阅后即焚(十六)

Jack Lew’s golden parachute

  • paychecks he received from his last two employers before returning to government — a bonus guarantee (from Citi) if he left the bank for a “high level position with the United States government or regulatory body.”
  • “Citi knew from the start that Mr. Lew was headed back to a powerful job in Washington, and that it wanted him to remember the bank fondly when he left.”

Michelle Obama’s Oscar turn sparks debate

  • inappropriate in its affirmation of the hard power behind the soft power—the connection of real politics to the representational politics of the movies, of the peculiar and long-standing symbiosis of Washington and Hollywood;
  • (Jennifer Rubin) It is not enough that President Obama pops up at every sporting event in the nation. Now the first lady feels entitled, with military personnel as props, to intrude on other forms of entertaining.

Barnes’s chairman mulls store buyout

  • biggest shareholder, Leonard Riggio, expressed interest in buying out the consumer-store chain — not Nook Media LLC;
  • B&N market capitalization $809 million, down from $2.2 billion in 2001; physical stores, profitable; the Nook business, suffered $262 million in fiscal 2012;
  • management buyout: insiders are seen as having an advantaged position over outside buyers;

Hidden risks of a hard landing in China

  • (Stephen Green, Standard Chartered) calculate GDP growth at just 5.5% (official figure 7.8%) in 2012, using an alternative measure of inflation that better
  • (official data) exports up 14%, but compare import data from Hong Kong, four percentage points lower;
  • (official data) consumption up 15.2%; Nielsen’s index of sales of fast-moving consumer goods, which include fewer of the government purchases that distort the official data, was up just 9%;
  • (official data) fixed asset investment increased 21%; that looks odd against 14% fall in sales of excavators and 19% drop in steel prices — measures that should track investment growth;

阅后即焚(十五)

舆论热议如何斩断“删帖生意链”

  • 删帖公司“雅歌时代”5000万的大生意中,竟然有大半的收入来自于二三线城市政府官员的删帖。
  • (南都评论)“这绝非一种简单的市场供需关系,因为其间所被侵害、被羞辱的,是公众对公共事务的表达与知情权利,以及新闻媒体依法行使的批评监督权。”

徐志摩为什么反对苏俄

  • 年长一辈知识分子,章太炎,王国维,梁启超,对苏俄暴力革命的方式很是警惕;年轻一代,陈独秀,李大钊,则对苏俄充满了希望,包括后来的胡适;
  • 纵观这一时期,年轻一代中,对苏俄从各方面提出批评与反思,进而提醒国人警惕苏俄的是徐志摩;
  • (翟秋白)《饿乡纪程》,明明知道苏俄民众生活穷苦,依然一心一意学习苏俄;
  • 引起徐志摩反感的是:对个人财产的不尊重;对书籍的查禁;红色恐怖;
  • “他们相信天堂是有的,可以实现的,但在现实世界与那天堂的中间隔着一座海,一座血污海,人类泅得过这血海,才能登彼岸,他们决定先实现那血海。”
  • 胡适在苏俄受了假象的迷惑,并没有看清苏俄党化教育的本质。

许小年:城镇化或城镇神化?

  • 改革开放30余年,政府从未(主动)推动城镇化,然而不知不觉中,城镇化率就从1978年的18%上升到2012年的53%;即使扣除进城不落户的农民工,也达到了35%左右;
  • 贡献的力量来自于:农业改革和民营经济的发展壮大;以市场为基础的资源重新配置;
  • 农业改革:不仅为城镇提供低廉劳动力;还产生农业剩余,可供城市人口消费的粮食压力减少;
  • 实现(城镇)聚集效应的主体是企业和城乡居民,而不是政府官员;
  • 相关改革问题:取消户籍制度;土地制度改革;平衡各级政府财政预算;减少管制;广泛吸收民间资金;停止按行政级别分配公共资源;探索新型的城市治理方式和管理体制;

阅后即焚(十四)

Google works on launching retail stores

  • last year completed its acquisition of Motorola Mobility; even though Google wants Motorola to succeed as a device maker, the company is being careful not to appear to favor Motorola over other device makers — Samsung, Sony, etc.;
  • there would a lot to display for Google in its own retail stores: home-entertainment devices, Chromebook laptops, Google Glass, Google TV software;
  • Apple has about 400 retail stores world-wide, generating $10 billion in annual sales; Microsoft has opened about 300 full-fledged stores and is developing another 11 stores.

Warren Romney

  • $23 billion acquisition of Heinz; the role of 3G capital, which has a reputation for cost-cutting and layoffs (as in Burger King);
  • a classic private-equity turnaround in which better management improves the value of a business v.s. rapacious capitalists;
  • the usual media critics of private equity are ignoring 3G’s takeover history, perhaps because of the role Mr. Buffet, the billionaire patron saint of taxing the rich; the deal is even being portrayed as one sign of the return of business animal spirits and a healthier economy;

China’s Yen for currency appreciation

  • Pushing up the yuan helps stave off imported inflationary pressure;
  • higher inflows through the trade account add to pressure for the yuan to rise;
  • the pressure on China’s exporters from Japan’s falling yen is limited — Japan high-end, China low-end manufacturing;

Seoul is a currency pacifist

  • Seoul’s inaction makes sense: South Korean exporters are among the biggest beneficiaries of Japan’s spat with China;
  • and also, the weaker Yen means the energy cost for Japan is rising;
  • what’s more, favorable currency movement will partially help Japanese companies with overseas sales — won’t do much damage to Samsung Galaxy;

李大卫:《云图》背后

  • 现代小说,一种类似照片(一目了然,轻而易举说出一本书是关于什么),另一种更像音乐(往往牵涉出懂和不懂的问题);乔伊斯《芬尼根守灵夜》;
  • 乔的遗产被后人承袭:贝克特《等待戈多》、伯吉斯《发条橙子》《世俗权力》、拉什迪《午夜的儿女》等;米切尔的《云图》;
  • “于是我注意到一个原本平淡无奇、无需注意的事实,即一种健康的文化,对于例外现象总是宽容的。不但宽容,有时甚至鼓励。”

金雁:“转型正义”与政治和解——勿忘斯塔西系列(上)

  • 统一后的国家既要创造和谐氛围,也要体现公正原则;
  • 苏联模式的哲学是,与其让人信服不如让人恐惧;
  • (麦德维杰夫)苏联文化和意识形态的垄断后果是“要求人们虚伪、顺应、愚昧和装傻,不断玩弄那种令人哭笑不得的、宗教意识般的、普遍宣誓效忠的把戏;”
  • (兰德尔·彼特沃克《弯曲的脊梁》)“一个压制分歧的体系面临着无法解决的困境,它用以施加公共一致性的方法越严酷,公民们隐藏真实看法和显示许可看法的行为就越勤勉,而这个体系就越担心它的公民不站在他这边。” — 恶性循环;

阅后即焚(十三)

G-7 attempts to avoid currency war

  • U.S., Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, and U.K.
  • monetary policies designed to boost economies that have side effect of lessening the value of currency;
  • (Richard Gilhooly) “Rather than calm the markets, the poorly communicated statement has significantly raised volatility, and now we have to wait to see the actual outcome of G-20 on the weekend.”
  • (a senior official of G-20) “the statement put the rest talk of targeting specific exchange rates.”
  • singling out specific members as currency manipulators won’t happen.

Venezuela slashes currency value

  • 4.3 per dollar to 6.3 per dollar, nearly a third of its value;
  • help narrow government’s budget shortfall; but also spur inflation that is already among the world’s highest — trade-offs faced by Mr. Chavez more than a decade of populist economic policies;
  • raise the cost of imports, and Venezuela’s economy is increasingly dependent on imports;
  • foreign companies sales in local currency terms are among biggest losers;
  • many world’s economies moved away from fixed exchange rates in the 1990s, but Mr. Chavez populist polices have gone in the other direction — since then, periodically devalued currency every few years — driven economy with one foot on the gas and the other on the brakes;

Insurance as punishment

  • proposed that CA gun owners to buy liability insurance to cover damages or inquiries caused by their weapons;
  • (proponent) some owners would avoid high premium by purchasing less-lethal weapons;
  • unfounded assumptions here — FBI statistics show that handguns not rifles consistently account for large majority of firearms homicides.
  • home insurance company will likely favor gun owners who have safely locks and proper storage;
  • deter gun ownership? punish law-abiding gun owners?

Is this the new face of racism?

  • (Latanya Sweeney, a Havard professor) black-identifying names turned out to be much more likely than white-identifying names to generate ads that including the word “arrest”;
  • (a decade ago, from U Chicago) resumes with white-sounding names were about half again as likely to yield callback as those with black-sounding names — implicit racism;
  • correlate with 1970’s Black Power Movement — before the movement, names given to black and white children were not distinctly different; but after the movement, distinctly black names appear.
  • Google algorithm based on the pattern of clicks but these clicks reflect no bias; people click the link because it is her/his name.

阅后即焚(十二)

Daniel Grofine and Ben Miller: who needs Wall Street?

  • shift in how companies raise money: through private transactions (rose by 31%) than through debt and equity offering (fell by 11%);
  • companies don’t have to go through the SEC’s costly and time-consuming registration and reporting requirements;
  • (public markets) liquidity by advertising to a wider public;
  • it could also mean fewer investment opportunities for the general public; private exchange not accessible to those who don’t qualify as accredited investors — 97% of U.S. population.

中金:空气污染根源在市场失灵和政策缺位

  • 库兹涅茨曲线 — 环境污染指标与人均收入水平遵循倒U形的关系:在收入水平较低的时期,污染程度随着收入水平的提高而上升;当人均收入水平增长到了8000美元(1985年价格)左右,污染程度开始随着收入增长而下降;
  • 中国目前人均GDP刚超过5000美元,若按购买力平价计算,已经超过9000美元,接近拐点;

吴谦立:不是一家人,进了一家门

  • 德国财政状况相当稳健,但也不愿意援助希腊等小兄弟们;
  • 自2000年以来,德国单位劳动力成本仅有轻微的涨幅,其他确实直线上升,希腊40%,法国25%;
  • “在欧元大家庭刚成立的最初几年里,德国人继续苦吃苦做,而其他兄弟们,尤其是那些处于欧洲南部的小兄弟们,却只顾享受快乐的生活,生活水平不断上涨,但是工作效率与德国人的差距却进一步拉大。”
  • 欧洲统一市场使德国马克贬值,出口更具竞争力,其他国家货币升值,增加进口;但并没有形成劳动力市场统一,各国生产效率依然存在差异;希腊工厂必须雇佣至少五倍于德国工厂的律师、会计师以对付政府部门的干扰;
  • “欧洲问题之所以比较特别,是因为由于实行统一货币,那些陷入危机的国家无法应用常见的大幅度贬值的耍赖手段,把自己拯救出来。另一方面,各国财政却又是独立预算的,在这个虚拟的家庭里面,亲兄弟明算账,无法像一个真正的国家那样可以容易地实现内部利益转移。”

谢国忠:美元牛市再来

  • 第三次美元牛市:20世纪80年代的第一次牛市是由于Paul Volker为了解决滞胀而推出的高利率政策造成的;20世纪90年代中期的第二次牛市源于 IT革命将投资吸入美国;即将到来的美元牛市,则是因为其他经济体的疲软,而非美国经济的实力;
  • 欧元危机的解决方案:北欧国家进一步通胀来平衡南欧国家的竞争力问题 — 欧洲央行的货币扩张;
  • 过去20年间,强势的日元将日本引向通缩,名义GDP一直在下跌,国债飞速上涨,日元走弱是唯一出路;
  • 第一次美元牛市引发拉丁美洲债务危机,第二次引发亚洲金融危机 — 不是巧合:(美元熊市)热钱流入,造成通胀,逐渐失去竞争力,美元走强,流动性随之转向,债务负担不可逆转;
  • 金砖国家体现了滥发贷款所能导致的全部症状:高债务水平、通胀和强势货币。
  • “像澳元和巴西雷亚尔这样的商品货币,在接下来的美元强势时期将会极度脆弱。前者尤其容易受影响。澳大利亚已经变得十分依赖商品出口收入和外国资本流入。后者培育了一个巨大的房地产泡沫。在资本开始外流后,澳大利亚很可能将会经历一场金融危机。”

Jenkins: Apple’s new normal

  • now the newest thing aren’t hardware or operating system, they are cloud services, which Apple hasn’t been strong at;
  • “The (Ford) Model T couldn’t have been the Model T unless the automobile were on its way to becoming too interesting a product for consumers ever to be satisfied with a single model, a single manufacturer, a single design statement.”
  • same for Apple: “Different customers not only want different things from their smartphones, they want difference for its own sake.”
  • drop in share price has not been the popping of bubble or a collapse of confidence in management, it is easy to arrive at simply as some modest lowering of Apple’s expected sales growth and some modest lowering of its expected profit margin on those sales.

阅后即焚(十一)

Chinese firm shrug at rising debt

  • Rongsheng, a Chinese shipbuilding company, debt six times than three years ago;
  • accessible loans may be good news for struggling companies, could be bad news down the road;
  • exacerbate overcapacity, solar panel, steel sector, resource not going to the most efficient firms;
  • (Zhang Weiying) currently, doing businesses in China is still a privilege, not a right.
  • Rongsheng is a vital part of local economy in Rugao, paid more taxes than the next seven biggest firms, though in good years the tax bills dwarfed by government subsidies;

Party eyes ‘red-state model’ to drive Republican revival

  • Sam Brownback, Kansas state governor, to create a red-state model;
  • focus: fiscal innovations, slash income taxes while increasing sales taxes; the supposition is that tax cut will spark more growth, hence more revenue from all taxes, including sales taxes;
  • the tax gambles in the red states, sharply contrast with proposals put forward by some Democratic governors —  unsually stark divisions;
  • Republican critics worry that state’s schools and infrastructure will suffer; shift burden to less affluent;

Zahra’ Langhi: why Lybia’s revolution didn’t work — and what might

  • end Qaddafi but replaced by another Qaddafi-like regime?
  • “Mercy instead of revenge, collaboration instead of competition, inclusion instead of exclusion — these are the ideals that a war-torn Libya needs desperately.”
  • “Peace has an alchemy: … the intertwining, the alternation, between the feminine and masculine perspectives.”

Tyler DeWitt: hey science teachers — make it fun

  • “If a young learner thinks that all viruses have DNA, that’s not going to ruin their chances of success in science. But if a young learner can’t understand anything in science and learns to hate it, [then] that will.”
  • (My comment) This is quite a interesting point. No one will deny the importance of vivid introductory story for middle juniors. And this brings us another look of our primary and secondary education system, which in my opinion, is still superior than its American counterpart, both in terms of cultivating a good sense of “science” (scientific thinking), and of making students believe it is a cool thing. What might be lost in our system, or at least worth thinking twice is whether we can efficiently explore students’ inner interest towards science, or broadly, any subject.

Tillett Wright: fifty shades of grey

  • photographed 2,000 people who consider themselves somewhere on the LGBTQ — they are just looking the same as people who are not.
  • “My mission to photograph gays was inherently flawed, because there were a million different shades of gay.”
  • “There are just as many jerks and sweethearts and Democrats and Republicans and jocks and queens and every other polarization you can possibly think of within the LGBT community as there are within the human race.”

阅后即焚(十)

刘利刚:日元贬值为人民币带来机遇

  • 日元贬值降低企业融资成本,增强出口竞争力:自90年代初以来已经量化宽松近20次,经济停滞的痼疾在于扭曲的经济结构与人口老龄化;日本经济依赖贸易程度不大;
  • 日元贬值引发周边货币恐慌性贬值,(受到升值压力的人民币)若升,出口更困难;若干预汇率,导致国内流动性大幅宽松,资产泡沫进一步吹大;
  • 动荡的日元给人民币“区域化”的机会,考虑首先成为亚洲的“锚货币”;

陈昌华:非银行信贷支持地方举债的风险

  • 经济反弹依赖于基建项目投资增长,不仅审批宽松,而且融资渠道多样;
  • 企业融资转向非银行领域是健康发展方向,但是:银行贷款依然在增加;银行销售渠道在非银行信贷快速增长过程中也扮演重要角色(道德风险);
  • 中国应尽早决定地方融资以城投债还是市政债为主;

Economic Observer Issue 606 04-02-2013

  • Yingkou’s real estate bubble: will take six to seven years to unload all supply of properties; severe market risk; because of housing restrictions, developers move from top-tier cities;
  • China Southern’s A380 headache: main battlefield is long-distance international routes; headquarters Guangzhou can’t make much use of this advantage;

How Amazon trained its investors to behave

  • Jeff Bezos, a hedge fund veteran, skeptical of Wall St: putting investment ahead of profitability; emphasis on EPS diverts resources away;
  • very few companies want to come into Amazon’s core businesses and try to compete with them at 1% or 2% margins.
  • trained its shareholders to believe that everything will work out in the end.

Low interest rates force companies to pour cash into pensions

  • companies required to calculate PV of pension liabilities using discount rates — based on corporate bond yields — rates fall liabilities rise;
  • Ford’s pension plans had strong real-world returns, but had to lower its discount rates to 3.84% from 4.6%, creating bigger liabilities — increase of non-cash expense;

阅后即焚(九)

朱民:全球金融市场趋同性加强

  • 2003年趋同度只有10%;现在高达70-80%;
  • 中国金融业在全球的代表性并不高;GDP占10.2%,资产只占8.2%;
  • 亚洲债券市场虽表现好,但太小;银行占资产55%,股票占32%。

卢锋:经济易热难冷

  • 中国体制转型下特殊的扭曲因素,对经济增长产生过度的助推力;
  • 官员选用体制和地方竞争机制:扩大投资多上项目,冲破预算约束;
  • 独一无二的城乡分割土地制度:农地一旦投入城市建设,产生几十倍的增值溢价;

陈志武:现代技术催生民主法治

  • 现代交通运输工具和网络:增大了政府不受约束而侵犯民间财富的能力;
  • 金融技术:全国金融机构一体化,城镇银行的信贷也受到国务院、发改委的统一调配,权力一旦失控将造成巨大伤害;
  • 在世界范围内,除极少数国家,民主、法治都是19世纪、20世纪才有的;需要对由现代技术、现代金融技术带来的权力进行制约;

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?

 

阅后即焚(八)

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;

《娱乐、明星与政治》

  • (一般)美国学术、传媒、文化和娱乐界左倾,支持民主党自由派,好莱坞更是宣传美国自由派政治理想的急先锋(大片中黑人总统的形象十多年前就已出现);
  • 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。”
  • (美国)塑造精神世界、道德价值、政治观念的三大力量:宗教,联邦最高法院,娱乐工业;
  • 但人们并非像反对宗教人士和法律人士的政见那样来反对娱乐明星的政治表态,(其实认为)他们没有资格高度专业地对政治问题大放厥词;
  • 但这就是他们应该噤声的理由吗?

《新民,一个未竟的使命》

  • 中国队宪政观念的表达与对西方的看法有关,“优越性”;但挪用(而不是研究)西方并不讨论其“学术和理性”,而是思考“日常合理性”;
  • 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;
  • 梁引述中国的古典并不是为了使其支持新民计划,而是提醒国人不能忘了对古人君子的效仿;孔子、曾国藩等是策略上为了克服国人不适感、自卑感的解剂;
  • 革掉满足政府是一回事,革命以后又是另一回事,梁对人民的失望,革命青年则是极度乐观;中国民众缺乏政治能力,但革命本身便是最好的锻炼;
  • 五四的“新青年”在思想路线上产生分歧,为孔孟预留的位置被连根拔掉;
  • 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;

黄荭:《没有谁的日子》

  • 我依然从容。依然不爱哭。依然相信明天会更好。只是,没有你的日子,我不习惯。
  • (荣格)我是谁的梦?在这个梦里,我做了一次旅行。我在山丘的小路上漫步,阳光明媚,四野开阔。之后,我走近一座小教堂。门开着,我走进去。让我讶异的是祭坛上既没有圣母像也没有十字架,只有一簇美丽的花束。但我在祭坛前的地上看到一个瑜伽师,面朝我,打着莲花座,正在冥想。待我走近细看,我发现他的脸就是我的脸。我惊恐地离开,醒来时脑子里还在琢磨:“啊!如此看来,是他在冥想的时候想到了我。他做了一个梦,而那个梦就是我。”故而,等他醒来的那一刻,我将不复存在。

阅后即焚(七)

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.”

阅后即焚(六)

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;

张丹红:欧洲人事竞争德国为何屡败

  • 德国人原则至上:前联邦银行行长韦伯坚决反对购买希腊国债,辞职拒接欧洲央行行长;央行首席经济师斯塔克抗议央行越来越依赖于政治而辞职;
  • 法国的掣肘:竞争更露骨、执着和具外交手腕(拉加德接替卡恩IMF职位);
  • 成功进入欧洲决策层的德国人努力忘却本国利益(不愿在外界引起民族主义重新抬头的嫌疑);
  • 将本国利益交由同属北欧阵营的荷兰、芬兰去维护。

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;

阅后即焚(五)

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.

世行:城市化须依赖财产税及长期信贷

  • 发展中国家快速人口迁移,基础设施建设融资成为问题;
  • 缺少国内信贷市场,市政债券缺乏透明度;
  • 应协调公共和私人融资缓解财政负担;土地销售和财产税均可发挥杠杆效应;

德意志银行:2013年中国GDP将持续上升

  • 大中华区首席经济学家,马骏;推动经济恢复的三个理由;
  • 社会融资总额比例的增长;利润的恢复(消化产能过剩的过程基本结束);出口的复苏(2013下半年预计同比增长12%;美国上半年解决债务上限问题,欧洲二季度会进入环比正增长);

陈龙:谁来为银行系统再注资?

  • 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;
  • “4万亿”过程中的不良贷款从哪来的?
  • GDP考核机制下,各地投资冲动一直非常强烈,但受限于资金、土地和审批;“4万亿”后,闸门全部打开,多年难遇的“机会窗口”,“大干快上”,“弯道超车”;
  • 三个明显的受益者:中央政府(经济恢复,国际声誉);地方政府(财税受益,政绩);银行(竞争重视的也是规模,也有官员晋升的因素);
  • 但银行的扩张动机受三方面限制:倒闭风险(政府的隐性担保);存款不足导致放贷资源不够(作用也不大,央行被动超发,大银行网点优势);政策限制(为反通胀,政府也采用各种手段遏制扩张冲动);

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.

阅后即焚(四)

李大卫:软实力不是软的实力

  • 刘小东《在和田》,百子湾美术馆,“现场绘画”方式;
  • 文学电子刊《渐近线》,汉英双语《天南》,人民文学《路光》;
  • 软实力与硬实力成正比的反例:江户时代日本,浮世绘视为废纸,作为出货欧洲的包装材料,却影响了一代梵高、莫奈之流;其“失去的二十年”,漫画却被全球接收;19世纪末的美国;

李锦记:专注的刺猬

  • 已经默默传承了125年;
  • “思利及人”;
  • 产品多元化方面谨慎,不上市,由家族成员牢牢控制;
  • 吉姆柯林斯《从优秀到卓越》:狐狸知道很多事,但是刺猬知道一件大事,狐狸同时追求很多目标,但刺猬只专注一点。然而,刺猬并不愚蠢;它们拥有穿透性的洞察力,能够看透复杂事物并且识别隐藏的模式。刺猬注重本质,而忽略其他。

张晋蜀:《联想:变黑莓为红莓?》

  • CFO黄伟明:“我们在评估所有的机会,包括RIM和很多其他公司”;
  • 智能手机的开山鼻祖,安全可靠,但忽略消费者市场;
  • CFIUS不会批准;

总统宣誓完成,精选仍将继续

  • Organizing for Actions:有效利用支持者为各议题游说;解释总统的政策以及民主党在一些主要议题上的态度;
  • 寻找超越奥巴马个人宣传的策略;

叶翔:高通胀小概率

  • 日本“流动性陷阱”:过去14年货币发行量7倍,物价却下降5% — 货币发行量是通胀的必要而非充分条件;
  • 供不应求 — 需求拉动型通胀;供求大体平衡 — 成本推动型;我国目前为后者,最重要动力为劳动力价格上涨;
  • 撇开上述因素,流通渠道的有限性与消费较快增长的矛盾,商品供大于求,商品销售服务却供不应求 — PPI连续十个月下跌(生产过程中采购品的物价状况),却迟迟不能传导到终端消费;

阅后即焚(三)

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;

阅后即焚(一)

《当年日本何以不能征服中国?》

  • “乳娘心态”:甲午被日本击败后才震动朝野,民族苏醒;
  • 与以往朝代北方蛮夷入侵不同,同时也受世界大格局影响(德国纳粹的失败);
  • (沟口雄三)中日“公私观”差异:(中国)“公”含“平等”的意味,较正面,反之“私”是邪恶的,负面的;(中国)“公”很远,“天理”,(日本)“公”守住具体的符号如“天皇”或“国家”;
  • 日本更像欧洲的封建制度,世袭制度和刻板的职业和等级意识;而中国自秦以后废除了封建制度,平民化的社会结构,“公”“私”界限不分;
  • (周作人)日本地理位置好,对君感情深厚:对国土的感情相当单纯真挚,而中国民众心理飘忽,文化也很难视为纯粹(流质易变,兼容并包);
  • 健朴的日人跳入中国这张曲折有致、随意开合的文化之网即手足无措,难以从身体和心灵上控制中国。

沈志华:《转折还是选择》

  • 1956年春光大地,“百家齐放”,1957年却阴霾天空,原因在于:中国对社会主义社会及其主要任务的认识;中苏同盟关系的估计;
  • 阶级斗争后,开始着手解决执政党与人民群众的关系问题:“整风运动”,克服官僚主义,宗派主义;但矛头直指高层导致开展新一轮的“反右派”运动;
  • 斯大林去世后,社会主义阵营内中国大有取代苏联之势;赫鲁晓夫(改善与西方关系,集中精力解决经济发展问题)的方针被摒弃,苏联专家的意见也退居其位;
  • 1957年,令人失望的选择;真正的转折在80年代才到来。

金雁:《国家机器上的“癌变”——东欧的秘密警察是怎样形成的(上)》

  • 经典作家(马克思、恩格斯)的语境里,革命成功后遵循宪政民主是顺理成章的;
  • 1947年冷战爆发,捷克“布拉格政变”,匈牙利“辉煌三年”的结束,波兰“民主制度的终结”;
  • 坚持理想和保住权力是一对矛盾:畸形的无限膨胀的专制机器延伸到社会每个角落,靠制造恐惧来维持其正统性,并通过宣传教化使人们放弃自己经自身判断而来的信仰;
  • 暴力镇压,言论钳制,不断扩张的公权力挤压个人的私生活,把自己神圣化,把外部世界妖魔化,强调服从性和组织性。

刘瑜:《像一滴水一样》

  • 2012年12月去看望高华;
  • 延安整风:中国式思想改造的缘起;与它国不同,毛时代不需要秘密警察,人人之间的相互监视和自我监督就已足够;
  • “配方”:资源的垄断式供给+全面改写历史前提下的信息封闭与观念灌输+在群体中孤立个体+强力威胁;
  • “程序”:封闭的学习文件→组织群体对个体进行批评与攻击→自我羞辱式的检查与“交心”→必要时的惩罚甚至暴力惩罚→纠偏阶段受害者的感激涕零;
  • 领袖的每一次胜利,都是由围观者们的冷漠、嫉妒甚至贪婪推波助澜
  • (《一九八四》)历史是不断被改写的;思想改造的成功恰恰依赖于对党史的“重塑”;
  • “据说高华的很多文字,是在深夜的厨房里,就着昏暗灯光写出来的。我想象那个画面,觉得异常动人,仿佛看见一个地质学家在翻山越岭,搜寻过去留下的遗迹,试图告诉我们这里曾经有一个湖泊,那里曾经有一个冰川。《一九八四》里,男主角温斯顿发现一个和自己一样怀疑伪造历史的“同类”时无比惊喜,他举杯对那个人说:“为了过去”。不知道高华老师是否读过这本书,如果读过,读到这里他也许会心有戚戚。是的,不是为了“美好的未来”,不是为了“欣欣向荣的今天”,他的努力仅仅是“为了过去”,为了一就是一、而不是零或者二、不多不少正好是一的过去。”

 

Economist Jan 12th 2013

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;

Home truths:

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Economist Dec 8th 2012

Stalled: Brazilian economy is on the verge of vigorous growth

  • disappointing numbers: 0.2% instead of 0.4% second term growth, 0.6% instead of 1.2% expansion due to tax cut.
  • payroll taxes cut in electricity tariffs does not work well: government’s high-handed approach and hostile attitude towards the private sector.
  • financial services, hit by higher defaults, fewer loans, tighter profit margins.
  • good news: household consumption still growing.

Life and death struggle: Chinese anti-corruption campaigns again

  • keep strict controls on microblogs in cases of those “smear” on the country, while often yield to public taste for blood in cases of local corruptions.

Free exchange: model effect of climate change on economic activity

  • restrictions on movement increase welfare costs. beneficial to northern section of the globe due to increase in agricultural growth and trades.
  • Prof Kahn (UCLA): productivity of rich places often has little to do with unique geographical advantages.
  • carbon taxes raise the relative income of innovative cities that rely more on ideas.
  • worries about market failures: areas that lose values may become magnets for poor families, may set the stage for humanitarian disaster.

Economist Dec 1st 2012

Survival of the biggest: digital giants become too powerful for consumers’ good

  • winner-take-almost-all;
  • get consumers hooked on their own platforms;
  • habit of gobbling up promising firms before they become a threat.

Not what it used to be: declining value of American universities

  • in 1962 one cent of every dollar spent went on higher education and now the figure has tripled, but additional value has not been created to match this extra spending;
  • graduates earned no more in 2007 than they did in 1979;
  • young graduates facing decline in earnings and a lot more debt.

The Obama doctrine: to avoid costly entanglement in his second term

  • “come home and rebuild America”: fix failing schools, potholed roads, snail-like internet networks, or a broken immigrant system;
  • present but not deeply involved;
  • compared with the 1990s America looks far lonelier: EU cannot offer significant help, Russia intensely suspicious, and China is a distilled essence of self-interest.

The dust settles: hints of reform from China’s new leaders

  • from “demographic dividend” to “reform dividend” to boost development;
  • state-owned monopolies, the biggest one? Li did not say whether he agreed but did speak the need for reform of household-registration system and land management;
  • talked for years, but progress has been sluggish. how many will support him?
  • far less swiftly in foreign affairs, not sure who will replace Dai Bingguo.

Alone at the top: Putin initiated high-profile battles against corruption

  • anti-corruption purge would make Putin weaker, not stronger;
  • after held in power in a decade, the “typical syndrome of an ageing general secretary;”
  • now less faith in counsel and more certainty in his own judgment, “think he understands the situation, but in fact it can be quite incomprehensible for him.”

Getting a grip: Gary Gorton’s new book on financial crisis

  • systemic financial crises are the result of a broad loss of confidence in bank debt;
  • should apply Livingston doctrine to Lehman Brothers in 2008, where the subsequent panics were so devastating;
  • it might be true that the Dodd-Frank act does not deal adequately with the liquidity cause of crises, but his alternatives seem impractical.