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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Financial Times in 2015 predominantly a digital publication

The Financial Times is the world's digital trailblazer among significant old world newspapers.

The Financial Times, a leading provider of business news, commentary, and analysis for almost 127 years, uses salesforce.com across the entire organization, including ad sales teams, journalists, and back office personnel. "The ability to consolidate onto one platform has had a big impact for us. It's more cost-effective to maintain and support, and users only have to log into one place," says Christina Scott, CIO.

Finfacts Dec 2014: Web & News: Big brand newspapers, magazines finding digital model that works

The Financial Times came into life 127 years ago on February 13th 1888. Journalists and editors, past and present, reflect on the values of the FT and how it has changed, especially in the last 25 years and the start of the digital revolution. The contributors are Nigel Lawson, former UK chancellor of the exchequer, Richard Lambert, former editor, John Lloyd, Lucy Kellaway and Lionel Barber, the current editor.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Empire of the pig: China’s insatiable appetite for pork

Of all the meat options, pork reigns king in China. To keep up with demand, China now rears (and eats) nearly 500 million pigs a year—more than half of all the swine in the whole world.

The Economist says that while most of the pigs China eats are home-grown, each kilogram of pork requires 6kg of feed, usually processed soy or corn. Given the scarcity of water and land in China, it cannot feed its pigs as well as its people. The upshot is that Chinese swine, which previously ate household scraps, increasingly rely on imported feed.

Mindi Schneider of the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague has estimated that more than half of the world’s feed crops will soon be eaten by Chinese pigs. By 2010 China’s soy imports accounted for more than 50% of the total global soy market. From a low base, grain imports are rising fast as well: the US Grains Council, a trade body, predicts that by 2022 China will need to import 19m-32m tonnes of corn. That equates to between a fifth and a third of the world’s entire trade in corn today.

Land use is changing drastically on the other side of the world and in Brazil, more than 25m hectares of land—parts of which were once Amazon rainforest—are being used to cultivate soy (Chinese companies have not signed up to the “soy roundtable”, a voluntary association, the members of which agree not to buy soyabeans from newly deforested land).

The newspaper/ magazine says entire species of plants and trees are being sacrificed to fatten China’s pigs. Argentina has chopped down thousands of hectares of forest and shifted its traditional cattle-breeding to remote areas to make way for soyabeans. Since 1990 the Argentine acreage given over to that crop has quadrupled: the country exports almost all of its whole soyabeans—around 8m tonnes—to China. In some areas farmers harvest two or three crops a year, using herbicides that have been linked to birth defects and increased cancer rates.

However, the significance of pork goes deeper than culinary tastes. They have been at the centre of Chinese culture, cuisine and family life for thousands of years. So why are pigs so important to China?

Economist report

What now for the House of Saud?

Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud has succeeded King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Hugh Carnegy and Roula Khalaf assess the implications of King Abdullah’s death amid the sharp fall in oil prices and the rise of Islamist extremism in the Middle East.

UK retailers face food/non-food disparity

With falling oil prices consumers should have more to spend but they’re certainly not splashing out on food. The FT's Lex’s Alan Livsey and Robert Armstrong discuss the disparity between the fortunes of the UK’s food and non-food retailers.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The world of public debt

FT chief economics commentator Martin Wolf discusses global debt sustainability with Gavyn Davies, chairman of Fulcrum Asset Management. They point out the improving situation in the US and UK, but are concerned about the Eurozone periphery and China.

Despite the biggest restructuring in history in 2012, Greece’s debts are still at about 174% of GDP, a fact that has helped the radical left Syriza party ride high in the polls on a platform of “debt forgiveness” from the country’s lenders ahead of elections later this month.

Together with the IMF, the Financial Times says that it has designed an online, interactive tool based on the fund’s economic model that calculates a country’s debt trajectory and how it is affected by an array of factors such as economic growth, borrowing costs and public belt-tightening. Assumptions can be tweaked to see how debts can be tamed, or increased. But it cannot determine exactly when a country is bankrupt.