The doctor’s office as union shop
- increasing trend for physicians to become employees, rather than self-employed.
- Obama administration driving this trend: reducing the reimbursement for certain office-based specialists while enhancing related payment to hospitals;
- Doctors now in training appear willing to forsake income for a better quality of life and are less interested in the entrepreneurship required to run a private practice;
- (if doctors unionize) their right to strike?
Home prices turn up across region
- Guerneville, the most, jump 38.4%; Oakland, 35%; San Francisco 28.3%; San Jose 21.2%;
- social media employee — “Our gold rush right now is in social media.”
- market become tougher for buyer; impossible for entry-level buyer to compete; outbid by investors who often offers all cash;
The State Tax Reformers
- Nine states now have no income tax; instead, raising sales tax;
- income taxes are a direct penalty on saving, investment and labor; sales tax hit consumption;
- Louisiana and Oklahoma, with big energy production, another option: replacing the income tax with revenues from oil and gas extraction taxes, drilling leases and royalty payments;
- union-dominated high-tax model: California, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts and now Minnesota;
Euro Zone’s risk in currency wars
- hit 14-month high: $1.35;
- ECB: the only traditional inflation hawk in town — BOJ continue print money, raise inflation target; Fed open-ended bond purchases until unemployment falls;
- (BNP Paribas) fair value at $1.32; it is only slightly overvalued now.
- problem is: one rate may not suit all — as world demand for euro-zone export grow sluggishly, making price is more important; each country has its own exchange-rate pain threshold, $1.22 for France and $1.16 for Italy due to lack of competitiveness and flexibility;
- 俄罗斯Pussy Riot因“煽动宗教仇恨”被判决；普京辩驳：“这三名妇女被投入监狱，西方人就谴责，而《穆斯林的无知》的制作者纳库拉·贝兹利·纳库拉也被收监时，他们却缄默不语了。”
- 从而激发出关于“民”的思考：公民的锻造 — 现代国家；
- “重构”西方和“重述”中国传统 — “新民”，从心理层面真正面对西方，又不能彻底与自己的文化割断；
- 梁启超的新民事业 — “满街都是睁眼瞎”成了最大障碍；
- 劳工庶民的胜利 + 巴黎和会的冷水 — “新文化运动”转化为反帝爱国的“政治运动”，工人和农民成了主角，最先作为启蒙对象的下层取代了启蒙者；
John Taylor: Fed policy is a drag on Economy
- kept extending the near-zero federal funds rate and it will remain in the place for several more years.
- search for higher yields: take on questionable investments; bank roll over rather than write off bad loans;
- foreign central banks follow the easy money policy — global increase in money risks commodity booms and busts;
- (respond) increase aggregate demand; but micro analysis shows not.
- Fed is imposing an interest-rate ceiling on the long-term market by saying it will keep the short rate unusually low — reduce the supply of credit, reduce aggregate demand and increase unemployment;
The web-deprived study on McDonald’s
- McDonald’s, Starbucks, free access to wi-fi, for students who cannot access internet connection at home to do assignment;
- “21-century skills”. but school close at 5, public library close at 6.
- high speed internet and advanced wireless network aren’t subject to rules such as the ones that required carriers to make traditional telephone service available to everyone;
- “No one disagrees with the concept of 100% connectivity, the rub is how do you get there in a way that doesn’t distort the market.”
Adviser Optimism Raises Cautionary Signal
- Investors Intelligence Advisory Sentiment Index: determine market risks by measuring the level of optimism or pessimism;
- Currently, the index is showing a strong level of optimism among advisers.
- has to be cautious — too many people are ignoring the short-term risks inherent in stocks.
How the digital age is turning the financial planning industry upside down
- the past: large firm their own proprietary solutions; independent firms and advisers struggles;
- changes: increase in bandwidth; the emergence of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), software packages able to “talk” to one another;
- impact: no longer good to build their own proprietary software; advisers now have more flexibility to change which firms they affiliate with;
- the rise of the “middleware” programmers and integrators specialized in the software that is built for advisory firms. like designing “Apps”;
Home Prices Help Advance Economy’s Slow Recovery
- rose 5.5% from November a year ago;
- Case-Shiller report track 20 metropolitan cities, only NYC shows decline; Phoenix 22.8%, San Francisco 12.7%;
- in 2013, rising taxes and dysfunction in Washington make less optimistic;
- Home ownership rate 65.4% from 65.5% last year; but 69.2% in 2005.
CNN makes flurry of changes
- Managing director Mark Whitaker stepping down, replaced by Jeff Zucker;
- past: focus on hard news, while other rivals more opinionated;
- now pull back international reporting and focus more on stories of people talk about on any given day;
- (Zucker) “News is more than just about politics and war.”
She is elegantly shaped
like a beautiful castle
firm, defensive, and sophisticated inside
or perhaps not.
And she is sharp, straightforward
in a way of suddenly getting hurt
at the very first moment but soon
recovered if you are strong enough
or just swallow the truth.
And she is dangerous
being nothing by default
nor can be trained easily
therefore I am always and still wondering
if this machine is that fast to process the inputs
or just simply filter them out
in, I would rather say, sometimes
a smart way.
The Economic Observer Issue 605 28-01-2013
- Caterpillar write down Zhengzhou Siwei due to accounting fraud; two former shareholders of Siwei bought the company cheap and sold to Caterpillar high; “Americans cheating American”;
- Chinese urbanization: “establishing cities by rescinding townships”; “removing mountains to build cities”; but local government still put much pace and relied on land sale for revenues; must carry out a deep reform of the existing land management system;
Treasury Gets A Citibanker
- nominated treasury secretary Jack Lew, took CAI job in 2008;
- “The greatest irony is that given Mr. Lew’s crisis-era resumé, he bears a remarkable resemblance to the bankers who President Obama says created the financial crisis and deserve federal investigation.”
B&N Aims to Whittle Its Stores For Years
- now 689 stores wit 674 college stores; in ten year will have 450 to 500 stores;
- Random House (the world’s largest publisher) ‘s ebook sales count for 22% from almost nothing five years ago;
- bookstores serve for different purposes from other retail outlets, people could not sit and chat in bedbath&beyond;
How trust deficit is hurting the economy
- trust breaks down, economy is damaged;
- (Gallup) 25% trust in newspaper, 21% in television, only 13% to congress;
- food industry spending 30% more time meeting with regulators today than they did few years ago;
Noonan: Lessons Conservatives Need to Learn
- Mr. Mickelson is not alone in thinking paying more than half salary in city, state, county and federal taxes is unjust;
- (Obama) “He has no talent for or interest in sustained, good-faith negotiations, he has no real sense of alarm about the great issue of the day, America’s debt. He’s a chill presence in a warm-blooded profession.”
- changing the economic balance between rich and poor — redistribution;
- Compare to Franklin Roosevelt, Obama has the same seriousness of intent but nothing like the base of support: (FDR) 58% to 30% in 1932, 61% to 36.5% in 1936; (Obama) 53% to 46% in 2008 and 51% to 47% in 2012.
Travis Kalanick: The Transportation Trustbuster
- Co-founder of Uber, a limo service company (search map in app and call limo nearby, charge more), putting premium on customer satisfaction;
- facing “cease and desist” from transportation agency, not “beg for forgiveness” approach (they are legal);
- “there’s been so much corruption and so much cronyism in the taxi industry and so much regulatory capture that if you ask for permission upfront for something that’s already legal, you’ll never get it. There’s no upside to them.”
- have supporters sent 50,000 emails and 37,000 tweets;
- Uber Amendments: set floor on the company’s rates — anticapitalist taxi protectionism (put it into populist terms);
- “My politics are: I’m a trustbuster. Very focused. And yeah, I’m pro-efficiency. I want the most economic activity at the lowest price possible. It’s good for everybody, it’s not red or blue.“
- 银行股盈利能力强但估值低 — 市场预期银行有大量不良贷款尚未暴露；
Donald Boudreaux and Mark Perry: The Myth of A Stagnant Middle Class
- All the gains of the growth have gone to the very top — wrong!
- average hourly real wage remained unchanged from at least 1964;
- Problem 1: CPI overestimate inflation and underestimate the quality of product and service — healthcare;
- Problem 2: fringe benefits, such as health, pension, leave and rest, amount to 31% of total compensation;
- Problem 3: average wages held down by women and less-skilled workers;
- some other measures of middle-class living standards: life expectancy (5 years more); falling spending on “basics” (food, automobile, clothing); ability to consume (routine air travel, electronic products), close to that of the rich;
Chris Bray: What a ‘Militia’ Meant in Revolutionary America
- “Today, we are presented with a false choice in which either the government bans assault weapons or an unfettered individual right makes it possible for a monster to spray bullets into schoolhouses. The forgotten middle ways of our nation’s earlier days, that world of mutuality, excluded more people than it included, and its shortcomings are well known. But it also had real strengths, and the benefits of a strong civil society are lost to us when we expect government to address and solve our every problem.”
Highlights from the EO print Edition.604, Jan 21, 2013
- housing price greater concern than inflation in 2013;
- Change overseas investment model, net loss of $26.8 million in 2011;
- PE & VC investing in pollution-related companies: atmospheric monitoring, fixes for pollution, produce technology that reduces emissions;
- Luxury brands shifted to 2nd and 3rd tier cities, market in first-tier is becoming full;
- Oil giants lobby to raise crude oil windfall tax threshold, because of rising costs of mining crude oil; if successful, save more than 50 billion yuan in taxes.
Markham Nolan: How to separate fact and fiction online
- Managing Director of Storyful.com
- “The job of the journalist [during Hurricane Sandy] was filtering. … Instead of going and finding the information and bringing it back to the reader, you were holding back the stuff that was potentially damaging.”
- Twitter, Youtube, real-time database for journalists;
- “Algorithms are rules; they’re binary. [But] truth is never binary. Truth is a value.”
- “Truth is emotional, it’s fluid, and above all, it’s human. No matter how quick we get with computers, no matter how much information we have, you’ll never be able to remove the human from the truth-seeking exercise.”
Ryan Smith: The Reality That Awaits Women in Combat
- former marine infantryman in Iraq;
- introducing women: more or less effective?
- hygiene, watch the opposite sex in awkward position, humiliating enough to relieve yourself in front of your male comrades;
- societal norm is reality and is important to the maintenance of society; unit cohesion could be harmed by violation of societal norms.
Jet Bush and Clint Bolick: Solving the Immigration Puzzle
- their book “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution”
- fixing border security is shortsighted, intertwined with other aspect: current immigration system is fair and workable?
- not only law enforcement, but law itself: patched over since 1952;
- evolved border-security problem: Mexicans leaving (U.S. bad economy), now threat is drug cartels, human smuggling;
- “chain migration” — family preference, does not promote nation’s economic interests;
- roughly 250 applicants for one visa each year, absence of meaningful avenue of access increase pressure for illegal immigration;
- need all types workers, especially high-skilled; other countries are luring away students, workers, and entrepreneurs;
- immigration replenish American spirit.
Bjorn Lomborg: Climate-Change Misdirection
- book “The Skeptical Environmentalist”
- scary examples in Obama’s inaugural address is wrong: droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, have been declining, despite global warming;
- exaggerating the threat concentrates the resources in wrong areas.
- hurricane: better building codes, ending subsidiaries for hurricane insurance to discourage building in vulnerable areas;
- high cost of climate policies, $250 billion annually, but reduce temperature only by immeasurable one-tenth Fahrenheit by the end of this century;
- existing green energy is inefficient, should stop subsidizing it and pour money to discover more efficient, future solar panels;
Nicholas Eberstadt: Yes, Mr. President, We Are a Nation of Takers
- author of “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic”.
- government transfer increase twice as personal income; welfare spending account for nearly two-thirds of federal spending; this leap is not due to the aging of population;
- moral hazard embedded in the explosion of social-welfare program: become transfer programs, not insurance program (meant to pay for themselves);
- dramatically increase in reliance of Social Security’s disability programs: “musculoskeletal problems” and mental disorders are among the most;
How Apple Bit Holders, Too
- Complex (always favors seller) restructured products, like “naked” put options but not obliged to be pre-approved by specialist in brokerage firm, sold to retail investors;
- 8.03% annual rate, eight times what the average short-term bonds offer at the time; no such thing with high yield and low risk;
Colin Stokes: How movies teach manhood
- Bechdal test: there are at least two women; they talk to each other; about something other than a man;
- few passes the test, out of top 100 movies in 2011, only 11 passes.
- one out of five women in U.S. has been sexually harassed.
The great innovation debate: innovation is slowing and governments need to help it along
- biggest impediments is government: officialdom tends to write far more rules than are necessary for public good; the West’s intellectual-property system is a mess because it grants too many patents of dubious merit.
- productivity is most stagnant in public sector: unions;
Jack be nimble: Jack Lew, a successor to Timothy Geithner
- Geithner, a central banker and a crisis manager; Jack, spent most of his career with budget issues, a budget technocrat;
- main task: currency relations with China, and collecting taxes;
- Jack is not an outsider, like from Wall St, to repair relations with business and with Republicans, but an insider and is more liberal (less warm relations with Congress);
Obama picks his soldiers: Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, John Brennan as director of the CIA
- Obama is looking for: experience, caution, and view that the world is messy and opportunities for wielding unilateral American power is limited;
- Mr Hagel, few friends in his own party, most “antagonistic” towards the state of Israel in history;
- long-standing preference for engaging with Iran, seen as tantamount to appeasement;
- slim down a “bloated” Pentagon offends those who think the defense budget should be sacrosanct;
- disliked by Republicans, a stern critic of the Iraq war;
The fraying knot: declining marriage rates and “marriage promotion”
- falling marriage rates , with them come rising out-of-wedlock birth rates;
- poverty is a cause, not a result of low marriage rates;
- government should help create more jobs, and to ensure access to family-planning services to keep unwed birth rates down; rather then to promote marriage as a route to economic success;
Slamming on the brakes: politics of traffic lights
- official response was prompt and surprisingly conciliatory; rare for Chinese officials especially the police to yield to public opinion;
Long overdue: ending “laojiao” system
- important questions remain about what might replace it;
- but others see encouraging signs in the decision;
Battling the censors: protests calling for press freedom
- Southern Weekend’s supporters has been unusually bold; some party leaders may worry that even a modicum of political liberalization could open the floodgates to demands for far-reaching change;
- public response: even as activists delivered their daring speeches, backed up by massive online support, most white-collar workers from nearby office buildings walked past paying little attention;
From guard shack to global giant: Lenovo become the world’s biggest computer company
- “protect” two huge profit centres — corporate PC sales and China market;
- vast distribution network in China, offers lessons for other emerging markets; put a PC shop within 50km of nearly every consumer, cultivate close relationships with its distributors;
- “attack” new markets: in India, one-way exclusivity for retail distributors; acquisitions in Germany, Japan, Brazil; buy back smartphone arm;
- tiny problem: the “attack” part is largely unprofitable;
- different from other Chinese firms: little or no official interference; English the official language; foreigners look like they belong;
- some way to go: reliance on one market, China; crumbling PC mountain but Mr Yang shows an unfashionable faith in PCs (85% of Lenovo’s revenues), “PC+” approach;
France v Google: Free, a French ISP, set ad blocks by default
- whether to pay the ISP directly for the connection to its subscribers;
- (for French finance ministry) how to force Google to pay more taxes;