Cubisms Vol 4 No 1

Our first issue of Cubisms in 2014 includes a range of topics across several key industries. And as with all of our previous publications, we hope our ideas and insights help you think of new and innovative ways to approach your business. In this issue, we cover big picture ideas such as US financial policy and bailouts to renewable energy in the EU. We also look at the impact of speculative trading, what to consider around brand strategy and introduce you to the world of 'gamification'. All topics are meant to encourage new thinking – ultimately increasing your capacity to be more competitive and attain market leadership in the business world.

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  • The Game of Speculation

    What causes fluctuations in commodity prices? Is it led by changes in market fundamentals or is it the result of speculative trading? And once you know, how do you develop a strategy to ensure effective risk management? The Smart Cube presents a case of potential speculation in wheat futures traded at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) from 2012–2013, and provides sample recommendations on how to adjust your business strategy.

  • Shale Gas Exploration

    Among the various available energy sources, shale gas has witnessed the maximum traction and has emerged as one of the most promising alternatives to traditional energy sources. This article provides a brief history and overview of the alternative energy source, by region, and how it will experience global growth.

  • The Dodd-Frank Act & Too Big To Fail

    Too Big to Fail (TBTF) is the belief that certain financial institutions cannot fail due to their sheer size. Financial communities across the world ascribe great importance to these institutions and believe that they will be ultimately bailed out using taxpayer money in the event of any major crisis or failure. With the TBTF dilemma looming large before regulators worldwide, and most particularly, regulatory bodies in the US, we examine the efficacy of the 2010 Dodd–Frank Act as a tool to end this era.

  • Procurement Through the Cloud

    Cloud computing is widely known for its ability to scale and provide computing features in a cost effective manner. It has had a remarkable impact on global delivery processes, hosting, and computing across industries and functions. Will cloud computing be a major influence on how procurement will do its job in the future?

  • Municipal Bankruptcies in the US: An Impact Assessment

    A look at the Muni bond market and how major credit events will impact the space. In the fixed income world, municipal bonds are typically seen as an attractive alternative to treasury bills (T-bills). The Muni bond market, valued at $3.7 trillion as of February 2014, has historically been driven by rate movements rather than credit events. However, this has been changing since the 2008 financial crisis, with the Detroit bankruptcy—the biggest municipal bankruptcy in the US history—and Puerto Rico’s financial issues. This market hosts thousands of debt issuers—from states as large as California to small towns looking to raise as less as a few million. With less than 4% of all municipal bonds issued in 2013, backed by bond insurance, credit fundamentals have started playing an important role in this market. In this article, we take a closer look at some of the recent credit events and their impact on the changing Muni bond market.

  • Key Trends Shaping the Cleantech Sector

    Four underlying trends are expected to influence the cleantech sector during 2014-2015. The sector—which includes renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage, sustainable transportation, and recycling—relies on advanced technologies to improve sustainability in a wide range of processes. It has seen heightened interest from investors and businesses alike in the last few years. The present market dynamics in cleantech, however, varies across different segments, owing to fast-changing technological innovations and macroeconomic factors. Given these dynamics, we identified four trends that will directly influence the sector over the course of the next year.

  • Target 20/20: The EU and Renewable Energy

    A look at EU member states and how likely they are to achieve their objectives by 2020: a 20% decrease in EU’s carbon emissions and a 20% increase in the share of renewable energy across the region.

  • An Introduction to the World of Gamification

    Wanna play? Learn how fun and addictive elements of games can be used in business for customer engagement, product development, innovation, employee training, health and more.

  • Turning Around a Luxury Brand

    What characteristics of a brand define it as luxurious? How do brands maintain an emotional connection with their target audience in challenging economic times? The Smart Cube looks at 4 luxury brands and how they adjusted their brand strategy to achieve success (or failure).