Precio de la cerveza define el índice alternativo del costo de la vida

  • Copenhagen es la ciudad más cara del mundo cuando se toman en cuenta los impuestos personales.

Financial Times publica que un vaso de cerveza en Copenhagen es notoriamente caro, pero podría ser muchísimo más si se suman los impuestos personales a los más ricos que se cobran en Dinamarca.

Un nuevo informe ha usado el precio de la cerveza con el fin de ilustrar las ciudades más caras para vivir para los contribuyentes de más altos ingresos. Por ende, no sólo comprende el impuesto al consumo, sino también a la renta que en Dinamarca puede llevarse el 60% de los ingresos de una persona.

El estudio fue realizado por Sovereign Group, un proveedor de servicios de trust y corporativo, que reinterpretó  los datos publicados por Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) y la OCDE bajo el prisma de los impuestos a los ingresos. Por ejemplo, si se pagan US$ 10 por una pint de cerveza en Los Angeles y el impuesto más alto a pagar allá es de 50%, “está claro que será necesario ganar US$ 20 para comprar esa cerveza”, señala el informe de Sovereign Group. No así en Islas Cayman donde cuesta US$ 15 la misma cerveza, pero no hay impuestos personales.

El resultado fue que las ciudades más caras donde vivir son:  (Copenhagen (Dinamarca), Nueva York (EE.UU.), Tokio (Japón), Osaka (Japón), París (Francia) y Reykjavik (Islandia). Singapur que suele estar entre las top tres más caras, desciende al lugar número 13 en este ranking.

Publicado por Financial Times, viernes 14 de julio de 2017

El valor de lo auténtico que los fabricantes de yogur habían olvidado

Esta historia plantea una pregunta: ¿Por qué los consumidores terminan por preferir el yogur griego si no lo encuentran de buen sabor? Básicamente porque creen que es un producto genuino. Algo que a Yoplait -del grupo General Mills-  le costó mucho tiempo entender y fabricar.

Publicado por NYT, 26 de junio de 2017

Yoplait Learns to Manufacture Authenticity to Go With Its Yogurt

JUNE 26, 2017

Alex Dos Diaz

A few years ago, as the Yogurt Wars were heating up and Greek invaders were storming the grocery aisles, executives at Yoplait, one of the nation’s largest yogurt companies, began arguing among themselves.

Thick, sour Greek yogurts with names like Chobani, Fage and Oikos were surging in popularity. Sales of runny, sugary Yoplait were oozing off a cliff. So Yoplait executives ran to their test kitchens and developed a Greek yogurt of their own. All they needed was the perfect, authentic-sounding name.

One group argued for the Greek word for health and some oddly ecstatic punctuation: Ygeía! Another camp said that sounded like someone vomiting, and pushed instead for made-up names that combined Yoplait with Hellenic suffixes, such as Yoganos.

For months, several current and former employees told me, executives debated the options. One manager began ostentatiously leafing through a Greek dictionary during meetings; a rival, not to be outdone, started auditing Greek language classes.

Eventually a choice was needed. Yoplait, based in Minneapolis, is part of General Mills, the huge international food conglomerate, which prides itself on cleareyed, data-driven decision-making. Cold, hard numbers — not passion — have made Cheerios, Green Giant and Betty Crocker into colossal brands. “We’re disciplined,” David Clark, a 26-year company veteran, told me. “That’s why we succeed.”

So in the end, executives turned to their spreadsheets. They discovered that neither Ygeía! nor Yoganos — nor any of the other ersatz names — tested well. The data pointed in a more traditional direction. So to great fanfare, in 2010, they released their finely tuned attempt to reclaim the yogurt crown.

They called it Yoplait Greek.

It tanked almost immediately. And so has almost every other Greek yogurt product that Yoplait has put on shelves. The company’s overall yogurt sales have declined by over $100 million since 2010. As Chobani and others have earned billions, General Mills’s share of the yogurt market has shrunk by a third.

So now, Yoplait is opening a new front in the cultured-milk battles. Next month, when you walk down the dairy aisle of your grocery store, you’ll see the company’s latest salvo, a new formula that executives say is innovative, exciting and — c’est possible? — passionate. They’re calling it Oui by Yoplait, in homage to the company’s French roots.

Whether it will succeed remains to be seen. Yoplait has stumbled before. But if, as you are shopping, you happen to pick up a small glass pot of Oui and are momentarily transported to the French countryside, you’ll know that the company has finally figured out how to look beyond the data and embrace the narrative.

Yoplait may have figured out how to fake authenticity as craftily as everyone else.

In that lesson, there’s a deeper business experiment — one you contribute to every time you pick up a product because you think someone once told you that it was healthier, or tastier, or better for the environment, or something like that. All companies manufacture authenticity to some degree. That’s called marketing. But, increasingly, creating a sense of genuineness is essential to success.

“For consumers today, food isn’t just about sustenance, it’s about an experience,” said Darren Seifer, a food analyst at the NPD Group, a market research company. “People want a story behind what they buy. That’s why craft beers and small organics are doing so well. They’re selling authenticity. The big companies want that.”

Consider, for instance, the unlikely tale of Chobani, the company that essentially created the Greek yogurt industry in the United States. In 1996, as Chobani’s well-oiled promotional machine will tell you, a Turkish immigrant named Hamdi Ulukaya arrived in the United States with $3,000 in his pocket. Sixteen years later, he was selling $1 billion worth of Greek yogurt by employing refugees from local resettlement centers and extolling the artisanal virtues of Chobani for the body, environment and soul.

This story of authenticity has been essential to Chobani’s success and central to positioning Greek yogurt as an alternative to the sugary concoctions that come from companies like Yoplait. Chobani’s story has been told thousands of times, everywhere from The New Yorker magazine to “60 Minutes” — free advertising worth more than $3 million, according to the data firm MediaQuant.

As Chobani grew, Big Yogurt got worried. So Yoplait commissioned a series of focus groups that initially soothed executives’ anxieties: Taste tests revealed that most people disliked Greek yogurt. It was too sour and unfamiliar, the data said. The products’ names were too hard to remember. There was little need, Yoplait executives told one another, for concern.

But as the Greek phenomena gained steam — today, it accounts for more than a third of all yogurt sales in the United States — Yoplait’s studies found an interesting hiccup: Even though people said they disliked Greek yogurt, they kept on trying it, again and again, until they learned to like it. Why? Because, consumers told Yoplait’s researchers, they liked the Chobani story.

Consumers heard that Greek yogurt made it easier to lose weight. (There are 15 grams of sugar in a strawberry Chobani cup; Yoplait’s strawberry has 18.) People said they had heard Chobani was more natural. (Though Chobani does not contain preservatives, other ingredients are similar to those of competitors.)

But the most powerful story, according to current and former Yoplait executives who described their research, was that consumers simply thought Chobani was cool. It was easier to believe it was authentic and healthy because it had an exotic name, a founder who embodied rags-to-riches success and lots of buzz.

So Yoplait began collecting data on how to become cool itself. The lust for numbers, however, doomed even its best efforts. There were dozens of proposed innovations — hipper labels for Yoplait Greek, yogurts that tasted like exotic beers or jalapeño peppers, recipes that made tongues tingle or supposedly whitened teeth — but whenever these concepts were tested, there was never enough data to push them forward.

The problem for Yoplait was that authenticity — like innovation — almost never tests well. This is a common phenomenon. “Data regresses to the mean,” said James Gilmore, a professor at the University of Virginia and an author of “Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want.” “Something that’s really original, really authentic, it’s probably not going to score that well because people have a knee-jerk reaction against new things.”

Eventually, however, after six long years of releasing Yoplait Greek products that tests indicated should be big successes but almost never were, General Mills finally admitted there was one option left: Executives needed to study the science of manufacturing genuineness.

So they began passing among themselves studies showing that people get a neurological rush when they buy something they believe is authentic, like clothing made by hand instead of a machine. But to make authenticity seem genuine, the research indicated, products needed some kind of story.

Chobani’s narrative, drawing on the founder’s personal story and a simple, timeworn recipe, fit perfectly into the American dream. What’s more, the product’s name was hard to pronounce, making it a little rough around the edges, which seemed even more authentic.

Yoplait began scouring its own history and ultimately found a tale that seemed to resonate: For centuries (or so the story goes), French farmers have made yogurt by putting milk, fruit and cultures into glass jars and then setting them aside. So Yoplait tweaked its recipe and began buying glass jars.

“Instead of culturing the ingredients in large batches and then filling individual cups,” the company’s news release reads, “Oui by Yoplait is made by pouring ingredients into each individual pot, and allowing each glass pot to culture for eight hours, resulting in a uniquely thick, delicious yogurt.”

Some may question how much these distinctions matter. “But the simplicity of this idea, that this is a French method, coming from a French brand, with a French name, that’s authenticity,” Mr. Clark, who is now the president of United States yogurt at General Mills, told me.

What’s more, when data started coming back from focus groups, Yoplait’s executives became even more enthusiastic. Some customers said they hated the name Oui. Others didn’t know how to pronounce it. (A small group said Oui sounded like a pornographic magazine. Which is accurate. It ceased publication in 2007.) Yoplait executives were thrilled. These were the imperfections they were looking for! Finally, they had engineered their way to authenticity.

So, soon you’ll be able to buy Oui. (The yogurt, that is.) It has a creamy texture and sweet flavor. And if this product is a success — if years from now someone tells the heartwarming story of how the Greek hordes were defeated by simple French pots — then we’ll know that Yoplait’s number crunchers finally figured out the formula for authenticity, and have reclaimed their crown. Le roi des données est mort. Vive le roi.

Fiscal de crímenes corporativos renuncia al Departamento de Justicia, alegando que no puede trabajar en la administración Trump

Una de las cabezas de la fiscalía que se encargaba de los crímenes de las corporaciones del Departamento de Justicia de EE.UU., Hui Chen, acaba de hacer públicas las razones por las cuales renunció a su puesto en junio a través de su cuenta de LinkedIn.

La ex abogado de Pfizer y Microsoft sostuvo que ella no podía obligar a cumplir normas éticas a las compañías, si sus propios jefes de la administración Trump han estado involucrados en conductas que nunca toleraría si vinieran de las empresas.

Chen ingresó al Departamento de Justicia en 2015 y estaba a cargo de la sección de fraude.

Publicado en IBTimes, domingo 2 de julio de 2017

Seguir leyendo → “Fiscal de crímenes corporativos renuncia al Departamento de Justicia, alegando que no puede trabajar en la administración Trump”

El monje que dejó el monasterio por arreglar planes de retiro en quiebra

Doug Lynam era un monje benedictino que dejó su hábito para dedicarse a ayudar a las escuelas a crear mejores planes de ahorro previsional para que sus profesores pudieran abandonar la sala de clases con dignidad.

La vida de Lynam no es simple. Primero probó con el cristianismo fundamentalista, luego se dejó llevar por el hippismo, pero más allá del eslogan “amor y paz”, no hacía mucho por los demás. Estuvo otros dos años entre los marines y tampoco encontró solución.

Finalmente, se hizo monje benedictino en Santa Fe, hasta que sus pares entraron en problemas financieros. Eso sumado a la angustia que veía entre los profesores que no lograban tener pensiones adecuadas, lo hizo crear Lynam Financial Services.

Ver The New York Times, 9 de junio de 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. — There are many things that Doug Lynam has to think about now that he no longer wears a robe and lives in a monastery. Socks, for one. Do they match? Should he care? “How does this color thing work?” he wondered aloud in his office this week while sporting a muted gray pair that did not in fact clash.

But after decades as a committed seeker, he at least has found his calling. He wants to help schools build better retirement savings plans, so their teachers can leave the classroom at a time of their choosing with dignity and grace.

His path to that purpose had some unexpected stops along the way.

In his early teenage years in Naperville, Ill., Mr. Lynam dabbled in Christian fundamentalism. “I found community, family and friendship,” he said. “But the theology was very conservative.”

Then came the longhaired hippie phase. “They talked about peace and love,” he said. “But there was a lot of smug satisfaction about shared values. What were they doing to help and serve others? The answer was, not much.”

He sought guidance at St. John’s College here in Santa Fe, a school known for its rigorous, traditional curriculum. “Kant and Hegel have lots of answers, but there isn’t an answer,” he said. “There are signposts.”

And then came a stint in the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School in 1994 and 1995. “I didn’t want to kill people for a living,” he said. “And there was no pressing global conflict or need for my service.”

While it all may seem somewhat flighty, Mr. Lynam, 43, said the bouncing around merely reflected a restless soul who was nonetheless committed to doing good. “Why did God put me on this earth?” he said. “If I can’t figure that out, how do I pick a career or spouse, or operate in the world? I felt like I needed to answer that question fundamentally before I could be of use to anyone.”

It was his thesis adviser from St. John’s who invited him to become a Benedictine monk, and the appeal was immediate. “If you’re really searching for the meaning of life, where better to find it than a monastery?” Mr. Lynam said.

The commitment required oaths of celibacy, obedience and poverty. The three monks in residence in Santa Fe did paid work as teachers and pooled their funds. One of the senior monks managed the money, Mr. Lynam said.

By the end of the 1990s, however, there was trouble. The three monks had never asked the public for financial support, and they didn’t take money from the Catholic Church either, as they wished to maintain their independence.

But poverty had turned out to be a relative term. The monks needed cars and new tires and health insurance, and they lived in a house that came with expenses. They took others on religious retreats and made trips to Rome themselves. Both older monks had brought debt to the relationship that Mr. Lynam did not know about until years into their brotherhood.

Eventually, they were so far in the hole that personal bankruptcy for all three of them was the best option for keeping the monastery intact. While Mr. Lynam did not ultimately appear before a judge in his robe, the irony and embarrassment were no fun nonetheless. “It was emotionally gut-wrenching,” said Mr. Lynam, who didn’t know much about personal finance at the time. “One of the worst things that has ever happened to me.”

But it also awakened something in him. The stream of visitors to his monastery would arrive with many purported reasons. As the junior monk, he did not give much religious counsel. But he soon recognized a pattern: Every person who arrived with a spiritual issue had a financial problem lurking somewhere beneath it.

“So I would say, ‘I’ll pray for you, but let’s make a budget,’” he said. “‘Let’s start paying off student loans. Let’s get the child support you deserve.’ Prayer and contemplation can help you take more mindful action, but action is the outcome of contemplation.”

As a math, astronomy, economics and, eventually, personal finance teacher at Santa Fe Preparatory School, Brother Doug, as the students knew him, also became the person many colleagues turned to when they had questions about their financial lives. And when one lifelong teacher showed him her $16,000 retirement account, he was aghast.

While she cried in front of him, his head exploded with questions that he did not know how to answer. Who was in charge of this plan? How did they not know that she had so little money saved? Why didn’t they tell her? And how do I fix this?

The questions about his school’s 403(b) plan — which is like a 401(k) for nonprofits and educational institutions, and was the subject of a five-part series that Tara Siegel Bernard and I wrote last year — led him down a yearslong rabbit hole.

His conclusion? “These plans have drifted for decades,” he said. “There are poor investment choices, high fees and annuities that are abusive. Schools have forgotten that they are fiduciaries, and we’re seeing retirements being torpedoed by negligence, essentially.”

In the world of 401(k)’s, failing to act in employees’ best interest has led to many lawsuits. But Mr. Lynam did not sue. Instead, after trying and failing to find a better firm to fix his school’s 403(b), he up and started his own, Lynam Financial Services. His solution? Give people a menu of index or similar mutual funds, enroll all employees automatically and increase their savings regularly.

This was, in effect, a third full-time job for Mr. Lynam — and neither monks nor teachers ever feel as if they are truly off-duty. So in the past year, he has left both teaching and the monastery. And last month, he entered a partnership with LongView Asset Management in Santa Fe. A co-founder of that firm is now a Hindu nun and a longtime assistant is now an accredited Buddhist chaplain, so the principals there did not blink at putting a former monk to work.

Mr. Lynam and I studied a few of his favorite sacred texts together, as I’ll be doing with other professional people of both faith and finance whom I will profile in the coming weeks. One story, from a book called “Tales of a Magic Monastery,” describes a parish priest on retreat who seeks guidance from a monk about his own spiritual life. His response comes in the form of a question: What do they need?

From the Text

Afecta percepción visual de la realidad

Las ventajas que tiene ser abierto de mente

  • Estudios recientes revelan que los diferentes tipos de personalidad no sólo afectan la forma en que se vive la vida, sino también la manera de percibir la realidad.

El sitio Quartz da cuenta de un estudio publicado a inicios de este año en el Journal of Research in Personality y lo realizó la Universidad de Melbourne en Australia. A 123 voluntarios les aplicó cinco tests de personalidad, que medían extroversión, conciencia, neurosis, amabilidad y apertura a experiencias. La última prueba involucraba creatividad, imaginación y la voluntad para probar nuevas cosas.

Luego los sometieron a pruebas de carácter visual. Las conclusiones que arrojaron los experimentos fueron las siguientes:

  1.  La apertura de mente está vinculada a la creatividad. Las personas más abiertas son capaces de encontrar soluciones creativas, aunque estén sometidas a estímulos incompatibles donde la mayoría de sus pares ven opciones restringidas.
  2. Las personas están constantemente filtrando información y dejándola fuera para poder focalizarse en lo que les interesa. Por ejemplo, subconscientemente se puede ignorar el ruido ambiente y esto determina lo que se percibe. La puerta que deja pasar la información a la conciencia tiene diferentes grados de flexibilidad. Las personas abiertas de mente tienen una puerta más flexible y dejan entrar más información que el promedio.
  3. Las personas que son más abiertas de mente están menos predispuestas a la “ceguera desatenta”. Este fenómeno visual se produce cuando el individuo está tan enfocado en un aspecto de una escena que no pone atención a todo el contexto y no logra darse cuenta de algo obvio que ocurre. Por ejemplo: Se les pide que cuenten el número de veces que un bailarín sale de un círculo y no se dan cuenta que pasa por el medio del escenario un personaje que no tiene nada que ver con la escena.

Publicado por Quartz, 4 de junio de 2017

Joan C. Williams: la élite y la clase trabajadora blanca en los tiempos de Trump

Joan C. Williams es una feminista y demócrata estadounidense que postula que la clase trabajadora blanca que votó por Trump está pidiendo dignidad. Señala que los demócratas tienden a caricaturizar a esta clase como machistas, xenófobos y proteccionistas y no los han escuchado.

Publicado en Financial Times, 10 de Mayo de 2017

Seguir leyendo → “Joan C. Williams: la élite y la clase trabajadora blanca en los tiempos de Trump”

Desde los malls zombies a Bonobos: la transformación del retail estadounidense

Los centros comerciales se están quedando sin públicos y el retail lucha por buscar nuevas fórmulas.

Ver aquí