Bird Flu Causing Suffocation Shows Severe Spectrum of New Virus; Bird flu turned fatal for a 52- year-old Shanghai woman whose lungs became so damaged that she began to suffocate, causing her vital organs to rapidly shut down; “The big question here is, are these severe cases the tip of a very big iceberg or do most cases get really ill like this?’

Bird Flu Causing Suffocation Shows Severe Spectrum of New Virus

Bird flu turned fatal for a 52- year-old Shanghai woman whose lungs became so damaged that she began to suffocate, causing her vital organs to rapidly shut down, doctors in China said.

The retiree became ill March 27, with a fever that soared as high as 40.6 degrees Celsius (105.1 Fahrenheit), doctors at Huashan Hospital in Shanghai wrote in a report on the case in the journal Emerging Microbes & Infections. Treatment with intravenous antibiotics, steroids, antibody therapy, and mechanical ventilation failed to help, and she died April 3.

Her illness, the first H7N9 avian influenza case to be described in a medical journal, highlights the seriousness of the new strain, which has sickened at least 35 people in eastern China, killing 10, in the past two months. Hospital doctors didn’t know the cause of the woman’s illness when she was admitted. Tests identified the H7N9 virus after she died.

“What they had here was a seriously ill patient and they didn’t know what was going on,” said Dominic Dwyer, director of the Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital, who reviewed the case report. “This person was so ill, they just threw everything” at her. Read more of this post

Alibaba’s Taobao Bans Live Poultry Trading on Bird Flu

Alibaba’s Taobao Bans Live Poultry Trading on Bird Flu

(Corrects that Alibaba hasn’t banned poultry trading.)

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and other Chinese e-commerce sites are taking steps to protect against the spread of bird flu as concerns rise the H7N9 variant that’s killed nine people could spur an epidemic.

Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao Marketplace said it would shut down online trading of live poultry “under necessary circumstances” this week. Shanghai-based Tony’s Farm and Beijing-based have halted the sales. Web retailer 360buy Jingdong Inc. will cut down on face-face meetings with suppliers, and stop offering pork and poultry at its employee cafeteria, Richard Liu, chief executive officer of Jingdong, said in a letter to employees last week.

The H7N9 cases may become an opportunity for e-commerce companies as fears of infection prompt more people to stay home and shop online. A 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome helped make e-commerce popular just as it was getting started, said Cao Lei, a director at Hangzhou-based China e- Business Research Center. Read more of this post

Swedish Banks Make Money Ditching Cash as Krona Goes Virtual

Swedish Banks Make Money Ditching Cash as Krona Goes Virtual

If you’re looking for Swedish cash, don’t go to a Swedish bank.

Most of the country’s biggest lenders, SEB AB, Swedbank AB (SWEDA) and Nordea Bank AB (NDA), have stopped manual cash-handling services in 65 percent to 75 percent of their local branches. They say cash is out as Swedes rely on credit cards, the Internet and mobile phones to make all their payments.

The country’s bank notes, which are adorned with images of famous Swedes including botanist Carl Linnaeus and will soon also feature legendary actress Greta Garbo, are only used in about 20 percent of shop transactions, according to data from the Swedish Trade Federation. In the U.K., whose capital London is a global hub for high finance, all banks still offer cash at their branches.

“We’ve removed the manual cash handling simply because we’re seeing a change in behavior among our customers,” Swedbank spokeswoman Anna Sundblad said in an e-mailed reply to questions. “Only 5 percent of our customers make over-the- counter cash transactions.”

Customer demand for cash services at Nordea, Scandinavia’s biggest bank, is dropping by about 20 percent a year, spokesman Erik Durhan said. According to Nordea Chairman Bjoern Wahlroos, the end of cash is a natural next step in an evolutionary process that has already led to the extinction of cheque books. In this respect, Scandinavia is far ahead of the U.K. and the U.S., he said. Read more of this post

China’s New Leaders, New Credit Binge; China’s economy has new leaders, not yet new ways. A surge in lending and capital inflows in the first quarter may be a precursor for tightening down the road.

April 11, 2013, 3:13 a.m. ET

China’s New Leaders, New Credit Binge



China’s economy has new leaders, not yet new ways.

The first quarter brought a surge in credit creation. Total social finance, a measure that includes new loans as well as bond issuance and other forms of credit, increased 6.2 trillion yuan ($1 trillion)—a record high. China’s stash of foreign exchange came in at $3.44 trillion at the end of March—up $128.4 billion for the quarter after tepid increases in 2012.

It all looks like a throwback to China under its previous set of leaders. The People’s Bank of China is in the markets buying dollars, resulting in larger foreign-exchange reserves and more liquidity in the financial system. That should certainly allay fears about China’s growth. A 58% year-on-year increase in new finance will surely prop up an expansion in output above the government’s 7.5% target.

By extending the policies of previous Chinese leaders, though, Beijing exacerbates the risk of inflation and asset-price bubbles. Consumer price inflation for March came in at a moderate 2.1% year on year. But massive increases in credit can only add to the upward pressure on prices.

Equally worrying is the rapid rise in the ratio of credit to gross domestic product. That measure has moved from 120% in 2007 to about 180% at the end of 2012. On the current trajectory, it will end 2013 at 200%. Such a sharp shift raises concerns about the possible misallocation of credit on a grand scale, and a buildup of bad assets in the banking sector.

The central bank’s recent efforts to restrain credit growth have been limited to timid attempts to drain liquidity from the financial system. To head off problems down the road, much more aggressive moves will be required. A surge in lending and capital inflows in the first quarter may be a precursor for tightening down the road.

As ye decide, So shall ye innovate (Part 1)

As ye decide, So shall ye innovate (Part 1)

Published: 11 Apr 2013 at 00.00

Here’s a question for you: What organisation do you think is more likely to be a creative organisation: One where most decisions are made by a few individuals high at the top of the organisational hierarchy? Or one where decision-making is spread throughout the hierarchy, and decision authority is delegated and shared?

How an organisation structures its decision-making processes is a good predictor of the level of innovation you can expect from it. Let’s see how organisational decision-making affects organisational innovation.

Diagnosing organisational innovation readiness: For the past few years I have been working on a method to help ordinary organisations become creative ones. This method shows show businesses how to turn a “me too” copycat corporate culture into one with unlimited creative potential that can fluently produce new “wow” products and services. Read more of this post

Mark Zuckerberg: The keys to a knowledge economy; Immigrants can help take our nation to new heights — if we let them

The keys to a knowledge economy

By Mark Zuckerberg, Thursday, April 11, 10:16 AM

Mark Zuckerberg is founder and chief executive of Facebook and co-founder of Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)

Earlier this year I started teaching a class on entrepreneurship at an after-school program in my community. The middle-school students put together business plans, made their products and even got an opportunity to sell them.

One day I asked my students what they thought about going to college. One of my top aspiring entrepreneurs told me he wasn’t sure that he’d be able to go to college because he’s undocumented. His family is from Mexico, and they moved here when he was a baby. Many students in my community are in the same situation; they moved to the United States so early in their lives that they have no memories of living anywhere else.

These students are smart and hardworking, and they should be part of our future.

This is, after all, the American story. My great-grandparents came through Ellis Island. My grandfathers were a mailman and a police officer. My parents are doctors. I started a company. None of this could have happened without a welcoming immigration policy, a great education system and the world’s leading scientific community that created the Internet. Read more of this post

Brains as Clear as Jell-O for Scientists to Explore

April 10, 2013

Brains as Clear as Jell-O for Scientists to Explore



A mouse brain, with dye, after it was made transparent using a new method

The visible brain has arrived — the consistency of Jell-O, as transparent and colorful as a child’s model, but vastly more useful.

Scientists at Stanford University reported on Wednesday that they have made a whole mouse brain, and part of a human brain, transparent so that networks of neurons that receive and send information can be highlighted in stunning color and viewed in all their three-dimensional complexity without slicing up the organ.

Even more important, experts say, is that unlike earlier methods for making the tissue of brains and other organs transparent, the new process, called Clarity by its inventors, preserves the biochemistry of the brain so well that researchers can test it over and over again with chemicals that highlight specific structures and provide clues to past activity. The researchers say this process may help uncover the physical underpinnings of devastating mental disorders like schizophreniaautismpost-traumatic stress disorder and others. Read more of this post

Billionaire “grave dancer” investor Sam Zell: “The Stock Market Feels Like The Housing Market Of 2006”

Sam Zell: “The Stock Market Feels Like The Housing Market Of 2006”

Tyler Durden on 04/10/2013 22:34 -0400

Instead of the endless procession of “different this time”, “buy-the-dip”, “money-on-the-sidelines” asset-gathering, Muppet-fleecers that CNBC so typically trots out, Sam Zell graced them with his presence and the truth was allowed a voice for a few minutes. Joined by David Rosenberg, who clarifies the insanity that engulfs US equities, explaining in wonderment that it is “not surprising the market rises even in the face of bad ISMs, worse jobs, and worst NFIB data, because Japan and the US are embarking on a gargantuan quantitative easing that is the lynchpin behind the stock market.” It is not about being bullish, or bearish, or agnostic, it is understanding the driver of this market – and that is not the economy, not earnings, “it is the mother of all liquidity-driven rallies.” Maria B, soundbite in hand, is slammed for her “glibness” at not fighting the Fed but it is Sam Zell’s brutal honesty that shocks even the money-honey. “This is a very treacherous market,” Zell explains – thanks to the giant tsunami of liquidity, “the problems of 2007 haven’t been dealt with,” and given the poor macro data and earnings, “we are suffering through another irrational exuberance,” leaving the entire CNBC audience speechless when he concludes, “the stock market feels like the housing market of 2006.” It’s hump-day, grab the popcorn, and treat yourself to a sanity-check.

Maria B:

So don’t fight the Fed?


That’s a pretty glib comment for what is going on. You could have fought the Fed in 2000 and 2009 and done quite well… [thanks to the Fed] the market will tend to drift up – until something breaks.”


“We’re debasing our currencies around the world.. which ultimately translates into a lot of inflation.”

“What we are seeing here is like a giant tsunami of liquidity.”

People look at the market and think things are better. The level of uncertainty has reached a point where people are just throwing money [at risky assets] because they don’t know what else to do with it.”

“I would not be adding money to the stock market. This is a very treacherous market.”

“Yes, it’s gone up every day. Yes, you’re not supposed to fight the Fed, but sitting on the sidelines is preferable.”

“In our businesses, we are not seeing strong conditions.”

“The problems leading up to 2007 haven’t been dealt with.”

Then at 6:00

Zell:”The current stock market feels like the housing market of 2006. Everybody can’t afford to miss it.”

Maria B: “That’s a scary comment.”

Zell: “Why? Every single day it goes up. What were the headlines in 2006 – housing prices going up every dayWhat are you talking about every day now – new high in stocks every day!”

“We are suffering through another irrational exuberance.”

‘Dragons’ Fight ‘Samurai’ for Bigger Slice of Indonesian Sugar Market

‘Dragons’ Fight ‘Samurai’ for Bigger Slice of Indonesian Sugar Market
Michael Taylor & Yayat Supriatna | April 11, 2013

Workers load sacks of sugar from a warehouse onto a truck for distribution to the traders in Sidoarjo of Indonesia\’s East Java province February 12, 2013. White sugar prices hit a record in Indonesia last summer and further spikes are expected this year even though the world is awash with the sweetner. The main cause, say critics, is a small group of traders known in the industry as sugar samurai. (Reuters Photo/Sigit Pamungkas)

When Indonesian white sugar prices surged to record peaks last year, profits slumped at the small fruit and syrup drinks stall run by Lie Lie in Medan, the archipelago’s fourth-largest city.

Lie Lie is part of the household industry that Indonesia’s sugar refineries — dubbed “sugar dragons” because of their growing size and clout in the sector — want to supply with cheaper and better quality sweetener. Read more of this post

Tim Waterstone to launch a new digital books business with flat rate for all you can read

Waterstones founder to launch Spotify for books

It may seem an unlikely match, but the founder of Waterstones is turning to technology to revive the lost art of the Charles Dickens-style serialised novel.

By Katherine Rushton, Media, Telecoms and Technology Editor

6:00AM BST 11 Apr 2013

Tim Waterstone is to launch a new digital books business which aims to become the literary version of Spotify, charging readers a flat rate to access as much reading matter as they like online.

The project, Read Petite, will specialise in short stories and serialisations, following in the tradition of 19th Century novelists like Dickens, creator of Oliver Twist, and Vanity Fair author Anthony Trollope, who used to publish their novels chapter by chapter in newspapers and magazines.

Short stories have traditionally been very difficult to sell in paper form, but Mr Waterstone said they would be suited to commuters and other time-pressed bibliophiles. Read more of this post

Television set for a revolution; An upstart Aareo could determine the model of the US content machine

April 10, 2013 5:51 pm

Television set for a revolution

By Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson

An upstart could determine the model of the US content machine, says Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson

Never underestimate the power of a large group of committed couch potatoes. About 90 per cent of Americans pay for television, giving them scores of channels to choose from, but four free-to-air networks they can pick up with a “rabbit ears” aerial still account for 96 of the top 100 primetime programmes.

Audience inertia and brand loyalty built over decades mean that ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC still account for 40 per cent of all primetime viewing. Their unique ability to attract mass audiences, particularly for live sport, has kept TV advertising healthy even as advertising dollars fled other media for Google and Facebook.

Broadcasters once offered signals to cable, satellite and telecoms groups for free, in exchange for perks such as prominent positions in their onscreen channel listings. In the past five years, however, their business has been transformed as they discovered they had the power to demand that distributors pay to retransmit their programming.

This has created a second revenue stream of “retrans” fees worth more than $2bn a year, which could jump to $12bn, says Rich Greenfield, a BTIG Research analyst. “It’s a good gig if you can get it,” Verizon’s Lowell McAdam remarked this week. Yet three of America’s biggest broadcasters said they might give that gig up.

Chase Carey, Rupert Murdoch’s deputy at News Corp, threatened to pull its Fox network off the air and convert the home of American Idol and The Simpsonsto a cable channel to foil the “pirating” of its content. Les Moonves, CBS chief executive, told The New York Times he had looked into taking some local stations off the air. Haim Saban, chairman of Univision, said the Spanish-language network might also switch to cable, even though Hispanic viewers rely more heavily on aerials than other Americans.

The target of their ire is the start-up, Aereo, which offers high-definition streams of broadcast channels to smartphones, tablets and laptops. For $8 a month subscribers can record shows and pause live TV using a digital video recorder in the cloud. The twist is that each customer rents a tiny remote aerial. In New York, thousands are pointed at TV masts on the Empire State Building; Aereo plans to replicate the model in 22 markets this year, from Chicago to Washington. Read more of this post

Silicon Valley venture backs Google Glass

Silicon Valley venture backs Google Glass

By Miguel Helft, senior writer April 10, 2013: 5:00 PM ET

Three of the Bay Area’s marquee investment firms want to capture the most interesting ideas before they’re hatched.


FORTUNE — It was classic Sergey Brin. Dressed in sports shorts, an exercise shirt and blue Crocs, the Google co-founder showed up riding an elliptical bicycle, and as he does these days, wearing Glass, Google’s futuristic wearable computer that fits on a head mounted display. Oh, and he was a few minutes late.

The occasion: An announcement that three Silicon Valley investment powerhouses are teaming up to attract entrepreneurs interested in building businesses around Glass. Never mind thatGlass is not yet available to the public or to large numbers of developers. Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers said Wednesday that they are forming the “Glass collective.” It is neither a new fund—as my colleague Dan Primack predicted—nor a commitment to co-invest in deals. Instead, it’s an agreement by the three firms to share potential seed-stage investments. If a Glass entrepreneur contacts one of the firms, all three firms will get to meet her, but will decide independently whether or not to invest in the business. Read more of this post

Chinese Taxi Booking App Flags Down Funding, Alibaba Rumored to be Along For the Ride

Chinese Taxi Booking App Flags Down Funding, Alibaba Rumored to be Along For the Ride

April 11, 2013

by Steven Millward

Chinese startup Kuaidi Dache (meaning “fast taxis”) has flagged down seed funding to help the taxi-finding service grow. Centered around apps for iPhone and Android, Kuaidi Dache claims to have 300,000 users across the two cities where it operates – Shanghai and nearby Hangzhou – and covers 30,000 existing city taxi drivers. The startup sees 20,000 daily rides taken via the app.

The funding amount hasn’t been revealed, but according to Chinese tech blog 36Kr it takes the form of input from Ameba Capital’s Li Zhiguo, as well as a reported seven-digit RMB (hundreds of thousands of US dollars) investment from e-commerce company Alibaba. Read more of this post

Asean bubble fears emerge

April 11, 2013 4:54 am

Asean bubble fears emerge

By Jeremy Grant in Singapore

When a team of analysts at Credit Suisse visited Indonesia a few weeks ago to take the temperature of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, they were startled by what they were told by one of the country’s biggest property developers.

Ciputra Development, which builds luxury condominiums, said that, while prices in central Jakarta, the capital, had been growing at a rapid clip – about 30-40 per cent a year – a new trend had emerged.

Demand had started to spill over to greater Jakarta and even to so-called second-tier cities, where Ciputra had seen property prices jump by 50 per cent last year.

“We felt this was evidence of a property bubble,” says Robert Prior-Wandesforde, director of research in the bank’s Singapore office. Read more of this post

Land grabs rile Vietnam’s farmers

April 11, 2013 6:23 am

Land grabs rile Vietnam’s farmers

By Nguyen Phuong Linh in Haiphong

Fish farmer Doan Van Vuon was jailed last week for five years for shooting at police and local officials when they tried to confiscate his land near the northern port city of Haiphong last year. Those like him who oppose the powers-that-be in Vietnam, an authoritarian Communist state, are usually shunned by a fearful public.

But Mr Vuon has become a folk hero, symbolising popular resentment against land grabs by local officials, a problem that is also rampant in China, Vietnam’s fellow Communist neighbour.

On Wednesday, one of the officials responsible for Mr Vuon’s eviction was jailed for 30 months for destruction of property but Vietnam’s increasingly vocal bloggers and land activists were less than impressed.

“There was no justice in this trial, it is a joke,” says Vu Van Luan, another fish farmer from Mr Vuon’s village of Tien Lang. Read more of this post

The price of onions is making Indonesians cry, steal, and scapegoat

The price of onions is making Indonesians cry, steal, and scapegoat

By Roberto A. Ferdman — 3 hours ago

The price of onions in Indonesia has soared so high that people are resorting to stealing the crop. Farmers are spending nights in their fields to ward off thieves.

But while they cry over lost onions, government officials seem more concerned with finding a scapegoat for the extended spike in onion prices. A paltry 10% of Indonesia’s onions are grown domestically; they cost 10,000 rupiahs ($1.26) per kilogram, up 400% from the end of last year.

Indonesia is hardly the only country where the price of onions—a staple of Asian cooking—matters so much. A popular book titled The Price of Onions by Ashok Desai maintains they are at the heart of understanding the Indian economy. A more recent article in the Times of India refers to doubling prices as “the Great Onion Robbery.” Read more of this post

Chinese hipsters help Uniqlo thrive despite anti-Japanese xenophobia

Chinese hipsters help Uniqlo thrive despite anti-Japanese xenophobia

By Naomi Rovnick — 6 hours ago

Japanese brands have had a difficult time in China since the two Asian nations began rowing furiously over a set of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. But one business has been spared: Uniqlo, the skinny jeans giant that is about to open a new, 6600 square meter flagship store in Shanghai that will be its largest worldwide.

Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing said the fashion brand’s China sales for the three months to last November exceeded its conservative expectations. (Fast didn’t break out actual numbers but did raise earnings estimates for its non-Japan business on the back of strong performance in Asia.) And this success came at a time when China’s anti-Japan propaganda and rioting were at fever pitch.

How is Uniqlo escaping anti-Japan sentiments? It basically comes down to Chinese hipsters. Uniqlo is positioned as a low-cost, affordably chic brand in the West, but lower average incomes mean that its Chinese customers there are middle or upper-middle class—a group whose outlook is more global than nationalist and who do not blindly follow anti-Japanese rhetoric. This is the type of Chinese person who would own or aspire to own an iPhone, and who might have used the Weibo microblog service to mock the Beijing government’s ongoing PR campaign against Apple. Read more of this post

Crony capitalism in Myanmar makes foreign investments dicey—at least for the West; “There are very few businesses or business people that our Western investors would consider to be clean.”

Crony capitalism in Myanmar makes foreign investments dicey—at least for the West

By Naomi Rovnick — 9 hours ago

Myanmar’s economy is forecast to grow over 6% this year as new foreign investment surges into the former hermit kingdom, but Western companies have been slow to join the party. Most investment is set to come from other emerging markets in Asia or beyond, where companies are more comfortable dealing with corruption and ethically questionable partners.

Despite recent reforms, doing business in Myanmar is still a murky affair. Take, for example, the country’s gas stations—potentially a great investment in a frontier market where many people are poised to grow rich enough to buy mopeds and eventually even cars. A local lawmaker has claimed 247 state-owned stations that were privatized in 2010 were sold at “very low prices” to a military-owned trading company and other firms with close ties to the generals. (In 2010, the junta lost some of its power and Myanmar got a semi-civilian government.)

Getting into bed with the military and former junta officials could be a reputational risk too far for Western corporations. The junta leaders were responsible for gross human rights violations such as conscripting child soldiers (which still happens) and colluding (pdf p.144) with drug and people traffickers. A deal with such partners raises the risk of a boycott at home or a US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation. Read more of this post

Real money starts to pour into math-based currencies like bitcoin

Real money starts to pour into math-based currencies like bitcoin

By Zachary M. Seward — 1 hour ago

Chris Dixon, a partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, posted this brief observation on Tumblr the other day:

Three eras of currency
Commodity based, e.g. Gold
Politically based, e.g. Dollar
Math based, e.g. Bitcoin

Now Dixon’s firm and several other well known investors are putting some money—in this case, politically based US dollars—behind their conviction that the future of money is in “math-based” currencies like bitcoin. OpenCoin, a San Francisco startup that runs its own math-based currency, just announced a round of funding from Andreessen HorowitzFounders FundLightspeed Venture PartnersVast Ventures, and Bitcoin Opportunity Fund. News of the round was embargoed until this morning, and its size wasn’t disclosed.

The currency operated by OpenCoin is called “ripple.” Like bitcoin, it’s both a currency and a network for facilitating payments that relies on cryptography to run smoothly. Thus, math-based currencies: They are backed by one’s faith that the math works rather than trust in government or a metal’s inherent value. Read more of this post

Gold, Long a Secure Investment, Loses Its Luster

April 10, 2013

Gold, Long a Secure Investment, Loses Its Luster


Below the streets of Lower Manhattan, in the vault of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the world’s largest trove of gold — half a million bars — has lost about $75 billion of its value. In Fort Knox, Ky., at the United States Bullion Depository, the damage totals $50 billion.

And in Pocatello, Idaho, the tiny golden treasure of Jon Norstog has dwindled, too. A $29,000 investment that Mr. Norstog made in 2011 is now worth about $17,000, a loss of 42 percent.

“I thought if worst came to worst and the government brought down the world economy, I would still have something that was worth something,” Mr. Norstog, 67, says of his foray into gold.

Gold, pride of Croesus and store of wealth since time immemorial, has turned out to be a very bad investment of late. A mere two years after its price raced to a nominal high, gold is sinking — fast. Its price has fallen 17 percent since late 2011. Wednesday was another bad day for gold: the price of bullion dropped $28 to $1,558 an ounce.

It is a remarkable turnabout for an investment that many have long regarded as one of the safest of all. The decline has been so swift that some Wall Street analysts are declaring the end of a golden age of gold. The stakes are high: the last time the metal went through a patch like this, in the 1980s, its price took 30 years to recover. Read more of this post

The Two Innovation Economies

William Janeway

William Janeway, a managing director and senior adviser at the private-equity firm Warburg Pincus, is a visiting lecturer in economics at Cambridge University.

The Two Innovation Economies

10 April 2013

HONG KONG – For 250 years, technological innovation has driven economic development. But the economics of innovation are very different for those at the frontier versus those who are followers striving to catch up.

At the frontier, the innovation economy begins with discovery and culminates in speculation. From scientific research to identification of commercial applications of new technologies, progress has been achieved through trial and error. The strategic technologies that have repeatedly transformed the market economy – from railroads to the Internet – required the construction of networks whose value in use could not be known when they were first deployed.

Consequently, innovation at the frontier depends on funding sources that are decoupled from concern for economic value; thus, it cannot be reduced to the optimal allocation of resources. The conventional production function of neoclassical economics offers a dangerously misleading lens through which to interpret the processes of frontier innovation. Read more of this post

In China, Feudal Answers for Modern Problems; “How much longer will Mao’s portrait hang on Tiananmen?” “If Mao knew his China would be reduced to this, he’d insist that his portrait be taken down right away.”

April 10, 2013

In China, Feudal Answers for Modern Problems


After Mao Zedong announced the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Communist Party began to get rid of all the vestiges of the “feudal” society that had preceded it.

This process culminated during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) with the campaign to “Destroy the Four Olds”: old thought, culture, customs and habits. Cultural relics and temples were feudal, and so, too, were traditional celebrations, like the springtime Qingming (tomb sweeping) and Dragon Boat Festivals and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

In Beijing, restaurant names like Donglaishun (East Come Smoothly) and Quanjude (Consummate Virtue) were written off as feudal, and Tongren (Equal Kindness) Hospital and Xiehe (Assisting Harmony) Hospital were renamed Worker-Peasant-Soldier Hospital and Anti-Revisionism Hospital, respectively. In a little town between Shanghai and Hangzhou, the street I lived on as a child, Yang Family Alley, became Sunnyside Alley.

With Mao’s death in 1976 and the onset of market reforms under Deng Xiaoping, the four olds, so long vilified, all of a sudden became jewels of traditional culture. Donglaishun’s poached mutton and Quanjude’s roast duck are now culinary highlights in Beijing. Heritage sites everywhere are being protected and restored (though not always faithfully), while temples and monasteries are once more crowded with worshipers. Traditional festivals have become official public holidays. Soothsayers and fortunetellers, once forced into hiding, are now a dime a dozen. The Sunnyside Alley of my boyhood has reverted to being Yang Family Alley. Most strikingly, practices that used to be criticized as feudal have become, in the hands of some shrewd Communist officials, favored management techniques.

The corruption, income inequality and environmental degradation that have accompanied China’s breakneck economic development over the last 30 years have provoked social unrest. In 2010, China had 180,000 “mass incidents,” the official euphemism for protests — a fourfold increase over the previous decade. Methods of social control that once worked like charms are now losing their efficacy. So the Central Party School and its provincial subsidiaries, which train China’s leaders, are revamping curriculums. Each year they send student-officials to Harvard to study Western management.

But they are often finding that it’s the old feudal customs, so repugnant to Mao, that help them keep a grip on society. Read more of this post

Europe’s toxic air: Clearer but not clean

Europe’s toxic air: Clearer but not clean

LONDON / BRUSSELS — Europeans no longer see the kind of pollution that within living memory killed thousands of Londoners in the Great Smog of 1952, but the air they breathe still bears invisible threats scarcely less deadly, and little more controlled.


LONDON / BRUSSELS — Europeans no longer see the kind of pollution that within living memory killed thousands of Londoners in the Great Smog of 1952, but the air they breathe still bears invisible threats scarcely less deadly, and little more controlled.

While attention is given to curbing the carbon dioxide emissions blamed for global warming, substances more directly harmful to human health, notably nitrogen oxides, are pumped out of diesel engines and from European power stations burning coal that is getting cheaper as Americans exploit new gas reserves.

The result, say those campaigning for change, is ever poorer air quality shortening lives. Yet a move by the European Commission to tighten vehicle emissions rules is being challenged by some car makers. Read more of this post

Chinese Accounting Restatement and the Timeliness of Annual Report

Chinese Accounting Restatement and the Timeliness of Annual Report

Chen Ma Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU)

Junrui Zhang Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU)

Hui Du University of Houston – Clear Lake

April 3, 2013

Chinese accounting restatements are mainly disclosed in companies’ annual reports due to unique Chinese institutional background and regulatory setting. Using manually collected data of 1050 accounting restatements from 2003 to 2011, we study the association between Chinese accounting restatement and the timeliness of annual report. The results from our difference-in-difference research design indicate that with an accounting restatement, a company takes longer to file its annual reports in the post-restatement period than in the pre-restatement period, suggesting a negative association between Chinese accounting restatements and timeliness of annual reports. When further examining the association between various restatement characteristics and timeliness of annual reports, we find an overall negative association between restatement severity and the timeliness of annual reports. We contribute to the existing accounting restatement literature from international perspective with evidence that restatements delay the timeliness of financial reporting.

A gene mutation known to help influenza resist Tamiflu and Relenza was found in the first of three H7N9 bird-flu patient specimens in China

Tamiflu-Resistance Gene in H7N9 Bird Flu Spurs Drug Tests

A gene mutation known to help influenza resist Tamiflu was found in the first of three H7N9 bird-flu patient specimens in China, sequence data show.

The flu virus from the patient in Shanghai has a mutation known as R292K that causes high-level resistance to the Roche Holding AG (ROG) pill and reduced sensitivity to a related drug from GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) called Relenza, genetic sequence information posted on the website of the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data show. Subsequent H7N9 specimens from a patient in Shanghai and one in Anhui province don’t show the mutation.

The finding of the mutation warrants further analysis, said Masato Tashiro, a director at Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo. Preliminary tests so far show no evidence that the new flu strain, which has sickened at least 33 people, killing nine, in eastern China, has developed resistance to the neuraminidase inhibitor drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, the World Health Organization said in a statement yesterday. Read more of this post

Iron Ore’s $250 Billion Glut Pressures Rio to Vale: Commodities

Iron Ore’s $250 Billion Glut Pressures Rio to Vale: Commodities

The world’s biggest iron-ore producers are planning $250 billion of new mines, threatening to deepen a price slump for the commodity already forecast to drop for at least the next three years.

Mining companies are facing growing investor pressure to defer or cancel projects to stem price declines. Rio Tinto Group (RIO), the second-largest iron ore exporter, will decide on one of the biggest industry expansions in Western Australia in the second half. A decision to delay would boost its earnings in 2015 by $3.7 billion, according to Liberum Capital Ltd.

The price of iron ore, the most shipped commodity after oil, more than tripled in the past decade, encouraging the biggest mining companies to boost output. That was before a surge in Chinese steel output that drove the bull market through 2011 started to wane. Given iron ore operations made up 78 percent of Rio’s earnings last year and more than 90 percent at Brazil’s Vale SA (VALE5), producers are being forced to review plans.

“It’s the most important issue the mining industry is facing today — whether or not to collectively act to destroy the single greatest source of value generation,” said Paul Gait, a London-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “Getting this right and not repeating the mistakes of the past is absolutely key.” Read more of this post

Ghost of Suharto Seen in Boomtowns Leading Indonesia’s Growth

Ghost of Suharto Seen in Boomtowns Leading Indonesia’s Growth

Five years ago, property agent Daisul Akhyar took 20 minutes to drive to work in Pekanbaru, capital of Indonesia’s Riau province. Now, he can spend two hours in traffic after a surge in wealth transformed the city.

“If you live in Riau now, it’s like living in Jakarta, there are new residential and retail developments all over the city,” Akhyar, a director of local developer PT Asrindo Perdana Mandiri, said in Pekanbaru on Sumatera island. “Selling property in this place is like selling candy to children.”

The world’s fourth most-populous nation is seeing its economy reshaped as cities on islands including Sumatera and Borneo grow faster than Java, home to the nation’s capital, Jakarta. A transmigration program championed by former President Suharto in the 1980s, combined with China’s demand for palm oil, coal and iron from Indonesia’s rural provinces, helped outlying cities expand as much as 4 percentage points faster than the national average over the past decade.

As China’s expansion boosts incomes of miners and farmers in some of the sleepiest and most far-flung corners of Asia, companies from Unilever Plc (ULVR) to Toyota Motor Corp (7203). are flocking to Indonesia’s second-tier cities to tap their rising demand. At the same time, increasing urbanization raises pressure on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to improve infrastructure and strains environmental resources.

“In future, the nation’s economy will be supported by cities outside Java,” Perry Warjiyo, the central bank’s executive director for monetary policy and economic research, said in an interview. “This is in line with the government’s program to spread out economic growth to all the provinces.” Read more of this post

INFOGRAPHIC: The Booming Mobile Video Ecosystem Explained

INFOGRAPHIC: The Booming Mobile Video Ecosystem Explained

Business Insider | Apr. 10, 2013, 2:40 PM | 2,254 | 


Mobile video has begun to accumulate scale, and has also turned out to be one of the few types of mobile content — along with games — that monetizes reliably and drives premium ad rates.

That’s reflected in the much higher prices that mobile publishers can command for mobile video ads, compared to standard mobile formats like banners. eMarketer estimates mobile video will account for $520 million in ad spending in the U.S. this year, or 13% of the digital video ad market.  Read more of this post

Finding Alpha In Short Interest Data

Algorithmic Finance Meetup: Starmine Short Interest Talk

by Quantopian on Apr 04, 2013

With the commoditization of such basic quant factors as value and momentum, in recent years systematic investors have turned more and more to sentiment based alpha signals. Aggregated open short interest level provides a profitable, low turnover signal rooted in buy-side sentiment, aka “the smart money.” Dr. Stauth will cover the basics of short selling and data availability and will review the research and proprietary formulation of the StarMine short interest model as well as covering a range of sample trading strategies.

Robert Edwards, Pioneer of In-Vitro Fertilization, Dies; “Edwards overcame one technical hurdle after another in his persistence to discover a method that would help to alleviate infertility”

Updated April 10, 2013, 3:52 p.m. ET
Scientist Who Developed In-Vitro Fertilization

Robert Edwards was a feisty British embryologist who fundamentally transformed human procreation by developing in vitro fertilization.


Professor Robert Edwards (left) posing for pictures with the world’s first IVF baby Louise Brown, (second right) her son Cameron (right) and her mother Lesley Brown in 2008. during a celebration ahead of Louise’s 30th birthday at Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge, England.

Dr. Edwards, who died Wednesday in England at age 87, was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery, which resulted in the first test-tube baby and provided the basis for genetic screening and stem cell research.

Louise Brown, the first baby conceived via IVF, was born in England on July 25, 1978. More than four million IVF babies since have been born world-wide.

Working with gynecologist Patrick Steptoe, who died in 1988, Dr. Edwards overcame political and religious hostility, as well as the disapproval of many other scientists.

“By a brilliant combination of basic and applied medical research, Edwards overcame one technical hurdle after another in his persistence to discover a method that would help to alleviate infertility,” the Nobel Prize committee said in its award citation. Read more of this post

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