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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The March on Washington DC, August 28, 1963: 50 years later

The Economist: Ernest Green, raised in segregated Arkansas, remembers August 28th 1963:

Finfacts: Famous speeches and their impact from Pericles to Hillary Clinton

The Economist: Sam Leith, author of "Are You Talkin' To Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama", reveals the multifarious influences that combined to produce one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013, will mark 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech at the base of the Lincoln Memorial; a moment which served to punctuate a movement that changed America. 

President Obama, the 44th president and the first black among the 43 men who have served as president of the United States, will be joined by President Jimmy Carter and President Bill Clinton, members of the King family and other civil rights leaders at the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action event at the Lincoln Memorial, to commemorate Dr. King’s soaring speech and the 1963 March on Washington.  

China addicted to debt

Until five years ago China's economy relied remarkably little on debt. But China lost its debt inhibition in late 2008 when the global financial crisis erupted. With growth slowing sharply and 20 million people losing their jobs overnight, the government unleashed a giant stimulus that was powered almost entirely by bank loans. The debt genie was out of the bottle -- and it has been extremely difficult since then for China to stuff it back in. The FT's Simon Rabinovitch reports from Guiyang.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Apple under pressure in China's smartphone market

Apple's seen its market share in China dwindle as homegrown smartphone makers crank out feature-packed budget models. Could the launch of a cheaper iPhone restore its flagging fortunes?

Finfacts report from China in Jan 2013: Apple's shares slide; iPhone 5 selling in China at up to ¥7,200

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Vladimir Putin walks alone in St Petersburg

Vladimir Putin, Russian president, has looked gloomier than usual in recent times. In June, The New Yorker reports a television reporter approached Putin and his wife, Lyudmila, in the Grand Kremlin Palace. The First Couple was leaving after the first act of the ballet “La Esmeralda.” After a few minutes of small talk about music and dancing, she asked a most impossible question: Why did they appear so rarely in public together? Putin’s response, confirmed by his wife: they had decided it was time for them to divorce. This is not the first time ballet happened to be the setting for a Russian personal and political drama: back in August, 1991, state television was playing “Swan Lake” just as Communists attempted a coup.

The New Yorker added that Putin has never appeared in public with his family; the Russian people have never even seen either of his two daughters. On the very rare occasions that he even mentioned his daughters, Putin hasn’t said their names—he just refers to them as “they”. His wife Lyudmila barely acted as the First Lady. After the first years of his tenure she stopped accompanying him abroad, and more or less disappeared from the scene. A common half-serious suggestion was that Putin had had her locked in a nunnery—just as the Russian tsars did when they sought to get rid of unwanted tsarinas.

The London Independent reported Friday that Putin cut a lonely figure after he was spotted wandering by himself through the streets of St Petersburg.

On Friday, the Russian leader was seen pensively walking through the city following the funeral of his Judo instructor Anatoly Rakhlin. Putin marched on wearing a moody look and avoiding eye contact, while his aides and security rushed to catch up with him.

The newspaper said Putin is known to be a master in the dojo when it comes to Judo and it is clear that the death of Rakhlin has affected him deeply. Rakhlin had reportedly been battling a long illness and considered himself to be a second father to the president.

Finfacts, Aug 09, 2013: Russia has more than 110,000 small business owners in jail

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

China's executions fall from 30,000 to 3,000 annually in 30 years

China executes far more people than the rest of the world combined, but numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years. The Economist estimates that the numbers have fallen from an estimated 30,000 annually in the 1980s to about 3,000 today. The number of executions in the 1980s was itself very low compared with 30 years before when a large number of suspected revolutionaries were executed. 

Reformers worked quietly within the system to bring about the change and panels now review every death case.

Death Row Interviews (BBC Documentary - 2013)

Every Saturday night in China, millions gather around their televisions to watch Interviews Before Execution, an extraordinary talk show which interviews prisoners on death row.

In the weeks, days or even minutes before they are executed, presenter Ding Yu goes into prisons and talks to those condemned to die. Combining clips from the TV show, never-before-seen footage of China's death row and interviews with a local judge who openly questions the future of the death penalty in China, This World reveals a part of China that is generally hidden from view.

CNN reported last April that China, the United States and three Middle Eastern nations carried out the most executions in 2012, rights group Amnesty International said, but a global trend toward ending the death penalty persisted.

Daniel Goldhagen, an American author and former professor of political science and social studies at Harvard University, who has written two books about the Holocaust, 'Hitler's Willing Executioners' (1996; review) and 'A Moral Reckoning' (2002). He is also the author of 'Worse Than War' (2009), which examines the phenomenon of genocide, and he wrote in the latter:

From 1949 to 1953, when the Chinese communists were consolidating power and laying the groundwork for their vast country's social and economic transformation to communism, the regime killed on the order of ten million people, mainly in their camps.

Worse Than War (PBS documentary)

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Twenty new jobs at Enterprise Ireland to trigger 1,200 additional Irish jobs!!!

The Irish Government claimed on Friday that 20 new jobs planned for the overseas offices of Enterprise Ireland, the public agency responsible for assisting indigenous exporting firms, will trigger 1,200 additional Irish jobs by 2015.

This pearl of wisdom from a management consultancy, makes job creation seem easy and what if 100 or a multiple were employed?

Richard Bruton, enterprise and jobs minister, said 20 additional staff will be recruited locally on fixed term contracts and will be assigned to offices in key target markets including in particular the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

The Government says:

"It is estimated the deployment of the requested additional resources can drive export growth across the specified markets over and above what can currently expected to be achieved with EI’s existing resources in place. It is estimated that this incremental export growth of an additional €250m per annum by 2015 would result in an estimated additional 1,200 jobs in Ireland. This request for additional resources in selected markets is based on a clearly identified market opportunity which is matched by clear evidence of EI client demand/capability and which will result in a substantial increase in exports and resulting jobs in Ireland."

What is striking is that after 60 years of public support for the indigenous sector, there is so little data available on what works or doesn't. EU enterprise reports often have blanks for Irish data.

No  longitudinal studies are done that would track success and failure over time.

There is a lot of detail in Friday's statement but key data is deliberately missing

There is no data on indigenous exports to the BRIC countries. Wonder why?

Total exports of goods (2012 ) and services (2011) amounted to €7.7bn -- 4.35% of the total headline exports value of  €177bn in 2012.

Most of these exports are from foreign-owned firms in Ireland.

The reason why no data on exports is highlighted is because indigenous exports to each individual country, are at a decimal point.

Earlier this week, Eamon Gilmore, foreign affairs, trade and deputy prime minister, made the stupid claim in Beijing that China is crucial to the Irish recovery. However, what he did not reveal was that indigenous exports are at about 5% of total exports to China or €200m in value.

This reality raises a question on the wisdom of trying to sell everywhere when outside of the UK, Irish-owned firms have limited success in Europe.

Gilmore says China key to Irish recovery; Exports at 2% of total

Irish Economy 2013: Only growth in Ireland is in freelance 'jobs'