Can Andrew Yang Save The Malls of America?

I don’t know much about JCPenney at all since I don’t shop there. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but want to talk about it a bit. Recently, we have seen how Sears is struggling with its own survival, and so it is not a surprise for us to see JCPenney may fall into this same situation as Sears. Basically, if JCPenney isn’t able to modernize its own business model to fight against online giants like Amazon, JCPenney may as well eventually be just a memory.

I look at JCPenney’s stock today and I’m seeing it’s being listed around $1.28 a share. This used to be $80 stock back in 1999 and in 2006. So, the question is, what has changed?

Has JCPenney fallen victim to online giants like Amazon? I partly think so but not really 100% convinced that it is 100% the fault of online giants. If you take a look at Walmart, it doesn’t have to beat Amazon on the online platform to stay profitable! So, why Sears and JCPenney look so outdated?

I notice Kohls has done a very good job through its online platform, and so I think JCPenney could learn a thing or two from Kohls. Then again, Walmart still does rather well with its traditional bricks and mortar stores. So, perhaps it’s the combination of well managed both offline and online that could save brands like JCPenney?

Then we also have to look at a bigger picture such as why people don’t go to the mall as often as before! Sure, we can say it’s the online giants that kill off the malls! Nonetheless, the malls do have benefits such as entertainment and so forth. I notice in other countries such as in China, the malls are still very vibrant! Furthermore, Chinese do buy stuff through online platforms a lot. So, why malls in China are vibrant still?

I guess, if the malls are vibrant, stores like JCPenney and Sears could survive since they locate inside most malls! Nonetheless, as malls are closing down or getting empty, I don’t see how JCPenney and Sears and so forth could stay profitable when customers don’t even show up!

Here is the shot in the dark part! Could it be that our economy is doing poorly, people are no longer having a job for life but a job for a gig, and they shop online more — all of these factors come together to form a perfect storm which is killing off malls across America? The bigger issue is of course why are people no longer be able to have a job that they could work without worrying about being replaced by automation? Yes, automation is going to replace more people from their jobs!

Andrew Yang, 2020 presidential candidate for the Democrats, suggests that soon truck drivers, cashiers, burger flippers, lawyers, call center operators and a lot more will be replaced by AI and automation. Sure, things don’t look dramatic now since your neighbor may still have a normal job. Nonetheless, if the trucking business could save $160 some billion of dollars per year to just automate the trucks and get rid all of the truck drivers, why do you think this is not a good idea for them to do so? Perhaps, even Lyft and Uber drivers in the future will be replaced by self-driving, smart AI car too!

So, if it’s true that machines and software will eventually kill more jobs, then people will, of course, have less money to spend at shopping centers and malls. Do you think this will affect online platforms eventually? To me, it’s a common sense that the online platforms will also be affected by a poorer economy! Nonetheless, online platforms like Amazon could survive better since they got convenience on its side. For an example, frequent sales are just a few clicks away!

Sure, we can say that we like to blame the economy for our problems, but the truth is that the advance of technology and the convenience of shopping through online platforms have created a formula in which we are now seeing the decay of our economy. So, if we have a poorer economy, how can we not blame it on the problems that we see, right?

Andrew Yang suggests that through “Freedom Dividend” the government can help prepare the economy for a soft landing when the advance of AI and automation gets worse in the coming years. Of course, you can go on YouTube to watch his videos and see a more fuller explanation of his Universal Basic Income “Freedom Dividend” idea. Here, my shot in the dark is that I think even outdated stores like JCPenney could survive in a good economy! Perhaps, “Freedom Dividend” may offer people more options so they could wander their way into one of the JCPenney stores!

Andrew Yang said that “Freedom Dividend” will not be able to solve the bigger issues that the AI and automation spring forth. So, he also suggests in addition to “Freedom Dividend,” he also wants to see Medicare for all. Furthermore, he wants to abolish the usage of GDP as a measuring stick for how healthy an economy is. Instead, he wants to create a better measuring stick for the economy which measures environment sustainability, nutrition health of children, and so forth to capitalize on human well being instead of capitalizing the market caps, stock prices, and so forth. He thinks as AI and automation spring forth, the GDP number could go to the moon but more people will get fired from their jobs. Think about this, machines produce more things that will be counted toward the GDP number but the humans are not going to be able to participate in producing this number!

In summary, can Andrew Yang save the malls of America? If he can save the malls of America, this means he can save JCPenney and Sears and eventually the economy itself! Can his idea of “Freedom Dividend” provide a soft landing for the future economy where humans won’t be able to participate in producing things that can be counted as a contribution toward the GDP number? I’m very curious about all of this!

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Andrew Yang On Universal Basic Income

If anyone thinks Universal Basic Income is a great thing, then this person must listen to what Andrew Yang got to say. This is the first time I’ve heard of him, and it seems like he is a really big proponent for Universal Basic Income. Furthermore, he is running for the presidential race in 2020. Anyway, if you want to know more about this guy, check him out in the YouTube video below. Enjoy!

I Think China Wants The United States To Impose %25 Tariff on Chinese Goods in March!

I don’t like to get political and hopefully what I’m writing isn’t too political. I’m thinking that even if president Trump is really wanting to have a trade deal with China to avert the upcoming tariff deadline in March on the Chinese goods, China might not want to see a trade deal gets done even the United States concedes something great.

How come? Well, let pretend to put yourself in a Chinese shoe and think about this for a second. So, if you’re Chinese and you know that the Americans will up the tariff on your $200 billion goods in March from 10% to 25% if the trade deal between China and the United States won’t happen, and so the big question is should you concede to the United States in a big way in order for a trade deal to be happening and the tariff to go away? Well, I think if you’re smart you probably would want the United States to impose the 25% tariff on your $200 billion of goods.

I think China knows that the United States economy is not on a solid foundation otherwise the United States won’t have a government shutdown and such. Furthermore, inflation would go through the roof since the interest rates cannot be raised appropriately. To keep the interest rates low the United States has to continue to print more money. Normal people in the United States will continue to see rising inflation which would cost them dearly in acquiring daily things in local grocery stores and so on. A hamburger meal usually costs like $3 but now is like $7 to $8. So, if you’re the Chinese you would think that higher tariff on the $200 billion Chinese goods must be a great thing for China!

Meanwhile, China is weaning off the reliance on American consumers because of the hostility between the United States and China! This could push China to be more aggressive in finding new markets throughout the world such as in Africa, India, Asia, Europe, South America to replace the North American consumer base. Some other regions might see this as a good opportunity to negotiate with China to get a great deal so they could enter China’s huge growing middle-class consumer base. China may pretend to resist this but could end up agreeing to concede something to these players so they could diversify away from the American consumer base.

I think the long term picture is what China is sought after because China wants to better itself in the overall big picture. This means China doesn’t care if the United States is upping the tariff to 25% or even to 75% or to 100%. When the United States is upping the tariff on Chinese goods, the Americans have to pay more for daily things in their lives. This would put even more stress on the Americans and make the Americans go into debts even more. More Americans in debts could mean a weaker market overall for the United States in the long run. This means more Americans will have to be more prudent on what they will spend so they could have money to pay off their debts. This means the American market will soon see a big cut back from spending by the American consumers. Either this or the Americans who are already in too many debts won’t have money to spend anyway!

Meanwhile, China could just sit pretty and wait out to see another financial crisis that will hit North America. So, in a Chinese shoe, do you think you want to have a trade deal done with the United States? Meanwhile, president Trump may not even want a trade deal done with China since president Trump thinks that he will get more votes for the next presidential race if he goes anti-China even more. In summary, I don’t think by the end of February we will see a trade deal between China and the United States. So, if you’re on the side of wanting to see a trade deal done, you should hope that I’m wrong. So, if you’re on the side of not wanting to see a trade deal done between China and the United States, you would probably want that I’m right. In my opinion, a trade war between China and the United States is not a good thing for the long term economic health of the United States.

It’s Cool To Hear Liu Cixin’s Thoughts on His “Three Body Problem” Trilogy and Other Cool Sci-Fi Things in an Interview.

Liu Cixin’s “Three Body Problem” put me in an annoying state but in a good way. Why? After getting to know his “Three Body Problem” epic trilogy, I couldn’t find any other sci-fi work to surprise or wow me anymore. Since then I keep wanting to be introduced to a similar or better trilogy but I had found none. To appease my thirst for sci-fi I’d to settle with my older favorites like Star Trek, but what I want is something as epic as “Three Body Problem.”

I’m really happy to see Liu Cixin talks about his work in the interview in which you can watch it in the video below.

I also heard that a new Chinese sci-fi big budget movie is coming out to a theater near you soon in the United States known as “The Wandering Earth (2019),” which is also based on one of his short stories. I can’t wait to go to see it in a theater near me. Hopefully, it won’t be a disappointment because sometimes a great story doesn’t make a great movie. The reality is sometimes rather cruel to a book lover because a movie may fail to reimagine a book in live action for various reasons such as budgetary problem and so forth.

Opinion: Can Sears Be Revived After Eddie Lampert Won Auction Bid, Saving Sears From Liquidation?

Can Sears be revived after Chairman Eddie Lampert won $5.2 billion auction bid to save Sears from liquidation?

When thinking of Sears I got nothing to be excited about! On the top of my head, I don’t even know what I care to want to buy at Sears. Whenever I need new clothes I think about stores like Kohls. Whenever I need new gadgets I think about stores like Amazon. Sometimes, Best Buy and Micro Center make to the top of my head for buying computer related items. Video gaming stuff I would just usually get from an online store like Valve’s Steam. Something needs to be improved for the home, I usually go to Home Depot. I usually go to Home Depot or Best Buy for big items such as the refrigerator. If I need everyday cheap, items I just go to Walmart. I still don’t see what I would need so much that I would rush to Sears to get it.

I think Sears will have a very tough uphill battle even it got itself out of liquidation. In order for Sears to be relevant, I think Sears got very few options. The first option is to find out what makes Sears unique in today competitive online/offline retailers such as Amazon and Walmart. If Sears cannot compete against Best Buy, Amazon, and so forth, then I think Sears needs to go with the second option which is to cater to luxury stuff only. Nonetheless, this would be like completely changing the business model of Sears inside-out. This would mean Sears would not even try to be competitive against brands like Amazon and Best Buy. Instead, Sears would just cater to the rich.

Let’s fantasize how Sears would just cater to the rich would be like OK? Let’s imagine instead of selling a normal refrigerator Sears now sells a gold plated refrigerator. This gold plated refrigerator is one of a kind since very few of them were made. The price is around $25,000. The refrigerator is not only gold plated, but it is also a tech hub center for the kitchen where the large glassy part of the refrigerator door could go translucent so you can interact with it like a smart TV or a computer. It also got a smart AI assistant to help stock up the refrigerator when something is about to run out. In this scenario, normal people wouldn’t buy this refrigerator since it’s too expensive and luxurious. Wealthy people though, they could buy this refrigerator without blinking twice.

If Sears targets the rich, then its business model would be completely different than before! The stuff Sears needs to carry in the store are going to be totally different than before. Furthermore, when targeting the rich Sears may not even need to care about being competitive against other players at all. How come? I think buying luxurious stuff is an experience! A few clicks of the mouse through online stores won’t get you the experience! Instead, I can see rich people would drive their supercar or Rolls Royce to Sears, get greeted by super friendly and helpful staff — feeling like a king when buying something — and feeling like a king when leaving Sears store afterward. Such an experience you would never get from online stores or from the stores that cater to the middle-income class. Sears can go this route to stay profitable even though Sears won’t be competitive against players such as Amazon.

Of course, there is always a third route which is to use the old model but providing better customer service. Nonetheless, I don’t see how Sears can stay competitive and relevant when people don’t have the need to go to Sears. Sears could learn from Kohls even though Kohls is just a retailer for clothing. Why? I think Kohls is really good at attracting me to buy clothes from its online store! Kohls got discount programs such as Kohls Cash, and these programs somehow encourage me to spend more. Although Kohls doesn’t provide free shipping unless you buy more than $75 worth of items (if I’m remembering this correctly), but this somehow encourages me to spend more than $75. Kohls always announces a new clearance sale, and so it’s like Christmas all over again. If Sears can learn how to give out discount like Kohls does, I think Sears can begin to become relevant in no time. Nonetheless, Sears must carry the stuff that when giving out discounts it does make sense for people to care to buy. Yep, even on discount, unwanted stuff won’t get sold.

Just An Obvious Thought: Advertising In The Age Of Streaming!

Streaming is proliferating nowadays, and so people are slowly switching from watching traditional TV contents to streaming contents.  In fact, whatever that is streaming can also be duplicated on TV and vice versa.  The big difference is that TV is scheduled and streaming is an on-demand kind of things.

For advertisers, streaming is something radically different than traditional TV because streamers may not accept forced advertising contents.  TV viewers may not care how long or how many advertisements get push through during a viewing experience.  The big words here are may not since TV viewing experience is about potato couching.  On the other hand, the streamers want contents quickly and sometimes prefer the shorter the content the better.  When advertisers push through advertisements in streaming contents, the streamers often get turned off.

The puzzle here is all about how to get viewers who stream to watch advertisements!  We’ve seen clever advertisements been done in movies such as marrying a brand into the content of the movie itself.  For an example, let’s create a fictitious brand of soft drink known as Blahboulous and we marry this Blahboulous can of soft drink with a character in the movie who often loves to carry the can of Blahboulous soft drink around.  This tactic could also make a brand viral since a famous actor or actress is being associated with such a brand!

The question is how to marry multiple brands into streaming contents!  Doing this too obvious would also be a turnoff.  Perhaps, there would be a better method?  I think forced advertising contents can still be done in streaming contents, but this gotta be super concise and short and the fewer the better!  Meanwhile, advertisers should marry their sponsors’ brands into the streaming contents more often.  The combination of both could elevate the advertising streams while irritating the streamers less.