economics

February 28, 2010

AUTOMOBILES U.S. is cast as villain in Japan Some believe Toyota is being treated unfairly by regulators and lawmakers.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 8:12 pm
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Reporting from Seoul and Los Angeles – A series of aggressive federal probes into the recalls of Toyota autos are looking at whether the automaker has been less than forthcoming about the safety defects in some of its vehicles.

But in Japan many believe it’s the U.S. government that has something to hide. Congressional hearings on the recalls, they say, are part of conspiracy to help prop up Toyota’s largest American rival, General Motors Co., which the government bailed out of bankruptcy last year, becoming the majority shareholder.

The evidence suggests otherwise, and top Toyota executives have sought to debunk such speculation. Even so, “the conspiracy theory on these Toyota hearings is alive and well in Japan,” said Jeffrey Kingston, a professor at Temple University in Japan. “Conspiracy theories don’t deal with the facts, but there’s a comfort factor among the Japanese public in believing that Japan is being made the scapegoat for U.S. economic problems.”

In the case of Toyota, however, the theory that it has been singled out for criticism fails to take into account that U.S. corporations regularly come in for beatings by Congress — with Wall Street banks being just the most recent examples.

And in granting GM and Chrysler tens of billions of dollars of aid, Congress for years blamed the companies’ leaders for poor management and lousy products.

What’s more, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating reports of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles years before the government took its controlling interest in GM and a 10% stake in the post-bankruptcy Chrysler Group. Indeed, NHTSA is now under fire for not acting more quickly and more forcefully in demanding that Toyota take action to address sudden acceleration.

“It’s not about politics, it’s about safety,” said Kurt Bardella, spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), the ranking minority on a House committee that organized one of the Capitol Hill hearings this week.

The view that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee efforts to review Toyota’s safety defects and recalls to assist U.S. companies is “idiotic” considering that Issa was an ardent opponent of the automaker bailouts, Bardella said.

Even Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, and his top U.S. executive rejected the notion when queried during congressional hearings this week.

“I don’t believe that’s true. I think the government’s acting fairly,” Jim Lentz, Toyota’s top U.S. sales executive, told the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.

Lentz also apologized for a series of missteps that allowed the sudden-acceleration problem to go unchecked for years, ultimately leading Toyota to issue nearly 10 million recall notices and temporarily halt sales of eight models.

At least 34 deaths have been blamed on sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles, according to complaints filed with NHTSA, which the agency said is more than all other automakers combined.

Still, to some in Japan, the congressional hearings are reminiscent of the anti-Japanese hysteria of the 1980s, when Japanese investments in high-profile properties such as the Rockefeller Center in New York set off a political firestorm.

One Japanese customer, who bought her fourth Toyota car in June but declined to give her name, said she felt safe driving her Toyota. “I think things are being exaggerated in the U.S.,” she said.

Even some Japanese analysts, while acknowledging problems in Toyota’s handling of its recall, said they thought Congress has been a bit too opportunistic in its pursuit of a solution.

“It does seem that emotions are a factor at these hearings,” said Masahiro Fukuda, manager of Fourin Inc., a research and publishing company specializing in the auto industry.

“Many Japanese see these hearings as an effective way for the U.S. to beat up Toyota and allow General Motors and Chrysler to recover and grab a bigger share of the market,” said Koji Endo, an analyst at Advanced Research Japan, an independent research house.

While acknowledging the safety problems that prompted the recalls, some in the United States also wonder whether the passion with which Congress has gone after Toyota during the hearings isn’t partially fueled by economic self-interest.

It “can’t be ignored,” said Mark Zupan, dean of the University of Rochester’s School of Business. Zupan said that if lawmakers applied the same standard to all auto companies, the hearings would never end. “This is not an unbiased jury.”

Toyota has made things worse by not addressing its problems more aggressively, he said.

On Friday, auto information company Edmunds.com released its analysis of sudden-acceleration complaints to NHTSA and found that while Toyota’s rate of complaints was higher than any other automaker, Ford Motor Co. also had a high number.

“The emphasis of the recent congressional hearings seems to have been who learned about what and when they learned it. The core issue of what’s really causing the unresolved cases of unintended acceleration has been skirted,” said Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of Edmunds.com. “The truth is that no one can say for sure.”

Anwyl said sudden acceleration should be the subject of a cross-industry and government safety agency collaboration to pool data and resources to discover the cause.

In Tokyo, consumers believe the Toyota recalls have called into question the entire nation’s reputation for producing quality products.

Hideo Usuda, 67, a retiree who doesn’t drive, said, “Toyota’s handling [of the recall will] affect Japan’s national interest.”

But Fukuda also said Toyota has itself to blame.

The company, he insisted, “hasn’t been sensitive enough to concerns of average consumers.”

The fallout from the automaker’s massive recall in the U.S. is also spreading to Toyota’s home market.

Japanese officials are investigating 38 consumer complaints about sudden acceleration of Toyota vehicles, officials have announced. It was the first indication that the accelerator problem had affected Japanese car buyers.

jerry.hirsch@latimes.com

john.glionna@latimes.com

Times staff writer Ralph Vartabedian and Yuriko Nagano, a Tokyo-based freelance writer, contributed to this report.

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Our One-Party Democracy

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 7:58 pm
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Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

Our one-party democracy is worse. The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.” Many of them just want President Obama to fail. Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he’s a centrist. But if he’s forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be whipsawed by its different factions.

Look at the climate/energy bill that came out of the House. Its sponsors had to work twice as hard to produce this breakthrough cap-and-trade legislation. Why? Because with basically no G.O.P. representatives willing to vote for any price on carbon that would stimulate investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, the sponsors had to rely entirely on Democrats — and that meant paying off coal-state and agriculture Democrats with pork. Thank goodness, it is still a bill worth passing. But it could have been much better — and can be in the Senate. Just give me 8 to 10 Republicans ready to impose some price on carbon, and they can be leveraged against Democrats who want to water down the bill.

“China is going to eat our lunch and take our jobs on clean energy — an industry that we largely invented — and they are going to do it with a managed economy we don’t have and don’t want,” said Joe Romm, who writes the blog, climateprogress.org.

The only way for us to match them is by legislating a rising carbon price along with efficiency and renewable standards that will stimulate massive private investment in clean-tech. Hard to do with a one-party democracy.

The same is true on health care. “The central mechanism through which Obama seeks to extend coverage and restrain costs is via new ‘exchanges,’ insurance clearinghouses, modeled on the plan Mitt Romney enacted when he was governor of Massachusetts,” noted Matt Miller, a former Clinton budget official and author of “The Tyranny of Dead Ideas.” “The idea is to let individuals access group coverage from private insurers, with subsidies for low earners.”

And it is possible the president will seek to fund those subsidies, at least in part, with the idea John McCain ran on — by reducing the tax exemption for employer-provided health care. Can the Republicans even say yes to their own ideas, if they are absorbed by Obama? Without Obama being able to leverage some Republican votes, it is going to be very hard to get a good plan to cover all Americans with health care.

“Just because Obama is on a path to give America the Romney health plan with McCain-style financing, does not mean the Republicans will embrace it — if it seems politically more attractive to scream ‘socialist,’ ” said Miller.

The G.O.P. used to be the party of business. Well, to compete and win in a globalized world, no one needs the burden of health insurance shifted from business to government more than American business. No one needs immigration reform — so the world’s best brainpower can come here without restrictions — more than American business. No one needs a push for clean-tech — the world’s next great global manufacturing industry — more than American business. Yet the G.O.P. today resists national health care, immigration reform and wants to just drill, baby, drill.

“Globalization has neutered the Republican Party, leaving it to represent not the have-nots of the recession but the have-nots of globalized America, the people who have been left behind either in reality or in their fears,” said Edward Goldberg, a global trade consultant who teaches at Baruch College. “The need to compete in a globalized world has forced the meritocracy, the multinational corporate manager, the eastern financier and the technology entrepreneur to reconsider what the Republican Party has to offer. In principle, they have left the party, leaving behind not a pragmatic coalition but a group of ideological naysayers.”

February 27, 2010

Inflation target

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 2:55 pm
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Cách đây 5-7 năm nhiều policy makers của VN có một qui tắc rất lạ là lạm phát không được vượt quá tốc độ tăng trưởng, tôi còn nhớ nhiều đại biểu QH đã nhắc đến qui tắc này khi thảo luận và chất vấn các bộ trưởng. Có lẽ sau khi bị nhiều nhà kinh tế phản đối, qui tắc này dần dần rơi vào quên lãng và đến nay không còn ai nhắc đến nó nữa.
Ở ta là vậy còn ở tây trước đây nhiều central banks có inflation target khoảng 2%. Con số này ở đâu ra mãi đến giờ tôi mới biết đến một số empirical research liên quan đến vấn đề này, vd nghiên cứu này của IMF. Lập luận chính của các tác giả là inflation và growth có nonlinear relationship. Khi inflation thấp thì 2 đại lượng này có positive correlation, ngược lại inflation quá cao sẽ gây cản trở cho growth. Con số 2% là nằm trong khoảng 1-3% inflection range của các nước phát triển, còn với các nước đang phát triển là 11-12%.
Vừa rồi Oliver Blanchard, IMF chief economist, cho rằng có lẽ các central banks của các nước phát triển cần phải tăng inflation target lên khoảng 4% thay vì 2% như hiện nay. Lý do chính Blanchard đưa ra là với inflation target cao hơn, các CB sẽ có interest rate target cao hơn và do vậy sẽ giảm bớt nguy cơ lãi suất xuống gần giới hạn zero như trong cuộc khủng hoảng vừa qua. Paul Krugman ủng hộ ý tưởng này, đưa thêm một lý do nữa (mà nhiều macro textbook cũng nhắc đến) là một mức lạm phát vừa phải sẽ tránh cho các employer không phải cắt nominal wage khi kinh tế suy thoái. Lập luận này dựa vào hiện tượng money illusion (người ta tưởng được tăng lương khi nominal wage tăng nhưng thực ra inflation làm real wage không tăng) và có lẽ 2% là quá thấp để money illusion có tác dụng.
Một lý do nữa mà Krugman đã từng đề cập đến, và có lẽ Blanchard cũng đã nghĩ đến nhưng không nói ra, là dùng inflation để giảm tải áp lực các khoản nợ khổng lồ mà chính phủ các nước vừa rồi phải sử dụng để giải cứu hệ thống ngân hàng và kích cầu kinh tế (inflating debt away). Tất nhiên ý tưởng này làm điên đầu các nhà kinh tế neo-classical và Austrian như John Taylor hay Mike Shedlock. Thậm chí một số nhà kinh tế có xu hướng Keynesian cũng tỏ ý nghi ngờ (Free Exchange) hay không đồng ý (David Altig). Nhìn chung đây sẽ là một hot topic trong thời gian tới giữa các macroeconomist.
Quay lại VN, liệu con số nào là hợp lý cho inflation target? Chắc chắn các policy makers của VN không muốn quay về thời hyperinflation những năm 80, thậm chí không muốn thấy lạm phát hai chữ số. Trong vài ba năm gần đây có vẻ ngưỡng 7% là target của VN, dù luôn không đạt được. Tuy nhiên lạm phát của VN vẫn nằm dưới inflection range 11-12% mà IMF khuyến cáo cho các nước đang phát triển. Để kiểm chứng con số này của IMF, tôi thử reestimate mô hình trong bài nghiên cứu của IMF với số liệu của VN từ năm 1991 đến 2008 (có một số hiệu đính) và có kết quả như sau (trục X là inflection inflation, trục Y là RSS – càng nhỏ inflection point càng chính xác):
Như vậy với VN, inflection range vào khoảng 5-7% thấp hơn nhiều estimation của IMF, tuy cũng có một local minimum ở khoảng 11-13%. Nếu methodology của IMF đúng và số liệu/estimation của tôi chính xác, các policy makers của VN có lý khi đặt ra mục tiêu lạm phát không vượt 7% trong những năm vừa qua.
Note: Đây là version 2 đã update lại kết quả estimation (version 1 cách đây vài phút có một vài lỗi).

2009 revisited

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 2:54 pm
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Tôi vừa hoàn thành một bài review tình hình kinh tế thế giới năm 2009, một phần của Báo cáo kinh tế thường niên của VEPR. Sau đây là phần mở đầu của bài viết, tôi sẽ post full text sau khi bản báo cáo chính thức ra mắt.

Vào những ngày cuối năm 2008, cựu chủ tịch Fed Alan Greenspan, lúc đã mất rất nhiều uy tín vì bị cho rằng đã giữ lãi suất quá thấp và quá lâu sau cuộc suy thoái 2001, nhận định rằng cuộc khủng hoảng tài chính bùng nổ từ giữa năm 2007 đã vượt qua đáy. Khi đó không mấy ai tin Greenspan vì nhiều chỉ số thị trường và thống kê kinh tế vẫn tiếp tục xấu đi. Tuy nhiên , với kinh nghiệm thị trường và chính trường dầy dặn, Greenspan dường như đã nhận ra thị trường tài chính đang ổn định trở lại sau khi hàng trăm tỷ USD được đổ ra cứu các ngân hàng lớn ở Mỹ và châu Âu. Cuối tháng 12/2008, trong khi số liệu xuất khẩu của Trung Quốc, Nhật Bản, Đức, những cường quốc xuất khẩu trước đó, suy giảm kỷ lục, Baltic Dry Index (BDI) – chỉ số về vận tải biển quốc tế – có dấu hiệu chạm đáy và bắt đầu nhích dần lên, báo hiệu sự hồi phục của thương mại quốc tế.

Trong giai đoạn cuối năm 2008, bên cạnh các chính sách giải cứu hệ thống tài chính, chính phủ nhiều nước đã đồng loạt tung ra các gói kích cầu khổng lồ, trung bình khoảng 3.16% GDP các nước. Trước đó hàng loạt ngân hàng trung ương đã phối hợp cắt giảm lãi suất mạnh, nhiều trường hợp xuống sát không. Không chỉ cắt giảm lãi suất thấp kỷ lục, đầu năm 2009, Ngân hàng Trung Ương Anh đã chính thức thực thi “nới lỏng số lượng” (quantitative easing – QE), trong khi Fed và ECB tiếp nối chính sách này không lâu sau đó. Đây là công cụ tiền tệ mà Ngân hàng Trung ương Nhật bản đã phải sử dụng chỉ vài năm trước đó khi nền kinh tế nước này rơi vào “bẫy thanh khoản” (liquidity trap).

Những biện pháp nới lỏng tài khóa và tiền tệ đúng theo sách giáo khoa của trường phái Keynes dường như đã phát huy hiệu quả. Mặc dù thị trường còn mất hai tháng đầu năm 2009 dò dẫm tìm đáy, cú hích cuối cùng của tân Bộ trưởng Tim Geithner với chương trình PPIP nhằm làm sạch bản cân đối tài sản của các ngân hàng Mỹ đã chính thức vực nền kinh tế Mỹ và cả thế giới ra khỏi cuộc khủng hoảng tồi tệ nhất kể từ sau Đại Suy thoái 1929-1933. Đầu tháng 3/2009, đương kim chủ tịch Fed Ben Bernanke tuyên bố đã nhìn thấy những “mầm non” (green shoots) phục hồi kinh tế. Mặc dù đa số các nhà bình luận nghi ngờ nhận định của Bernanke, kể cả các nhà kinh tế xuất xắc nhất, tiên đoán này đã chính xác.

Bên cạnh sự phục hồi mạnh mẽ của thị trường chứng khoán toàn thế giới, nhiều chỉ số phản ánh kỳ vọng kinh tế của giới doanh nhân như chỉ số PMI (purchansing managers’ index), Leading Indicator của Conference Board đều vượt đáy trước và trong tháng 3/2009. Mặc dù nền kinh tế thực của Mỹ tiếp tục suy giảm trong hai qúy đầu năm, cuối tháng 5/2008 số lượng người nhận bảo hiểm thất nghiệp lần đầu (Initial Jobless Claims) đã đạt đỉnh, dấu hiệu mà Robert Gordon – thành viên của NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee – cho rằng suy thoái kinh tế sắp sửa chấm dứt. Cũng trong tháng 5/2009 chỉ số giá nhà đất S&P Case Shiller lập đáy, điều mà Dr. Doom Nouriel Roubini khẳng định là điều kiện tiên quyết để khủng hoảng tài chính có thể qua đi. Thị trường chứng khoán Mỹ chào đón sự phục hồi này bằng mức tăng trưởng 24% cho cả năm 2009 và gần 65% kể từ đáy vào tháng 3.

Mặc dù Trung Quốc đã và đang bị chỉ trích mạnh mẽ về chính sách giữ đồng Nhân dân tệ thấp (undervalued) để kích thích xuất khẩu và tăng trưởng, có thể nói việc nền kinh tế này đứng vững trong nửa đầu năm 2009 đã góp một phần quan trọng vào sự hồi phục của kinh tế thế giới. Với một gói kích cầu lớn và những can thiệp hành chính hiệu quả, Trung Quốc đã giúp cho giá dầu mỏ và các loại nguyên liệu thô không rơi tự do, gián tiếp ngăn chặn sự lây lan suy thoái ra nhiều nước đang phát triển và cả một vài nước phát triển như Úc và Canada. Dù đồng Nhân dân tệ không được nâng giá như Mỹ và các nước phương Tây mong muốn, Trung Quốc đã không rút khỏi thị trường trái phiếu chính phủ Mỹ, một yếu tố quan trọng giúp cho những nỗ lực của Fed bình ổn thị trường tài chính có thể thành công.

Nhiều nhà kinh tế đã thất vọng với kết quả của các cuộc họp G20, một câu lạc bộ quyền lực mới của thế giới kể từ khi khủng hoảng nổ ra. Tuy nhiên phải thừa nhận rằng G20 đã đem lại hai thành công quan trọng. Thứ nhất là một cam kết không chính thức của các nước lớn không dựng lên các rào cản thương mại, điều mà nhiều nhà kinh tế lo ngại sẽ đẩy cuộc khủng hoảng vào một cuộc Đại Suy thoái thứ hai do thương mại quốc tế sụp đổ. Bên cạnh đó, đối phó với các khó khăn tìm nguồn tín dụng xuất khẩu khi thị trường tài chính thế giới đóng băng, G20 cũng cam kết sẽ đưa ra một gói hỗ trợ tín dụng 250 tỷ USD thông qua các ngân hàng phát triển khu vực và IFC. Thành công thứ hai của G20 là giải phóng cho IMF được tự do hơn trong vai trò người cho vay cuối cùng bằng việc phát hành thêm 500 tỷ SDR và đưa ra chương trình cho vay vô điều kiện cho các nước gặp khó khăn thanh khoản ngoại tệ. Chỉ một Iceland cuối năm 2008 đã làm rung chuyển hệ thống tài chính nhiều nước châu Âu, nhưng với những biện pháp can thiệp và trấn an kịp thời, IMF đã góp phần ngăn không cho khủng hoảng lan ra hàng loạt các nước mới nổi ở ngoại vi châu Âu trong năm 2009 (Ireland, Hungary, Baltic States, Ucraine, Poland, Greece).

Nửa sau năm 2009, thời điểm các gói kích cầu phát huy hiệu quả mạnh nhất, nhiều nước đã chứng kiến sự quay đầu ngoạn mục của tăng trưởng GDP và một phần nào đó là tiêu dùng và đầu tư. Tuy nhiên thất nghiệp vẫn tiếp tục gia tăng ở nhiều nước. Đã có một số nhận định rằng cuộc suy thoái này, là hậu quả của một cuộc khủng hoảng tài chính, sẽ phục hồi với tỷ lệ thất nghiệp cao (jobless recovery). Bên cạnh mối lo nạn thất nghiệp kéo dài, nhiều nhà kinh tế bắt đầu lo sự bùng nổ của lạm phát khi nhiều nước có tỷ lệ nợ quốc gia gia tăng và lãi suất vẫn tiếp tục được giữ ở mức thấp. Đã có những ý kiến kêu gọi các nước phải bắt đầu thắt chặt chính sách tiền tệ và tài khóa. Mặc dù những khuyến nghị này gây ra nhiều tranh cãi, vào thời điểm cuối năm 2009 không còn ai nghi ngờ về cuộc khủng hoảng tài chính đã kết thúc và kinh tế thế giới bắt đầu hồi phục.

FX swap

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 2:51 pm
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FX swap là một loại derivatives trong đó 2 bên tham gia đồng ý hoán đổi 2 loại ngoại tệ cho nhau trong một thời gian rồi sau đó sẽ hoàn trả lại khoản tiền ban đầu. Ví dụ công ty A có thể ký FX swap với bank B để đổi 1 triệu USD lấy 19 tỷ VNĐ ngày hôm nay, 3 tháng sau A sẽ trả lại B 19 tỷ VNĐ và nhận lại 1 triệu USD. Tất nhiên A phải trả phí và lãi suất cho B nếu lãi suất của USD và VNĐ khác nhau. Vì swap là một loại derivatives và qui tắc kế toán của nhiều nước không/chưa buộc phải đưa các loại contingent liability vào balace sheets nên nhiều công ty, ngân hàng dùng derivatives để che dấu các transactions thực. Trong ví dụ trên cả A và B đều có thể không ghi nhận hợp đồng FX swap này trong balance sheets của mình, A vẫn ghi 1 triệu USD còn B vẫn ghi 19 tỷ VNĐ trên mục assets.
Chính đây là một lỗ hổng để A và B có thể để ra ngoài sổ sách một khoản vay/cho vay bí mật. Giả sử thay vì hoán đổi 1 triệu USD lấy 19 tỷ VNĐ (theo tỷ giá hiện tại) sau khi ký hợp đồng swap, B chuyển cho A 20 tỷ VNĐ. Khi hợp đồng swap hết hạn A trả lại B 20 tỷ (+lãi suất, phí) và nhận lại 1 triệu USD. Như vậy trên thực tế B cho A vay 1 tỷ VNĐ không thế chấp và khoản vay này không xuất hiện trên balance sheets của cả A và B như đã nói ở trên. Tất nhiên cả A và B đều có lợi khi đi vay/cho vay chui như vậy vì debt/equity ratio của A không tăng, trong khi B không phải tăng reserve. B phải chấp nhận credit risk của A nhưng có thể mua bảo hiểm cho rủi ro này trên thị trường CDS.
Trên đây là một ví dụ giả tưởng, nhưng nếu bạn thay A bằng Greece, B bằng Goldman Sachs, 1 triệu USD bằng 10 tỷ USD và 19 tỷ VNĐ bằng 11 tỷ Euro thì đó là những gì báo chí đang bàn tán mấy ngày gần đây. Năm 2001 GS đã bí mật cho Greece vay 1 tỷ Euro thông qua FX swap như đã mô tả bên trên để giúp Greece đạt được yêu cầu của EU về tỷ lệ nợ chính phủ. GS sau đó cũng đã mua CDS để bao hiểm cho rủi ro Greece sẽ default. Đến giờ nhiều người cho rằng không chỉ có Greece mà một số nước có tỷ lệ nợ chính phủ cao cũng sử dụng cách này để che giấu bớt nợ. Tuy nhiên nợ nào thì vẫn là nợ, bạn có thể che dấu con số chính xác với người ngoài hay với các regulators (trong trường hợp của Greece là EU), nhưng bạn không thể tránh được gánh nặng trả nợ (và lãi suất), chưa kể rủi ro tiềm ẩn rất cao cho cả chủ nợ lẫn con nợ.
Hi vọng chính phủ VN chưa và sẽ không dùng chiêu này để giấu nợ, nhưng có lẽ giới doanh nghiệp và ngân hàng VN không lạ gì hình thức qua mặt regulator này (để cho vay vượt trần lãi suất hoặc mua bán ngoại tệ ngoài biên độ).

Inflation

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 2:49 pm
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Mấy hôm nay báo chí nói nhiều về lạm phát (vd ở đây, đây, đây, và đây), các chuyên gia ai cũng lo nhưng giải pháp có vẻ mỗi người một ý. Chợt nhớ tấm hình này minh họa một bài báo của Martin Wolf trên FT:

The world economy has no easy way out of the mire

By Martin Wolf

Published: February 23 2010 21:49 | Last updated: February 23 2010 21:49

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Anybody who looks carefully at the world economy will recognise that a degree of monetary and fiscal stimulus unprecedented in peacetime is all that is prodding it along, not only in high-income countries, but also in big emerging ones. The conventional wisdom is that it will also be possible to manage a smooth exit. Nothing seems less likely. So let us consider the endgame, instead.

We must start from the reverse side of the stimulus coin: the private sector is now spending far less than its aggregate income. Forecasts in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s latest Economic Outlook imply that in six of its members (the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, the UK and Ireland) the private sector will run a surplus of income over spending greater than 10 per cent of gross domestic product this year. Another 13 will have private surpluses between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of GDP. The latter includes the US, with 7.3 per cent. The eurozone private surplus will be 6.7 per cent of GDP and that of the OECD as a whole 7.4 per cent.

Moreover, the shift in the private sector balance between 2007 and 2010 is forecast to exceed 10 per cent of GDP in no fewer than eight OECD member countries (see chart). It is also forecast to exceed 5 per cent of GDP in another eight. In the US, it is forecast to be 9.6 per cent of GDP. In the eurozone, it is forecast at 5.5 per cent of GDP and in the OECD at 7.3 per cent. Depression threatened

Note that such huge shifts towards frugality will have occurred, despite the unprecedented monetary loosening. While the latter helped prevent a still-greater collapse in private spending, the huge fiscal deficits, largely the result of automatic stabilisers, have been no less important. If governments had tried to close fiscal deficits, as they attempted to do in the 1930s, we would be in another Great Depression.

So how do we exit? To answer the question, we need to agree on how we entered. A big part of the answer is that a series of bubbles helped keep the world economy driving forward over the past three decades. Behind these, however, lay a credit super-bubble, which burst in 2008. This is why private spending imploded and fiscal deficits exploded.

William White, former chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements, is a leading proponent of the view that monetary policy errors, particularly by the Federal Reserve, have driven the world economy. Richard Duncan offers a similar, but more radical, critique in his thought-provoking new book, The Corruption of Capitalism.

At the 75th birthday conference of the Reserve Bank of India this month, Mr White gave a lucid version of his critique. With inflation kept down by supply shocks, inflation-targeting central banks kept interest rates too low too long. The result, he argued, was a series of imbalances, not dissimilar to those in the US in the 1920s and Japan in the 1980s. In particular, with the real interest rate well below the rate of growth of economies, the expansion of credit was effectively unconstrained. Debt duly exploded upwards (see chart).

Mr White pointed to four imbalances: asset price bubbles, notably of stocks in the 1990s and houses in the 2000s; the explosion of the balance sheet of the financial sector and increase in its exposure to risk; what “Austrian school” economists dub “malinvestment” – soaring consumption of durables in high-income countries and booming construction of housing and shopping malls in countries such as the US, and of export-oriented factories in China; and, finally, trade imbalances, with capital pouring into the US and other high-spending countries.

I do not agree that monetary policy mistakes were responsible for all of this. But they played a role. In any case, all this had to end. Now, after the implosion, we witness the extraordinary rescue efforts. So what happens next? We can identify two alternatives: success and failure.

By “success”, I mean reignition of the credit engine in high-income deficit countries. So private sector spending surges anew, fiscal deficits shrink and the economy appears to being going back to normal, at last. By “failure” I mean that the deleveraging continues, private spending fails to pick up with any real vigour and fiscal deficits remain far bigger, for far longer, than almost anybody now dares to imagine. This would be post-bubble Japan on a far wider scale.

Unhappily, the result of what I call success would probably be a still bigger financial crisis in future, while the results of what I call failure would be that the fiscal rope would run out, even though reaching the end might take longer than worrywarts fear. Yet the big point is that either outcome ultimately leads us to a sovereign debt crisis. This, in turn, would surely result in defaults, probably via inflation. In essence, stretched balance sheets threaten mass private sector bankruptcy and a depression, or sovereign bankruptcy and inflation, or some combination of the two.

I can envisage two ways by which the world might grow out of its debt overhangs without such a collapse: a surge in private and public investment in the deficit countries or a surge in demand from the emerging countries. Under the former, higher future income would make today’s borrowing sustainable. Under the latter, the savings generated by the deleveraging private sectors of deficit countries would flow naturally into increased investment in emerging countries.

Yet exploiting such opportunities would involve radical rethinking. In countries like the UK and US, there would be high fiscal deficits over an extended period, but also a matching willingness to promote investment. Meanwhile, high-income countries would have to engage urgently with emerging countries, to discuss reforms to global finance aimed at facilitating a sustained net flow of funds from the former to the latter.

Unfortunately, nobody is seized of such a radical post-crisis agenda. Most people hope, instead, that the world will go back to being the way it was. It will not and should not. The essential ingredient of a successful exit is, instead, to use the huge surpluses of the private sector to fund higher investment, both public and private, across the world. China alone needs higher consumption.

Let us not repeat past errors. Let us not hope that a credit-fuelled consumption binge will save us. Let us invest in the future, instead.

martin.wolf@ft.com
More columns at www.ft.com/martinwol

Zhu Min

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 2:35 pm
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Phó thống đốc Ngân hàng Trung ương Trung quốc (PBoC) Zhu Min, cựu nhân viên WB/giáo sư kinh tế tại Johns Hopkins và Fudan Uni, vừa trở thành “special advisor” cho tổng giám đốc IMF. Simon Johnson, cựu kinh tế trưởng của IMF, cho rằng rất có thể đây là một bước đệm để Zhu Min ứng cử chức vụ tổng giám đốc IMF sau khi Dominique Strauss-Kahn rút lui vào năm sau. Sau Justin Lin, đây có thể là người TQ thứ hai nắm giữ một chức vụ quan trọng của các international agencies.
Bài học: NHNN VN cần mời các giáo sư kinh tế về làm phó thống đốc 🙂


Update: Có candidate này phù hợp với tiêu chuẩn cựu WB và giáo sư đại học trong, ngoài nước.

Toyota’s philosophical flaw

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Writing From Tokyo – Toyota has built a strong presence in the United States by serving its consumers well and doing what the U.S. government has wanted. Now it has stumbled badly largely because its greatest strength — the Toyota way of “accumulation of small improvements,” or kaizenkaizen philosophy — has turned out to be a weakness in the age of complex electronic engines.

There is every reason to believe Toyota will fix its technical and management problems. The question is whether, panicking in the very un-Japanese glare of the American media and political spotlight, it will dig a deeper hole by losing the trust and reputation for competence among its customers. That would be bad for Toyota, and for America.

Most auto companies in the past, including Ford and GM, have had recall problems. They all seem to try to hide the early evidence of flaws, even if they affect safety. Recall General Motors’ Chevrolet Corvair and consumer advocate Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe at Any Speed” campaign against it in the 1960s.

Today, however, with electronic programming of cars, many of the problems emerging — such as the braking system of the Prius — are of a new nature. They are judgmental engineering calls. If they can be corrected by readjusting the setting on recalled cars, Toyota can handle that quickly.

But what we are seeing may be a more fundamental problem that has to do with the engine control unit as a whole. In an average Toyota, there are about 24,000 inputs and outputs, with as many as 70 computer chips processing information and sending it on to other chips to operate the engine control units. It is a very complex system.

Such complex systems are a problem these days for all auto manufacturers — Germans and Americans as well as Japanese — because about 60% of a modern automobile is electronics. Toyota is the canary in the coal mine, so to speak, because it is the world’s largest manufacturer of cars, with more than 50 plants around the globe outside of Japan. Toyota has more models on the road than any other carmaker.

What we see with Toyota in particular is that this new electronic complexity has overwhelmed its concept of kaizen — continuous improvements — that has made Toyota such a high-quality brand worldwide. This company has so perfected the practice of kaizen from the assembly line on up that it has lost the big picture of how the whole electronic engine — and thus overall safety — works.

If Toyota does not recognize this and tries to chalk up all of its problems to floor mats touching the accelerator or a computer glitch, it will miss the real issue. Where Toyota has failed is that rather than review the overall safety of the engine operating unit, it has focused on diagnosing the function of many thousands of pieces of an electronic engine.

What this company is missing is the human factor — a single person who has a comprehensive understanding of the details of the engine and how the parts interact and work as a whole.

In the old days, one chief engineer designed everything. This was also true with ships and airplanes. Now, design and production are broken down into so many details that there is no one in the current generation of Toyota engineers who seems to have the whole picture. A 45-year-old engineer at Toyota today would have spent the last 25 years working on “the accumulation of small improvements.”

What this suggests is that Toyota has to come up with a new organizational ethos beyond kaizen that can oversee the crucial safety features that may have been compromised by so much incremental improvement over the years. This is a philosophical problem of management, not a technical issue. A new system of “man and machine interface” needs to supplement the kaizen philosophy.

I believe Toyota can meet this challenge. The challenge I fear it will fail to meet is the psychological one, enveloped as the company’s leaders seem to be in a sense of panic at being attacked politically and in the media in their most lucrative market, the United States.

For the modest and taciturn Akio Toyoda, whose English is only passable and who has difficulty finding the right words, to testify in front of the U.S. Congress invites the wrong impression: There is such a clash between aggressive American political and media culture and reserved Japanese ways.

As America brings Toyota to account on safety, it must also put the company in the right perspective. Toyota has also always done what the American market and politicians demanded without losing quality or productivity. The U.S. asked Toyota to come to the U.S. to produce cars instead of export them from Japan, and use up to 50% local content.

Today, 2.5 million cars are produced annually in the U.S. at several plants; this has created thousands of jobs. Toyota’s annual spending on parts, goods and services from hundreds of U.S. suppliers totals more than $22 billion. Ninety-five Japanese component companies were transplanted from Japan to supply Toyota through its “just in time” manufacturing process, building a supply network along the Mississippi Valley that didn’t exist before.

Toyota is on the hot seat today. But everyone should understand that the issue at hand is the trade-off between complexity and safety in an age in which electronics and computers dominate the vehicles we all use on a daily basis.

Kenichi Ohmae is a prominent management consultant in Japan and the author of numerous books, including “The Mind of the Strategist” and “The Borderless World.” His comments are adapted from an interview with Global Viewpoint Network editor Nathan Gardels.

What Your Face Reveals About Your Health

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 4:37 am
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What do you see when you look in the mirror? According to Chinese medicine, your face is a window to your health. Your forehead, nose, chin, right cheek, left cheek: Each of these five face zones gives you clues to what is going on inside your body–if you know what to look for! Read on to decode what your face reveals about you.

How Traditional Chinese Medicine Reads the Body to Detect Disease

, redness, and rash sometimes signal high blood pressure and pent-up anger. A yellowish hue under the left eye may indicate gallstones or high triglycerides or cholesterol, which are processed by the liver-gall bladder network.

Problems in this part of the face can also reveal emotional issues, such as anger and depression, since the liver and gallbladder network includes the nervous system.

Please keep in mind that there are many ways that your body alerts you to imbalances. As you learn this visual method, you’ll want to be able to confirm your findings from one body part with observations from others, such as the eyes, tongue, and nails. Want to learn more? Get your own copy of Secrets of Self-Healing, where you can find in-depth information.

Keep all five elements healthy and get a whole body tune-up with a balanced combination of 44 traditional Chinese herbs that support healthy function of the bodily systems, the Five Elements of Health Formula.

I hope this article helps you find out what your face is telling you! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

-Dr. Mao

This blog is meant to educate, but it should not be used as a substitute for personal medical advice. The reader should consult his or her physician or clinician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field is ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

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How Africa is Becoming the New Asia

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 3:00 am
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China and India get all the headlines for their economic prowess, but there’s another global growth story that is easily overlooked: Africa. In 2007 and 2008, southern Africa, the Great Lakes region of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, and even the drought-stricken Horn of Africa had GDP growth rates on par with Asia’s two powerhouses. Last year, in the depths of global recession, the continent clocked almost 2 percent growth, roughly equal to the rates in the Middle East, and outperforming everywhere else but India and China. This year and in 2011, Africa will grow by 4.8 percent—the highest rate of growth outside Asia, and higher than even the oft-buzzed-about economies of Brazil, Russia, Mexico, and Eastern Europe, according to newly revised IMF estimates. In fact, on a per capita basis, Africans are already richer than Indians, and a dozen African states have higher gross national income per capita than China.

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More surprising is that much of this growth is driven not by the sale of raw materials, like oil or diamonds, but by a burgeoning domestic market, the largest outside India and China. In the last four years, the surge in private consumption of goods and services has accounted for two thirds of Africa’s GDP growth. The rapidly emerging African middle class could number as many as 300 million, out of a total population of 1 billion, according to development expert Vijay Majahan, author of the 2009 book Africa Rising. While few of them have the kind of disposable income found in Asia and the West, these accountants, teachers, maids, taxi drivers, even roadside street vendors, are driving up demand for goods and services like cell phones, bank accounts, upmarket foodstuffs, and real estate. In fact, in Africa’s 10 largest economies, the service sector makes up 40 percent of GDP, not too far from India’s 53 percent. “The new Africa story is consumption,” says Graham Thomas, head of principal investment at Standard Bank Group, which operates in 17 African countries.

Much of the boom in this new consumer class can be attributed to outside forces: evolving trade patterns, particularly from increased demand coming out of China, and technological innovation abroad that spurs local productivity and growth like the multibillion-dollar fiber-optic lines that are being laid out between Africa and the developed world. Other changes are domestic and deliberate. Despite Africa’s well-founded reputation for corruption and poor governance, a substantial chunk of the continent has quietly experienced this economic renaissance by dint of its virtually unprecedented political stability. Spurred by eager investors, governments have steadily deregulated industries and developed infrastructure. As a result, countries such as Kenya and Botswana now boast privately owned world-class hospitals, charter schools, and toll roads that are actually safe to drive on. A study by a World Bank program, the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, found that improvements in Africa’s telecom infrastructure have contributed as much as 1 percent to per capita GDP growth, a bigger role than changes in monetary or fiscal policies. Shares of stocks in recently privatized local airlines, freight companies, and telecoms have skyrocketed.

Entrepreneurship has increased at the same time, powered in part by the influx of returning skilled workers. Just as waves of expats returned to China and India in the 1990s to start businesses that in turn attracted more outside talent and capital, there are now signs that an entrepreneurial African diaspora will help transform the continent. While brain drain is still a chronic problem in countries such as Burundi and Malawi—some of the poorest in the world on a per capita basis—Africa’s most robust economies, such as those in Ghana, Botswana, and South Africa, are beginning to see an unprecedented brain gain. According to some reports, roughly 10,000 skilled professionals have returned to Nigeria in the last year, and the number of educated Angolans seeking jobs back home has spiked 10-fold, to 1,000, in the last five years. Bart Nnaji gave up a tenured professorship at the University of Pittsburgh to move back to Nigeria in 2005 and run Geometric Power, the first private power company in sub-Saharan Africa. Its $400 million, 188-megawatt power plant will come online this fall as the sole provider of electricity for Aba, a city of 2 million in southeast Nigeria. Afam Onyema, a 30-year-old graduate of Harvard and Stanford Law, turned down six-figure offers in corporate law to build and run a $50 million state-of-the-art private hospital with a charitable component for the poor in southeast Nigeria.

Many experts believe Africa, with its expansive base of newly minted consumers, may very well be on the verge of becoming the next India, thanks to frenetic urbanization and the sort of big push in services and infrastructure that transformed the Asian subcontinent 15 years ago. Just as India once harnessed its booming population of cheap labor, Africa stands to gain by the rapid growth of its big cities. Already the continent boasts the world’s highest rate of urbanization, which jump-starts growth through industrialization and economies of scale. Today only a third of Africa’s population lives in cities, but that segment accounts for 80 percent of total GDP, according to the U.N. Centre for Human Settlements. In the next 30 years, half the continent’s population will be living in cities.

Nowhere is this relationship between the consumer class and urbanization more apparent than in Lagos, Nigeria, a megalopolis of 18 million that has the anything-goes pace of a Chongqing or Mumbai. On Victoria Island, the city’s commercial center, real estate is as expensive as in Manhattan. Everywhere you look, there is construction: luxury condos, office buildings, roads, even a brand-new city nearby being dredged from the sea that will hold half a million people. “Everything is in short supply, so everything’s a high-growth area,” explains Adedotun Sulaiman, a venture capitalist and chairman of Accenture in Nigeria. “In terms of opportunities, it’s just mind-blowing.” Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest black entrepreneur, has also cashed in on this consumer culture, with a net worth of $2.5 billion, according to Forbes. His empire, which began in 1978 as a trading business that imported, among other things, baby food, cement, and frozen fish, is focused on Nigeria’s burgeoning domestic growth, producing cement for shopping and office complexes; renting luxury condos; making noodles, flour, and sugar; and now expanding into services such as 3G mobile networks and transportation. “There’s nowhere you can make money like in Nigeria,” says the 53-year-old Dangote. “It’s the world’s best-kept secret.”

Not anymore. A recent study by Oxford economist Paul Collier of all 954 publicly traded African companies operating between 2000 and 2007 found that their annual return on capital was on average 65 percent higher than those of similar firms in China, India, Vietnam, or Indonesia because labor costs are skyrocketing in Asia. Their median profit margin, 11 percent, was also higher than in Asia or South America. African mobile operators, for instance, showed the highest profit margins in the industry worldwide. As a result, foreign multinationals like Unilever, Nestlé, and Swissport International report some of their highest growth in Africa. So even as foreign direct investment fell by 20 percent worldwide in 2008, capital in-flows to Africa actually jumped 16 percent, to $61.9 billion, its highest level ever, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Even Chinese companies are thinking of outsourcing basic manufacturing to Africa. The World Bank is now helping China set up an industrial zone in Ethiopia, the first of perhaps several offshore centers akin to the sprawling free-trade zones that opened up China’s economy in the 1980s.

Still, Africa remains at the very frontier of emerging markets. Despite its gains, the difficulty and cost of running a business there are the highest in the world, according to data from the International Monetary Fund. Couple that with pervasive corruption—Transparency International calls the problem “rampant” in 36 of 53 African states—and it’s no wonder Africa is often regarded as a toxic place to operate. But World Bank president Robert Zoellick says that in the aftermath of the economic crisis, long-term investors have recognized that “developed markets have big risks too.” Like China and India, Africa is exploiting that fact, and perhaps more than any other region it is illustrative of a new world order in which the poorest nations will still find ways to steam ahead.

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