Saturday, April 30, 2011

Economist this week

From The Economist Apr 23 2011 printed edition

http://www.economist.com/printedition/index.cfm?d=20110423

Libya - Qaddafi's forces intensified in their siege of Misrata, the city now in the rebel's hands. Western worlds and rebels seek for the more aircrafts from US, but President Obama does not make any decision now, partly because of stigma the country experienced in Afghanistan and Iraq, and partly because of the budget constraint. Some strongly argues that US should involve in the process more, given that the operation in Libya is different from Afghanistan and Iraq, that the operation is humanitarian as well as pragmatic. If I were Mr. Obama, what would I do?

http://www.economist.com/node/18586995/print

Chinese in Africa - China is Africa's biggest trading partner so far. Because of no antagonism due to colonial period and the commitment the workers made, Chinese have gained popularity in the countries. However, in these days, the trend is getting to be a bit different, as seen in the miners' case in south Zambia, where they protested against poor working condition. The Africans' recent criticism toward China may be based on disguised protectionism, or it may be due to the impression that Chinese are hoarding African cheap labor forces. Some politicians are gaining political power thanks to the anti-Chinese movements. What would be the lesson for China, and will Japan be able to replace the Chinese?

Japan - the quickest way for the Tohoku region's revival would be to turn the region into a special economic zone, a free trade area with lower tax rate and immigrant workers. The Economist says it's worth a try given Tohoku's devastation, but I'm not sure if that is the right way in terms of both legitimacy and correctness.http://www.economist.com/node/18586786/print

Stoics of the Japanese, called "Gaman", gained admiration from the world, but it is at the same time obstacles for the drastic changes.

Business - due to the decreasing job seats, internship is getting to be a critical first step into employment. It is unpaid labor, but appreciated for both; employers can measure the capability of applicants, and potential employees can see if the jobs would fit to them. However, recently some say that the unpaid labor is illegal in light of labor code. Should the companies pay for students who actually add almost no value to the firm?

Social science - Crowds are like molecules, but to model the crowd's behavior accurately, the modeling should count the human nature that people behaves different when they're in fully packed places. Dr Moussaid and Dr Sabatier invented a new model including that factor.

Business - Johnson & Johnson, the health-care giant, is to buy Synthes for $20 billion. J&J recently suffers from its bad performance. Recent years have knocked J&J off its pedestal as one of the most venerated companies. It recalled a painkiller, Motrin, but they announced the fact a month later, the fact that represents striking contrasts with what the firm did for Tylenol. The firm shows the dissonance on the takeover deals as well. J&J said to its investor that the firm would buy-back its shares and that no takeover will be made until it solves its internal problems.

Russia & US - the coalition is strengthened these days. Russia became conduit for US on its operation in Afghanistan. Russia was supportive on UN policy towards Iran. The reset of the relationship is not that easy and simple, ans US may need to seek for the better way to democratize Russia through its foreign policy.

Politics - Golden state is under discussion on its voting system. Direct voting system has its virtue, but it does not necessarily means to give the power to people. The direct voting system makes it difficult for minorities to represent their will. Also, the change in political system is tough to reverse; once decisions are made, change in the new system calls for another voting and thus is difficult.

Singapore - the country is transforming into Aisa's top financial center thanks to its ability to take advantage of global financial upheavals. The recent rise was due to the Hong Kong's handover; it accepted many assets newly booked in Singapore and used the opportunity for the growth of asset management business. The country is eager to build the infrastructure to be the finance center: well-thought regulation, lower tax rate, friendly policy toward foreigners, fast internet, etc, all of which are done by government, not out of the laissez-faire.


What makes the Singapore so successful: language, skilled workers, efficient regulation, lower tax rate (max 20%), access (nice airport location), friendly policy toward foreigners, internet system, and, above all, strong leadership to bring all of them about.

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