Neuromorphic computing: The machine of a new soul; Computers will help people to understand brains better. And understanding brains will help people to build better computers

Neuromorphic computing: The machine of a new soul; Computers will help people to understand brains better. And understanding brains will help people to build better computers

Aug 3rd 2013 |From the print edition

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ANALOGIES change. Once, it was fashionable to describe the brain as being like the hydraulic systems employed to create pleasing fountains for 17th-century aristocrats’ gardens. As technology moved on, first the telegraph network and then the telephone exchange became the metaphor of choice. Now it is the turn of the computer. But though the brain-as-computer is, indeed, only a metaphor, one group of scientists would like to stand that metaphor on its head. Instead of thinking of brains as being like computers, they wish to make computers more like brains. This way, they believe, humanity will end up not only with a better understanding of how the brain works, but also with better, smarter computers. Read more of this post

The future of advertising agencies: Omnipotent, or omnishambles? Omnicom and Publicis are combining to try to stay on top of a rapidly changing industry, but sheer size will be no guarantee of success

The future of advertising agencies: Omnipotent, or omnishambles? Omnicom and Publicis are combining to try to stay on top of a rapidly changing industry, but sheer size will be no guarantee of success

Aug 3rd 2013 | LONDON AND NEW YORK |From the print edition

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CROSS-COUNTRY deals in the advertising industry can be painful affairs. Look what happened to Guy MacKendrick, the young executive sent by his London-based agency to oversee its acquisition of a New York rival, in “Mad Men” (yes, it is now compulsory to refer to the hit television series in all articles about the ad business). The staff throw a party to celebrate the takeover, and a drunken secretary drives a lawnmower through the office, shredding Mr MacKendrick’s foot.

On July 28th, however, there were no bizarre gardening accidents as executives of two real-life advertising firms toasted their merger with champagne in Paris. Maurice Lévy, the boss of the French Publicis Group, and John Wren, the head of its American competitor Omnicom, toasted the birth of Publicis Omnicom, which will overtake British-based WPP as the world’s largest advertising and marketing agency, with combined 2012 revenues of $23 billion and a market value of $35 billion. Read more of this post

Troubled Currencies, Troubled Regimes

Troubled Currencies, Troubled Regimes

By Steve H. Hanke on 5:04 pm August 1, 2013.
For academics, the term “troubled currency” might be a term of art. But for people who are faced with such a currency, they know a troubled currency when they see one. Today, this is the case for millions of people around the world – most notably in Iran, North Korea, Argentina, Venezuela, Egypt and Syria. A troubled currency is one in which users have lost confidence. When users no longer think a currency will retain its purchasing power, they attempt to dump it for a stable foreign currency (or commodities). As the demand for the troubled currency evaporates, its value vis-a-vis stable foreign currencies collapses, and prices for goods and services sold in the troubled currency soar. As this process develops, expectations about the currency’s ability to retain its purchasing power deteriorate, and a doom loop ensues. At the extreme, doom loops can culminate in hyperinflation – an inflation rate of over 50 percent per month. This, however, is rare. Indeed, there have only been 56 cases of hyperinflation. Read more of this post

Foreign business leaders residing in Korea say that President Park Geun-hye’s corporate policies to ensure “economic democratization” are a move in the right direction to upgrade Asia’s fourth-largest economy

2013-08-01 18:58

Foreigners like Park’s reforms

By Choi Kyong-ae
Foreign business leaders residing in Korea say that President Park Geun-hye’s corporate policies are a move in the right direction to upgrade Asia’s fourth-largest economy. They stress that her economic policies aimed at reforming chaebol and ensuring “economic democratization” will help the country’s economy become more transparent and sustainable. “The government is just enforcing the law and if you look at what the tax office is doing, it’s enforcing the law against big (companies), small (firms) and individuals. But the large companies are more sensational,” Jeffrey Jones, a lawyer at Kim & Chang, told The Korea Times in a telephone interview. Read more of this post

Korean furniture makers finally met the truth of IKEA’s longtime-wearied arrival on their turf

2013-08-01 18:50

IKEA alert: Korean furniture firms brace for dark future

By Ko Dong-hwan
Korean furniture makers finally met the truth of IKEA’s longtime-wearied arrival on their turf. On Aug. 1, Gwangmyeong City approved of an IKEA store construction work on a site of 25,759 square meters located within the KTX Gwangmyeong railway station sphere, which will be completed by late 2014. Korea’s few major furniture companies like Hanssem and Livart responded rather unstirred by the news. As to IKEA’s signature advantage over rival stores _ affordable prices _ they said they will counter with differentiated quality, design, service and wide distribution networks. “Since IKEA’s coming has been confirmed, there is nothing else for us to do but to do our best. We have had two years of preparation since the news of IKEA’s coming to Korea had surfaced.” But for small-to-medium-sized furniture companies, the news totally wrested their hearts. Unlike the major companies, these minor firms _ mostly run by family members or few part time workers _ have few selling points except cheap prices. Lee Sang-bong, president of the Gwangmyeong Furniture Distribution Business Cooperative, said, “For small furniture firms, competing against a global enterprise like IKEA is futile. We might as well hit the road before trying.” Those who are on the same page with Lee have founded a task force that bashes the arrival of IKEA in Gwangmyeong. Their message, targeted at both Gwangmyeong city and IKEA, is to provide mutual measures that don’t kill but instead embrace the small-to-medium-sized companies.

In China, where pirated movies can be bought for less than $1, people are flocking to theaters, a sign of how Chinese consumers are willing to spend more on entertainment.

August 1, 2013, 2:34 p.m. ET

Now Playing: China’s Booming Movie Market

People Are Flocking to Theaters

WEI GU

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In China, where pirated movies can be bought for less than $1, people are flocking to theaters, a sign of how Chinese consumers are willing to spend more on entertainment. China, now the world’s second-largest film market after the U.S., is already critical for Hollywood blockbusters such as “Pacific Rim,” a giant monster-versus-robot slamfest that opened in China this week. The movie struggled in the U.S., but its glitzy special effects may be better appreciated in thousands of state-of-the-art movie theatres that have sprung up in China in the past few years. As in other industries, China has taken a “build first, and demand will follow” strategy with movies. And it has worked. The number of screens in China quadrupled from 2009 to 2012, according to entertainment consulting firm EntGroup Inc. Read more of this post

Myanmar Firms Feel Pinch From Abroad; Foreign Consumer-Goods Companies Rush in After Removal of Market Sanctions

August 1, 2013, 2:26 p.m. ET

Myanmar Firms Feel Pinch From Abroad

Foreign Consumer-Goods Companies Rush in After Removal of Market Sanctions

Drinks and other provisions on display at a tea shop in Yangon, Myanmar. Foreign consumer brands like Coca-Cola and Sprite are increasingly displacing locally-produced beverages like Star Cola, chipping away at profits of local conglomerates in the country.

SHIBANI MAHTANI

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YANGON, Myanmar—The world’s biggest consumer companies are flocking to Myanmar, filling the once-pariah nation and its backward economy with goods previously unavailable to its 60 million people. But not everyone is happy. Some of the country’s biggest conglomerates—plugging away at the cash-strapped market for decades and fighting hard to grow despite crippling Western sanctions—are now finding themselves drowned out by foreign competitors including Coca-Cola Co. KO +1.22% of the U.S. and Canon Inc.7751.TO +1.78% of Japan. “It is very tough for us, now that these big multinationals are here,” said Sai Sam Htun, chairman of the Loi Hein Group of Cos., one of Myanmar’s largest conglomerates. “They have easily taken over in a short time, because they are so powerful and strong.” Read more of this post

The New Explosion in Audio Books; People are buying audio books to listen to, syncing them with their Kindles, and snapping up original audio-only productions

Updated August 1, 2013, 7:41 p.m. ET

The New Explosion in Audio Books

How They Re-emerged as a Rare Bright Spot in the Publishing Business

ALEXANDRA ALTER

For a new generation of readers, the best way to devour a book may be to not read it at all. Alexandra Alter joins Lunch Break to explain the new surge in audio books

Cory Wilbur, a 25-year-old software engineer in Boston, never used to read much. He barely cracked a book in college and would read one or two a year on vacation, at most. But in the past year, he’s finished 10 books, including Dan Brown’s “Inferno,” Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs and George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series “A Song of Ice and Fire.” He listens to audio books in snippets throughout the day on his iPhone during his morning workout, on his 20-minute commute to work, and while he’s cooking dinner or cleaning up. Before he falls asleep, he switches to an e-book of the same story on his Kindle, and starts reading right where the narrator left off. “I fly through a lot more books than I used to,” Mr. Wilbur said.

Read more of this post

Tipping point for media viewing as couch potatoes go digital; US digital media use overtakes TV viewing

Last updated: August 1, 2013 8:14 pm

Tipping point for media viewing as couch potatoes go digital

By Emily Steel in New York

The amount of time people in the US spend consuming digital media is set to overtake hours spent watching television for the first time this year, marking a significant tipping point in the shift away from traditional forms of media. The average adult will spend five hours and nine minutes a day online or consuming other types of digital media this year, an increase of 38 minutes or 16 per cent compared with 2012, according to new estimates from eMarketer. The amount of time spent watching TV is projected to fall by seven minutes to four hours and 31 minutes. Read more of this post

Asian mobile chat apps challenge western dominance; “When you use Asian mobile chat apps, you have a certain sense of joy and fun communicating with your loved ones, whereas western apps focus more on pure functionality”

August 1, 2013 1:56 pm

Asian mobile chat apps challenge western dominance

By Ben Bland in Jakarta, Nguyen Phuong Linh in Hanoi and Simon Mundy in Seoul

Nguyen Tung Lam, a 16-year-old high school student in Hanoi, uses Japanese mobile messaging service Line to chat with his girlfriend because she “likes the cute icons such as the teddy bear and bunny”. Doan Nguyen Trang, another Vietnamese teenager, prefers South Korea’s KakaoTalk app because it is promoted by a wildly popular Korean boy band. “I use KakaoTalk because Big Bang also use it and they are number one; I love them,” says the 14-year-old. KakaoTalk, Line and WeChat, a mobile messaging app developed by China’s Tencent, are spending tens of millions of dollars on television advertising, online promotions and celebrity endorsements as they fight for the attention of tech-savvy southeast Asian teenagers. Read more of this post

Andreessen-Backed Tutor Matching Service Is Working With Colleges To Upend The Tutoring Industry, Starting With Cost

Andreessen-Backed Tutor Matching Service Is Working With Colleges To Upend The Tutoring Industry, Starting With Cost

RIP EMPSON

posted 7 hours ago

Of the many ways that technology is disrupting education, one area that’s changing a lot, is rife with potential, but doesn’t get as much play as it should is tutoring. Mostly, this involves the attempt to make high-quality, local tutors accessible to a wider range of students online, without having to turn to traditional channels, like Craigslist or those pesky, expensive SAT-focused private networks. There are a million marketplaces for tutors, and many startups that have joined in the struggle to make connecting with quality tutors possible, from TutorspreeIAC’s Tutor.com and the increasing number of services like StudyBlue to WyzAnt and Chegg. But a new startup is launching out of beta today with backing from Andreessen Horowitz and others that wants to help push the space forward by creating a tutoring marketplace that is not only affordable for students but is a sort of official “Tutor List” for universities.

Read more of this post

Upworthy Goes Viral by Optimizing Optimism; Upworthy attracted 26 million unique views in May by testing headlines and using social media to promote its content

Upworthy Goes Viral by Optimizing Optimism

By Sam Grobart on August 01, 2013

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Doctors gave Zach Sobiech bad news just after his 17th birthday last year: His rare bone cancer had progressed so far that he had only a year to live. In December, Sobiech posted a music video of Clouds, a song he wrote and recorded about struggling with the disease. He became the subject of a short online video documentary, which garnered tens of thousands of views after being featured on FoxNews.com (FOX) and People.com (TWX). Sobiech died on May 20. Then the editors at viral-media site Upworthy saw the documentary. They repackaged it with the headline “This Kid Just Died. What He Left Behind Is Wondtacular.” Since then more than 15 million people have watched the documentary on Upworthy, which aggregates and popularizes videos and other online content. Sobiech’s song went to No. 1 on Apple’s(AAPL) iTunes Store, and a link Upworthy put next to the video raised more than $300,000 for cancer research. “The whole Internet heard his story,” says Upworthy co-founder Peter Koechley. Read more of this post

SAP Invades Silicon Valley via Acquisitions

SAP Invades Silicon Valley via Acquisitions

By Matthew Campbell and Aaron Ricadela on August 01, 2013

German software giant SAP (SAP), the 41-year-old maker of financial and supply-chain software, has been slow to shift to cloud computing and has struggled for years to catch up to U.S. competitors such as Oracle (ORCL) and Salesforce.com(CRM). Among other things, it’s broken some of its brightest engineers into startup-like teams far from its main campuses. While waiting for them to spawn new products, the company is doubling down on plan B, for “buyout.” Read more of this post

Instead of buying expensivekaraoke equipment bundled with soon-to-be-outdated tunes, iKala reinvents karaoke via the internet so users can enjoy it on their Samsung and LG smart TVs, PCs, and mobile devices (iOS and Android)

How a Taiwanese Startup is Riding on Asia’s Karaoke Culture

August 2, 2013

by Willis Wee

Founded in 2007, Taiwan’s iKala is a cloud-based online karaoke service. Instead of buying expensivekaraoke equipment bundled with soon-to-be-outdated tunes, iKala reinvents karaoke via the internet so users can enjoy it on their Samsung and LG smart TVs, PCs, and mobile devices (iOS and Android). Today, iKala has grown to become a 36-person team, serving around 600,000 users and with about five percent of them paying NT$129 ($4.30) each month for its premium service to have full access to the song library (which includes several thousand tunes in Chinese and English). Alternatively, users can just pay $1 to sing for an entire day. On average, each user spends about 10 minutes a day singing and sharing their creations (users can also record and upload their singing). About half of them visit iKala on mobile and another half from the web.

Read more of this post

How Tiket Became Indonesia’s Biggest Ticketing Platform In Under 2 Years

How Tiket Became Indonesia’s Biggest Ticketing Platform In Under 2 Years

July 31, 2013

by Dewi Yuliani

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Tiket is one of the biggest players in the online travel industry and has become an award winning platform for hotel, flight, and train ticket booking online in Indonesia. We just heard that June 2013 is definitely the best month for Tiket. Why? The Tiket teams reveals that it brought in more revenue last month (June) than it did in the whole of 2012. Natali Ardianto, the co-founder and CTO of Tiket was excited to say that “the growth is exponential!” and he also shared more figures with us. Read more of this post

After years of quietly building its craft beer brand in the shadow of MillerCoors, Blue Moon is fighting back against the naysayers

Blue Moon Tells Beer Snobs to Drink Up and Show Respect: Retail

MillerCoors LLC has a message for beer snobs: Blue Moon is an authentic craft brew. So show a little respect.

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Aficionados long ago dubbed Blue Moon an impostor cooked up by a megabrewer to exploit the explosive growth of artisanal beer. In recent months, small beermakers have stepped up their attacks — calling suds like Blue Moon “crafty” for not spelling out their corporate parentage. Micro breweries have reason to be defensive: Blue Moon has grabbed what equals 15 percent of the U.S. craft market, expanded as far as Japan and spawned an Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI) knockoff called Shock Top. After years of quietly building its brand in the shadow of MillerCoors, Blue Moon is fighting back against the naysayers. It’s adding more artisanal brews, including a wine hybrid. Marketing emphasizes the beer’s provenance and Belgian-trained brewmaster. Blue Moon is even taking credit for helping to popularize craft. Read more of this post

As time goes on, our Google Dashboards will tell us more and more about who we are, and who we were.

July 31, 2013, 12:37 PM

64,019 Searches: A Dark Journey Into My Google History

By Tom Gara

Corporate Intelligence is the WSJ’s business news blog. Follow it on Twitter,@WSJCorpIntel, or its editor, @tomgara

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Let’s run through a little thought experiment. Imagine there’s a list somewhere that contains every single webpage you have visited in the last five years. It also has everything you have ever searched for, every address you looked up on GoogleGOOG +1.86% Maps, every email you sent, every chat message, every YouTube video you watched. Each entry is time-stamped, so it’s clear exactly, down to the minute, when all of this was done. Now imagine that list is all searchable. And imagine it’s on a clean, easy-to-use website. With all that imagined, can you think of a way a hacker, with access to this, could use it against you? And once you’ve imagined all that, go over to google.com/dashboard, and see it all become reality. Read more of this post

80 per cent of Beijing’s edible ice cubes from ‘illegal’ factoriesl Only six manufacturers have production license for edible ice in the capital in a market worth $80-130 million

80 per cent of Beijing’s edible ice cubes from ‘illegal’ factories

China Daily/ANN | Thu Aug 1 2013

Only six manufacturers have production license for edible ice in the capital.

China, August 1, 2013

As much as 80 per cent of the edible ice cubes in Beijing’s shops and restaurants come from “illegal” factories, National Business Daily reported. Only six manufacturers have production license for edible ice in the capital, making the total output valued at 100 million yuan (S$20.75 million) in the summer season. But the output of the whole market is valued at 500 to 800 million yuan, which means at least 80 per cent of the ice come from non-qualified factories, the report said. Edible ice companies must have a QS, or Quality Standard identification since 2005. And it costs at least 30,000 yuan to cover the certification besides building laboratories and hiring inspectors, according to an agency for quality certification. Ice cubes at several restaurants were found to be dirtier than toilet water, Chinese media reported last week. According to CCTV, ice cubes used by fast food giants including KFC, McDonald’s and Guangzhou-based Kungfu at their Beijing branches were tested to contain bacteria at severe levels. The KFC ice cubes contained levels of bacteria which were 20 times higher than the national limit, and 13 times higher than water samples taken from toilet bowls. “The market is in chaos,” said an employee of an ice company, “Costs are increasing and those with qualification certificates would have closed down if they didn’t rely on big buyers.”

 

County in Shaanxi in a Deep Hole as Mining Bubble Pops

08.01.2013 19:19

County in Shaanxi in a Deep Hole as Mining Bubble Pops

Shenmu rolled in cash when prices for its coal soared in recent years. Now private bankers are fleeing and the local government is in a bind

By staff reporter Li Yan

(Shenmu) – A financial crisis triggered by falling coal prices is brewing in Shenmu County, in the northwestern province of Shaanxi. Construction projects have been halted, universal health care has run into payment problems and many private bankers have disappeared in the last few months, all indications that another story of legendary development is now just a bubble bursting. The richest county in the province, Shenmu is blessed with abundant coal reserves. Buoyed by rising prices in the last decade, Shenmu enjoyed the birth of a vibrant mining industry. Accompanying this were rampant private lending, skyrocketing real estate prices and government largesse in social spending. The county’s 400,000 residents were the happy recipients of China’s first universal health-care scheme and free education for 15 years, six more years than the national minimum. Read more of this post

The $7 Trillion Problem That Could Sink Asia

The $7 Trillion Problem That Could Sink Asia

“It’s our currency, but it’s your problem.” This musing from Nixon-era Treasury Secretary John Connally is about to find new relevance as the White House battles Republicans over raising the U.S. debt limit.

Connally couldn’t have foreseen how right he would be 42 years on as Asia sits on almost $7 trillion in currency reserves, much of it in dollars. Asia’s central banks engaged in a kind of financial arms race after a 1997 crisis, stockpiling dollars as a defense against turmoil. That altered the financial landscape in two ways: One, Asia now has more weapons against market unrest than it knows what to do with. Two, Asia is essentially America’s banker, with China and Japan having the most at stake. Read more of this post

Indian brokers said a lack of oversight allowed the nation’s biggest spot commodity exchange to stretch settlement dates, prompting a government clampdown that triggered a 65 percent tumble in its parent’s shares.

Bourse Crash Seen Triggered by Regulator Vacuum: Corporate India

Indian brokers said a lack of oversight allowed the nation’s biggest spot commodity exchange to stretch settlement dates, prompting a government clampdown that triggered a 65 percent tumble in its parent’s shares.

The National Spot Exchange Ltd. this week suspended some contracts after the government on July 14 asked the bourse not to start new obligations until further notice. The exchange permited investors to close trades in 36 days. A settlement longer than 11 days allowed the bourse to act similar to a forward market, according to Harish Galipelli, head of commodities and currencies at JRG Wealth Management Pvt. Read more of this post

15 per cent of Singaporean Chinese older than 60 have dementia: Study

15 per cent of Chinese older than 60 have dementia: Study

Friday, Aug 02, 2013
The Straits Times
By Linette Lai

SINGAPORE – Three in 20 Chinese Singaporeans above the age of 60 suffer from cognitive impairment or dementia, according to a study conducted by the National University Health System (NUHS). Issues with poor brain function were found to increase with age, with close to half the participants over 80 years old suffering from some form of cognitive impairment. Before being diagnosed as suffering from full-blown dementia, many show symptoms that may go unrecognised and ignored, said Dr Mohammad Kamran Ikram, who co-authored the two-year study involving 1,226 participants. These symptoms include memory loss and difficulty in carrying out simple tasks like following recipes or keeping track of household bills. The study found those with diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure are most at risk of developing cognitive impairment problems. But associate professor Christopher Chen, director of the NUHS Memory, Aging & Cognition Centre, debunked the idea that being at risk guarantees the development of dementia in an individual. “Many people have the idea that it’s all due to age and there’s nothing that can be done about it,” he said. “You may have forgetfulness, but you can compensate and take steps to identify if you have these risk factors and halt progression.” Two separate studies on the prevalence of dementia in the Malay and Indian communities will be conducted, with the former slated to be completed by the end of this year.

linettel@sph.com.sg

 

SEC Says Largest U.S. Hedge Funds’ Debt Tops $1 Trillion

SEC Says Largest U.S. Hedge Funds’ Debt Tops $1 Trillion

The nation’s largest hedge funds had $1.47 trillion in net assets and more than $1 trillion in borrowings as of the fourth quarter, according to the first report compiled on confidential data they provided to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC’s Division of Investment Management issued the report to Congress last week using figures from money managers who run private funds with gross assets of at least $150 million, including borrowed capital, and the agency broke out figures for the biggest firms. Congress ordered the SEC to collect information from private-equity and hedge-fund managers under a provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act designed to help regulators monitor risk in the financial system. Read more of this post

China moves to eliminate financial scam advertisements

China moves to eliminate financial scam advertisements

Thursday, August 1, 2013 – 18:39

AFP

BEIJING – China kicked off a nationwide campaign on Thursday to do away with advertisements for financial scams promising big returns at no risk, highlighting concern over the potential for trouble as financial know-how lags behind rising personal wealth. The China Banking Regulatory Commission said the three-month “clean-up campaign” would take aim at the huge number of advertisements in China for wealth management products, no-interest loans, real estate and many other “no-risk, high-return” schemes from planting forests to breeding animals. Read more of this post

About 1.3 million Hongkongers are living in poverty, of whom 500,000 are in severe poverty, a study claims.

500,000 found suffering in severe poverty
Magdelene Cubbon
Friday, August 02, 2013

About 1.3 million Hongkongers are living in poverty, of whom 500,000 are in severe poverty, a study claims. Academics at the Hong Kong Institute of Education researched 2011 census data and found a staggering 363,275 or 41.1 percent of the elderly, aged 65 and above, are living in either poverty or severe poverty. This age group constitutes the largest proportion of the total number of those in poverty of more than 27percent. The 18.8percent of the population in poverty represents a 1.1percent increase on the Census and Statistics Department’s 2005 figure of 17.7percent. Read more of this post

Fresh grads in China face job crunch as economy slows

Fresh grads in China face job crunch as economy slows

By Kristine Lim
POSTED: 01 Aug 2013 8:50 PM
Fresh graduates in China are facing what has been described as the toughest employment season ever. The job crunch is worse in major cities.

BEIJING: Fresh graduates in China are facing what has been described as the toughest employment season ever. The job crunch is worse in major cities. Nearly seven million students graduate from college this year, the highest number since the PRC was founded in 1949. Although this is less than a three per cent increase from 2012, the situation is complicated by a lack of jobs as a result of slowing economic growth. In Beijng, government and state-owned enterprises have cut job vacancies for fresh graduates by 14 per cent compared to a year ago. Read more of this post

Asia’s richest man made a subtle but significant statement that he’s stepping back from his $120 billion empire and allowing his eldest son to emerge from his shadow

August 1, 2013, 6:48 a.m. ET

Li Ka-shing Signals Power Shift With Absence From News Conference

TE-PING CHEN

Asia’s richest man made a subtle but significant statement Thursday that he’s stepping back from his $120 billion empire and allowing his eldest son to emerge from his shadow.

In a sign of the power shift under way from father to son, Li Ka-shing, 85 years old, skipped his annual televised news conference timed to the earnings from his companies Cheung Kong Holdings0001.HK +2.39% and Hutchison Whampoa 0013.HK +0.17% . For the past 10 years, it has been one of the city’s most anticipated press events, in which the charismatic Mr. Li dazzles reporters with his star power, answering questions on subjects from education to Hong Kong’s politics. Read more of this post

HK developers turning blue as property market enters ‘ice age’

HK developers turning blue as property market enters ‘ice age’

HONG KONG – Government cooling measures to rein in Hong Kong’s property market are finally taking a toll on the city’s powerful developers and industry watchers forecast prices could drop by up to 15 per cent in the second half of this year.

42 MIN 11 SEC AGO

HONG KONG – Government cooling measures to rein in Hong Kong’s property market are finally taking a toll on the city’s powerful developers and industry watchers forecast prices could drop by up to 15 per cent in the second half of this year. Weak property sales at conglomerate Cheung Kong (Holdings), controlled by Asia’s richest man, Mr Li Ka-shing, confirmed that a series of tightening steps are weighing on companies’ bottom lines and taking the heat out of one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets. “It’s like an ice age now from an agent’s perspective,” said Mr Patrick Chau, director of residential investment at property consultant Savills. “The sales volume has dropped substantially since the implementation of a series of tightening policies.” Read more of this post

Financial-technology firms: Tech start-ups promise to transform finance, if regulators will let them

Financial-technology firms: Tech start-ups promise to transform finance, if regulators will let them

Aug 3rd 2013 |From the print edition

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TWO millennia after the Temple was cleansed of money-changers, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, plans to open his churches to moneylenders. This is no capitulation in the struggle between God and Mammon. It is an effort to “compete out of existence” payday lenders that offer expensive loans by supporting not-for-profit credit unions.

The archbishop is right that more competition is needed, but old-fashioned credit unions are unlikely to be able to beat the slick systems and snappy service of online providers, like Wonga. A more effective way of pushing down rates would be lighter regulation to allow more lenders to flourish. Read more of this post

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