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Taiwan’s Alishan cherry blossom season expected to draw huge crowds

Taiwan’s Alishan cherry blossom season expected to draw huge crowds

CNA 

  • 2013-03-17

Alishan

Alishan cherry blossoms and the famous forest railway. (Photo/CNA)

The Alishan National Scenic Area Administration on Friday launched the area’s cherry blossom annual celebrations, and said that the popular tourist destination in southern Taiwan could draw thousands of visitors per day during the flower season.

The celebration, which will run until April 15, marks the last of a series of cherry blossom festivals that have won huge popularity in Taiwan over recent years.

Priding itself on the approximately 5,000 cherry trees it has, Alishan might attract 14,000 tourists per day during the festival, said administration head Tseng Han-chou. Read more of this post

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Moody’s Investor Services said China’s local-government financing vehicles face greater risk of default, as regulators warn 20 percent of their loans are risky.

Moody’s Sees Defaults as PBOC Warns on Local Risks

Moody’s Investor Services said China’s local-government financing vehicles face greater risk of default, as regulators warn 20 percent of their loans are risky.

A rally in LGFV bonds may reverse, particularly should delinqencies emerge, Christine Kuo, a Moody’s analyst, wrote in an e-mailed response to questions on March 8. The average yield may rise to 7 percent by June from 6 percent now, according to Shenyin & Wanguo Securities Co., the first brokerage incorporated in China and ranked the nation’s most influential research provider by New Fortune magazine in 2010.

“I see increased risk of LGFV defaults because the financial profiles of many remain weak and heavy refinancing is needed,” Hong Kong-based Kuo said. “Regulators have asked banks to control their LGFV exposures. Some of the projects could default unless other sources of funds are found.”

People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said in a March 13 press briefing that about one-fifth of loans to the financing arms of local governments are risky. Net debt issuance by these entities surged 179 percent in 2012 to 1.132 trillion yuan ($182 billion), accounting for 50 percent of corporate bond sales, according to Bank of America Corp. data. Read more of this post

Where ‘Channel-Stuffed’ German Cars Go To Die

Where ‘Channel-Stuffed’ German Cars Go To Die

Tyler Durden on 03/17/2013 21:57 -0400

With the collapse of Europe’s auto market, and the channel-stuffing that is rife in every car manufacturer in the world, it is no surprise that at the end of their brief lease periods, European cars (Audi in this case) are being led to this ‘graveyard’ in Germany (70 miles north of Munich). This car park of chaos is full of nearly-new cars meant for destruction so as never to enter the car market as a cheap alternative and to maintain a high-priced spare parts market. It seems the Keynesian profligacy or digging a hole to fill it in has progressed in the 21st century to building a car and crushing that car as the engine of growth for our economies. The site can be found here…

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Forecast: What Physics, Meteorology, and the Natural Sciences Can Teach Us About Economics

Forecast: What Physics, Meteorology, and the Natural Sciences Can Teach Us About Economics [Hardcover]

Mark Buchanan (Author)

Release date: March 26, 2013 | ISBN-10: 1608198510 | ISBN-13: 978-1608198511 | Edition: 1

Picture an early scene from The Wizard of Oz: Dorothy hurries home as a tornado gathers in what was once a clear Kansas sky. Hurriedly, she seeks shelter in the storm cellar under the house, but, finding it locked, takes cover in her bedroom. We all know how that works out for her.

Many investors these days are a bit like Dorothy, putting their faith in something as solid and trustworthy as a house (or, say, real estate). But market disruptions–storms–seem to arrive without warning, leaving us little time to react. Why are we so often blindsided by these things, left outdoors with nothing but our little dogs? More to the point: how did Kansas go from blue skies to tornadoes in such a short time?

In this deeply researched and piercingly intelligent book, physicist Mark Buchanan shows how a simple feedback loop can lead to major consequences, the kind predictable by mathematical models but hard for most people to anticipate. From his unique perspective, Buchanan argues that our basic assumptions about economic markets–that they are for the most part stable, with occasional interruptions–are simply wrong. Markets really act more like the weather: a brief heat wave can become a massive storm in a matter of a few days, or even hours.

The Physics of Finance reimagines the basics of how economics, with consequences that affect everyone. Read more of this post

The Insupportable Equilibrium of Economic Thought; In one form or another, positive feedback lies behind almost everything that makes our world rich and surprising, changeable and dynamic, lively and unpredictable

The Insupportable Equilibrium of Economic Thought

Conjure an image in your mind: a pencil resting on a small table, perhaps next to a notebook. In what position did you imagine the pencil? Lying on its side, right? Why not upright, with either the eraser or the graphite tip touching the table and the rest pointing into the air?

In terms of strict physical forces, it’s possible to position a pencil this way. We never see it happen because even the tiniest vibration, from the rumble of someone tapping the table to a slight shift in air currents, will knock it over.

The upright pencil is in what’s called unstable equilibrium, a state of being that can exist if unperturbed, but that will change rapidly if given the tiniest shock from the physical world. By contrast, a pencil lying on its side is in stable equilibrium. Blow on it, even slam your fist on the table, and the pencil will stay in that position or bounce around momentarily and then go back to it.

Stable equilibria are generally more important than unstable, because things in such states stay there. Whether we’re thinking of forces affecting a pencil or the Dow Jones Industrial Average, we can expect something to remain near a stable equilibrium but to wander away from an unstable one. So whenever we consider a state of equilibrium, we’ve got to ask whether it’s stable. Read more of this post

Cereal With 70% Sugar Hooks Kids on Junk-Food Bliss Point

Cereal With 70% Sugar Hooks Kids on Junk-Food Bliss Point

After E. coli from a burger paralyzed 22-year-old Stephanie Smith, Michael Moss’s newspaper story tracing the meat’s origins helped win him a Pulitzer Prize in 2010.

The titular villains of Moss’s new book, “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us,” aren’t much less malign. The three substances are tied to rising obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. They’re also the pillars on which the $1 trillion food-manufacturing industry is built.

Moss, a New York Times reporter, digs into the history, science, commerce and politics behind processed foods and Americans’ addiction to them. It’s a craving he tracks from lab bench and corporate memo to working moms and the mantra of convenience, from Wall Street’s relentless pressure for profit and the feckless regulators in Washington.

Moss makes the digestion of hard facts easier with a keen sense of the telling anecdote and detail. When he interviews the legendary Al Clausi in 2010, 64 years after he started as a food chemist for General Foods (MO), Moss observes a copy of the patent for Jell-O instant pudding hanging in the retiree’s office and on a shelf “a toy replica of the trucks that delivered Tang, another one of his iconic inventions.” Read more of this post

Chinese Kids Who Ignore Confucius Face State Backlash

Chinese Kids Who Ignore Confucius Face State Backlash

By Bloomberg News  Mar 17, 2013

In 10 years as head of an elder- care center in Confucius’s hometown of Qufu, Yang Youling has seen the Chinese philosopher’s exhortation of filial piety turned on its head.

Many children never visit their aged parents in the 50-bed home in eastern China’s Shandong province to avoid being criticized for not taking care of them at home, said Yang, 47. “The children are ashamed of being seen,” she said.

They may soon have no choice. From July 1, parents in China can sue their kids who don’t visit often enough, under a broadened law mandating children take better care of the aged. With China’s elderly population forecast to more than double to 487 million in the next 40 years, the government needs to try and limit the cost of caring for seniors.

“China’s aging problem is at a scale and speed not comparable with anywhere else in the world,” said Yuan Xin, director of Nankai University’s Aging Development Strategy Research Center in Tianjin, and a member of an advisory committee on the new rule. “My concern is how we can have sustainable economic development” while maintaining Confucian values such as respect and care for one’s parents, he said.

Traditionally, children lived with their parents and looked after them in accordance with Confucian beliefs. The ancient Chinese philosopher emphasized filial piety as the foundation of all values and placed great importance on harmony and a proper order of social relationships especially within families. Read more of this post

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