Monday, April 20, 2009

The Economist - April 18th

Jacob Zuma: Class Act – South Africa’s soon-to-be new President – political party: ANC (African National Congress). Great politician – bribery and rape allegations. Will he help or hurt the country – no one is sure.

India Elections – incumbent Congress party – prime minister Manmohan Singh. Rival national party: BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) complicated elections – 50% local parties with local agendas. Muslims and Christians may not trust BJP. Economist backs Congress party as most likely to accomplish progress.

Bank bail-out return policy – Goldman Sachs ready to give back $10 billion to Treasury. Banks want to avoid govn’t restrictions on exec comp and hiring foreigners. Even though GS has solid capital ratios, banking system is too interconnected and one bank’s return might jeopardize weaker banks. Wah.

Breaking News: Healthcare is expensive – technology in healthcare makes operating costs higher. Doctors don’t know how to run businesses. No competition on med devices so cost-plus pricing is used.

Housing: Blame the Govn’t – government policies encouraged housing boom, such as mortgage interest tax deductions. If anyone is looking for a condo in CT, let me know – I’ve got one for you!

South Africa has issues – ANC in charge for 15 years. Good: new black middle class, electricity and clean water access up 33%, murders down 33%. Bad: murders still relatively high, Zuma has six wives, recession bring threat of unemployment.

Arguing about Immigration – 11.9 illegal immigrants in US. Forces shifting toward reform: AFL-CIO (union) support. Latino support for Obama. Lou Dobbs is still angry.

Oakland has a crack problem – West coast occasionally gets earthquakes. Oakland (2 Fast 2 Furious) has a big crack problem - sits on Hayward fault line. Old houses collapse.

Guess who’s back, back again? – George Bush is back, tell your friends. He’s writing a book about his 12 biggest decisions.

Beverly Hillbilly’s: There’s Uranium in Virginia? – Apparently there’s almost $5 billion worth of Uranium under some guy’s farm in Virginia. He wants to sell it. Neighbors are scared. Policies might change to let him mine it.

WOOO-EEEEE, that’s some good moonshine – homemade whiskey is awesome and can clean floors. Also illegal but that just makes it taste better.

Biotech in North Carolina – manufacturing isn’t just textiles anymore. $1.2 billion from state for biotech research. Now nation’s 3rd largest center, after Cali and Mass.

Best Saxophone around in Yemen – We spend $10 mil a year to send jazz musicians to countries that don’t like us. Really.

Iowa smells like yeast and success – Iowa is doing all-right. Unemployment below average, ethanol industry remains part of future, but not as prominent. Broader manufacturing and services economy.

Obama, yeah or nay? – Obama has polarized approval/disapproval numbers. Didn’t we go over this last issue – come on Economist!

Bienvenido Cuba, sort of – Obama loosens restrictions on Cuba. How will Raul respond to maintain control over politics. Fidel Castro has a blog. but he mostly talks about baseball.

Bolivian politics, hold the Chile – Bolivian president Evo Morales has no shame. Hunger strike to push for new constitution. Slept on mattress on floor of state room. Really – not a joke.

Mexico priorities – worried about emissions. Target 5% drop. Would Pres Calderon be happy if drug traffickers did drive-bys and smuggled in fuel efficient vehicles?

Brazil priorities – worried about emissions. Foreign ministry not a supporter, but local govn’t helping slow deforestation.

Thailand's technicolor protests – government didn’t expect protests to spiral into violence. Former PM Thaksin has enemies who only wear yellow shirts. His supporters wear red shirts.

Fiji has an army? – The president tried to kick out the army and call a mulligan on the constitution. The commander is 88 years old. Politics divided by ethnic Fijians and Indian minority.

Indonesian elections – Democratic Party is the winner in parliamentary elections – tripled support and saw decline of fragmented opposition. Their president has the coolest name ever: Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (pronounce You-da-hoe-yo-now – at least that’s what I suggest)

Healthcare in China – healthcare is expensive in China too – big spending plans to have a ‘robust’ government financed health-insurance system - $125 billion – by 2020. Questionable if it will work

Homemade Dialysis –some sick people bought a dialysis machine because government healthcare sucks. When government shut it down, the media called them out and now the people get free dialysis care.

India state politics: next national leader? – Northern State Uttar Pradesh, Miss Mayawati leading candidate for local party BSP. She’s a dalit, lowest class, and threatens strength of national parties.

On the Thai King’s good side – amidst political strife, both sides show deference to King Bhumibol – red shirts question if the King supports Thaksin. Illegal to criticize the King. I like the King.

Guns don’t kill pirates, Navy SEALs kill pirates – but does shooting pirates solve the problem? No, we probably have to do the ‘soft’ stuff like give the Somalis something else to do. I hear there’s a big market in Thailand for red and yellow shirts!

West Coast Pirates: Death Row Records – West coast Africa has pirates too (and oil). US Navy sailing around teaching Nigerians stuff like hand-to-hand combat, boat maintenance, and jazz.

OMG! Egypt and Hezbollah: not BFF? - Egypt Pres Hosni Mubarak criticized for not supporting Hamas in Hamas v. Israel. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah not happy. Lebanese arrested in Egypt - perhaps part of wider Hezbollah operation taking place within Egypt.

Congo: The GM of Africa? - No one is buying Cobalt (or Chevy Cobalts). Congo is broke but IMF and World bank are giving out half a billion. China is pissed because they have deals with Congo that they can't renegotiate because IMF supports Pres Joe Kabila.

It's the economy, Stupide - French pres Sarkozy has approval rating of 36%. unemployment in France is above EU average. No longer EU president so he's off international stage. French civic institutions are weak so the kids like to protest. a lot.

Swiss-Italian fluid border - changed the border because of glacier melting. Previous borders were at watersheds, but glacier has shifted so borders are adjusted

Greece is not an island - The economy sucks there too. there were some riots in december and govn't says they were isolated, but many fear that further unemployment will spark greater unrest.

New German Cars - German govn't offers $3,300 for people to sell old clunker cars and buy new ones. Both political parties support it (at cost $5 billion Euro) Questionable effectiveness: people buy small foreign cars, not German ones. Cuts into future car sales and from other expenditures, like beer.

Croatia and EU - Croatian economy is lousy. Need to fix it for EU membership - Slovenia (current EU member) wants to fix dispute over Piran bay.

Moldova and Georgia protests - Moldova has problems with youth riots for faster EU integration. Hardcore crackdown - jailings, beatings. Moldova Pres Vladmir Voronin doesn't like Romanian Pres. Traian Basescu - vocal Moldovan minority seek reunification with Romania. Tounge twister - problematic protesters prefer potted plants.

EU scared of Chi-merica (I prefer Amerinese) - EU and China don't get along - trade tariffs and Sarkozy talking with Dalai Lama. EU recognizing that G20 or G8 might be meaningless and become G2 (U.S. and China). Too fractured within EU to come up with consistent strategy.

Pakistanis in Britain – 250k Pakistanis enter Britain each year. Marriage is big role in immigration. Some concern over potential terrorists entering under fraudulent student visas.

Big Brother works both ways – British police are caught on camera beating up protestors. The Economist used the phrase ‘cock-up’ which might seriously change my google adwords.

England makes cars – about as well as we do. Lots of schemes to give manufacturers a boost: car-scrapping like Germany, credit insurance, like France, or electric car subsidies.

Homes in England – housing market sucks there too. More people interested in buying homes, but mortgage approvals still low and prices still dropping.

Political Scandal in Britain – PM’s aid creating some trashy email slander about an opponent and got caught and resigned.

Professional paths to politics – Lawyers in US, Engineers in China. Business 2nd worldwide. Data from 5,000 politicians in ‘International Who’s Who’ - The Economist has a lot of time on its hands – but they’re certainly not mailing out their issues on time.

Indian entrepreneurs in healthcare – low cost healthcare through frugal but effective surgery. Think Jaipur foot. Aravind – world’s biggest eye hospital chain.

Satyam sold – The Enron of India, Satyam software company sold to Tech Mahindra

Doubledown in Vegas? – MGM’s $8.7 billion CityCenter development in jeopardy because of struggles to pay $13.5 billion debt burden. Dubai World 50% partner. Las Vegas revenues down 10%.

Nintendo: Game Over? – Wii sales down. Marketed to less committed gamers? Video-on-demand for Wii and portable DSi has features like cameras, mp3 player, web browser to compete with iPhone.

French file-sharing – France wants to ban file-sharing with scary government agency that will send you a letter and then cut-off your internet. Carla Bruni thinks file-sharing is why people don’t buy her album.

It’s the economy, Durka Durka – US private equity fund, Marshall Fund investing millions in Iraqi SOE (State owned enterprises) Founded by Dan Rice (West Point class of 1988).

Zappos! – Tony Hsieh is CEO – still has web startup enthusiasm despite $1 billion in sales. $2,000 to quit after training. ‘Service company that happens to sell shoes’

Homes: Give me shelter or beast of burden? - homes are supposed to great ways for wealth accumulation. States like them because crime is supposed to drop and home owners more involved. Backfire when people buy homes only as investments.

Bank’s questionable come-back – bank stocks are up since early March on reports of 1st quarter profits at big firms (Goldman, Chase, Wells Fargo). Probably not at bottom with commercial real estate about to implode. Yay!

MBA821: Jumping off of bridges – Recession recovery will be ‘slow and painful’ – deflation is mostly because of fuel and food declines but people are still depressed and pessimistic about future.

Germany wants to avoid banking like it's 1930? – Germany is averse to nationalizing banks since they haven’t done that since the 30’s. didn’t act quickly to help HRE (Hypo Real Estate) bank.

Brazil’s development bank – The BNDES (National Bank for Economic and Social Development) is awesome. 5.8 billion profit (reais) and 277 billion reais in assets. Established to for new capital- Brasilia.

Bringing Sexy Back: Municipal Bonds – 1/3 of buyers have left (institutional funds) leaving those scary retail investors holding most of the debt. Potential bailout for government purchase of local government municipal bond issues.

Google hires Nostradamus – Google trends, which track aggregate search keyword volume, could be useful in predicting sales. Fewer people search for ford trucks, fewer people buy. (author’s note: Google trend #28 today: Grandma’s Chicken Soup)

China Recovery? – China forecasts 8% GDP growth. 16% higher retail sales, 36% higher home sales, 30% higher fixed investment, and a 22% increase in questionable statistics.

The Damned Mob – There are quick solutions to the economic crisis but people and their stupid political concerns stand in the way.

Autism and superpowers – studies suggest that around 30% of individuals on the ‘autism spectrum’ have some savant-like capability – extraordinary memory, calculation, music, etc…

Old Female Mosquitoes – Neuroscientists discover that we subconsciously know the answer but then cloud it with too much analysis. Go with your gut

Rosetta Stone: Now for Infants – teach your kids another language. It helps with their decision making skills and they enjoy creepy puppet shows. This is the way to do it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Mike! Got some work done and had some laughs - keep up the good work!