Hopes Dim for Southeast Asia Single Market by 2015

Hopes Dim for Southeast Asia Single Market by 2015


Bandar Seri Begawan, BRUNEI—Southeast Asia’s bid to create a single market by 2015 has bogged down, slowed by domestic political pressures in the bloc’s largest economies and alternative trade initiatives competing for policy makers’ energy and attention.

As leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations gather here Wednesday, analysts say they are well behind on their goal to eliminate barriers to the free movement of goods, services and workers, with the target date just 18 months away. Read more of this post

China May Rethink Electric-Car Push; Buffett’s BYD, which prides itself as being the champion of electric cars in China, acknowledges change is coming

China May Rethink Electric-Car Push


SHANGHAI—Some of the world’s largest car makers including Germany’sVolkswagen AG VOW3.XE +3.38% and Toyota Motor Corp. 7203.TO -0.72% are using this month’s Shanghai auto show to send a message to Chinese policy makers: Wake up from your electric dreams.

The big auto makers are introducing gasoline-electric vehicles and promising to build components for the vehicles here in a bid to win greater government backing for the technology amid weak demand for purely electric-powered cars.

“There is a discrepancy between the general targets and the general goals of the government and the present situation,” said Jochem Heizmann, head of Volkswagen in China. “For the next 10 years, generally plug in hybrids have a much better chance to become a relevant volume in comparison to just fully electric cars,” he added.

Toyota unveiled its new hybrid Yundon-Showanchin II, which was developed specifically for China. Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, known as the father of the company’s most popular hybrid Prius, said on Saturday that as China’s auto market grows “hybrid vehicles without a doubt will become a necessity.” Toyota plans to start locally producing key hybrid components by 2015. Read more of this post

Preparing Statement of Cash Flows from Taoist Perspectives

Preparing Statement of Cash Flows from Taoist Perspectives

Yu-Je Lee Takming University of Science and Technology

Jie He Qing Hai Province, Department of Finance

Mei Fen Wu National Taiwan University of Science and Technology

Ying Qing Li Guangzhou Hengyun Enterprises Holding, Ltd.

Ching Ho Chen Jinan University

April 7, 2013
Journal of Business & Management, Vol. 1, No. 2, April 2013

The preparation of cash-flow statement under the indirect method involves adjustments of many items. This is a highly complex process prone to errors, due to a lack of philosophical guidance. This paper finds that the concept of natural equilibrium of Chinese Taoism “…is the way of heaven to take from what has in excess in order to make good what is deficient…” can lend intellectual support to the preparation of cash flows statement under the indirect method. This approach will greatly enhance the accuracy of cash flows statement under the indirect method. This paper uses examples to illustrate the process of adjustments in the preparation of cash- flow statement under the indirect method in the context of Taoist philosophy. The results show that the philosophical perspectives of Chinese Taoism can provide strong guidance on these adjustments by achieving both efficiency and efficacy. The assurance of this “win-win” is a testimony to the philosophical contents of Taoism in the context of modern times.

Estimating the Extent of Propping in China and How It Is Affected by the Controlling Shareholder’s Capture of Directors and Executives

Estimating the Extent of Propping in China and How It Is Affected by the Controlling Shareholder’s Capture of Directors and Executives

Maggie Williams RMIT University

Dennis William Taylor RMIT University

January 11, 2013
2013 Financial Markets & Corporate Governance Conference

Research on the phenomenon of propping up a firm’s earnings or liquidity by its controlling shareholders through related-party transactions (RPTs) has suffered from arbitrary and unsettled measures of the ‘propping’ variable and a lack of theoretically underpinning. This study’s first objective is to develop a new measure of propping based on an estimation of the proportion of propping embodied in total related-party transactions. By invoking Jensen and Ruback’s (1983) theory of ‘market for ownership control’, the propping component is estimated from prevailing conditions that can trigger a market for ownership control of a firm or shield its controlling shareholders from this market. Using this theory-based estimate of the extent of propping by a firm, the second objective of this study is to investigate the extent to which controlling shareholders are able to capture directors and top executives in order for the firm’s board governance to facilitate the carrying out of propping transactions. Models are developed and empirically tested in the context of listed companies and securities regulations in China. Using the CSMAR database for the year 201’8 all companies with complete data on the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges are sampled. Results reveal that the key factors deemed to create a market for ownership control – namely, lower State (and State legal person) ownership, greater risk of penalty by the securities regulator and a weaker cushion of non-tradeable shares – are significant conditions affecting total RPTs. The regression coefficients of these factors provide the estimate of the propping component in total RPTs. Over the whole sample propping is found to be approximately 1.5% of total RPTs. This propping measure is then modelled as the dependent variable, and regressed against governance factors that are proxies for the extent of ‘capture’ by controlling State shareholders of directors, supervisors and top executives. The results reveal that the extent of propping is significantly positively affected by the extent of directors’ shareholdings in the firm and the top 3 executives’ emoluments. This paper establishes a new measurement approach that can be adopted in future studies on the phenomenon of propping. It also has practical implications for minority shareholders and prospective investors in terms of developing a firm-level ‘propping’ index and providing a better understanding of how controlling shareholders can ‘capture’ directors and executives to facilitate propping transactions.

Buffett Challenger Kass Prepares For Meeting, Munger Test

Buffett Challenger Kass Prepares For Meeting, Munger Test

Douglas Kass, the investment manager selected by billionaire Warren Buffett to ask questions at Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A)’s annual meeting next week, has hit the books in preparation for the challenge.

The fund manager said in an interview yesterday that he’s reading Alice Schroeder’s more-than-800-page biography of Buffett and other titles to get ready for the May 4 gathering in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s taken about 10 hours on average for each question, he said by phone.

“We can’t lose sight that this company, and Mr. Buffett as a person, has been combed over with questions,” said Kass. “It’s not like this is a breeze. I think he expects something of me, and I don’t want to disappoint him.”

Buffett, 82, has sought to refocus attention at the meeting on Berkshire by allowing journalists and analysts to alternate with the audience in asking questions of him and Vice Chairman Charles Munger. Kass, founder of Seabreeze Partners Management Inc., answered Buffett’s call to change the panel by adding an investment professional who’s betting on the stock’s decline.

“He wanted to spice up the annual meeting, and to make it more interesting from the context of the questions, as opposed to a bunch of softballs or non-Berkshire-related political questions, tax questions, policy questions,” Kass said. Read more of this post

Barrick Gold at 20-Year Low Turns to Thornton

Barrick Gold at 20-Year Low Turns to Thornton

April 23 (Bloomberg) -– Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX) founder Peter Munk sees a successor in former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) President John Thornton as the world’s biggest gold miner tries to reverse a 54 percent plunge in market value in the past year.

“I searched the world for a successor,” Munk, the 85- year-old chairman of Barrick, said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “I am delighted I found John. I am confident he will take Barrick to a new level as a global player.”

Thornton, 59, faces his first annual shareholders’ meeting tomorrow as co-chairman after the Toronto-based miner has struggled with cost overruns, writedowns, and opposition to his $11.9 million signing bonus from shareholders including Canada’s six largest pension fund managers. Read more of this post

Wealthiest Americans Only Winners in Recovery, Pew Says. The recession continues for almost everyone else. “The results are entirely sensible, but depressing”

Wealthiest Americans Only Winners in Recovery, Pew Says

The U.S. economy has recovered for households with net worth of $500,000 or more, a new study shows. The recession continues for almost everyone else.

Wealthy households boosted their net worth by 21.2 percent in the aftermath of the recession, according to the study released today by the Pew Research Center. The rest of America lost 4.9 percent of household wealth from 2009 to 2011.

Pew attributed the disparity to gains during that period in the stock and bond markets, benefiting affluent households, while the housing market’s decline hit others harder. The report underscores the nation’s growing income inequality, with the top 13 percent of households recovering their losses from the 18- month recession that ended in June 2009, and the rest of the country continuing to hemorrhage wealth.

“The results are entirely sensible, but depressing,” said Richard Fry, a Pew senior research associate and co-author of the study by the Washington-based organization. “It’s a stark story of two Americas.” Read more of this post

India’s Biometric IDs Put Its Poorest on the Map

India’s Biometric IDs Put Its Poorest on the Map

People who grew up in Britain in the 1960s will remember a television program that built a cult following: “The Prisoner.” It was about an oddly luxurious detention camp — a kind of Guantanamo Bay by Four Seasons, spa services and brainwashing included. Even if you wanted to, trying to escape was pointless. A big balloon would chase you and bring you back. The residents didn’t have names, just numbers. The show’s tagline was: “I am not a number. I am a free man.”

The phrase came to mind while I listened this week to Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys Ltd. (INFY) and one of the world’s most successful information-technology entrepreneurs. Speaking at the Center for Global Development in Washington, he was describing India’s remarkable Unique Identification (UID) project, also called Aadhaar, which he is leading.

Nilekani explained that since the program began in 2010, more than 300 million Indians have acquired a unique ID number associated with 12 biometric markers — 10 fingerprints and two iris scans. (Collecting that much data for each enrollee minimizes errors.) At today’s stunning rate of progress, reaching the goal of covering India’s population of 1.2 billion will take less than five years. The audience listened admiringly, and asked not a single hostile question. Read more of this post

Sleeping ad giant Amazon finally stirs

Analysis: Sleeping ad giant Amazon finally stirs

1:09am EDT

By Alistair Barr and Jennifer Saba

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc is known in the advertising industry as the “sleeping giant” because the world’s largest Internet retailer harbors a trove of consumer-spending data that many marketers have called an unrealized opportunity.

Now it’s awakening to the potential. After running ads on its own website for years, the company has taken the first steps toward becoming a true Internet advertising network, using the knowledge garnered from its data to place targeted ads for some of the world’s biggest advertisers across thousands of other websites.

An Amazon mobile ad network, launched late last year, is now blasting ads via apps on smartphones and tablets, including Apple Inc iPhones and devices powered by Google Inc’s Android operating system.

For Amazon, an ad business is a new revenue stream with fatter margins than its retail operations. To Google, Facebook Inc and other online ad leaders, Amazon is a threat because it has data they lack. Read more of this post

Swatch Turns Attention to Own Timepieces Amid Apple IWatch Talk

Swatch Turns Attention to Own Timepieces Amid Apple IWatch Talk

Swatch Group AG (UHR), skeptical about Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s possible entrance into the watch industry, will attempt to turn attention back to its own timepieces at a watch fair debut this week.

The Swiss watchmaker will hold a press conference tomorrow to showcase the “latest revolutionary Swatch innovation” and mark its 30th anniversary. It will be the first time that Swatch Group brings its namesake brand of inexpensive plastic timepieces to Baselworld, the world’s biggest trade fair for watches. Until now it has only used the event to showcase higher-end brands such as Omega and Breguet.

Swatch last year introduced self-winding automatic watches, which normally cost thousands of dollars, for as little as $170. The brand may expand in that area to differentiate its collection ahead of an expected offensive by Apple in high-tech watches, said Rene Weber, an analyst at Bank Vontobel in Zurich. Apple has about 100 product designers working on a watch device that may perform some of the tasks handled by an iPhone or iPad, people familiar with the plan said in February.

“There will be something special,” Weber said of this week’s announcement from Swatch. “There’s been rumors in the direction of an iWatch, which I don’t believe. I think it’ll be something more mechanical.” Read more of this post

Seizure Drug Used in Pregnancy Boosts Baby’s Autism Risk

Seizure Drug Used in Pregnancy Boosts Baby’s Autism Risk

Children born to mothers who took the anti-seizure drug valproate were five times more likely to be born with autism than those whose mothers didn’t take the medication, a Danish study found.

The epilepsy drug was also tied to a three-fold increase of autism spectrum disorder, which includes Asperger syndrome and other developmental disorders, according to research published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings show that valproate should be avoided and other treatments used instead to control seizures in women of childbearing age to reduce risk of autism in their unborn children, said Kimford Meador, a neurologist who wrote an accompanying editorial. If not, only the lowest dose of the drug should be given. Previous research has linked valproate’s use during pregnancy to heart defects, spina bifida, cleft palates and cognitive problems including lower intelligence scores.

“This is an important risk factor and one that can be avoided or at least the risk reduced in women who don’t need to take this and can take another drug,” Meador, a professor of neurology at Emory University in Atlanta, said in a telephone interview. “This is the strongest evidence to date that there is a link between fetal exposure and childhood autism or autism spectrum disorder.” Read more of this post

Buddhist temples reported losses equal to about a quarter of its assets after bets in the Australian dollar and structured bonds soured.

Buddhist Temples Post Losses as Aussie, Bond Bets Sours

Koyasan Shingon Buddhism, the Japanese owner of a cluster of World Heritage Site temples founded in the 9th century, reported losses equal to about a quarter of its assets after bets in the Australian dollar and structured bonds soured.

The group had unregistered losses of 1.53 billion yen ($15 million) on financial assets of 5.79 billion yen for the year ended March 31, according to an April 23 report commissioned by the organization, based in Wakayama prefecture in western Japan. The head of the organization, Kosho Shono, resigned today to take responsibility, Kyodo News reported.

Koyasan Shingon, whose flagship Kongobu-ji temple in Mount Koya is listed as a National Treasure of Japan, started investing in 2002 in an Australian dollar fund through Nomura Securities Co., using money from member temples and followers. The association later expanded its portfolio to products including Nikkei index-linked debt, according to the report.

Holding the association’s fund managers responsible for the losses “wasn’t appropriate,” because it would have been difficult to predict the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., according to the report. Read more of this post

WHO: H7N9 “one of most lethal” influenza viruses; Bird Flu Found Outside China’s Mainland in Taiwan

Updated April 24, 2013, 9:40 a.m. ET

Bird Flu Found Outside China’s Mainland


BEIJING—Taiwan reported the first case of the H7N9 virus found outside of China’s mainland Wednesday, and said that three health-care workers who treated the patient had developed undiagnosed respiratory symptoms, raising concerns over the virus’s potential for spreading by human-to-human contact.

At a news conference earlier in the day in Beijing, global health officials stressed that there had been no confirmed cases of transmission of the virus between humans, though they said researchers were still struggling to understand how the virus was spread and hadn’t ruled out the possibility of human-to-human transmission.

Taiwan health officials reported that a 53-year-old Taiwanese male developed a fever on April 12, three days after returning from China’s coastal Jiangsu province, where the virus first emerged in China, according to Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control. The patient, in serious condition now, wasn’t believed to have had any exposure to birds or poultry and hadn’t consumed undercooked poultry or eggs while in the Jiangsu city of Suzhou, the Taiwan CDC said on its website. Read more of this post

The dumb things we say in the startup world

The dumb things we say in the startup world


ON APRIL 23, 2013

You’ve got to give them credit. Entrepreneurs are the ultimate financial salmon, swimming upstream against a tidal wave of practical, operating, and financial disasters. The result is dedication and perseverance, yet under the pressure of building a startup from scratch, many entrepreneurs tend to develop an overly acute tunnel vision. These are the entrepreneurs that author the 100 slide PowerPoint investor deck where the last 99 slides try to convince you why you should invest after the first slide convinced you not to. Regardless of whether or not the entrepreneur makes it back to the upper reaches of the river, they can say and do some pretty dumb things along the journey. Over the years, we’ve heard a pretty lively assortment of dumb things, some of them issued from right beneath our own noses. No one is immune to wrong-headed thinking, and fortunately, we’ve managed to keep a record of some of the interesting examples. This has helped us guide other entrepreneurs through the troubled waters and makes for smoother sailing on our future ventures. So prepare yourself. Here are the 10 dumbest things we have heard…or maybe, um, we’ve said:

1. “We can’t give up that much ownership! What will we ever use that extra $2 million for?”

It sounds thoughtful, conservative, responsible, and careful. It’s usually just misguided. In terms of dilution, it’s good to maintain as much control as possible, but don’t let your ship go under in lieu of accepting the right financing deal during the crucial proving period.

2. “If you are not sleeping under your desk regularly, you are not committed to this.” 

You are putting everything on the line. All you ask in return from employees is absolute dedication. You can’t beat people into commitment. If your idea is so great, inspire them to be as dedicated as you are. If you can inspire people to be passionate, you can let go of rigid rules and authoritarian mandates because everyone will give all they have for the sake of the dream. Marissa Mayer is wrong — a dedicated, passionate team will do absolutely whatever it takes whether they are in the office, on the road or occasionally making it home to see their kids for dinner. Read more of this post

It’s Getting Harder to Make Money on YouTube

It’s Getting Harder to Make Money on YouTube

By Anita Hamilton on April 22, 2013

Despite success stories about YouTube (GOOG) sensations such as Jenna Marbles, the vast majority of the site’s users probably don’t think of it as a place to earn money. The video giant wants to change that. It’s trying to build a bench of talent that can support its ambition of competing with traditional TV. In the past year it has opened swanky new studios in Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo, launched more than 100 new original content channels, and made advances totaling more than $300 million to some of its top video makers.

For folks who dream of earning a living as YouTubepreneurs, the biggest change took effect last April, when the video site launched a new revenue-sharing program. Whereas before, creators who wanted to pair sponsors’ ads with their videos had to get YouTube’s permission, now the video platform has automated the process with a “monetize” button, essentially opening the flood gates to anyone who posts an original video. Creators get about half the advertising proceeds, according to industry analysts and video makers. (YouTube typically finds the advertisers, although creators can approach sponsors directly.) “If they can generate an audience, they can start making money,” says Tom Pickett, YouTube’s vice president of global operations. Read more of this post

20 Words We Owe to William Shakespeare

20 Words We Owe to William Shakespeare

Roma Panganiban

No high school English curriculum is complete without a mandatory dose of William Shakespeare, and no American teenager makes it to graduation without whining about how boring it is to learn about iambic pentameter. As contemporary speakers of the English language, however, they might be interested to learn how much the Bard of Avon had in common with the generations that popularized the acronyms LOL and OMG and reinvented the 1940s slang term “hipster.” Endlessly imaginative and not overly concerned with grammatical convention, Shakespeare’s scripts contain over 2200 never-before-seen words—a diverse collection of loan-words from foreign languages, compound words from existing English terms, nouns turned into verbs, and creatively applied prefixes—many of which have entered into everyday language. Here are 20 examples of words we can thank Shakespeare for.


“It is Othello’s pleasure, our noble and valiant general, that, upon certain tidings now arrived, importing the mere perdition of the Turkish fleet, every man put himself into triumph; some to dance, some to make bonfires, each man to what sport and revels his addiction leads him.” – Herald

If not for that noble and valiant general and his playwright, our celebrity news coverage might be sorely lacking. Read more of this post

Korean chaebol haunted by ailing builders

2013-04-22 17:28

Chaebol haunted by ailing builders

By Kim Tae-jong

The nation’s major conglomerates, known here as chaebol, are facing a dilemma due to their cash-strapped construction arms.

On the one hand, they can’t simply let their troubled affiliates collapse because they would face strong criticism of acting irresponsibly. On the other, it is not easy to provide financial support as that could have a negative impact on the financial health of the entire group.

“It’s true that there is skepticism on the V-shaped rebound of the construction industry here,” said Park Hyung-ryul, an analyst at KDB Securities. “So it is obviously a burden for parent groups to take steps to revive a troubled construction arm.”

Construction firms have suffered major setbacks in recent years amid a prolonged slump in the local housing market and low overseas demand, which consequently led many of them to face liquidity crises. Read more of this post

With $5.4Bln Debt, China’s LDK Solar Sparks Fears Among Creditors

With $5.4Bln Debt, China’s LDK Solar Sparks Fears Among Creditors

04-23 18:13 Caijing

Analysts are expecting a forced restructure of LDK, de facto insolvent.The solar manufacturer defaulted on a $24 million bond last week, almost a month after rival Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd defaulted on its bonds

The teetering of China’s renewed energy giant LDK Solar Co Ltd at the brink of bankruptcy, following a partial default on bond payments last week, has sparked fears among its creditors that they could hardly recover their debts.

Investors are vary of some of the largest creditors —Beijing Jingyuntong Technology Co Ltd (601908.SS), Jiangsu Huasheng Tianlong Photoelectric Co Ltd (300029:Shenzhen), Liao Ning Oxiranchem Inc (300082:Shenzhen), Henan Xindaxin Materials Co Ltd (300080:Shenzhen) and Henan Hengxing Science & Technology Co Ltd (002132:Shenzhen), who was collectedly owed by LDK nearly 500 million yuan with a maturity of around a year—as default risks by LDK castes doubts over the companies that already suffered huge losses.

Analysts are expecting a forced restructure of LDK, de facto insolvent, without improvement in short-term results. While banks, usually the biggest benefactors behind China’s solar makers, could be persuaded to roll out its debt, the suppliers would at any time turn to Chinese courts for the bankruptcy of LDK. Read more of this post

Asian rituals captivate cosmetics groups; Skincare accounts for 63% of the beauty market in Asia, compared with 32% in the US.

April 23, 2013 2:51 pm

Asian rituals captivate cosmetics groups

By Scheherazade Daneshkhu

When cosmetics groups’ executives survey the Asian market, it is the Korean woman’s beauty regime that gets them excited. She spends 30-40 minutes at night on skincare, using 10-11 products. That compares with the typical French woman who uses only three products in 3-10 minutes a night. The Korean beauty ritual has parallels among other Asian women, so the potential to sell multiple products is higher in Asia than in other regions. With so many creams and serums layered on the face, their weight and texture has to be lighter than that produced for other parts of the world, says Nicolas Hieronimus, head of L’Oréal’s luxury cosmetics division. Some 50 per cent of L’Oréal’s Lancôme Asian sales are for products developed specifically for the region. Some categories – such as whitening creams – do not exist in France, says L’Oréal. “There is no single model for beauty,” the Paris-based company said of the controversial products, which most of the large international cosmetics groups, including Estée Lauder and Clarins, also sell. Whitening creams have a penetration rate of 46 per cent among women in China, 78 per cent among urban women in India and only 5 per cent in the US. L’Oréal says this is because dark spots are the first signs of ageing in Asia, unlike for Caucasian women, who suffer more from wrinkles instead. “There is a genuine demand for whitening products which we respond to by offering products whose function is to eliminate hyper-pigmentation and to even and brighten the skin tone,” said L’Oréal. Asian women much prefer skincare to the other two beauty categories of fragrances and make-up. Skincare accounts for 63 per cent of the beauty market in Asia, compared with 32 per cent in the US. For cosmetics groups, that represents an opportunity to develop the market for fragrances and make-up, mainly through advertising. “China will be a three-category market like the rest of the world in years to come,” forecasts Mr Hieronimus.

Cosmetics groups move deeper into China, the world’s second-largest market for luxury cosmetics after the US

April 23, 2013 4:58 pm

Cosmetics groups move deeper into China

By Scheherazade Daneshkhu

Mrs Chen, who only gives her surname, is delighted that she can buy her favourite cosmetics in her provincial town of Zhenjiang, some 250km inland from Shanghai and close to the Yangtze River.

A beautician massages her face with serum at L’Oréal’s Lancôme counter in the gleaming Yaohan department store, as she explains: “I first heard of Lancôme through a friend and last year I saw this counter and tried products here. They make my skin feel softer.”

Zhenjiang is one of China’s smaller and less affluent “tier-3” cities, urban centres that consumer goods multinationals are targeting because of their potential for faster growth than the more saturated first-tier cities, such as Beijing or Shanghai, or even second-tier provincial capitals such as Nanjing.

China is the world’s second-largest market for luxury cosmetics, after the US, and where L’Oréal and Estée Lauder, the two biggest luxury cosmetics companies by sales, are fighting for market leadership. Read more of this post

Scotland’s tech start-up capital; Edinburgh is emerging as a start-up city because of the interplay bet­ween its strengths in academia, capitalists and a close-knit community that helps to build networks

April 23, 2013 5:28 pm

Scotland’s tech start-up capital

By Jonathan Moules

T he flowering of philosophical thinking in Edinburgh at the end of the 18th century earn­ed the Scottish capital its “Athens of the North” epithet. In the 21st century, the aspiration of several thinkers in the Scottish capital is to ape Silicon Valley.

There is some logic to this. Out of the near 1,600 university spinouts in the UK since 2001, 504 were from Scottish universities and almost half of those (244) were from Edinburgh university despite the country’s much smaller population and student numbers. This puts Edinburgh alongside Cambridge, another British city that investors and technologists around the world have long been interested in, and London, home to many of the UK’s digital start-up clusters.

Edinburgh is emerging as a start-up city because of the interplay bet­ween its strengths in academia, a tradition of those who have made money in the city to employ that wealth in helping others and a close-knit community that helps to build networks. Read more of this post

Distress spreads in South Korea; Template that relies less on leverage needed

April 23, 2013 5:44 pm

Distress spreads in South Korea

By Henny Sender

Template that relies less on leverage needed

For many years, Japanese business people believed their economic malaise lay in a cheap South Korean won, rather than anything intrinsic to their country. Once the yen depreciated, all would be well.

The Japanese definition of well meant that consumers around the globe would cease to buy Samsung goods and turn to Japanese products instead. Now their thesis is about to be tested.

Thanks to Abenomics, massive liquidity in Japan means corporate distress there is diminishing. International hedge funds that bet not long ago on the cost of credit insurance going up for the weakest sectors, such as shipbuilding and steel, have seen the cost come down instead – at least for the moment.

By contrast, signs of distress in South Korean companies are starting to intensify. The country successfully weathered the 2008 global financial crisis but five years later, it isn’t faring as well. Read more of this post

Why Tim Cook Is Like Steve Ballmer

APRIL 23, 2013, 6:00 AM

Why Tim Cook Is Like Steve Ballmer


On Monday, Matthew Panzarino of the Next Web, a tech news site, tweeted an ironic message that read “Fire Tim Cook!,” along with a link to a couple of charts showing the steady upward march of Apple’s revenue and profit over the last few years.

Looked at that way, the campaign by some of those who are bearish on Apple stock to unseat Mr. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, seems rather absurd.

It’s worth pointing out that Apple is not the only big tech company where there seems to be a disconnect, at least a superficial one, between the doom-saying of some investors and the company’s financial performance.

For many investors, Steve Ballmer, the chief executive of Microsoft, has long been one of tech’s favorite villains. His company’s stock has lost 43 percent in value since he got Microsoft’s top job on Jan. 13, 2000. Periodically, pundits, investors and even former executives call for Mr. Ballmer to get the boot.

During the 13 years Mr. Ballmer has led Microsoft, though, annual revenue at the company has grown 221 percent, to $73.72 billion, and profit has jumped 80 percent, to $16.98 billion. Read more of this post

Economists Agree: Solutions Are Elusive

April 23, 2013

Economists Agree: Solutions Are Elusive


Last week the International Monetary Fund hosted a conference of some of the world’s top macroeconomists to assess how the most intense crisis to have shaken the industrialized economies since the Great Depression has changed the profession’s collective understanding of how the world economy works.

Two things struck me about the conclave. The first was hearing George Akerlof, a Nobel-winning economist from Berkeley, take to the lectern to compare the crisis to a cat stuck in a tree, afraid to move.

The second was realizing how, after five years of coping with the consequences of the disaster, there is still so much uncertainty about what policies are needed to prevent another financial shock from tipping the world economy into the abyss again a few years down the road.

“We don’t have a sense of the final destination,” said Olivier Blanchard, chief economist of the monetary fund. “Where we end I really don’t have much of a clue.” Read more of this post

Need a work partner? Ditch the extrovert, go with a neurotic.

Need a work partner? Ditch the extrovert, go with a neurotic.

By Anne Fisher, contributor April 23, 2013: 11:10 AM ET

They shine in job interviews, but outgoing, confident people often don’t perform well in teams, says a new study. Surprisingly, neurotics do.

FORTUNE — Let’s say you’re considering two candidates for a job. They have similar credentials and experience, but their personalities are poles apart. One is quiet, seems anxious, and lets you do most of the talking in interviews, apparently out of fear of saying something wrong. The other is talkative, engaging, and bursting with confidence. Which one do you choose?

Most hiring managers would opt for the second, extroverted candidate. Yet, for a job requiring teamwork, the anxious one, who shows signs of the personality type called “neurotic,” might be the better choice in the long run.

“It’s counterintuitive,” notes Corinne Bendersky, who teaches management at the Anderson School at UCLA. She is co-author of a study called “The Downfall of Extroverts and the Rise of Neurotics: The Dynamic Process of Status Allocation in Task Groups,” set for publication in the next issue of The Academy of Management Journal.

“Our research shows that extroverts are held in high esteem by their teammates at first, but over time, their performance tends to be disappointing,” Bendersky says. “By contrast, neurotics exceed everyone’s expectations and end up being highly effective team members.” Read more of this post

The secret to success? Make laziness embarrassing. Successful people create accountability systems that boost important but not urgent items to the top of their priority lists — ideally in a way that makes failure really uncomfortable.

The secret to success? Make laziness embarrassing.

April 23, 2013: 11:45 AM ET

Successful people create accountability systems that boost important but not urgent items to the top of their priority lists — ideally in a way that makes failure really uncomfortable.

By Laura Vanderkam

FORTUNE — Like many writers, I’ve been kicking around an idea for a novel for years. I wrote a chunk of my tale — about a small-town high school basketball team, a championship, and a mystery — during a less busy time in my life years ago. I’d been jotting down ideas on how to finish it since 2011. But I couldn’t build momentum. I’d write a bit, then abandon the project for months.

I know why. I like to get paid for my work, and I like my work to be read. Writing a novel means investing serious time in something that may or may not ever result in publication, let alone revenue. Finishing it with no promise of external validation would require serious willpower. That’s a problem, since I already expend most of the willpower the universe grants me trying not to grab snacks hourly from the kitchen next to my home office. Consequently, with other people and projects competing for my attention, the novel always fell to the bottom of my list. Read more of this post

Foster a Culture of Gratitude

Foster a Culture of Gratitude

by Christine M. Riordan  |   1:00 PM April 23, 2013

In the movie Remember the Titans, Coach Herman Boone takes his high school football team to thebattleground of Gettysburg. Having inherited a fractured and divided squad, Coach Boone implores the players to “take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together, right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were.” Coach Boone then establishes the primacy of an important team virtue: “I don’t care if you like each other right now, but you will respect each other.”

In every workplace and on every team, all people have the innate desire to feel appreciated and valued by others. Like Coach Boone, leaders of teams — and team members themselves — should work to foster a culture of value and appreciation. High performing teams have well-defined goals, systems of accountability, clear roles and responsibilities, and open communication. Just as importantly, teams that foster cohesion with a sense of appreciation and gratitude among the team members maximize performance on a number of dimensions. Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith, authors of the Wisdom of Teams, define a high-performing team in part by members’ strong personal commitment to the growth and success of each team member and of the team as a whole.

Research on gratitude and appreciation demonstrates that when employees feel valued, they have high job satisfaction, are willing to work longer hours, engage in productive relationships with co-workers and supervisors, are motivated to do their best, and work towards achieving the company’s goals. Google, which sits atop many best-places-to-work lists, fosters feelings of employee value through an open culture that promotes employee input, routinely rewards and recognizes performance, and encourages personal growth. In a recent interview, CEO Larry Page stated, “My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society.” Read more of this post

India in depth: A Japanese-style “big reset”

India in depth: A Japanese-style “big reset”

Tue, Apr 16 2013

By Andy Mukherjee

SINGAPORE (Reuters Breakingviews) – India needs a Japanese-style reset. For the country to decisively escape from its self-constructed trap of extreme economic pessimism, New Delhi needs to import the spirit of Abenomics.

The advice may appear counterintuitive, considering that new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy of aggressive fiscal and monetary easing is the opposite of the policies India should pursue. But at its core, Abenomics is about hitting an economic reset button so that corrosive forces, which have created a lousy equilibrium of their own, are defeated, and a more virtuous economic cycle can begin.

With economic growth at its weakest in a decade, India needs a reset as badly as Japan did when it elected Abe in December last year. Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram has so far focussed on structural reforms. But pruning government expenditure and allowing greater foreign participation in aviation, insurance and retail does not produce results overnight. A bold reset – such as devaluing the rupee 16 percent against the US dollar – will have an immediate impact. Read more of this post

Is This How You Really Talk? Your Voice Affects Others’ Perceptions; Silencing the Screech in the Next Cubicle

Updated April 23, 2013, 9:16 p.m. ET

Is This How You Really Talk?

Your Voice Affects Others’ Perceptions; Silencing the Screech in the Next Cubicle


It is hard to hear the sound of your own voice. But that sound may affect other people’s impressions of you even more than what you say. A strong, smooth voice can enhance your chances of rising to CEO. And a nasal whine, a raspy tone or strident volume can drive colleagues to distraction. “People may be tempted to say, ‘Would you shut up?’ But they dance around the issue because they don’t want to hurt somebody’s feelings,” says Phyllis Hartman, an Ingomar, Pa., human-resources consultant. New research shows the sound of a person’s voice strongly influences how he or she is seen. The sound of a speaker’s voice matters twice as much as the content of the message, according to a study last year of 120 executives’ speeches by Quantified Impressions, an Austin, Texas, communications analytics company. Researchers used computer software to analyze speakers’ voices, then collected feedback from a panel of 10 experts and 1,000 listeners. The speakers’ voice quality accounted for 23% of listeners’ evaluations; the content of the message accounted for 11%. Other factors were the speakers’ passion, knowledge and presence.

HowYouReallyTalk0423 Read more of this post

China’s Shaken Trust; An earthquake shows the decline of confidence in the Communist Party.

Updated April 23, 2013, 5:10 p.m. ET

China’s Shaken Trust

An earthquake shows the decline of confidence in the Communist Party.

Saturday’s earthquake in Sichuan brought back traumatic memories of the much larger quake only 40 miles away that killed almost 90,000 people in 2008. So far the official death toll this time is around 200, but the government has again mobilized a massive rescue and relief effort.

A notable difference is the public response, which has revealed profound mistrust of the government. Donations to state-run charities are down and cynicism reigns online about official statements and appeals. The country has shifted under the feet of the Communist Party since 2008, which means new leaders Xi Jinping and Li Keqiangare under pressure to find ways to restore trust.

After the first Sichuan quake, there was an immediate outpouring of donations in response to the state-run media’s appeals. Yet early praise for government efforts gave way to anger as the quake exposed government corruption and incompetence. Poorly built schools collapsed, killing more than 5,000 schoolchildren, while government offices and their occupants survived. Large sums of relief money disappeared. The reconstruction enriched officials while survivors continued to suffer.

The Party’s reputation has deteriorated even further since 2009, when the advent of microblogging created a new outlet for exchanging information and opinions. A watershed moment came after the 2011 crash of a high-speed train in Wenzhou, when news flashed around the country that a two-year-old girl had been found alive in the wreckage after rescue operations were called off. Former Railways Minister Liu Zhijun is awaiting trial for taking $250 million in bribes, which given the notorious corruption in the high-speed rail program is probably a fraction of his total take. Read more of this post

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