

“My relationship with my device is really simple. I don’t let it overpower me. I have the same black wallpaper that we had since the first day of the iPhone. I’m not distracted by a bunch of things. I have few apps on my first page.

“Not that these things really matter. These things are really personal. I know there have been people advising people how to use their phones, going to gray-scale. I don’t think those things really work for everyone. You have to take a hard look, just like you do with everything: how much coffee are you drinking, should you really be smoking a pack a day, that sort of stuff. Your device is at the same level. Mental health is a huge thing. I do think that’s going to be a focus in terms of trends in design. Just as sustainability is a foregone conclusion and you have to think about how you make your products sustainable, you have to think about the cognitive pressure, the impact–the cognitive design.”
[Source Images: Apple, VLPA/iStock]
On the future of interfaces–and their inevitable problems

“I see a natural progression from knobs and dials, to clicks and taps, to swipes and gestures, to voice and emotion. When you get into that realm of voice and emotion, and then it’s going to move into emotion and thought as your interfaces with these devices, you’re going to have to contend with a lot of different things. The knobs and dials came with ergonomics issues. The clicks and taps came with all the repetitive stress disorder issues. There are issues any time you do something unnatural, when you ask humanity to interact with machines. It’s that simple. The side effects of interfacing with machines, whether it’s knobs and dials, or clicks and taps, or swipes and gestures, are always going to be there. You have to be smart enough to be ahead of them and anticipate what they are.”
About the author

Katharine Schwab is an associate editor based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture.