economics

December 31, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions for World Leaders What Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, and Hu Jintao should be promising to do in 2011 — but probably won’t.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 11:56 pm
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BARACK OBAMA

Resolution: Make 2011 an opportunities year, not a crisis year

Why he should: Between the international economic crisis, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the continuing bloodshed in the Middle East and a brewing currency war, the Obama administration’s foreign policy in its first term has largely been a series of responses to crises, either new or inherited. Even what should have been a relatively uncontroversial arms control treaty with Russia turned into a knock-down, drag-out fight with Senate Republicans
In the coming year, major progress on these pressing issues is unlikely, so Obama should take the opportunity to focus on the positive in 2011. That means fence-mending visits to regions like Europe and Latin America, which have felt left out by the administration’s Middle East- and Asia-centric agenda. Obama should give human rights hawks within his administration, such as Samantha Power and Susan Rice, freer rein to call out abuses. He could also take advantage of one of the few perks of a Republican Congress and push to ratify trade agreements with close U.S. allies like Colombia and South Korea.

Why he won’t: The crises aren’t going anywhere. U.S. troops are still under fire in Afghanistan, and Obama is likely to come under criticism whether or not he honors next summer’s self-imposed deadline to begin withdrawing troops. And the longer Israel-Palestine goes without a settlement on final borders, the less likely a two-state solution becomes. Obama’s still going to be troubleshooting this year

HU JINTAO

Resolution: Prove the haters wrong

Why he should: China, which had already badly handled a censorship showdown with Google earlier in the year, ended 2010 on a low note with its petty and brutal response to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize. When even Premier Wen Jiabao is considered too controversial for public consumption, the Chinese government’s mistrust of its own people has clearly gotten out of hand.

The Communist Party has achieved a veritable economic miracle in recent decades, bring tens of millions of people out of poverty. There’s reason to think that China’s current rulers would still enjoy the support of their citizens if they were willing to open up. Why not make 2011 the year China proves it’s not afraid of criticism and loosen some of its onerous restrictions on freedom of expression?

Why he won’t: Because the current system is more or less working. As long as China’s economy continues to grow, the public stays quiescent, and other capitals continue to kowtow to Beijing’s wishes on questions like the Nobel Prize, there’s no incentive for Hu and the rest of China’s leadership to alter their behavior.

VLADIMIR PUTIN

Resolution: Give Dmitry a chance

Why he should: It would be too much to expect Russia’s authoritarian prime minister to turn into a democrat over night, but at the very least, he could give the elected leader of the Russian people — President Dmitry Medvedev — a change to actually govern. There are signs that if given the opportunity, the technocratic Medvedev might try to institute some much-needed liberal reforms without shaking up the power elite in a way that threatens Putin’s position. During the last year before presidential election season kicks off, why not give Medvedev a chance to actually be president?

Why he won’t: Because it’s not part of the plan. It’s looking increasingly likely that Putin will attempt to reinstall himself as president in 2012; this year, we should expect to see more, not less activity from the prime minister’s office.

SILVIO BERLUSCONI

Resolution: Quit while you’re ahead

Why he should: Right now, the 74-year-old Berlusconi’s incredible political saga seems set to end in one of two ways. He continues to govern — fighting off legal challenges to his sovereign immunity and threats to his ruling majority — until he dies in office. Or he’s forced from office and put on trial for one of the many, many charges against him. If he’s smart, Berlusconi will work out a grand bargain with the opposition in which he agrees to step down in exchange for immunity from prosecution and lives out the rest of his days in pleasant debauchery.

Why he won’t: He doesn’t trust the judges. The judiciary is the one branch of Italian government where Berlusconi doesn’t have any friends. The moment he becomes a common citizen again, he has to expect the judicial branch to come after him, deal or no deal. Plus, Berlusconi has never expressed any remorse for the transgressions of which he has been accused and seems to view the prime minister’s office as his birthright. He won’t give it up without a fight.

DAVID CAMERON

Resolution: Ease up

Why he should: Cameron was as good as his word this year, unveiling a deep set of cuts to government services, the civil service, and the defense budget, and increasing university tuition as part of an ambitious austerity program. But the fees increase, in particular, brought young Britons out onto the streets in scenes reminiscent the late 1960s. If the government goes through with further planned cuts, he risks fracturing his fragile coalition with the Liberal Democrats and even losing support from his own party.

It’s time for Cameron to prove that his “Big Society” vision is about more than just cutting services. Perhaps one place to start is immigration. As the case of Stockholm bomber Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly shows, Britain has an ongoing problem with the radicalization of Muslim immigrants. The Cameron government, not seen as touch-feely on immigration issues, could make the integration of Britain’s Muslim community a major priority.

Why he won’t: The Cameron government views deep cuts as an economic necessity, given the country’s still-high level of public debt, political consequences be damned. Plus, British votes overwhelmingly support further restrictions on immigration.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU

Resolution: Think big

Why he should: A politician of the Israeli prime minister’s stature and ego doesn’t want to be remembered as one of a series who held the line against a peace deal while the two-state solution died on the vine. Netanyahu needs to move beyond this year’s back-and-forth over a settlement freeze and push for a final resolution on borders before the Palestinian state simply declares its sovereignty unilaterally. This will involve standing up to both hard-liners in his own cabinet and the powerful settlers’ movement in the West Bank, but like his right-wing predecessor Ariel Sharon, Netanyahu may be uniquely qualified to explain the necessity of concessions to a skeptical Israeli public.

Why he won’t: Netanyahu still relies on the support of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party in his coalition, led by controversial figure Avigdor Lieberman. So far, there’s no sign that Bibi is willing to risk the fall of his government on the Palestinians’ behalf.

HUGO CHÁVEZ

Resolution: Be like Lula

Why he should: In the remaining hours of 2010, Chávez ought to look south, where Brazilian President Luiz Inacío Lula da Silva is stepping down with one of the highest popularity ratings on Earth. Chávez could have adopted Lula’s style of practical populism, combining generous social programs with support of trade and private industry and a foreign policy widely seen as independent, without falling back on kneejerk anti-Americanism.

Instead, Chávez has opted for old-fashioned Latin American leftism, which has left his country coping with economic distress and increasing international isolation. His once-unchallenged control on Venezuela’s legislature is now starting to slip. But it may not too late for the Bolivarian revolutionary to take a cue from his outgoing neighbor, ease up on private industry and political dissent, and let his country grow into the Latin American power it should be.

Why he won’t: Chances for political reform in Venezuela tend to rise and fall with oil prices, and those have been on an upswing lately. El presidente shows no signs of loosening up these days, having just pushed through new emergency decree powers for himself.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD

Resolution: Be the hard-liner’s reformer

Why he should: It would be the ultimate irony if the man seen as the face of Iran’s hard-line Islamic regime became the agent of its undoing, but there have been signs lately of the president splitting from Iran’s clerical establishment. Ahmadinejad has been blasted by conservatives recently for criticizing Parliament and promoting an “Iranian” rather than “Islamic” school of thought. He has also accused other members of the government of “running to Qum [Iran’s religious capital] for every instruction.” The tensions came to a head over his recent firing of Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who was widely supported in Parliament. Could Ahmadinejad build his conservative nationalist supporters into a movement capable of challenging Iran’s dominant theocracy?

Why he won’t: Despite growing fault lines between Ahmadinejad and the hard-line clerics and their allies in the legislature, he owes them for supporting him during last year’s election crisis and is unlikely to ever step too far out of bounds. Plus, there’s the supreme leader to worry about, and he still calls the shots.

KIM JONG IL

Resolution: Don’t start a war

Why he should: In the past, Kim has always been able to ratchet up tensions on the Korean Peninsula right to the breaking point, offering last-minute concessions and returning to the negotiating table to keep sanctions light and foreign aid flowing. But he may have gone too far this time. After this year’s sinking of the Cheonan warship and the shelling near Yeonpyeong Island, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is under heavy pressure to retaliate against future attacks. North Korea wisely backed off its threats near the end of December, but any future military action could mean war. If nothing else, Kim should ratchet down the rhetoric out of his own family’s self-interest.

Why he won’t: It’s succession time. Chosen successor Kim Jong-Un is relatively unknown, and is closely identified with a disastrous currency devaluation scheme last year. The need to obtain military “victories” for the future leader may lead North Korea toward further provocations.

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2010: The year of uncertainty and volatility

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 11:39 pm
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chart_market_dow_2.top.jpg By Annalyn Censky, staff reporterDecember 31, 2010: 4:56 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — 2010 was a year marked by uncertainty and volatility, to say the least.

Stocks got off to a good start in January but worries about European debt quickly deflated that early optimism. As the market got accustomed to these daily anxieties, and Greece managed to crawl out of its default hole, stocks started to crawl higher.

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But a dour jobs report on July 2 sent stocks plunging to their lows for the year.

All was not lost. On Aug. 27, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s mere hint of another stimulus put stocks on an upward trajectory for the rest of the year. But let’s not forget May 6, when the “Flash Crash” sent the Dow spiraling down almost 1,000 points in a matter of minutes.

Put bluntly, 2010 was a roller coaster ride, said David Kotok, chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors — and the ride may not be over in 2011.
Fortune 500: Top-performing stocks of 2010

Europe’s debt problems remained an underlying theme throughout the year. And in the second half, commodities took center stage, with gold surging to record highs and oil topping $90 a barrel for the first time in two years.

“Extreme volatility and high uncertainty go together, and both are here to stay for a while longer,” Kotok said.
Here are the highlights from 2010

Jan. 4: Stocks start the year on a positive note, closing at 15-month highs. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) starts at 10,584; the S&P 500 (SPX) at 1,133; and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (COMP) at 2,308.

February: Worries about Europe reach a fever pitch. Investors fear Greece might default on its national debt and trigger a domino-effect of defaults in Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain. Concerns about Europe’s debt crisis underpin the market all year.

April 16: The Securities and Exchange Commission files charges against Goldman Sachs for allegedly defrauding investors in a sale of securities tied to subprime mortgages. Goldman (GS, Fortune 500) shares plummet 13%.

April 20: A deadly explosion on an offshore oil rig operated by BP sends oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. It takes five months to seal the leaking well. BP (BP) shares have struggled to make up their losses ever since, and ended the year down 27% from April 20.

April 23: Greece requests a $53-billion bailout. (Dow, S&P end at 19-month highs)

May 6: In one of the most gut-wrenching hours in Wall Street history, a glitch in automated trading, dubbed the “Flash Crash”, sends the Dow plunging almost 1,000 points before it recovers to close with a 348-point loss.

June 7: The euro closes at a four-year low of $1.192 as fears about the European debt crisis resurface. (Dow closes at a 7 month low)

July 2: Stocks plunged to 2010 lows in the aftermath of a weaker-than-expected June jobs report.

July 21: President Obama signs the Wall Street reform bill into law, enacting the most far-reaching financial overhaul since the Great Depression. Stocks slump after Fed chairman Ben Bernanke tells Congress that the outlook for the economy is “unusually uncertain.”
0:00 /0:45NYSE Mashup: 2011 stocks in a word

Aug. 27: In a speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Bernanke first hints that the Fed may initiate a second round of monetary stimulus, known as quantitative easing or QE2. (Dow surges 165 points)

Nov. 2: In the mid-term elections, Republicans win back the House. The shift in the balance in power is generally seen as a win for Wall Street.

Nov. 3: Fed unveils quantitative easing — a $600 billion bond-buying stimulus program. (Dow, Nasdaq at 2-year highs)

Dec. 17: President Obama signs the $858 billion tax cut deal into law.

Dec. 31: Stocks end the year on a high note. The Dow ends at 11,578, up 11% from the beginning of the year. The S&P 500 finishes at 1,258, up 13% for the year, and the Nasdaq rises 17% to end at 2,653. To top of page

Wedding Registry: 10 Tips on Registering for Wedding Gifts

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 11:35 pm
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Gift giving is a way for guests to celebrate your wedding and to help you stock your new home. Here’s what to keep in mind when making your bridal registry.

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What are you waiting for? Registering for wedding gifts should be one of the first tasks you tackle when you get engaged. Friends and relatives will be looking to buy wedding gifts as soon as he pops the question. Really! Take the guesswork out of gift buying by making sure they know what you want. You don’t need to complete your list just yet, but at least have a selection for guests to browse.

Hitting the stores together is essential. After all, the gifts are for both of you. To decide what you need, take inventory of the things you already have and see where the gaps are. Talk about the style of home you’d both like, and split up the final say (you could alternate items) to make it fair. (Maybe he gets to make final decisions on electronics, while you get to choose the kitchen stuff since you’re the chef.)

Don’t feel like you just need to register for china and flatware. Many stores have wedding registries now, so feel free to include whatever it is that will make your new house a home, be it electronics, appliances, or even camping equipment.

Try to avoid filling your list with things you’re never going to use. If you two aren’t the formal party types, then you probably won’t need a crystal punch bowl, as compelling as it may seem when you walk by with that registry scanner. Also, be extra-sure before you register for anything that’s monogrammed. Once your name is on it, you probably won’t be able to return it.

It’s always a good idea to inquire about a store’s exchange/return policies. The great thing is many wedding registry retailers have amazing customer service to accommodate to-be-weds’ needs (for example, you might suddenly realize that you don’t really have room for 24 chargers and want to return, say, eight of them). That said, being aware of the store’s return and exchange timelines will help you better plan and manage your registry.

As much as you may be hankering for that gorgeous $350-a-place-setting silver, be sure to register for items in a wide range of price points: under $50, under $75, under $100, under $200, and beyond, so all of your guests can choose gifts they can afford. You don’t want your college friend feeling overwhelmed by the fact that he can’t find a single gift; and on the opposite side, you don’t want your parents’ closest friends to have to buy you a multitude of smaller items to give you a generous gift.

At least one (and preferably all) of your registries should be available online. Guests should also be able to place their orders in person, over the phone, or by fax. If you’ve registered at a boutique retailer that doesn’t offer online services, you should be okay, as long as that’s not the only place you’ve registered. We live in a hectic world and you want to let guests be able to order you a gift — even if it’s 2 a.m.!

When a guest buys a gift for you, your registry should automatically update, allowing other guests to see what’s been purchased (and allowing you to see what’s on its way!). Make sure to revisit your registry often (trust us, you’ll be visiting several times a day once the wedding day nears), and update it with additional selections as products are purchased so that guests always have a variety of things to choose from. Aim to have at least twice as many items on your list as guests at your wedding.

Sure, some couples love receiving cash, but asking for it is not exactly Future Mr. and Mrs. Manners-approved. A more etiquette-friendly option? Try gift cards. Many stores allow you to register for them and you can use them to buy the things you want and need…later. If you are anxious for cash gifts, ask one or two close friends and immediate family members to politely spread the word.

Be gracious — let your guests know their gifts have arrived — promptly. Thank-you notes for gifts received before the wedding should be sent within two weeks of their arrival. Notes for gifts received on or after the wedding day should be sent within a month of your return from the honeymoon. In all notes, be sure to mention the gift by name.

A black market for mooncakes in China Mooncakes in China

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 11:32 pm
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China’s mid-Autumn Festival and its tradition of eating mooncakes has lent itself to an underground economy worth billions.

Mooncakes from downtown Shanghai for China’s mid-Autumn festival. (Rob Schmitz/Marketplace)

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TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: There’s a big festival coming up on the Chinese calendar tomorrow: It’s called the mid-Autumn festival. For the past week or so, stores over there have been stocking up on the traditional gift of the season: Mooncakes. They’re pastries, small but rich, with a flaky crust and a sweet filling, usually made of lotus paste.

More than a billion people wanting the same thing on the same day? Smells like a business opportunity to me.

Our Shanghai Correspondent Rob Schmitz takes us inside the mooncake economy.

Rob Schmitz: Mooncakes have been likened to pastry hockey pucks. At around a thousand calories, they’re almost as dense. This helps explain why the Chinese don’t buy mooncakes for themselves. They gift them.

Shaun Rein is a strategy consultant in Shanghai.

Shaun Rein: It’s a way of showing respect to business partners and people you want to be close to, and it’s also a way to give them outright bribes.

Yes, bribes — and we’re not talking about briefcases full of mooncakes, but their paper representations, mooncake vouchers.

Here’s how it works: Buy a voucher from a company that makes mooncakes. Give it to your friend, client, local government official. And they, in theory, redeem the voucher for mooncakes. What most people do, though, is sell the vouchers on the black market for cash.

Rein: There’s no embarrassment about saying, “We don’t want this mooncake.” Let’s be pragmatic and get some money out of it.

And when a fifth of the world is in on this, that money becomes an underground economy worth billions.

Dozens of workers pack boxes of mooncakes at a Haagen-Dazs redemption center in Shanghai. Thirteen years ago, the company had an epiphany: They realized the Chinese give mooncakes, but many don’t eat them. It’s like the Christmas fruitcake dilemma in the West. So they thought: Why not make ice cream mooncakes? The ice cream mooncake was born.

Gary Chu manages the company’s China operation.

Gary Chu: It’s huge business. It’s a very important business for us. It’s growing at double digits every year.

Soon after, Starbucks, Nestle and Dairy Queen got into the business. This year, Haagen-Dazs sold 1.5 million boxes. To buy one, you’ll need $50 to $100 worth of vouchers. Want an ice cream mooncake this year? Sorry. Vouchers are sold out. Your only option is the black market.

A back-alley vendor named Yin Jing wears a fanny pack full of Haagen-Dazs mooncake vouchers. They’re made of thick paper; each one has a laser engraved hologram, just like currency. They float like currency, too. Last week, their price peaked. Now with just days to go before the festival, Mr. Yin is looking to unload.

Yin Jing: After the festival’s over, all these vouchers will be expired. So I have no choice. I’ve got to start dropping the price.

This selling frenzy reaches the highest levels of society. Just blocks away, a vendor who only gives his surname — Zhang — just negotiated a deal on reams of vouchers.

Zhang: These are all from government officials. They get so many as gifts, and they feel too embarrassed to sell them to me in person, so they ask their wives to meet me in a coffee shop.

Fresh from his secret government rendezvous, Zhang’s got his game face on, trying to sell all these vouchers before time runs out. If he fails? He’ll be forced to succumb to the spirit of the season by giving away dozens of boxes of mooncakes and keeping a few for himself, at which point the giving will stop, and the losers of this annual game will be forced to eat.

In Shanghai, I’m Rob Schmitz for Marketplace.

December 29, 2010

Share Rules Could Push Offering by Facebook By PETER LATTMAN

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 7:36 pm
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Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive.Noah Berger/Bloomberg NewsMark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, rings a gong during the launch of the Places feature.

Facebook likes big numbers — it now has more than 500 million users, each one of whom can have as many as 5,000 friends. Yet as a privately held company, its ownership base must remain small, or it will have to disclose publicly its financial results.

A surging shadow market in the privately held shares of Facebook is making such restraint difficult and could spur the company to go public — even as its executives try to tamp down speculation about an initial public offering — much as similar pressure helped push Microsoft and Google toward their own initial public offerings.

The frenzied trading in Facebook, as well as in Twitter, Zynga and LinkedIn, has caught the eye of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The New York Times DealBook first reported on Tuesday that the agency had asked for information about trading in all four companies.

While it is unclear what exactly the S.E.C. is focusing on, legal experts say that one clear area of inquiry relates to a federal law that establishes a limit for private companies of fewer than 500 shareholders. Once a company has 500 shareholders, it must register its private shares with the S.E.C. and publicly disclose its financial results.
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Facebook is well aware of this issue. In 2008, the S.E.C. allowed Facebook to issue restricted stock to employees without having to register the securities, a move that would have required the company to publicly disclose financial information.

A spokesman for Facebook declined to comment.

The company has also tried to limit the number of employees selling shares. This year, it put into effect an insider trading policy that bars current employees from selling stock.

But the pace of trading in Facebook shares, as well as trading in other social network companies, has accelerated nonetheless.

Over the last year, several private exchanges have formed to match the buyers and sellers of these companies, which have spiked in value. Facebook is now valued at $42.37 billion, more than tripling in value over the last 12 months, according to SharesPost, an online marketplace for private investments.

The selling shareholders in the companies are former employees and early-stage venture capital investors who are already sitting on huge profits. Buyers are wealthy speculators, many of them pooling their money into investment vehicles sponsored by Wall Street firms.

One potential legal issue is whether the investment pools formed by a group of investors are a way to sidestep the 500-shareholder restrictions.

These private transactions do not always go smoothly, as evidenced by a seven-year-old lawsuit involving a private sale of Google shares. The soured deal serves as a cautionary tale of the risks inherent in these types of transactions.

In 2003, Scott Epstein, a former Google consultant and interim vice president for marketing at the company, struck a deal to sell about $700,000 of pre-initial public offering Google stock to a group of investors who had pooled their money to buy the stock at $19.75 a share.

In late 2003, around the time that Google announced it was pursuing an initial public offering, the investors claimed that Mr. Epstein had reneged on the agreement. Mr. Epstein, in turn, claimed that Google had improperly refused to transfer his shares, despite his having complied with various requirements.

The investors filed a breach of contract lawsuit against him in California state court.

On the eve of the trial in May 2005, after 18 months of litigation — Google had already gone public by then — the parties settled the case. Mr. Epstein paid the investors roughly $100 a share in cash, or about $3.5 million, according to two people with knowledge of the settlement who requested anonymity because they were unauthorized to discuss it.

Mr. Epstein declined to comment, citing a confidentiality provision in the settlement.

Although the investor group made about five times its original investment, the agreement was bittersweet not only because of the bruising litigation but also because Google shares were trading at more than $200 a share at the time.

Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, had not been keen to take their company public. But they had widely distributed stock options to employees. In 2003, five years after they founded the company, Google crossed the 500-shareholder threshold — a rule that is part of a 1934 securities law. The company went public the next year. That initial offering created hundreds of Google millionaires.

Microsoft, founded in 1975, had been around for more than a decade when it sold shares in an initial public offering in 1986. Because venture capitalists owned very little of Microsoft, its founder, Bill Gates, controlled the company and had little interest in a public offering. Microsoft was so profitable that it also had little need for capital.

But Mr. Gates had also been handing out shares to company executives and recruiting programmers with stock options. So in 1985, he reluctantly agreed to a public offering, which made Mr. Gates one of America’s wealthiest individuals.

Like the Google founders and Mr. Gates before him, Facebook’s iconoclastic founder, 26-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, insists he is a reluctant seller. He and his fellow executives have sought to dispel expectations of a Facebook public offering any time soon. But as the company grows, it risks exceeding the 499 shareholder limit.

December 28, 2010

Niall Ferguson in his book The Ascent of Money distills the formation of bubbles into five stages:

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 3:12 am
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Niall Ferguson in his book The Ascent of Money distills the formation of bubbles into five stages:

1. Some change in economic circumstances creates new and profitable opportunities.
2. Euphoria sets in, whereby rising expected profits lead to rapid growth in share prices.
3. The prospect of easy capital gains attracts first-time investors.
4. The insiders realize that the now-exorbitant price is unsustainable and begin to take profits by selling.
5. As share prices fall, the outsiders stampede for the exits at once, causing the bubble to burst.

Disney Tackles Major Theme Park Problem: Lines

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 2:41 am
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Deep in the bowels of Walt Disney World, inside an underground bunker called the Disney Operational Command Center, technicians know that you are standing in line and that you are most likely annoyed about it. Their clandestine mission: to get you to the fun faster.
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Phil Holmes, right, vice president of the Magic Kingdom, in the theme park’s underground control room.
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Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel, via Associated Press

Crowds line the way to Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom.

To handle over 30 million annual visitors — many of them during this busiest time of year for the megaresort — Disney World long ago turned the art of crowd control into a science. But the putative Happiest Place on Earth has decided it must figure out how to quicken the pace even more. A cultural shift toward impatience — fed by video games and smartphones — is demanding it, park managers say. To stay relevant to the entertain-me-right-this-second generation, Disney must evolve.

And so it has spent the last year outfitting an underground, nerve center to address that most low-tech of problems, the wait. Located under Cinderella Castle, the new center uses video cameras, computer programs, digital park maps and other whiz-bang tools to spot gridlock before it forms and deploy countermeasures in real time.

In one corner, employees watch flat-screen televisions that depict various attractions in green, yellow and red outlines, with the colors representing wait-time gradations.

If Pirates of the Caribbean, the ride that sends people on a spirited voyage through the Spanish Main, suddenly blinks from green to yellow, the center might respond by alerting managers to launch more boats.

Another option involves dispatching Captain Jack Sparrow or Goofy or one of their pals to the queue to entertain people as they wait. “It’s about being nimble and quickly noticing that, ‘Hey, let’s make sure there is some relief out there for those people,’ ” said Phil Holmes, vice president of the Magic Kingdom, the flagship Disney World park.

What if Fantasyland is swamped with people but adjacent Tomorrowland has plenty of elbow room? The operations center can route a miniparade called “Move it! Shake it! Celebrate It!” into the less-populated pocket to siphon guests in that direction. Other technicians in the command center monitor restaurants, perhaps spotting that additional registers need to be opened or dispatching greeters to hand out menus to people waiting to order.

“These moments add up until they collectively help the entire park,” Mr. Holmes said.

In recent years, according to Disney research, the average Magic Kingdom visitor has had time for only nine rides — out of more than 40 — because of lengthy waits and crowded walkways and restaurants. In the last few months, however, the operations center has managed to make enough nips and tucks to lift that average to 10.

“Control is Disney’s middle name, so they have always been on the cutting edge of this kind of thing,” said Bob Sehlinger, co-author of “The Unofficial Guide: Walt Disney World 2011” and a writer on Disney for Frommers.com. Mr. Sehlinger added, “The challenge is that you only have so many options once the bathtub is full.”

Disney, which is periodically criticized for overreaching in the name of cultural dominance (and profits), does not see any of this monitoring as the slightest bit invasive. Rather, the company regards it as just another part of its efforts to pull every possible lever in the name of a better guest experience.

The primary goal of the command center, as stated by Disney, is to make guests happier — because to increase revenue in its $10.7 billion theme park business, which includes resorts in Paris and Hong Kong, Disney needs its current customers to return more often. “Giving our guests faster and better access to the fun,” said Thomas O. Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, “is at the heart of our investment in technology.”

Disney also wants to raise per-capita spending. “If we can also increase the average number of shop or restaurant visits, that’s a huge win for us,” Mr. Holmes said.

Disney has long been a leader in technological innovation, whether that means inventing cameras to make animated films or creating the audio animatronic robots for the attraction It’s a Small World.

Behind-the-scenes systems — typically kept top secret by the company as it strives to create an environment where things happen as if by magic — are also highly computerized. Ride capacity is determined in part by analyzing hotel reservations, flight bookings and historic attendance data. Satellites provide minute-by-minute weather analysis. A system called FastPass allows people to skip lines for popular rides like the Jungle Cruise.

But the command center reflects how Disney is deepening its reliance on technology as it thinks about adapting decades-old parks, which are primarily built around nostalgia for an America gone by, for 21st century expectations. “It’s not about us needing to keep pace with technological change,” Mr. Staggs said. “We need to set the pace for that kind of change.”

For instance, Disney has been experimenting with smartphones to help guide people more efficiently. Mobile Magic, a $1.99 app, allows visitors to type in “Sleeping Beauty” and receive directions to where that princess (or at least a costumed stand-in) is signing autographs. In the future, typing in “hamburger” might reveal the nearest restaurant with the shortest wait.

Disney has also been adding video games to wait areas. At Space Mountain, 87 game stations now line the queue to keep visitors entertained. (Games, about 90 seconds in length, involve simple things like clearing runways of asteroids). Gaming has also been added to the queue for Soarin’, an Epcot ride that simulates a hang glider flight.

Blogs that watch Disney’s parks have speculated that engineers (“imagineers,” in the company’s parlance) are also looking at bigger ideas, like wristbands that contain information like your name, credit card number and favorite Disney characters. While Disney is keeping a tight lid on specifics, these devices would enable simple transactions like the purchase of souvenirs — just pay by swiping your wristband — as well as more complicated attractions that interact with guests.

“Picture a day where there is memory built into these characters — they will know that they’ve seen you four or five times before and that your name is Bobby,” said Bruce E. Vaughn, chief creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering. “Those are the kinds of limits that are dissolving so quickly that we can see being able to implement them in the meaningfully near future.”

Dreaming about the future was not something on Mr. Holmes’s mind as he gave a reporter a rare peek behind the Disney operations veil. He had a park to run, and the command center had spotted trouble at the tea cups.

After running smoothly all morning, the spinning Mad Tea Party abruptly stopped meeting precalculated ridership goals. A few minutes later, Mr. Holmes had his answer: a new employee had taken over the ride and was leaving tea cups unloaded.

“In the theme park business these days,” he said, “patience is not always a virtue.”

Non-US banks gain from Fed crisis fund – December 27 2010 22:04

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 2:38 am
Tags: ,

By Robin Harding in Washington, Bernard Simon in Toronto and Christian Oliver in Seoul

Published: | Last updated: December 27 2010 22:04

Some of the world’s strongest banks have profited from an emergency credit facility set up by the US Federal Reserve to shore up confidence in the global financial system, according to a Financial Times analysis of data released by the Fed.

More than half of lending under the Fed’s term auction facility – the largest of its crisis programmes – went to foreign banks. Details of the varied uses to which they put it may add to political criticism of the Fed.
Please respect FT.com’s ts&cs and copyright policy which allow you to: share links; copy content for personal use; & redistribute limited extracts. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights or use this link to reference the article – http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/69728262-11ec-11e0-92d0-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz19N0axwjT

The Taf was set up in December 2007 to provide one-month loans to creditworthy banks as markets dried up for lending longer than overnight. In August 2008, it began offering three-month loans as well.

Rabobank of the Netherlands and Toronto-Dominion of Canada, two of the only banks in the world with triple A credit ratings, used more than $20bn in cumulative Taf loans.

Ed Clark, TD chief executive, said that using Taf was logical even though his bank never had a liquidity problem. “That wasn’t how we made a lot of money. But you make a dollar here, you make a dollar there. What’s the spread you make on a billion dollars?” he said.

In the summer of 2008, TD was borrowing $1bn from TAF at rates of between 2 and 2.5 per cent. For that borrowing it used the lowest quality – and hence highest yielding – collateral acceptable to the Fed.

More than 80 per cent of its collateral had a triple B credit rating at a time when such bonds yielded about 7 per cent. TD could therefore have made a notional gross spread of about $4m a month during 2008.

Mr Clark said the authorities were encouraging healthy banks to use schemes such as the Taf so as not to stigmatise their weaker counterparts. In January 2008, Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, said the Taf appeared to be succeeding because “there appears to have been little if any stigma”.

“You go through the whole crisis and there were lots of things we did that weren’t necessarily economic but were the right thing to do for the system,” said Mr Clark. “So I’m not embarrassed by this at all.”

Rabobank said it used the Taf only “in case the situation on the financial markets would further deteriorate” but it still had $5bn in outstanding loans as late as January 2010.

The Fed declined to comment, but has pointed out that all of its emergency credit was repaid in full with interest, and that its goal was to provide liquidity.

Korean banks, including Hana Bank, Korea Development Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea and Shinhan Bank, were also among the most enthusiastic posters of triple B collateral to the Taf.

One Korean bank official said: “It was the best option we had for raising foreign capital during the financial crisis.”

Pork Bellies Now ‘Nontrading Places’ Activity Grinds to a Near-Halt at Chicago Merc; ‘There’s Nobody Down There’

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 2:22 am
Tags:

This year, spot prices have soared 45% from June to an all-time high of $1.60 a pound in September, before tumbling back to a low of 88 cents by late October. Now they fetch around 96 cents. “It’s getting completely out of whack,” said Chris Kunzler, president of Kunzler & Co., a Lancaster, Pa., bacon processor.

The CME’s lean-hogs contract is more actively traded. But belly prices sometimes differ from hog prices, meaning traders can’t use the two interchangeably.

December 23, 2010

Thủ tướng Dũng sẽ có ‘quyền lực vô biên’?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 10:28 pm
Tags: , ,

Những tin tức rò rỉ ra từ trước Đại hội XI của Đảng Cộng sản đã hé lộ tên tuổi của các nhân vật được cho là sẽ lãnh đạo Việt Nam trong
những năm tới đây.
Ông Nguyễn Tấn Dũng được đánh giá là giúp Việt Nam có vai trò mạnh hơn trong khu vực nhưng bị chỉ trích về chính sách kinh tế
Ông Nguyễn Phú Trọng, 66 tuổi, dự kiến sẽ trở thành Tổng Bí thư Đảng Cộng sản Việt Nam.
Ông Trương Tấn Sang, 61 tuổi, sẽ là Chủ tịch nước, và ông Phạm Quang Nghị, 61 tuổi, sẽ giữ chức Chủ tịch Quốc hội trong khi ông Nguyễn Tấn Dũng, 61
tuổi, sẽ tiếp tục là Thủ tướng.
Độ tuổi trung bình của các nhà lãnh đạo này sẽ ở mức trên 62 so với tuổi trung bình của gần 90 triệu dân Việt Nam là khoảng 28.
Nhà Việt Nam học có tiếng người Australia, Giáo sư Carl Thayer, vừa trở về sau chuyến đi chín ngày tới Việt Nam và nói với BBC về các đồn đoán nhân sự
mới nhất – http://www.bbc.co.uk/vietnamese/vietnam/2010/12/101217_professor_thayer_comment.shtml .
Trong phần II của phỏng vấn với Nguyễn Hùng, ông nói về những rủi ro tiềm tàng ở Việt Nam và mối quan hệ Việt Nam – Trung Quốc.
BBC: Quay trở lại với ghế thủ tướng, nhiều chỉ trích đã nhắm vào ông Dũng và mới đây tại Quốc hội đã có kêu gọi điều tra đối với ông. Đây
có phải là một phần của cuộc đấu tranh giữa các phe nhóm không?
Giáo sư Carl Thayer: Chắc chắn là như vậy. Nếu chúng ta nhớ lại thì hồi năm 2007 là lúc các công tác chuẩn bị đầu tiên cho đại hội Đảng bắt đầu và cho
tới giữa năm 2009 người ta lập ra một ủy ban để xem xét vấn đề nhân sự. Mọi thứ đều được phản ánh trong giai đoạn này khi chúng ta thấy ông Dũng
phải đối phó với tình trạng lạm phát cao, kinh tế toàn cầu suy thoái, vấn đề khai thác bauxite, cả trong khía cạnh môi trường lẫn quan hệ với Trung Quốc.
Chỉ trích khai thác bauxite cũng mạnh trở lại sau thảm họa ở Hungary và thêm vấn đề Vinashin.
Nếu ông Trương Tấn Sang muốn chứng minh là tại sao ông có thể xử lý các vấn đề kinh tế tốt hơn người đương nhiệm, ông ấy sẽ xoáy vào những thiếu sót
của ông Dũng để hạ uy tín.
Nhưng điểm quan trọng là ông Dũng đã nhận trách nhiệm trong vụ Vinashin và tránh được các cuộc tấn công.
Trong Đảng Cộng sản có phê và tự phê và ông Dũng đã thừa nhận là ông chịu trách nhiệm và có ý nói “các ông còn muốn gì hơn ở một thủ tướng nữa”.
Có nghĩa là chúng ta có thể sẽ thấy va chạm khi ông Nguyễn Tấn Dũng ở ghế thủ tướng và ông Trương Tấn Sang làm chủ tịch nước thay cho
ông Nguyễn Minh Triết?
Đúng, nhưng như tôi từng phân tích, chức chủ tịch chỉ là giải an ủi thôi. Chủ tịch là chức có tính nghi lễ và không có quyền lực gì nhiều.
Nếu ông Nguyễn Tấn Dũng tiếp tục giữ vị trí thủ tướng, chúng ta hãy thử nhìn vào nội các 22 người.
Trong số này có năm người được bầu ra từ Đại hội VIII, tức có năm năm thâm niên hơn ông Dũng, bẩy người được
bầu lên từ Đại hội IX, trong đó có bản thân ông và 10 người từ Đại hội X.
Năm nay những người được bầu từ Đại hội VIII sẽ nghỉ hưu và khi có bầu cử Quốc hội sắp tới, ông Dũng sẽ chuẩn
bị nội các mới và sẽ có cơ hội tốt hơn để đẩy những người hãm phanh ông ra khỏi nội các.
Sẽ không còn ai cao cấp hơn ông trong nội các nữa.
Trước đây Phó Thủ tướng Nguyễn Sinh Hùng đóng vai trò hãm phanh vì ông có nhiều kinh nghiệm trong Bộ Chính trị và Ban Chấp hành Trung ương hơn
ông Dũng chứ không phải là về chức vụ.
Ông Dũng đã đưa ra lời hứa về một nước Việt Nam mạnh hơn và tốt hơn với tốc độ tăng trưởng GDP lớn hơn.
Nhưng trong các vấn đề như bauxite hay Vinashin, ông Dũng đã bất chấp các chỉ trích theo kiểu “cảm ơn quý vị, tôi nghe đủ rồi, nhưng tôi vẫn sẽ cứ làm.”
Cuộc chiến tinh vi
Cập nhật: 16:46 GMT – thứ ba, 21 tháng 12, 2010
Page 1 of 3
Ông Cù Huy Hà Vũ là một trong số
những người bị bắt trước khi Đại hội
Đảng diễn ra vào tháng Một
Đây là một trong những Đại hội
lặng lẽ nhất kể từ khi Đổi Mới bắt
đầu hồi năm 1986.
Giáo sư Carl Thayer
Việt Nam được khen ngợi về xóa đói
giảm nghèo
Tôi không biết chỉ thị tới từ đâu, từ Thủ tướng hay Tổng Bí thư, nhưng theo ông chúng ta có thể giải thích ra sao về hàng loạt vụ bắt bớ
trước khi đại hội Đảng diễn ra, các vụ bị coi là trấn áp nhân quyền rồi các hành vi bị lên án của cảnh sát?
Thật thú vị là ông nêu ra vấn đề này. Tôi không muốn đưa ra quá nhiều chi tiết, nhưng tôi đã gặp một blogger, người bị công an bắt và người này muốn
gặp tôi sau khi đọc các nhận định của tôi.
Blogger này nói “Carl, làm sao ông có thể phân tích mọi chuyện rõ ràng như thế trong khi chính tôi là người trong
cuộc nhưng vẫn không hiểu lý do tôi bị bắt.”
Bỏ chuyện này sang một bên, tôi cho rằng Bộ trưởng Thông tin Truyền thông Lê Doãn Hợp và Trưởng ban Văn hóa
Tư tưởng Trung ương Tô Huy Rứa, một nhân vật đang lên và có tham vọng quyền lực và là người hâm mộ ông
Dũng, đã có một cuộc chiến thông tin tinh vi.
Họ sử dụng hiệu quả các công cụ họ có để kiểm soát thông tin, kiểm soát những gì có thể rò rỉ ra ngoài, những gì
công chúng biết tới và ngăn chặn những người ở ngoài mạng lưới của họ có thể thâm nhập vào.
Một điều chúng ta có thể thấy là các cuộc tấn công không ngừng nghỉ đối với các blogger để kiểm soát internet.
Nhưng điều này cũng không giải thích được tất cả các cuộc bắt bớ. Trước các đại hội Đảng trong quá khứ, đã có
những lời kêu gọi từ trong Đảng về chuyện bỏ chủ nghĩa Marx – Lenin, bỏ từ ‘Cộng sản’, đổi tên nước…
Không có blogger nào kêu gọi những điều như thế này cả. Tôi có cảm giác các vụ bắt bớ gần đây là để tạo ra bầu không khí ớn lạnh và qua việc buộc tội
một số người liên quan tới an ninh quốc gia, người ta muốn đánh phủ đầu một thiểu số trong Đảng muốn từ bỏ chủ nghĩa Cộng sản.
Và tôi nghĩ đây là một trong những Đại hội lặng lẽ nhất kể từ khi Đổi Mới bắt đầu hồi năm 1986.
Tôi mới gặp ba cựu chuyên gia tư vấn của thủ tướng tại một hội thảo và chúng tôi cùng bàn về đề nghị của ông
Nguyễn Văn An về dân chủ.
Cảm nhận mà tôi có được là chưa bao giờ một nhóm lớn những người có ảnh hưởng tại Việt Nam cảm thấy bị đẩy ra
ngoài rìa tới như thế và không thể ảnh hưởng gì tới hệ thống. Mà đó là những người rất trung thành.
Tôi cũng nói chuyện với các chuyên gia ở UNDP và các chuyên gia nước ngoài khác. Họ nói tới thâm hụt mậu dịch
lớn, lạm phát cao, thiếu dự trữ ngoại hối và những điều này có thể đưa Việt Nam tới khủng hoảng. Người ta lo ngại
vì các vấn đề này không được giải quyết, ít nhất là về mặt chính thức.
Lạc quan
Nếu chúng ta theo dõi hội nghị của các nước cấp viện trong những năm gần đây, năm nào các nước cũng cam kết những khoản tiền lớn đối
với Việt Nam. Vậy họ phải hài lòng với triển vọng phát triển của Việt Nam trong những năm tới để cam kết như vậy?
Trước hết, năm nay là lần đầu tiên số tiền cam kết giảm so với các năm trước, nhưng dĩ nhiên đây không phải là xu
hướng. Nhiều nước ở vào thế kẹt phải viện trợ cho Việt Nam. Việt Nam có tăng trưởng kinh tế cao và đang hướng
tới những Mục tiêu Thiên Niên kỷ [do Liên Hiệp Quốc đề ra] và có thành tích trong xóa đói giảm nghèo.
Các quốc gia muốn giúp Việt Nam về mặt kỹ thuật để cải thiện việc quản trị và một số nước muốn có thêm nhiều
phụ nữ trong bộ máy chính quyền hơn. Họ [các nước cấp viện] cũng tiếp cận được các bộ của Việt Nam và nghĩ
rằng họ có ảnh hưởng.
Như vậy là có cả sự ủng hộ và cũng có những cảnh cáo đối với Việt Nam. Chỉ khi Việt Nam gặp khủng hoảng và
không chịu giải quyết thì các nước mới suy nghĩ lại cách tiếp cận của họ. Và các nhà tài trợ có thể có ảnh hưởng
nhưng là ở khía cạnh phát triển chứ không phải kinh tế vĩ mô.
Còn nói về nhân quyền, gần 40 người bị bắt là cũng đủ tệ rồi nhưng cũng không phải là rộng khắp. Đó là một bức
tranh vẩn đục và khó nhận xét.
Khi ông nói chuyện với các chuyên gia nước ngoài, họ có lạc quan về tương lai của Việt Nam hay không?
Nói về nhân quyền, hầu hết họ đều nói tôi đánh giá quá cao vai trò của các nhà hoạt động. Vâng, thì tôi coi đó là lời khuyên.
Họ nghĩ rằng họ hiểu rõ đường hướng của chính phủ. Điều thú vị là BBC đưa tin về nhân sự trước khi Hội nghị Trung ương 14 kết thúc. Vậy là Đảng Cộng
sản đã có sự đồng thuận sớm, hoặc họ đang thả bóng để thăm dò dư luận quốc tế.
Các kinh tế gia nước ngoài bày tỏ sự lo ngại về kinh tế Việt Nam nhưng các nhà ngoại giao, những người nhìn Việt Nam theo khía cạnh địa chính trị, rồi vai
trò của Việt Nam trong vùng nữa, có vẻ khá lạc quan.
Chúng ta chưa nói gì tới ông Phạm Quang Nghị, người được cho là sẽ vào chức Chủ tịch Quốc hội. Ở một nước mà nhiều quan chức bị tai
tiếng vì tham nhũng như tại Việt Nam, ông đánh giá ông Nghị như thế nào?
Page 2 of 3
Ông Dũng vừa ngạo mạn và vừa
quá tự tin vào bản thân.
Giáo sư Carl Thayer
Quan hệ Trung Quốc và Việt Nam
căng thẳng khi nhiều tàu đánh cá
của Việt Nam bị Trung Quốc bắt giữ
Ông Nghị được cho là sẽ trở thành Chủ tịch Quốc hội
Khi tôi tới Việt Nam, tôi có cảm giác đang có cuộc đua ngựa mà ông Nghị không thể tham gia.
Ông ấy đã hoàn thành nhiệm kỳ bí thư thành ủy Hà Nội và cần phải lên chức nhưng biết cho ông ấy lên chức gì bây giờ. Tôi khá ngạc nhiên vì nhiều người
nói ông Hồ Đức Việt sẽ trở thành chủ tịch quốc hội.
Còn về tai tiếng tham nhũng thì ở Hà Nội và thành phố Hồ Chí Minh điều này có nghĩa là một người có nhiều bạn và có thể dùng tiền để tấn công đối thủ
và xây dựng mạng lưới của mình.
Trở thành Chủ tịch quốc hội sẽ là bước tiến đối với ông Nghị và Quốc hội chắc chắn có tính phe phái hơn so với Thành ủy Hà Nội.
Quyết định đúng đắn?
Nếu các tin tức về nhân sự là chính xác thì ông có cho rằng Đảng Cộng sản đã có quyết định đúng đắn không?
Như tôi đã nói, họ bắt đầu với một nhóm gene nhỏ, với Bộ Chính trị 15 người trong đó 6-7 người đến tuổi nghỉ hưu. Ông Nguyễn Tấn Dũng không phải là
thủ tướng tồi, nhưng ông ấy có những điểm yếu và điều đáng lo ngại là không có cơ chế để khắc phục những yếu điểm đó.
Chúng ta thử nhìn lại khi ông mới lên làm thủ tướng, ông lập ủy ban chống tham nhũng và yêu cầu các vụ việc ở
tòa án phải được giải quyết nhanh chóng. Giờ đã năm năm trôi qua và chúng ta thử nhìn xem mọi việc ra sao.
Còn trong vấn đề bauxite, rất nhiều chỉ trích cũng không mang lại kết quả gì. Ông Dũng vừa ngạo mạn và vừa quá
tự tin vào bản thân. Ông ấy cần được bảo vệ để khỏi làm hại chính mình. Nhưng tôi chưa thấy cơ chế nào hữu hiệu
cả. Nếu ông Trương Tấn Sang làm Tổng Bí thư, chúng ta sẽ có một tổng bí thư mạnh hơn. Nhưng có vẻ Đảng Cộng
sản không thích sự bất đồng và đã có lựa chọn khác đi.
Và các nhà lãnh đạo của Việt Nam sẽ phải đối mặt với một Trung Quốc đang lên, đang rất quả quyết
ngoài Biển Đông và với những chỉ trích về nhân quyền của Hoa Kỳ. Theo ông họ sẽ xử lý các mối quan
hệ này ra sao?
Nhìn vào thâm hụt mậu dịch 19 tỷ đô la của Việt Nam, 11 tỷ đã là thâm hụt trong buôn bán với Trung Quốc.
Trong khi trong quan hệ buôn bán với Hoa Kỳ, Việt Nam có thặng dư mậu dịch tám tỷ đô la.
Chúng ta có thể tin rằng Việt Nam khó lòng có thể lấp được thâm hụt mậu dịch với Trung Quốc và họ sẽ cần tới đầu tư từ nước này.
Nhưng họ cũng phải cẩn thận vì đầu tư từ Trung Quốc cũng kéo theo những ảnh hưởng, những vấn đề như lao động
trái phép hay công nghệ không phải là tiên tiến nhất trên thế giới… Nhưng tôi cũng biết trong năm qua Việt Nam
và Trung Quốc đã có bốn lần đàm phán bí mật và qua những gì Việt Nam tuyên bố thì Trung Quốc không chấp nhận
đàm phán về Hoàng Sa, nhưng có vẻ chấp nhận đàm phán về Vịnh Bắc Bộ.
Mặt khác, đáp lại thái độ của Trung Quốc với Hoàng Sa, Việt Nam đã kéo Hoa Kỳ và các nước khác vào cuộc. Tôi
nghĩ vấn đề Hoàng Sa sẽ không thể có tiến bộ, nhưng có thể có thỏa thuận tại những vùng biển khác.
Việt Nam cũng bị chỉ trích vì mua tàu ngầm kilo mà người ta nói rằng tốn tiền đầu tư ban đầu và bảo hành, bảo trì.
Nhưng nhiều người lại cho rằng đây là điều cần thiết.
Nhưng thưa ông nếu Việt Nam có thể mua được sáu tàu ngầm thì Trung Quốc có thể mua số lượng gấp
đôi và như vậy liệu có ý nghĩa gì không?
Nói như vậy thì người ta cũng có thể nói điều tương tự về Trung Quốc và Hoa Kỳ.
Thế nhưng Trung Quốc vẫn đầu tư vào tàu ngầm để đe dọa Hoa Kỳ và Việt Nam cũng có thể làm như vậy.
Dĩ nhiên ông nói đúng là tàu ngầm sẽ chỉ có thể đe dọa tàu nổi thôi và về số lượng thì Việt Nam không thể cạnh tranh với Trung Quốc.
Nhưng hiện tại khả năng các tàu ngầm có thể đi tìm kiếm và triệt tiêu nhau là rất thấp.
Nhật Bản, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia đều mua tàu ngầm và tôi nghĩ đây là cách các nước nhỏ tìm cách đối phó với Trung Quốc.
© MMX
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