Portable Jobs

New York and London’s white collar workers are among the highest paid in the world and for good reason. Skill levels are high, competition is strong, and cost of living is nearly prohibitive, especially housing. Smart working, if it continues beyond the immediate future, as Schroders’ announcement last week seems to signal, could change all of this.

Granted, some jobs require locally trained staff, for example accountants and lawyers need to be locally trained to be able to practice in a particular jurisdiction. But many other high skilled jobs, such as investment bankers, brokers, IT specialists, programmers, real estate professionals, have universal skill sets. Once the pandora’s box of working from home is open, it doesn’t matter if home is in Sussex or Long Island, or in Ukraine, Mexico, France, Israel, Ireland, places where talent is abundant and cost of living is much lower.

Governments should think very hard about the horizontal repercussions of continued smart working, including with regards to real estate prices, local micro economies, such as restaurants, pubs, shops, and crucially employment. If the marketplace for skills is now worldwide (as long as you speak English), then the cost of labour is bound to go down, unemployment in rich countries to go up, and social peace to suffer. Tinker with the system at your peril.

Trading Hot Air

As any experienced negotiator knows, one of the key tactics in complex negotiations, is to include in the ‘Ask’ certain items that one is happily willing to give up. Doing so enables the other side to rationalise that after all, both sides are giving up on certain issues. A top negotiator will even create a crisis item that is completely artificial, but seems very credible, in order to be able to use it as a bargaining chip.

A master negotiator is able to do this on the world stage. Benjamin Netanyahu is certainly such a master negotiator. He was able to ‘sell’ a standstill on the sovereignty issue over parts of Judea and Samaria in exchange for full recognition and relations with a key growing Arab power like the UAE. He got a top result by giving up something that either was never going to happen, or at the very least was already not actual, given that Trump has the proverbial bigger fish to fry at this time.

On the media front, Bibi scored another key ‘win.’  There are two ways to win a confrontation, the first one is to simply defeat your enemy, the other is when the enemy acknowledges your position. This is what is happening today in Israel, with the uber Liberal Haaretz daily having to admit: “In UAE Deal, Netanyahu Trades Imaginary Annexation for Real Life Diplomacy Win.” It doesn’t get sweeter than that.