Hurricane Nate hits US as category one storm

Hurricane Nate has made landfall in the US states of Louisiana and Mississippi as a category one storm, with wind gusts of nearly 140 kilometres per hour.

Nate, the fourth major storm to strike the United States in less than two months, killed at least 30 people in Central America before entering the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and bearing down on the US South.

The storm made landfall first in south-east Louisiana, then along Mississippi’s coast near the town of Biloxi.

The hurricane warning for New Orleans was downgraded to a tropical storm warning, and the mayor there lifted a curfew imposed earlier.

Forecasters said the hurricane would be downgraded back to a tropical storm by Sunday morning local time.

But a hurricane warning remained in effect for the Gulf Coast from Grand Isle Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida border, according to the US National Weather Service.

Evacuations were ordered along the central Gulf Coast and governors in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have declared states of emergency.

“This is the worst hurricane that has impacted Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina,” Mississippi emergency management director Lee Smithson said.

“Everyone needs to understand that this is a significantly dangerous situation.”

About 5,000 people in southern Alabama were without power due to Nate, Alabama Power said.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards urged residents to make final preparations quickly and stressed that Nate could deliver a storm surge reaching up to 3.3 metres in some coastal areas.

Ports closed, National Guard troops mobilised

Earlier, authorities made last-minute preparations as the hurricane intensified.

In Louisiana the National Guard mobilised 1,300 troops and positioned high-water vehicles, boats and even school buses from Baton Rouge to New Orleans to help with rescues.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said he spoke with President Donald Trump, who assured him the Federal Government was prepared to respond as well.

More than 40 per cent of manned oil- and gas-producing platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were evacuated, according to the Interior Department.

Some airports in southern US states were closed, as were major shipping ports across the central US Gulf Coast.

The US Coast Guard ordered a halt to all traffic beginning at 8:00am local time for several ports in New Orleans, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

New Orleans, which sits near the mouth of the Mississippi River, is an important transit point for energy, metals and agricultural commodities moving to overseas and domestic markets.

Gary LaGrange, executive director of trade group Ports Association of Louisiana, said he expected traffic restrictions to be lifted quickly once the fast-moving storm passed.

“It’ll be short-lived, based on the projected path and movement of the storm, unless an unlikely event happens such as two vessels colliding,” he said.

Vessels were still moving to secure berths at the ports on Saturday morning, he said.


Chinese investment too low to be the driver of soaring house prices, study finds

It’s a common perception that Chinese buyers are descending upon Australia and driving up housing prices to unaffordable levels.

However, Chinese buyers had almost no impact on property prices, according to research by business consultancy Cross Border Management (CBM) and BIS Oxford Economics.

The study found that Chinese buyers accounted for less than 2 per cent of all Australian real estate transactions, and contributed less than 1 per cent ($122 out of $12,800) to the average quarterly housing price increase.

Their slightly more mundane conclusion is that the factors behind the nation’s high property prices are record-low interest rates and strong population growth.

Chinese investment ‘negligible’

Chinese investment in Australia rose from $6.2 billion (in 2007) to $87.2 billion (in 2016), CBM stated in its report.

That is a fourteen-fold increase in 10 years.

Although this is a rapid increase, the amount of Chinese investment is rather low, compared to the total amount invested by the United States.

America’s total investment in Australia was at an already-high $433 billion in 2006.

In the last 10 years, the US investment doubled to $861 billion, which is certainly slower than China’s fourteen-fold boom in the same period.

But when comparing the total value of investments in 2016, the US figure is 10 times higher than China’s ($87.2 billion).

“While the growth in Chinese investment has been significant, it pales in comparison to investment flows from other countries,” said CBM’s managing director CT Johnson.

After the US, the next biggest Australian investors were the UK, Belgium, Hong Kong and Singapore, then China.

“Chinese capital flows into Australia have been almost negligible, accounting for just 2.7 per cent of inbound investment,” he said.

Are they really Chinese?

“Where East Asians used to account for only 1 in 18 Australians, now they are 1 out of every 12,” said Mr Johnson.

He also said the “East Asian” category included people from Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia, who are mistakenly identified as Chinese (which is a common experience).

Adding to the perception that Chinese buyers are flooding the Australian property market is the high concentration of Chinese residents in certain neighbourhoods.

For instance, almost every fourth person speaks Mandarin in the Melbourne neighbourhood of Clayton, while that figure is higher in the Sydney suburb of Burwood — every 1 in 3.

The CBM study also found there was no correlation between the number of Mandarin speakers and the annual rise in property prices (across 79 neighbourhoods with the highest proportion of Mandarin speakers).

Land squeeze a problem

“The other major factor in housing price growth is population relative to available land,” Mr Johnson said, particularly as most Australians live around the coast, hemmed by geographical features like oceans and mountains.

He believes this makes it challenging to develop new land in response to population growth (up 18 per cent since 2006).

“Australian housing prices are much more correlated with interest rates and population growth than with Chinese investment,” Mr Johnson said.

In 2007, the Reserve Bank set the official interest rate between 6.25 and 6.75 per cent, and the median Sydney house price was a bit over $500,000 (taking into account the lower population of about 20 million people).

Fast forward 10 years and Australia now has a historic-low 1.5 per cent interest rate, plus a population of around 23.5 million. With record low borrowing costs, the median Sydney price rose to just over $900,000.

China’s government has more recently been cracking down on overseas investments, resulting in large Chinese developers pulling out of some high-priced property developments.

Furthermore, Chinese buyers are now subject to higher stamp duty and land tax, and Foreign Investment Review Board application fees.

TEC Blog – Australia


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Making decisions with disagreements

When it comes to business strategies and problem-solving, not everyone shares the same perspective. Before a decision can be made, it’s not uncommon for a disagreement to occur. As a leader, it’s your role to manage these disagreements without letting them disrupt the flow of your organisation.

Sometimes, it’s not always important, or even possible, to make the best decision when you don’t have all the information regarding a certain issue. It’s more important that the decisions are made and that they are made with due consideration. You can achieve this by creating a decision-making strategy and by following these best practices:

Leave emotion out of it

A disagreement can easily become personal. After all, each professional is defending their own point of view, which stems from a combination of their own knowledge and experience. But everyone has their own perspective and no single individual can understand all aspects of a situation. It’s important to remain professional and to leave emotion out of the decision-making process.

Not only can introducing emotions ultimately confuse issues, but it can also reduce the impact of any points you are trying to make. Being clear on facts and clearly justifying your decisions is necessary not only for the best possible outcome, but also to ensure that employees understand your reasoning and do not feel ignored or pushed aside.

Appreciate all suggestions

It’s very easy to dismiss suggestions either as being outlandish or something that you’ve already considered. But rather than making a quick decision and potentially undermining your employee’s confidence, you should instead explore the idea and walk them through your own thought process. Be open to ideas that you might have otherwise dismissed; there may be some components that you haven’t considered.

By being a good listener, asking questions, and trying to see everyone’s point of view, you can create a positive and cooperative atmosphere. Employees will be more willing to share ideas, and ideas that are truly innovative and creative will be more likely heard. Being a primary decision maker is often like being an investigator; you need to explore all of the data before drawing a conclusion.

A failure to consider your employee’s ideas, even when they are truly unsuitable, can eventually lead to frustrated employees who feel unappreciated. When employees offer their ideas, they are trying to help. When that help is ignored, they often feel personally rejected. Moreover, it can make employees hesitate when they truly do have a good idea, as they may feel as though they won’t be heard.

Keep the consequences of your decision in mind

By necessity, each suggestion during a decision-making process needs to be explored to its conclusion. Once the brainstorming is over, each potential decision should be thoroughly outlined, and the consequences of that decision should be thoroughly investigated. The following questions should be asked:

  • What are the potential results of this decision?
  • What complications could arise due to this decision?
  • Who will this decision affect positively or adversely?
  • What will be the ultimate cost, in time and money, of each decision?

It’s possible that you may not know which decision will perform better. It may be something that is truly unknowable, such as a scenario that relies on too many factors, or it may be a decision that requires additional information before it can be made. Either way, if a decision must be made at this time, then the potential consequences not only need to be acknowledged but they also must be prepared for.

In business, it is possible that a decision may need to be made without all of the information present. Because of this, you may need to simply choose the best out of all possible solutions and plan contingencies in the event that there are negative consequences.

Compromising often doesn’t produce the best results

When we were children, we were often taught to compromise. It made sense because compromising is a fantastic way to build relationships with friends and family. But compromise is not a fantastic way to run a business. As a CEO, you need to make decisions that are optimal, not acceptable. Compromise ultimately results in both parties getting a little of what they want and a little of what they don’t need. Compromise leads to two dissatisfied parties and a weakened overall strategy.

CEOs may feel the compulsion to compromise when it comes to important business decisions, especially if tensions and emotions are running high. But when it comes to business, it’s almost always better to set a solid course rather than trying to split multiple strategies. A CEO needs to carefully study when compromise is and isn’t appropriate, and practice mediation in lieu of compromising their decision-making process.

Make better decisions through positive leadership

As CEO, you have already been selected to lead your company. Your company has put its faith in your decision-making abilities for a reason. Part of that reason is because you make well-considered, well-crafted decisions. As long as you are not making every decision in the company, it’s your prerogative to override others.

But it isn’t always that simple, especially when tensions run high or the right decision may not always be obvious. During those times, you may want to reach out for mentorship. TEC provides direct access to leaders and business owners who have experience moderating the decision-making process and ensuring that the right decisions are made day after day. Contact TEC today to find out more. 

The post Making decisions with disagreements appeared first on Australia.

TEC 78 Retreat

Lianne, this is a sample blog post. The blog itself will not be visible to the public, but you could use it to create featured articles that you would like on the front page.

Still working out how to get a ‘read more’ button for longer articles.