Vice President Joseph Biden has accused Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney of being rooted in a “cold war mentality”, yet the current US government and its military, as well as those of its Asian-Pacific partners, are guilty of focusing far too much on the past and not looking at future threats. With these more likely to manifest as cyber-attacks, natural resource hoarding, and economic strangulation as opposed to traditional combat on the ground, the American response seems at best incomplete and at worst anachronistic.
2007 年 4 月、三井物産が国内初となる船舶投資ファンドを設立した。「Akebono
興を目的として実施している優遇税制“Maritime Finance Incentive（MFI）”を利用し、
続く 6 月には不動産ファンド運営の GCM が「GS イーグルファンド」という船舶投資
ファンドを設立すると報じられた。また、それらに先立つ 2007 年 1 月には、みずほ証
The global youth unemployment rate has proved sticky, and remained close to its crisis peak. At 12.6 per cent in 2011 and projected at 12.7 per cent in 2012, the global youth unemployment rate remains at least a full percentage point above its level in 2007. Nearly 75 million youth are unemployed around the world, an increase of more than 4 million since 2007.
The debate on austerity v stimulus is again the main focus of attention. Particularly due to the recent results of the Greek and French elections where opposition to European “redistributive austerity” is gaining strength. Even though they don’t refer to it as redistributive austerity, but as “painful cuts that are hurting growth”. Even in the very phrasing of the debate as ‘austerity v growth’, it is obvious that people don’t really understand what austerity is, and even less what their governments are doing.
… governments sometimes do tend to use tax hikes to lower the deficit. But essentially the very definition of austerity primarily implies cutting spending and cutting entitlements in order to create more scope for the private sector to grow on its own, i.e. to remove the dependency mentality from people and from businesses.
Black-Scholes was first written down in the early 1970s but its story starts earlier than that, in the Dojima Rice Exchange in 17th Century Japan where futures contracts were written for rice traders. A simple futures contract says that I will agree to buy rice from you in one year’s time, at a price that we agree right now.
By the 20th Century the Chicago Board of Trade was providing a marketplace for traders to deal not only in futures but in options contracts. An example of an option is a contract where we agree that I can buy rice from you at any time over the next year, at a price that we agree right now – but I don’t have to if I don’t want to.
It was the holy grail of investors. The Black-Scholes equation, brainchild of economists Fischer Black and Myron Scholes, provided a rational way to price a financial contract when it still had time to run. It was like buying or selling a bet on a horse, halfway through the race. It opened up a new world of ever more complex investments, blossoming into a gigantic global industry. But when the sub-prime mortgage market turned sour, the darling of the financial markets became the Black Hole equation, sucking money out of the universe in an unending stream. …
The equation itself wasn’t the real problem. It was useful, it was precise, and its limitations were clearly stated. It provided an industry-standard method to assess the likely value of a financial derivative. So derivatives could be traded before they matured. The formula was fine if you used it sensibly and abandoned it when market conditions weren’t appropriate. The trouble was its potential for abuse. It allowed derivatives to become commodities that could be traded in their own right. The financial sector called it the Midas Formula and saw it as a recipe for making everything turn to gold. But the markets forgot how the story of King Midas ended.
Deregulation is when government reduces its role and allows industry greater freedom in how it operates.
No matter where we turn, whether in the news media, popular culture, or simple conversation, we seem increasingly preoccupied with the notion that computers and communication technology are dramatically transforming society and culture. Advocates typically claim we’re going through a period as significant as the development of agriculture—which transformed us from a nomadic hunting and gathering way of life about ten thousand years ago. Or they claim it’s as significant as the development of industry—which made manufacturing rather than farming central to modern economic and social life beginning about three hundred years ago.
… If such contracts had value, then it would seem that producing them created value. There could thus be a financial “industry” that produced financial products, the volume of which is apparently unconstrained by the scarcity of anything in particular. Advances in financial valuation could thus be considered a type of advancing technology that drives economic events as much as any patentable piece of engineering. Thus conceived, the model for valuing derivatives has become a new way of understanding capitalism as a production of new property (a commodity) by means of contract alone.
Rethinking Capitalism is concerned with examining this phenomenon in the context of the broader claims that are made for it as both resolving and accelerating inherent problems in market economies as such. …
During the second half of the twentieth century, economics established its claim to be the true political science. The idea of “the economy” provided a mode of seeing and a way of organizing the world that could diagnose a country’s fundamental condition, frame the terms of its public debate, picture its collective growth or decline, and propose remedies for its improvement, all in terms of what seemed a legible series of measurements, goals, and comparisons. In the closing decade of the century, after the collapse of state socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the authority of economic science seemed stronger than ever. Employing the language and authority of neoclassical economics, the programs of economic reform and structural adjustment advocated in Washington by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the United States government could judge the condition of a nation and its collective well-being by simply measuring its monetary and fiscal balance sheets.
Transparency International (TI), the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption, brings people together in a powerful worldwide coalition to end the devastating impact of corruption on men, women and children around the world.
TI’s mission is to create change towards a world free of corruption.
TI publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) annually ranking countries “by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.” The CPI generally defines corruption as “the misuse of public power for private benefit.” As of 2010, the CPI ranks 178 countries “on a scale from 10 (very clean) to 0 (highly corrupt).”
No reasonable person can doubt that the US must eventually raise taxes. The country is running an unsustainable budget deficit. Its tax take, measured as a share of gross domestic product, is the lowest in the OECD.
Equally, no reasonable person can doubt that the tax system must be used to soften inequality. Some inequality is good: it is a spur to enterprise and effort. But too much is clearly bad: it punctures meritocracy. As gaps in wealth and income have widened, it has become steadily harder for talented poor kids to compete against lavishly tutored rich kids armed with iPhones full of contacts. This is politically corrosive, morally unjust, and a shocking waste of human capital.
The Delhi Declaration makes an undisguised bid for strengthened representation of emerging and developing countries in the institutions of global governance”. This is no vacuous claim. Because, BRICS also has a special experience to share – having “recovered quickly from the global crisis.” The West has not heard this sort of idiom before. This is not the global South asking plaintively for “more”. This is an open demand for “power sharing”.
The West has never been spoken to like this before in all these centuries since the Industrial Revolution. The tides of history are, clearly, turning.
One of the most important achievements of the summit is the agreement among the members to foster trade in local currencies. This shows the rising prowess and assertiveness of member countries. The instability in global economy and vulnerability of hard currencies like dollar pushed these emerging economies to explore prospects of trade in local currencies. Such a development will definitely impact the role of dollar in shaping global economy, and likely shift the global economic centre of power from the West to the East. The BRICS countries have multilateral trade to the tune of $230 billion, which will likely touch $500 billion by 2015. All the countries of the grouping are developing faster despite the constraints posed by the global financial crisis. China has predicted to grow at the 7.5 per cent in the coming year, while India is likely to grow at the rate of 6.9 per cent in the coming year. The trade between these countries in local currencies will likely provide much leverage to the countries particularly in global economic matters.
BRICS is a platform for dialogue and cooperation amongst countries that represent 43% of the world’s population, for the promotion of peace, security and development in a multi-polar, inter-dependent and increasingly complex, globalizing world. Coming, as we do, from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America, the transcontinental dimension of our interaction adds to its value and significance.
We are concerned over the current global economic situation. While the BRICS recovered relatively quickly from the global crisis, growth prospects worldwide have again got dampened by market instability especially in the euro zone. The build-up of sovereign debt and concerns over medium to long-term fiscal adjustment in advanced countries are creating an uncertain environment for global growth. Further, excessive liquidity from the aggressive policy actions taken by central banks to stabilize their domestic economies have been spilling over into emerging market economies, fostering excessive volatility in capital flows and commodity prices. The immediate priority at hand is to restore market confidence and get global growth back on track.
Since the rise of neo-liberalism in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, many people in the rich countries, both inside and outside the academia, have come to take the view that the developing countries are what they are only because of their own inabilities and corruption and that the rich countries have no moral obligations to help them. Indeed, there is a growing view that helping the developing countries is actually bad for them because it will only encourage dependency mentality.
Fortunately, the above view is not the mainstream view in all rich countries. Most people still believe that, with a strong help from the rich countries, the developing countries can pull themselves out of poverty. The most ‘progressive’ and comprehensive of the mainstream discourses on development along this line is arguably embodied in the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
According to the UN, the MDGs’ eight goals are:
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education.
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women.
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality.
Goal 5: Improve maternal health.
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability.
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development.
There are many different elements in the MDGs, especially as each goal has a number of ‘targets’ that span across different sub-issues, but most of them relate to reducing poverty and improving education and health in poor countries. This is obvious for the case of goals 1-6, but telling from the targets under its heading, even goal 7 (environmental sustainability) is partly about health (improving access to safe drinking water and increasing access to improved sanitation).
Laudable these goals and targets may be, their sum total does not amount to development in the sense we are talking about, as they pay no serious attention to the transformation of productive structure and capabilities.
The only explicit ‘development’ dimension in the MDGs is embodied in Goal 8. The targets under this heading include: development of an ‘open, rule-based, predictable, nondiscriminatory trading system’; reduction or even writing-off of developing country foreign debt; increase in foreign aid from rich countries, including trade-related technical assistance; provision of access to affordable essential drugs for developing countries; and the spread of new technologies, mainly information and communications technologies.
The emphasis in this vision is very much on the trinity of increased aid, debt reduction, and increased trade. Debt reduction and increased aid (unless they are on very large scales, which they are not going to be) are simply enabling conditions (and in which the developing countries are mere recipients rather than originators), rather than those that determine the contents of development. Thus seen, the view on the relationship between trade and development is the key to understanding the vision of development underlying the MDGs. So what are the contents of an ‘open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading system’ that the MDG agenda talks about here?
Telling from the concrete indicators that measure the ‘developmental’ contribution of the world trading system in the MDG discourse, we see that the ‘pro-developmental’ trading system boils down to one where the rich countries reduce their tariffs and subsidies on agriculture, textile, and clothing exports from developing countries, especially the least developed countries (LDCs).
However, the understanding of the relationship between trade and development implicit in this vision is non-developmental. In this vision, the best way to make trade help development is by liberalizing the rich country markets so that the developing countries can sell more of what they are already selling – or ‘trade their way out of poverty’, as a popular slogan puts it. There is no notion that developing countries need to get out of what they are doing now (the specialization in which is after all what keeps them poor) and move into higher-productivity activities, if they are to achieve development.
Thus seen, the MDG envisages ‘development without development’. Most of what it takes as ‘development’ is really provision of basic needs and poverty reduction. What little attention it pays to the question of production is based on the view that development can be achieved by specializing more in the products in which a country has comparative advantage (supported by the rich countries reducing debts and giving more aids).
However, doing more of the same thing in terms of one’s productive activities is not how today’s developed countries have become developed. Starting from 18th century Britain through to 19th century USA, Germany, and Sweden, down to 20th century Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, history has repeatedly shown that development is achieved by upgrading a country’s productive capabilities and moving into more ‘difficult’ industries before they acquire comparative advantages in those new activities, by using protection, subsidies, and other means of market-defying government intervention (Chang, 2002a, 2007a). Let me give some prominent examples.
In 1960, when Nokia entered the electronics industry, per capita income of Finland was only 41% that of the US, the frontier country in electronics and overall ($1,172 vs. $2,881). It was thus not a big surprise that the electronics subsidiary of Nokia ran losses for 17 years and remained in business mainly because of cross-subsidization from mature firms in the same business group (helped by government procurement programmes).
In 1961, per capita income of Japan was a mere 19% that of the US ($563 vs. $2,934), but Japan was then protecting and promoting all sorts of ‘wrong’ industries through high tariffs, government subsidies, and ban on foreign direct investment – automobile, steel, shipbuilding, and so on.
To take an even more dramatic example, take the case of South Korea. Its (then) state-owned steel mill, POSCO, which had been set up in 1968, started production in 1972, when its per capita income was a mere 5.5% of the US income ($322 vs. $5,838). To make it worse, in the same year, South Korea decided to deviate even further from its comparative advantage by launching its ambitious Heavy and Chemical Industrialization programme, which promoted shipbuilding, (home-designed) automobile, machinery, and many other ‘wrong’ industries. Even as late as 1983, when Samsung decided to design its own semiconductors, Korea’s income was only 14% that of the US ($2,118 vs. $15,008).
By discussing these examples of countries defying the market and entering activities where they do not have comparative advantage, I do not mean that all forms of ‘traditional’ activities, such as agriculture or textile/clothing, are incompatible with development. After all, the Netherlands is still the world’s third largest exporter of agriculture despite not having much land (it has the fifth highest population density in the world, excluding city states or island states with territories less than, and including, that of Hong Kong). For another example, Germany used to be the world’s fifth largest exporter of textiles and clothing until as late as the early 1990s. However, these were possible only because these countries applied advanced technologies to these ‘traditional’ activities and upgraded them – hydroponic culture in the case of Dutch agriculture and specialty textiles and high-class design in the case of German textile/clothing. At the other extreme, countries like the Philippines export a lot of high-tech products, like electronics, but no one calls it developed because the production uses someone else’s technologies, is organized by someone else, and has few roots in the domestic economy. Should all the multinational companies decide to leave the Philippines tomorrow, it will be reduced to exporting primary commodities.
Once again, these examples confirm my earlier point that it is not what one has but how one has got it that determines whether a country is developed or not. Without any vision of transformation in productive structure and the upgrading of the productive capabilities that make it possible, the vision of development behind the MDGs can only be described as ‘development without development’.
>Approximately 375 million people speak English as their first language. English today is probably the third largest language by number of native speakers, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. However, when combining native and non-native speakers it is probably the most commonly spoken language in the world, though possibly second to a combination of the Chinese languages.
Estimates that include second language speakers vary greatly from 470 million to over a billion depending on how literacy or mastery is defined and measured.
>… Yes, there are some mammoth-sized unknowns out there that could hurt your returns. But when the biggest “what ifs” are resolved, you could also profit, if you play it right.
- What if Europe gets worse? No matter how much investors might desire it, Europe’s economic mess just won’t go away. But the big fear is that it will deteriorate even more before it gets better.
- What if U.S. housing finally improves? It’s now close to five years since the housing bubble burst. When it rebounds isn’t only an investment question, but of vital importance to households as well.
- What if the jobs recovery falters? The long-awaited jobs recovery seems to have arrived. The unemployment rate has dropped steadily, albeit slowly, from 9.1% in August to 8.5% in December. The big question: Can it be sustained?
- What if there’s another budget crisis? Last summer, investors watched in horror as Congress wrestled over the government’s finances. They even risked the first-ever default on U.S. debt.
- What if China’s economy heats up? China’s economy matters because it’s the second largest in the world. Over the past decade, the communist country has grown fast, but lately it has been cooling off. The question is: What happens when it heats up again?
>The trailing 12 month global speculative-grade corporate default rate continues to decline, finishing the fourth quarter of 2011 at 1.7%, slightly down from 1.8% in the previous quarter and 3.2% a year ago.
In the U.S., the speculative-grade default rate edged lower from 2.0% in the third quarter to 1.8% in the fourth quarter, but in Europe the default rate almost doubled from 1.4% to 2.7%. A year ago, the default rate was higher at 3.4% in the U.S. but lower at 2.3% in Europe.
… the global speculative-grade default will rise to 2.9% by the end of 2012. … the global default rate could rise to as high as 8.5% in a pessimistic scenario if the U.S. recovery stalls and the European debt crisis deteriorates materially.
By region, … the default rate will climb to 2.8% in the U.S. by end of 2012 under its baseline scenario, versus 3.7% for Europe. Across industries over the coming year, … default rates to be highest in the consumer services sector in the U.S. and the business services sector in Europe.
>Islamist movements have long dominated Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both the ayatollahs in Iran and the Wahhabi Salafists in Saudi Arabia, though, were able to have their ideology and the fruits of modernity, too, because they had vast oil wealth to buy off any contradictions. Saudi Arabia could underutilize its women and impose strict religious mores on its society, banks and schools. Iran’s clerics could snub the world, pursue nuclearization and impose heavy political and religious restrictions. And both could still offer their people improved living standards, because they had oil.
Egypt’s Islamist parties will not have that luxury. They will have to open up to the world, and they seem to be realizing that. Egypt is a net importer of oil. It also imports 40 percent of its food. And tourism constitutes one-tenth of its gross domestic product. With unemployment rampant and the Egyptian pound eroding, Egypt will probably need assistance from the International Monetary Fund, a major injection of foreign investment and a big upgrade in modern education to provide jobs for all those youths who organized last year’s rebellion. Egypt needs to be integrated with the world.
>Curriculum 21 is the outgrowth of the work of a dynamic group of educators worldwide attempting to help colleagues transform curriculum and school designs to match the needs of 21st century learners.
>The unexpected breakdown in talks between Greece and its private-sector creditors has taken the country a step closer to bankruptcy after a failure to sign up lenders to a voluntary and “orderly” 50pc haircut to their holdings.
The clock is ticking for Greece, as a deal must be reached before March 20, when the country is due to receive a further €130bn (£107bn) bail-out tranche from the International Monetary Fund and must make a key €14.5bn bond payment.
The problem centres on the difference between lenders agreeing to a “voluntary” and orderly default – which would mean swapping into bonds with a lower value – and lenders refusing terms, which would cause a default.
This type of “credit event” would trigger billions of insurance claims through credit default swaps (CDS), insurance policies taken out to protect investors in the event of a default.
The problem is that, of the €315bn of Greek debt outstanding, only €7.8bn is covered by Greek CDS. The vast majority of Greek debt is held by European banks, which have little insurance on their exposure. Most Greek CDS are held by hedge fund managers – accused by Germany and France of financially benefiting from sovereign woes. Some claim that hedge fund managers would benefit from a default, with Europe’s banks being the losers.
>There will be significant market dislocation, and where there is dislocation investment opportunities abound. In Italy, France and Spain there are global companies with strong balance sheets doing well. The sovereign dislocation has created the corporate opportunity.
>Marginal Revolution – small steps toward a much better world
>The agricultural economy gave way to the industrial one because progress enabled demands for food to be met by only a small fraction of the population freeing large numbers of people to work elsewhere. The same process is now under way with respect to manufacturing and a range of services, reducing employment prospects for most citizens. At the same time, just as in the early days of the industrial era the combination of substantial dislocations and greater ability to produce at scale is enabling a lucky few to acquire great fortunes.
>Africa has been very slow in liberalizing internally. Very often the barriers of trade within Africa are bigger than the barriers facing outsiders. And that is what fair trade should be all about. It is unfair of Europe to demand from Africa that it worsens its terms of trade by giving Europe preferential access. That is the message to the fair trade movement. Trade really matters and fair trade really matters. Right now, the European Commission trade officials are negotiating with Africans and trying to force them to accept the worse for their terms of trade. They are doing that on our behalf and we should stand up and say we don’t want that.
>As people’s incomes rise in a developing nation, so does the amount of food they eat. That’s what has been happening in China for the past 30 years. But many people, especially in the middle class, are discovering that you don’t have to eat and eat just because there’s plenty of food available.
Still, fast food has become a habit for a lot of people. KFC now operates more than 3,000 stores in China. McDonald’s has about half that many, and there are dozens of Chinese chains, too. It’s no surprise, then, that Chinese people are getting fat.
But fast food is only part of the problem. People are also just eating more.
… But an analyst points out that a lot of traditional food — like yotiao, a double deep-fried dough stick that people love to eat for breakfast — isn’t that healthful. He says what people really need is to learn how to make good choices.
… And fortunately, there is plenty of nutritious food available.
… In many ways, figuring out how to stay slim and healthy in modern China is a bit like the struggle Chinese face in other parts of life. It’s how to decide what to keep from the past, and what to take from all the new choices a growing economy offers.
>We are entering a new phase in world history – one in which fewer and fewer workers will be needed to produce the goods and services for the global population.
The new information and telecommunication technologies have the potential to both liberate and destabilize civilization in the coming century. Whether the new technologies free us for a life of increasing leisure or result in massive unemployment and a global depression will depend in large part on how each nation addresses the question of productivity advances.
>What can be done about mass unemployment? All the wise heads agree: there are no quick or easy answers. There is work to be done, but workers aren’t ready to do it — they’re in the wrong places, or they have the wrong skills. Our problems are “structural,” and will take many years to solve.
But don’t bother asking for evidence that justifies this bleak view. There isn’t any. On the contrary, all the facts suggest that high unemployment in America is the result of inadequate demand — full stop. Saying that there are no easy answers sounds wise, but it’s actually foolish: our unemployment crisis could be cured very quickly if we had the intellectual clarity and political will to act.
In other words, structural unemployment is a fake problem, which mainly serves as an excuse for not pursuing real solutions.
>Political discourse and behavior have become highly polarized, and what I like to call the ‘honest middle’ cannot be heard above the din. People often blame the economic policies of ‘the other side’ or they belligerently snipe at foreign competition. But we are failing to understand why we are failing. All of these problems have a single, little-noticed root cause: We have been living off low-hanging fruit for at least three hundred years. We have built social and economic institutions on the expectation of a lot of low-hanging fruit, but that fruit is mostly gone.
In a figurative sense, the American economy has enjoyed lots of low-hanging fruit since at least the seventeenth century, whether it be free land, lots of immigrant labor, or powerful new technologies. Yet during the last forty years, that low-hanging fruit started disappearing, and we started pretending it was still there. We have failed to recognize that we are at a technological plateau and the trees are barer than we would like to think. That’s it. That is what has gone wrong.
>The grim unemployment statistics puzzled many because other measures of business health rebounded pretty quickly after the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. GDP growth averaged 2.6% in the seven quarters after the recession’s end, a rate 75% as high as the long-term average over 1948-2007. U.S. corporate profits reached new records. And by 2010, investment in equipment and software returned to 95% of its historical peak, the fastest recovery of equipment investment in a generation.
Economic history teaches that when companies grow, earn profits, and buy equipment, they also typically hire workers. But American companies didn’t resume hiring after the Great Recession ended. The volume of layoffs quickly returned to pre-recession levels, so companies stopped shedding workers. But the number of new hires remained severely depressed. Companies brought new machines in, but not new people.
Why has the scourge of unemployment been so persistent? Analysts offer three alternative explanations: cyclicality, stagnation, and the “end of work.”
>China, Japan and Korea finalized their feasibility study for a Trilateral FTA (CJKFTA). These countries account for 20% of global GDP and are ideally placed to expand any arrangement they conclude to the tigers of ASEAN.
CJKFTA envisages an institutional framework which will foster trilateral co-operation and develop win-win-win situations. This is a refreshing change from Washington’s highly mercantilist approach to the TPP, based on selling access to newcomers by demanding pre-conditions which the U.S itself is not prepared to undertake.
An integrated set of principles will guide the CJKFTA negotiations:
- it will be a comprehensive and high-quality FTA;
- it should be WTO-consistent;
- it should strive for balanced result and achieve win-win-win situations on the basis of reciprocity and mutual benefit; and
- the negotiations should be conducted in a constructive and positive manner with due consideration to the sensitive sectors in each country.
>South Korea will map out its action plans on a free trade agreement (FTA) with China and Japan before the heads of state from the three Northeast Asian countries meet in May.
Based on consultations with China and Japan and the results of the joint study, we will prepare our action plans before the summit talks.
Detailed timetables, a negotiation road map and other preparations will be included in the action plans, a ministry official noted.
South Korea, China and Japan recently concluded a year-long joint study on the feasibility of an FTA with their final meeting in PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul.
They concluded the deal would be a “win-win-win” action that would provide a comprehensive cooperation platform for all three countries.
The three Asian countries have seen their share of global trade grow over past few decades.
>Here’s a telling tidbit for those who bewail America’s declining influence in the world: Samoa is skipping Friday to get closer to China.
At midnight on Thursday, the Pacific island nation is doing the exact opposite of what it did in 1892, when it switched to the East of the international dateline and celebrated July 4 twice in order to fall more closely in line with Californian clocks. At the time, that made trading sense.
Today, though, “we do a lot more business with New Zealand and Australia, China, and Pacific Rim countries,” said Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi earlier this year, announcing the change.
So Samoans, who currently live 20 miles east of the dateline, will go to sleep on Thursday night, skip Friday, and wake up on Saturday morning on the Asian side of the imaginary line.
>Clamshell containers on supermarket shelves in the United States may depict verdant fields, tangles of vines and ruby red tomatoes. But at this time of year, the tomatoes, peppers and basil certified as organic by the Agriculture Department often hail from the Mexican desert, and are nurtured with intensive irrigation.
… even as more Americans buy foods with the organic label, the products are increasingly removed from the traditional organic ideal: produce that is not only free of chemicals and pesticides but also grown locally on small farms in a way that protects the environment.
… from now until spring, farms from Mexico to Chile to Argentina that grow organic food for the United States market are enjoying their busiest season.
… while traditional organic farmers saw a blemish or odd shape simply as nature’s variations, workers at Sueño Tropical are instructed to cull tomatoes that do not meet the uniform shape, size and cosmetic requirement of clients like Whole Foods. Those “seconds” are sold locally.
>“Is America Over?” That question adorns the cover of the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, premier organ of the foreign policy establishment. As is typically the case with that establishment, Foreign Affairs is posing the wrong question, one designed chiefly to elicit a misleading, if broadly reassuring answer.
Proclaim it from the rooftops: No, America is not “over.” Yet a growing accumulation of evidence suggests that America today is not the America of 1945. Nor does the international order of the present moment bear more than a passing resemblance to that which existed in the heyday of American power. Everyone else on the planet understands this. Perhaps it’s finally time for Americans — starting with American politicians — to do so as well. Should they refuse, a painful comeuppance awaits.
>The agreement announced between China and Japan to strengthen financial ties and promote yuan-yen trade is a small, but notable, step toward a new global economy. Its immediate practical significance is limited, yet the deal signals that a deeper transformation is under way — and one that the world should welcome.
The plan was a surprise: It marks a warming of relations that had been chilly of late. The accord still lacks a timetable for implementation, but once in force it will let Chinese and Japanese trading companies switch between yuan and yen without converting to dollars first. This will encourage commerce by reducing currency risk and trading costs.
The agreement will let a Japanese-backed institution sell yuan bonds in China, helping to open China’s capital market. In return, Japan will convert some of its foreign- exchange reserves into Chinese bonds. China has signed financial pacts with other nations, mainly in Asia, but the size of China-Japan trade — $340 billion last year, and growing fast — makes this deal the most important by far.
Warmer relations and short-term benefits for regional trade, though, are not the main reasons the agreement matters. China seeks a bigger role for its currency in global markets, and wants power in international forums that is commensurate with its economic might. The sooner its currency is fully convertible and its economy is open to global investment, the sooner this will happen.
>Many years ago, when I was still living in the Moscow kommunalka a few blocks from the Kremlin with my friends Andrei and Lera, they took me to visit a dacha far outside town. It belonged to a friend of Lera’s, an old Jewish woman, the soft-spoken matriarch of five generations of women. She had lived several lives, had survived the ravages of World War II and Stalinism. If anyone, I thought, she would know.
What was the difference, I asked, between Stalin and Hitler?
“Hitler,” she replied without pause, “killed only his enemies.”
On June 6, 2002, it officially declared Russia a free market economy. The optimism was shared by few Russians. The poverty line after all still cut through a third of Russia’s households. Per capita GDP, at twenty-one hundred dollars in 2001. True, stocks were up again, but who owned stock? The capitalization of Russia’s entire stock market, moreover, equaled less than a sixth of General Electric’s. True, the fall of the Soviet bloc had opened new markets for the men who now controlled Russia’s oil and gas, but the rest o the populace discovered only the downside of globalization: the onslaught of foreign brands and the competitive advantage of exporters East and West.
>The global economy of the early 21st century looks a lot more like the economic textbook ideal that did the world of the 1950s. Barriers to trade have been abolished or dramatically reduced, regulations controlling the flow of capital have been liberalised, currencies are now valued by the market rather than being set by governments; in so many spheres of economic interaction, the government’s role has been substantially reduced. All these changes have followed the advance of economists that the unfettered market is the best way to allocate resources, and that well-intentioned interventions which oppose market forces will actually do more harm than good.
With the market so much more in control of the global economy now than fifty years ago, then if economists are right, the world should be a manifestly better place: it should be growing faster, with more stability, and income should go to those who deserve it.
Unfortunately, the world refuses to dance the expected tune. In particularly, the final ten years of the 20th century were marked, not by tranquil growth, but by crises: …
- 20 percent of the customers account for 80 percent of the sales.
- 20 percent of the products or services account for 80 percent of the profits.
- 20 percent of your stock takes up 80 percent of your warehouse space.
- 80 percent of your stock comes from 20 percent of your suppliers.
- 80 percent of your sales will come from 20 percent of your sales force.
- 20 percent of your staff will cause 80 percent of your problems.
- 20 percent of a company’s staff will output 80 percent of its production.
>Globalization is a process of interaction and integration among the people, companies, and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology. This process has effects on the environment, on culture, on political systems, on economic development and prosperity, and on human physical well-being in societies around the world.
>Initially, the authorities in Yemen actively encouraged coffee drinking. The first coffeehouses or kaveh kanes opened in Mecca and quickly spread throughout the Arab world, thriving as places where chess was played, gossip was exchanged and singing, dancing and music were enjoyed. Nothing quite like this had existed before: a place where social and business life could be conducted in comfortable surroundings and where – for the price of a cup of coffee – anyone could venture. Perhaps predictably, the Arabian coffeehouse soon became a centre of political activity and was suppressed. Over the next few decades coffee and coffeehouses were banned numerous times but kept reappearing until eventually an acceptable way out was found when a tax was introduced on both.
- … more than 22 million people around the world who produce the second most valuable lawfully traded commodity in the world: coffee.
- … coffee is grown in 50 countries around the world.
- the market for coffee has always been affected by temporary swings in supply because of changes in weather patterns and the ravages of war, labor strife and other cyclical events.
- … has increased growth in worldwide production of all types of coffee from 85.7 million bags in 1995/1996 to 117 million bags in 2001/02.
- lower prices, however, have not caused increased demand. … supply far exceeds demand on a global basis.
- the market, as virtually every knowledgeable authority would agree, remains clearly oversupplied.
World military expenditure in 2010 is estimated to have been $1630 billion, an increase of 1.3 per cent in real terms.
The USA has increased its military spending by 81 per cent since 2001, and now accounts for 43 per cent of the global total, six times its nearest rival China. At 4.8 per cent of GDP, US military spending in 2010 represents the largest economic burden outside the Middle East.
At the Monterrey Financing for Development Conference in 2002, world leaders pledged “to make concrete efforts towards the target of 0.7%” of their national income in international aid. In today’s dollars, that would amount to almost $200 billion each year.
In 2005, total aid from the 22 richest countries to the world’s developing countries was just $106 billion—a shortfall of $119 billion dollars from the 0.7% promise. On average, the world’s richest countries provided just 0.33% of their GNP in official development assistance (ODA). The United States provided just 0.22%.
The cost of supporting countries to meet the Goals would require donors to increase ODA to 0.44% of GNP by 2006 (or $135 billion) and to plan for a scale-up to 0.54% by 2015 (or $195 billion) – well within the bounds of the 0.7% promised in Monterrey. This means that of the combined rich world GNP of approximately $30 trillion dollars, on average just $150 billion a year would be enough to get the world on track to ending extreme poverty throughout the world.
>Every year, 9 million children die before their fifth birthday. A woman in sub-Saharan Africa has a one-in-thirty chance of dying while giving birth—in the developed world, the chance is one in 5,600. There are at least twenty-five countries, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, where the average person is expected to live no more than fifty-five years. In India alone, more than 50 million school-going children cannot read a very simple text.
>Budget expenditures 2011 Country Ranks, By Rank
|1||United States||$3,397,000,000,000||2009 est.|
|6||United Kingdom||$1,154,000,000,000||2009 est.|
>Global assets under management
|5||Foreign exchange reserves||$7,341,000,000,000|
|6||Sovereign wealth funds||$3,980,000,000,000|
|8||Private equity funds||$1,600,000,000,000|
>The World’s 500 Largest Asset Managers
|1||BlackRock||$3,346,256,000,000||New York, NY|
|2||State Street Global||$1,911,240,000,000||Boston, MA|
|3||Allianz Group||$1,859,351,000,000||Munich, Germany|
|4||Fidelity Investments||$1,699,106,000,000||Boston, MA|
>The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement is an Asia-Pacific regional trade agreement currently being negotiated among the United States and eight other partners. The United States’ TPP negotiating partners are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
>The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:
- Forty-three percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
- Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
- Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
- The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
- Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.
- Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
- Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
- Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.
>Colleges and universities are turning out graduates faster than America’s labor markets are creating jobs that traditionally have been reserved for those with degrees. More than one-third of current working graduates are in jobs that do not require a degree, and the proportion appears to be rising rapidly. Many of them are better described as “underemployed” rather than “gainfully employed”. Indeed, 60 percent of the increased college graduate population between 1992 and 2008 ended up in these lower skill jobs, raising real questions about the desirability of pushing to increase the proportion of Americans attending and graduating from four year colleges and universities. This, along with other evidence on the negative relationship between government higher education spending and economic growth, suggests we may have significantly “over invested” public funds in colleges and universities.
>Well-known zero-sum games, like poker, do not create value; the amount of money around the table is only changing hands but does not grow. In a zero-sum game, the main competitive weapon is deception or, at the very least, withholding information – ergo the proverbial poker face. In contrast, the decisive success factors for plus-sum play are honesty and openness, which creates and maintains the requisite trust between the parties.
A society exists in order to produce added value for its members through fruitful cooperation. The internal rules of the game should therefore promote value-enhancing plus-sum games and minimize futile zero-sum play. Destructive minus-sum games should be totally unacceptable. By defining these interrelations in mathematical terms, game theory becomes applicable and fundamental insights can be gained.
- The disproportionate role of high-impact, hard to predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance and technology
- The non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to the very nature of small probabilities)
- The psychological biases that make people individually and collectively blind to uncertainty and unaware of the massive role of the rare event in historical affairs
>Policymakers are fully engaged in an effort to avoid another Great Depression. The secular forces of productivity gains and entrepreneurial dynamism will not disappear. And there are pockets of considerable economic and social flexibility, high self-insurance, and even some global policy coordination.
Yet, while these factors help reduce the risk of a deflationary depression, they are not strong enough for a return to the high growth and low inflation that characterized 2002–07. Simply put, there are insufficient demand buffers and fast-acting structural reforms to provide for a spontaneous and sustainable recovery in the global economy.
No wonder we have characterized the financial crisis as a crisis of the global system (as opposed to a crisis within the system). Lacking endogenous circuit breakers, the system will not reset quickly and without permanent changes (and some would argue that even if it could, it should not). For markets that are highly conditioned by the most recent periods of “normality,” this will feel like a new normal. Indeed, it will be a major shock to those that are trapped by an overly dominant “business-as-usual” mentality.