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China Exports Miss Forecasts as ‘Absurd’ Data Probed; China Export Gains Miss Forecasts for First Time in Four Months

China Exports Miss Forecasts as ‘Absurd’ Data Probed; China Export Gains Miss Forecasts for First Time in Four Months

China’s exports rose less than forecast for the first time in four months, leaving the world’s second-largest economy with weaker global demand to support a recovery than previous figures indicated.

Shipments abroad increased 10 percent from a year earlier, the customs administration said today in Beijing. That compares with 21.8 percent growth in February and the 11.7 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 36 economists. Imports rose by an above-forecast 14.1 percent in March, leaving an unexpected trade deficit of $880 million.

The slowdown breaks a pattern of above-forecast figures that spurred concerns by economists at banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. that export gains were overstated because of companies inflating reported trade. Weaker trade growth also adds to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s challenges in sustaining a rebound while he tries to limit nontraditional banking and damp housing prices. Read more of this post

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Soil samples across China have revealed remnants of heavy metals dating back at least a century and traces of a pesticide banned in the 1980s, revealing the extent of the country’s pollution problems

Amid China air, water pollution, soil survey reveals century-old heavy metals

As much as 65 per cent of the fertiliser in China’s countryside was improperly used and left to pollute rivers and fields.

Wed, Apr 10, 2013
Reuters

BEIJING – Soil samples across China have revealed remnants of heavy metals dating back at least a century and traces of a pesticide banned in the 1980s, an environmental official said on Wednesday, revealing the extent of the country’s pollution problems.

Street-level anger over air pollution that blanketed many northern cities this winter spilled over into online appeals for Beijing to clean water supplies as well.

The rotting corpses of thousands of pigs found last month in a river that supplies tap water to Shanghai drew even more attention to water safety.

Mr Zhuang Guotai, head of the ecological department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said a nationwide soil survey showed the countryside had paid a heavy price for an agricultural revolution that has seen grain production almost double in the last 30 years, despite a much reduced workforce. Read more of this post

Analysis: How Goldman’s dollar-store bet reaped a fortune

Analysis: How Goldman’s dollar-store bet reaped a fortune

12:05am EDT

By Lauren Tara LaCapra and Carrick Mollenkamp

(Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc has likely generated around $1.2 billion of revenue over six years from its dealings with discount retailer Dollar General Corp, a Reuters review shows. Just don’t expect the investment bank to boast about it.

Much of the revenue stems from an equity investment that is lumped into a catchall earnings segment called “Investing and Lending.” Goldman created the segment in 2011 to shine some light on how much money it makes from investing its own money, but it still confounds analysts and investors because the bank does not provide details on the performance of individual assets. Read more of this post

Givers take all: The hidden dimension of corporate culture; By encouraging employees to both seek and provide help, rewarding givers, and screening out takers, companies can reap significant and lasting benefits.

Givers take all: The hidden dimension of corporate culture

By encouraging employees to both seek and provide help, rewarding givers, and screening out takers, companies can reap significant and lasting benefits.

April 2013 • Adam Grant

After the tragic events of 9/11, a team of Harvard psychologists quietly “invaded” the US intelligence system. The team, led by Richard Hackman, wanted to determine what makes intelligence units effective. By surveying, interviewing, and observing hundreds of analysts across 64 different intelligence groups, the researchers ranked those units from best to worst.

Then they identified what they thought was a comprehensive list of factors that drive a unit’s effectiveness—only to discover, after parsing the data, that the most important factor wasn’t on their list. The critical factor wasn’t having stable team membership and the right number of people. It wasn’t having a vision that is clear, challenging, and meaningful. Nor was it well-defined roles and responsibilities; appropriate rewards, recognition, and resources; or strong leadership.

Rather, the single strongest predictor of group effectiveness was the amount of help that analysts gave to each other. In the highest-performing teams, analysts invested extensive time and energy in coaching, teaching, and consulting with their colleagues. These contributions helped analysts question their own assumptions, fill gaps in their knowledge, gain access to novel perspectives, and recognize patterns in seemingly disconnected threads of information. In the lowest-rated units, analysts exchanged little help and struggled to make sense of tangled webs of data. Just knowing the amount of help-giving that occurred allowed the Harvard researchers to predict the effectiveness rank of nearly every unit accurately.

The importance of helping-behavior for organizational effectiveness stretches far beyond intelligence work. Evidence from studies led by Indiana University’s Philip Podsakoff demonstrates that the frequency with which employees help one another predicts sales revenues in pharmaceutical units and retail stores; profits, costs, and customer service in banks; creativity in consulting and engineering firms; productivity in paper mills; and revenues, operating efficiency, customer satisfaction, and performance quality in restaurants.

Across these diverse contexts, organizations benefit when employees freely contribute their knowledge and skills to others. Podsakoff’s research suggests that this helping-behavior facilitates organizational effectiveness by:

  • enabling employees to solve problems and get work done faster
  • enhancing team cohesion and coordination
  • ensuring that expertise is transferred from experienced to new employees
  • reducing variability in performance when some members are overloaded or distracted
  • establishing an environment in which customers and suppliers feel that their needs are the organization’s top priority

Yet far too few companies enjoy these benefits. One major barrier is company culture—the norms and values in organizations often don’t support helping. After a decade of studying work performance, I’ve identified different types of reciprocity norms that characterize the interactions between people in organizations. At the extremes, I call them “giver cultures” and “taker cultures.” Read more of this post

WHO is looking into two suspected “family clusters” of people in China who may be infected, potentially the first evidence of human-to-human spread. “In general, no matter what their exposure, this virus so far has produced overwhelmingly severe cases”

H7N9 death toll rises as ‘family clusters’ probed

Created: 2013-4-10 1:06:39

TWO more deaths from the H7N9 bird flu virus took China’s toll from the new strain to nine yesterday.

One was an 83-year-old man in Jiangsu Province who was admitted to hospital with a fever on March 20 and confirmed as having H7N9 on April 2, Xinhua news agency reported.

The other victim was a patient in Anhui Province. No further details have been released so far.

The strain has now infected 28 people, all of them in eastern China. They include another four infections confirmed yesterday, two in Shanghai and two in Zhejiang Province, one of whom was said to be dangerously ill.

The World Health Organization said yesterday that it was looking into two suspected “family clusters” of people in China who may be infected, potentially the first evidence of human-to-human spread.

The new virus is severe in most humans, leading to fears that if it becomes easily transmissible, it could cause a deadly influenza pandemic.

“At this point there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission,” WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told a news briefing in Geneva. “There are some suspected but not yet confirmed cases of perhaps very limited transmission between close family members. Those are still being investigated.

“In general, no matter what their exposure, this virus so far has produced overwhelmingly severe cases,” he said. Read more of this post

China’s longest river is running out of fish, threatening industry and agriculture around the river basin that account for roughly 30-40% of China’s GDP, according to the WWF

China’s longest river is running out of fish

By Lily Kuo — April 9, 2013

Overfishing, pollution and infrastructure projects are quickly depleting the amount of fish in China’s Yangtze River, according to Chinese environmental officials. The consequences are environmental and economic–without enough fish the river’s eco-system could collapse, threatening industry and agriculture around the river basin that account for roughly 30-40% of China’s GDP, according to the WWF.

According to a report on April 1, Zhao Yimin, head of the fishery resource office with China’s ministry of agriculture told Global Times,”The ecological balance of the river has already collapsed.” Zhao said, noting that further exploitation could mean a recovery for the river may be too late. Read more of this post

Interviewed for a job by Sophie the robot

Interviewed for a job by Sophie the robot

PUBLISHED: 18 HOURS 35 MINUTES AGO | UPDATE: 4 HOURS 53 MINUTES AGO

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Professor Rajiv Khosla believes robots in the workplace can improve emotional wellbeing. Photo: Jesse Marlow

RACHEL NICKLESS

With big eyes, a feminine voice and some interesting dance moves, Sophie is rather cute but don’t let that fool you.

Sophie could soon be conducting your toughest-ever job interview, monitoring not just what you say but tiny twitches in your eyebrows that give clues about how you really feel.

Sophie and her fellow “human-like” robots Charles, Matilda, Betty and Jack plus two as yet unnamed robots are the product of a research joint venture between La Trobe University Business School in Melbourne and global electronics giant NEC Corporation in Japan.

NEC provided the robots and La Trobe is adapting them for use in recruitment, health care and as “emotionally engaging learning partners” in Australia. Rajiv Khosla, who has been driving the project since its inception, says the robots are a “world first in the area of recruitment”. Read more of this post

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