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April 30, 2017

Lenin Sought to Enserf the Soul




(p. B11) Mr. Navrozov's contempt for Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, and Stalin, his brutal successor, arose out of intellectual loathing, not of a personal history of exile or repression. In his book, "The Education of Lev Navrozov: A Life in the Enclosed World Once Called Russia" (1975), he described Lenin as a "barbarian" unworthy of his country's deification.

"He had to enserf every soul psychologically," he wrote. "He had to destroy inside every soul all the psychology of independence that had been accumulating throughout the history of Russia."

The book, which was partly autobiographical, was praised by the philosopher Sidney Hook and the historian Robert K. Massie.


. . .


. . . , Saul Bellow, in his novel "More Die of Heartbreak" (1987), placed Mr. Navrozov among the dissident writers Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Vladimir Maximov and Andrei Sinyavsky as "commanding figures, men of genius, some of them."


. . .


. . . , [Navrozov] cautioned that the Affordable Care Act was reminiscent of Soviet-socialized medicine. "Obamacare will destroy the delicate fabric of existing free-market medical services," he wrote in 2012 on Newsmax.



For the full obituary, see:

RICHARD SANDOMIR. "Lev Navrozov, Literary Translator and Soviet Dissident, Dies at 88." The New York Times (Tues., FEB. 14, 2017): B11.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed word, added; italics in original.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date FEB. 9, 2017.)


The Navrozov book mentioned above, is:

Navrozov, Lev. The Education of Lev Navrozov: A Life in the Closed World Once Called Russia. New York: Harper's Magazine Press, 1975.






April 29, 2017

Two Die from Listeria in Artisanal Cheese




(p. A19) Two people have died following an outbreak of listeria linked to a popular artisanal raw milk cheese made in upstate New York, the authorities said this week.

The deaths occurred in Vermont and Connecticut, local officials said. Four other people in New York and Florida reported feeling sick after eating Ouleout, the artisanal cheese, which is produced by Vulto Creamery in Walton, N.Y.


. . .


Ouleout has been celebrated across the United States as much for its unusual back story as for its flavor: It was created by Jos Vulto, a Dutch artist linked to the Museum of Modern Art, who started making cheese in his apartment and aging it under a sidewalk in Brooklyn.


. . .


Mr. Vulto came to the United States from the Netherlands in 1990, according to several media outlets specializing in cheese. He spent two years as an artist-in-residence at P.S. 1 in Queens, a contemporary art institution affiliated with the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He specialized in crafting abstract installations made of metal.

His specialty involved "wrapping empty buildings in cloth and building contained fires of sawdust and hay inside," according to Culture Cheese Mag. When the building started to emit smoke, the cloth absorbed an imprint of the building. Mr. Vulto called the technique "rooking," a play on the Dutch word for smoke.

In 2008, Mr. Vulto switched to cheese making, reportedly inspired by the stink caused by a carton of soured milk in his refrigerator. He began creating rudimentary cheese in his apartment, and gradually mastered the art by making and remaking new batches and studying techniques.



For the full story, see:

KIMIKO de FREYTAS-TAMURA. "Two People Die after Eating Raw Milk Cheese." The New York Times (Sat., MARCH 11, 2017): A19.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 10, 2017, and has the title "Two People Die after Eating Raw Milk Cheese Made in New York State." The last sentence in the next-to-last paragraph quoted above, appears in the online, but not in the print, version of the article.)






April 28, 2017

British Government Environmentalists Increase London Air Pollution




(p. A4) London is choking from record levels of pollution, much of it caused by diesel cars and trucks, as well as wood-burning fires in private homes, a growing trend.


. . .


London's air pollution today is different from seven decades ago, and more insidious. No longer thick as "pea soup," as it was traditionally described, the city's air is now laced with nitrogen dioxide -- a toxic gas mostly produced by vehicles with diesel engines.


. . .


The current problem is, in part, an unintended consequence of previous efforts to aid the environment.

The British government provided financial incentives to encourage a shift to diesel engines because laboratory tests suggested that would cut harmful emissions and combat climate change. Yet, it turned out that diesel cars emit on average five times as much emissions in real-world driving conditions as in the tests, according to a British Department for Transport study.

"No one at the time thought of the consequences of increased nitrogen dioxide emissions from diesel, and the policy of incentivizing diesel was so successful that an awful lot of people bought diesel cars," said Anna Heslop, a lawyer at ClientEarth, an environmental law firm that last year forced the British government to produce a better plan to improve air quality.


. . .


Bob Miller, 69, a cabdriver who has crisscrossed London for 30 years, wasn't convinced. He has lost faith in recommendations by policy makers and experts, he said.

"We were told how wonderful diesel is, how they were supposed to be cleaner than petrol," Mr. Miller said, idling his cab in heavy traffic with the window open.

"The experts make the rules, then they're wrong," he said, shaking his head. "I give up."



For the full story, see:

KIMIKO de FREYTAS-TAMURA. "A Push for Diesel Leaves London Gasping Amid Record Pollution." The New York Times (Sat., FEB. 18, 2017): A4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date FEB. 17, 2017.)






April 27, 2017

U.S. Forest Service Killed "Prometheus," World's Oldest Tree




(p. D9) Great Basin's . . . big draw--trees about as old as Egyptian hieroglyphics--sits at the top of the sky island in Wheeler Peak Bristlecone Grove.


. . .


At the grove, a stand of weather-battered bristlecone pines await, just as they have for between 3,000 and 4,000 years. With their knobby trunks and gnarled branches, the trees look like characters in an animated film's enchanted forest, ready to burst into song. They often have only a small strip of bark, with the rest of the trunk bare, exposing the smooth, rich browns, yellows and grays in its fine grain.

At one time the oldest known tree in the world lived here. Its dignified appearance earned it the name Prometheus. In 1964, two decades before Great Basin became a national park, a researcher, trying to collect data about the area's climate history, drilled into defenseless Prometheus (not knowing its exact age) to examine its rings. When his coring instrument got stuck, the Forest Service felled the tree to retrieve his tool-- only to discover that the tree was 4,900 years old.

Oops.



For the full story, see:

JIM ROBBINS. "In a Strange Land; One of the country's least-hyped nature preserves, Nevada's Great Basin National Park has a weird, wild beauty all its own." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., MARCH 11, 2017): D9.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 9, 2017, and has the title "A Hike Through America's Otherworldly Outback.")






April 26, 2017

Wall Street Needs Return to Partnership Culture




(p. A17) Ever since the crisis of 2008, banks have been subject to ferocious attack and more regulation. In "Why Wall Street Matters," William Cohan, the author of earlier books on Goldman Sachs and Lazard Frères, mounts a defense of Wall Street banking institutions and argues that much of the regulation after 2008 has been counterproductive. In his view, the main culprit in the financial meltdown was Wall Street's compensation culture, and he presents some controversial proposals to reform it.


. . .


So what went wrong? Where did useful innovation morph into lunacy that almost brought down the whole system? The sea change began in 1969, Mr. Cohan says, when the first investment bank (Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette) sold equity to the public. Previously investment banks were partnerships whose capital came from the net worth of the individual partners, who would assume only the most modest risk since investment failure might endanger their life savings. But once a firm's capital could be increased by debt and equity financing--in essence, by other people's money--the calculus shifted.


. . .


Mr. Cohan's solution is to replace Wall Street's broken compensation system: the bonus culture that creates incentives to take big bets with other people's money while avoiding accountability when the bets go bad. He says that we need to "return to a compensation system that more closely resembles that of the partnership culture" of earlier times. Going well beyond calls for a claw-back of bonuses when trouble hits, Mr. Cohan proposes that the leaders of Wall Street firms be required to put their entire net worth on the line. Their co-op apartments, houses in the Hamptons, art collections and bank accounts would all be "fodder for the bank's creditors" if something goes wrong.



For the full review, see:

Burton G. Malkiel . "BOOKSHELF; Big Bonus, Big Problem; Dodd-Frank and the Volcker Rule address the wrong problems and did nothing to fix Wall Street's broken compensation culture." The Wall Street Journal (Weds., March 1, 2017): A17.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Feb, 28, 2017.)


The book under review, is:

Cohan, William D. Why Wall Street Matters. New York: Random House, 2017.







April 25, 2017

Increasing Number of Free Agent Entrepreneurs




(p. A3) A tiny segment of U.S. manufacturing appears to be thriving--the one with no employees.

A mix of technology, economic necessity and adventure is leading more Americans to found companies that plan to stay very small. That entrepreneurial spark also highlights challenges facing the economy, from difficulty re-entering the job market to the diminishing role of fast-growing young firms.

Nicholas Hollows wants to be his own boss, and not anyone else's.

"I definitely don't intend to switch my role from a person who makes things to a person who manages people," said the 32-year-old sole proprietor of Hollows Leather in Eugene, Ore. "Being hands-on is the whole reason I do this."

The number of businesses classified as manufacturers with no employees has been rising steadily since the depths of the recession. The tiny operations often make food, craft beer, toiletries or other niche products. Their growth stands out in a sector that has been shedding workers for decades.

U.S. food manufacturers with no employee but the owner nearly doubled from 2004 to 2014. One-worker beverage and tobacco makers expanded 150%. Such chemical manufacturers--a category that includes makers of soap and perfume--grew almost 70%.

In all, there were more than 350,000 manufacturing establishments with no employee other than the owner in 2014, up almost 17% from 2004, according to the most recent Commerce Department data. By comparison, there were 292,543 establishments with other employees, down 12%. The shift creates a challenge for building back the number of jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector.



For the full story, see:

Sparshott, Jeffrey. "Tiny Firms Stay That Way." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., Dec. 29, 2016): A3.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Dec. 28, 2016, and has the title "Big Growth in Tiny Businesses.")






April 24, 2017

Kenneth Arrow Had Broad Knowledge Beyond Economics




(p. A21) Professor Arrow was widely hailed as a polymath, possessing prodigious knowledge of subjects far removed from economics. Eric Maskin, a Harvard economist and fellow Nobel winner, told of a good-natured conspiracy waged by junior faculty to get the better of Professor Arrow, even if artificially. They all agreed to study the breeding habits of gray whales -- a suitably abstruse topic -- and gathered at an appointed date at a place where Professor Arrow would be sure to visit.

When, as expected, he showed up, they were talking out loud about the theory by a marine biologist -- last name, Turner -- which purported to explain how gray whales found the same breeding spot year after year. As Professor Maskin recounted the story, "Ken was silent," and his junior colleagues amused themselves that they had for once bested their formidable professor.

Well, not so fast.

Before leaving, Professor Arrow muttered, "But I thought that Turner's theory was entirely discredited by Spencer, who showed that the hypothesized homing mechanism couldn't possibly work."



For the full obituary, see:

MICHAEL M. WEINSTEIN. "Kenneth Arrow, Influential Economist and Nobel Laureate, Is Dead at 95." The New York Times (Weds., FEB. 22, 2017): A21.

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date FEB. 21, 2017, and has the title "Kenneth Arrow, Nobel-Winning Economist Whose Influence Spanned Decades, Dies at 95.")






April 23, 2017

"High Expectations, High Support" Charter Schools Work Well




(p. 2) The briefest summary is this: Many charter schools fail to live up to their promise, but one type has repeatedly shown impressive results.

Hannah Larkin, the principal at Match, refers to such schools as "high expectations, high support" schools. They devote more of their resources to classroom teaching and less to almost everything else. They keep students in class for more hours. They set high standards for students and try to instill confidence in them. They focus on giving teachers feedback about their craft and helping them get better.


. . .


The latest batch of evidence about this approach is among the most rigorous. Professors at M.I.T., Columbia, Michigan and Berkeley have tracked thousands of charter-school applicants, through high school and beyond, in Boston, where most charters fit the "high expectations, high support" model.

Crucially, the researchers took several steps to make sure the findings were real. They compared lottery winners with losers, controlling for the fact that families who applied for the lotteries were different from families who didn't. They also counted as charter students all those who enrolled, including any who later left.

When you talk to the professors about their findings, you hear a degree of excitement that's uncommon for academic researchers. "Relative to other things that social scientists and education policy people have tried to boost performance -- class sizes, tracking, new buildings -- these schools are producing spectacular gains," said Joshua Angrist, an M.I.T. professor.



For the full commentary, see:

Leonhardt, David. "Schools That Work." The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sun., NOV. 6, 2016): 2.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date NOV. 4, 2016.)


The "latest batch of evidence" mentioned above, includes:

Angrist, Joshua D., Sarah R. Cohodes, Susan M. Dynarski, Parag A. Pathak, and Christopher R. Walters. "Stand and Deliver: Effects of Boston's Charter High Schools on College Preparation, Entry, and Choice." Journal of Labor Economics 34, no. 2 (April 2016): 275-318.






April 22, 2017

Entrepreneur Marconi Was Driven by Wireless Communication Project




(p. C5) Marconi is another example of the Victorian "self-made man," in this case a precocious youth fascinated by electricity and electrical wave pulses.


. . .


Sending the letter "S" in Morse code to his assistant, Mignani, on the far side of the meadow several hundred yards away was great, but not enough. What if, instead, Mignani took the receiver to the other side of the hill, out of sight of the house, and then fired a gunshot if the pulses got through? "I called my mother into the room to watch the momentous experiment. . . . I waited to give Mignani time to get to his place. Then breathlessly I tapped the key three times. . . . Then from the other side of the hill came the sound of a shot. . . . That was the moment when wireless was born."


. . .


A combination of technological insight, organizational skill and business acumen gave him, like Steve Jobs in the next century, his place in history. To the end of his life Marconi was driven by a vision of the whole world communicating through wireless waves in the air.


. . .


. . ., Mr. Raboy exhaustively if deftly tells the tale of the next few critical years: Marconi's long stay in England, the search for funding (without losing control), the critical establishment of patents, the embrace by officials in the British Post Office and Royal Navy, the ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship wireless transmissions. There's a fine chapter on the critical long-range, trans-Atlantic experiments in 1901. These were conducted in wintry, gusty Newfoundland, whose supportive provincial government grasped almost immediately what Marconi offered: instant and vastly less expensive communication to Canada, Boston and New York and, above all, to Britain and its empire. Little wonder that such powerful entities as the (state-subsidized) Anglo-American Telegraph Co. were alarmed at this interloper. . . .

In 1909, at the age of 35, the Italian entrepreneur would stand up proudly to receive the Nobel Prize in physics.



For the full review, see:

PAUL KENNEDY. "When the World Took to the Air; Like Steve Jobs, Marconi combined technological insight, organizational skill and business acumen." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Sept. 10, 2016): C5-C6.

(Note: ellipses internal to second quoted paragraph, in original; other ellipses, added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Sept. 9, 2016, an has the title "The World's First Communications Giant; Like Steve Jobs, Marconi combined technological insight, organizational skill and business acumen.")


The book under review, is:

Raboy, Marc. Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.






April 21, 2017

Unemployment Was Lower When Fed Stuck to Taylor Rule




(p. A17) . . . in a recent empirical study, Alex Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy of Lehigh University and David Papell and Ruxandra Prodan of the University of Houston divided U.S. history into periods, like the 1980s and '90s, where Fed policy basically adhered to the Taylor rule and periods, like the past dozen years, where it did not. Unemployment was 1.4 percentage points lower on average in the Taylor rule periods, and it reached devastating highs of 10% or more in the non-Taylor rule periods.


. . .


Moreover, Fed calculations that only look at macroeconomic effects of low rates overlook their negative microeconomic effects on bank lending found by economists Charles Calomiris of Columbia University and David Malpass of Encima Global.



For the full commentary, see:

JOHN B. TAYLOR. "The Case for a Rules-Based Fed; Neel Kashkari is wrong. My proposed rules-based reform of the Fed would not be run by a computer." The Wall Street Journal (Weds., Dec. 21, 2016): A17.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Dec. 20, 2016.)


The paper mentioned above, that shows the good results when the Fed followed policies close to the Taylor rule, is:

Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy, Alex, David H. Papell, and Ruxandra Prodan. "Deviations from Rules-Based Policy and Their Effects." Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control 49 (Dec. 2014): 4-17.






April 20, 2017

"Thank You, Industrialization" (Thank YOU, Hans Rosling)







The TED talk embedded above, is one of my favorites. I sometimes show an abbreviated version to my Economics of Technology seminar.



(p. B8) Hans Rosling, a Swedish doctor who transformed himself into a pop-star statistician by converting dry numbers into dynamic graphics that challenged preconceptions about global health and gloomy prospects for population growth, died on Tuesday in Uppsala, Sweden. He was 68.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, according to Gapminder, a foundation he established to generate and disseminate demystified data using images.


. . .


Brandishing his bubble chart graphics during TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Talks, Dr. Rosling often capsulized the macroeconomics of energy and the environment in a favorite anecdote about the day a washing machine was delivered to his family's cold-water flat.

"My mother explained the magic with this machine the very, very first day," he recalled. "She said: 'Now Hans, we have loaded the laundry. The machine will make the work. And now we can go to the library.' Because this is the magic: You load the laundry, and what do you get out of the machine? You get books out of the machines, children's books. And Mother got time to read to me."

"Thank you, industrialization," Dr. Rosling said. "Thank you, steel mill. And thank you, chemical processing industry that gave us time to read books."



For the full obituary, see:

SAM ROBERTS. "Hans Rosling, Swedish Doctor, Teacher and Pop-Star Statistician, Dies at 68." The New York Times (Fri., FEB. 10, 2017): B8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date FEB. 9, 2017, and has the title "Hans Rosling, Swedish Doctor and Pop-Star Statistician, Dies at 68.")






April 19, 2017

Privatized Airports Are Better Managed




(p. A15) The highest-ranked American airport on the list of the world's top 100, as determined by the Passengers Choice Awards, is Denver--at 28. Atlanta comes in at 43, Dallas at 58, Los Angeles at 91.

Why do American passengers pay so much to get so little? Because their airports, by global standards, are terribly managed.

Cities from London to Buenos Aires have sold or leased their airports to private companies. To make a profit, these firms must hold down costs while enticing customers with lots of flights, competitive fares and appealing terminals. The firm that manages London's Heathrow, currently eighth in the international ranking, was so intent on attracting passengers that it built a nonstop express train to the city's center. It's also seeking to add another runway, as is the rival firm running Gatwick Airport.

American airports are typically run by politicians in conjunction with the dominant airlines, which help finance the terminals in return for long-term leases on gates and facilities. The airlines use their control to keep out competitors; the politicians use their share of the revenue to reward unionized airport workers. No one puts the passenger first.



For the full commentary, see:

JOHN TIERNEY. "'Third World' U.S. Airports? That Insults the Third World; Private managers make terminals sparkle and hum the world over. Here we're stuck with LaGuardia." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Jan. 21, 2017): A15.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Jan. 23 [sic], 2017.)






April 18, 2017

We Want Meaningful Work




(p. 1) HOW satisfied are we with our jobs?

Gallup regularly polls workers around the world to find out. Its survey last year found that almost 90 percent of workers were either "not engaged" with or "actively disengaged" from their jobs. Think about that: Nine out of 10 workers spend half their waking lives doing things they don't really want to do in places they don't particularly want to be.

Why? One possibility is that it's just human nature to dislike work. This was the view of Adam Smith, the father of industrial capitalism, who felt that people were naturally lazy and would work only for pay. "It is the interest of every man," he wrote in 1776 in "The Wealth of Nations," "to live as much at his ease as he can."

This idea has been enormously influential. About a century later, it helped shape the scientific management movement, which created systems of manufacture that minimized the need for skill and close attention -- things that lazy, pay-driven workers could not be expected to have.

Today, in factories, offices and other workplaces, the details may be different but the overall situation is the same: Work is structured on the assumption that we do it only because we have to. The call center employee is monitored to ensure that he ends each call quickly. The office worker's keystrokes are overseen to guarantee productivity.


. . .


(p. 4) To start with, I don't think most people recognize themselves in Adam Smith's description of wage-driven idlers. Of course, we care about our wages, and we wouldn't work without them. But we care about more than money. We want work that is challenging and engaging, that enables us to exercise some discretion and control over what we do, and that provides us opportunities to learn and grow. We want to work with colleagues we respect and with supervisors who respect us. Most of all, we want work that is meaningful -- that makes a difference to other people and thus ennobles us in at least some small way.


. . .


You enter an occupation with a variety of aspirations aside from receiving your pay. But then you discover that your work is structured so that most of those aspirations will be unmet. Maybe you're a call center employee who wants to help customers solve their problems -- but you find out that all that matters is how quickly you terminate each call. Or you're a teacher who wants to educate kids -- but you discover that only their test scores matter. Or you're a corporate lawyer who wants to serve his client with care and professionalism -- but you learn that racking up billable hours is all that really counts.

Pretty soon, you lose your lofty aspirations. And over time, later generations don't even develop the lofty aspirations in the first place. Compensation becomes the measure of all that is possible from work. When employees negotiate, they negotiate for improved compensation, since nothing else is on the table. And when this goes on long enough, we become just the kind of creatures that Adam Smith thought we always were.



For the full commentary, see:


BARRY SCHWARTZ. "Rethinking Work." The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sun., AUG. 30, 2015): 1 & 4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date AUG. 28, 2015,)


The commentary is related to Schwartz's book:

Schwartz, Barry. Why We Work, Ted Books. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015.






April 17, 2017

G.D.P. May Understate Growth by 2% or More




(p. B1) As the economy has shifted from one that primarily produced things -- refrigerators and cars, guns and shoes -- to one that now deals largely in services and information, economists have grown more and more skeptical that the traditional measure of gross domestic product -- the nation's total output -- is accurately capturing much of the economy's innovation and improvements.

"I think the official data on real growth substantially underestimates the rate of growth," said Martin Feldstein, an economist at Harvard.


. . .


(p. B2) Mr. Feldstein likes to illustrate his argument about G.D.P. by referring to the widespread use of statins, the cholesterol drugs that have reduced deaths from heart attacks. Between 2000 and 2007, he noted, the death rate from heart disease among those over 65 fell by one-third.

"This was a remarkable contribution to the public's well-being over a relatively short number of years, and yet this part of the contribution of the new product is not reflected in real output or real growth of G.D.P.," he said. He estimates -- without hard evidence, he is careful to point out -- that growth is understated by 2 percent or more a year.


. . .


For Mr. Feldstein, it is misleading measurements that are contributing to a public perception that real incomes -- particularly for the middle class -- aren't rising very much. That, he said, "reduces people's faith in the political and economic system."

"I think it creates pessimism and a distrust of government," leading Americans to worry that "their children are going to be stuck and won't be able to enjoy upward mobility," he said. "I think it's important to understand this."



For the full story, see:

PATRICIA COHEN. "Is the Slogging Economy Blazing? Growth Our Old Gauge Can't See." The New York Times (Tues., FEB. 7, 2017): B1-B2.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the article has the date FEB. 6, 2017, and has the title "The Economic Growth That Experts Can't Count.")






April 16, 2017

Steady Increase in Federal Regulations




RegulationsRiseGraph2017-02-03.jpgSource of graph: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.



(p. A2) In a high-profile attack on growth-killing red tape, President Donald Trump this week ordered that any agency issuing a new rule find two to repeal.

He will likely discover that the only thing harder than getting something done in Washington is getting it undone.

Vast swaths of rules are untouchable because Congress ordered them to be written or the president himself demanded them..



For the full story, see

Ip, Greg. "CAPITAL ACCOUNT; Trump May Find Leviathan Hard to Tame." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., Feb. 2, 2017): A2.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Feb. 1, 2017, and has the title "CAPITAL ACCOUNT; Donald Trump May Find Leviathan Hard to Tame.")






April 15, 2017

"More Women in Their 60s and 70s" Work in Fulfilling Jobs




(p. 1) Kay Abramowitz has been working, with a few breaks, since she was 14. Now 76, she is a partner in a law firm in Portland, Ore. -- with no intention of stopping anytime soon. "Retirement or death is always on the horizon, but I have no plans," she said. "I'm actually having way too much fun."

The arc of women's working lives is changing -- reaching higher levels when they're younger and stretching out much longer -- according to two new analyses of census, earnings and retirement data that provide the most comprehensive look yet at women's career paths.


. . .


Most striking, women have become significantly more likely to work into their 60s and even 70s, often full time, according to the analyses. And many of these women report that they do it because they enjoy it.


. . .


Nearly 30 percent of women 65 to 69 are working, up from 15 percent in the late 1980s, one of the analyses, by the Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, found. Eighteen per-(p. 4)cent of women 70 to 74 work, up from 8 percent.


. . .


Of those still working, Ms. Goldin said, "They're in occupations in which they really have an identity." She added, "Women have more education, they're in jobs that are more fulfilling, and they stay with them." (Ms. Goldin happens to be an example of the phenomenon, as a 70-year-old professor and researcher.)



For the full story, see:

Claire Cain Miller. "With More Women Fulfilled by Work, Retirement Has to Wait." The New York Times, First Section (Sun., FEB. 12, 2017): 1 & 4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the article has the date FEB. 11, 2017, and has the title "More Women in Their 60s and 70s Are Having 'Way Too Much Fun' to Retire.")


The paper by Goldin and Katz, mentioned above, is:

Goldin, Claudia, and Lawrence F. Katz. "Women Working Longer: Facts and Some Explanations." NBER Working Paper #22607. National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc., Sept. 2016.






April 14, 2017

Israelis Are Tenacious, Informal, Question Authority, and Tolerate Failure




(p. A15) Israel is a country of eight million people that at its narrowest point is 9 miles wide. It is surrounded on all sides by enemies who would like to see it wiped off the map: Hezbollah to the north, Hamas to the south, plus Bashar al-Assad's regime, Islamic State and Iran to the east. It wouldn't take a particularly pessimistic person to bet against this besieged slice of desert. Yet this tiny nation has also built an air force, anti-missile defense system and intelligence apparatus that is revered around the world--and relied on by the U.S. military, among many others. And it's done it with a minuscule fraction of the budget available to larger nations.

How has Israel pulled it off? In "The Weapon Wizards" Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot tell the story of how the Jewish state's military and defense sector became one of the most cutting-edge in the world. In chapters focused on particular technologies and weapons, such as drones, satellites and cyber warfare, the authors make the case that the same factors that have made Israel a tech giant have also allowed it to become a "high-tech military superpower." The country's military, its schools and its extracurricular institutions inculcate in its young people tenacity, insatiable questioning of authority, determined informality, cross-disciplinary creativity and tolerance of failure.


. . .


While "The Weapon Wizards" can be a bit technical for the lay reader, the authors have skillfully conveyed a key component of the dynamic innovation culture that has made the Jewish state one of the most important entrepreneurial and technology-driven economies in the world. Not bad for a country 9 miles wide.



For the full review, see:

DAN SENOR. "BOOKSHELF; Drafting Up Innovation." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., Feb. 2, 2017): A15.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Feb. 3 [sic], 2017.)


The book under review, is:

Katz, Yaakov, and Amir Bohbot. The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2017.






April 13, 2017

Fitness Can Improve Even After Age 100




(p. D4) At the age of 105, the French amateur cyclist and world-record holder Robert Marchand is more aerobically fit than most 50-year-olds -- and appears to be getting even fitter as he ages, according to a revelatory new study of his physiology.

The study, which appeared in December in The Journal of Applied Physiology, may help to rewrite scientific expectations of how our bodies age and what is possible for any of us athletically, no matter how old we are.


. . .


Conventional wisdom in exercise science suggests that it is very difficult to significantly add to aerobic fitness after middle age. In general, VO2 max, a measure of how well our bodies can use oxygen and the most widely accepted scientific indicator of fitness, begins to decline after about age 50, even if we frequently exercise.

But Dr. Billat had found that if older athletes exercised intensely, they could increase their VO2 max. She had never tested this method on a centenarian, however.


. . .


These data strongly suggest that "we can improve VO2 max and performance at every age," Dr. Billat says.



For the full story, see:

GRETCHEN REYNOLDS. "Phys Ed; Lessons from a 105-Year-Old." The New York Times (Tues., FEB. 14, 2017): D4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the article has the date FEB. 8, 2017, and has the title "Phys Ed; Lessons on Aging Well, From a 105-Year-Old Cyclist.")


The academic article mentioned in the passages quoted above, is:

Billat, Véronique, Gilles Dhonneur, Laurence Mille-Hamard, Laurence Le Moyec, Iman Momken, Thierry Launay, Jean Pierre Koralsztein, and Sophie Besse. "Case Studies in Physiology: Maximal Oxygen Consumption and Performance in a Centenarian Cyclist." Journal of Applied Physiology 122 (2017): 430-34.






April 12, 2017

Creating a Fair and Efficient Market for Photos




(p. B4) The arresting images on Stocksy.com are far from the standard fare found on many stock photography sites. Colorful portraits, unexpected compositions and playful shots greet visitors.

The most distinguishing feature, however, may be the structure of the site's owner, Stocksy United: It is a cooperative, owned and governed by the photographers who contribute their work. Every Stocksy photographer owns a share of the company, with voting rights. And most of the money from sales of their work goes into their pockets rather than toward the billion-dollar valuations pursued by many venture-backed start-ups.

Stocksy was founded in 2013 by Bruce Livingstone and Brianna Wettlaufer, the core team behind iStockphoto, which in 2000 pioneered the idea of selling stock photos online in exchange for small fees. (Mr. Livingstone was the founder and Ms. Wettlaufer, the vice president of development and employee No. 4). IStock -- which billed itself as "by creatives, for creatives" -- caught the attention of Getty Images, which acquired it in 2006 for $50 million.

Mr. Livingstone and Ms. Wettlaufer grew dismayed as the community spirit they had cultivated and the royalties photographers received began to erode under the new ownership. Like many artists in the digital age, their photographer friends grumbled that they were being underpaid and exploited by online sites.

"Everyone had the same story," Ms. Wettlaufer said. "They were feeling disenfranchised. They weren't creatively inspired anymore. The magic was gone."

So using money from the sale of iStock to Getty, she and Mr. Livingstone set out to create Stocksy, paying photographers 50 to 75 percent of sales. That is well above the going rate of 15 to 45 percent that is typical in the stock photography field. The company also distributes 90 percent of its profit at the end of each year among its photographers.

"We realized we could do it differently this time," said Ms. Wettlaufer, who took over the chief executive role in 2014. "We could enter the market with a model that ensured artists were treated fairly and ethically."



For the full story, see:

AMY CORTESE. "A New Wrinkle in the Gig Economy: Workers Get Most of the Money." The New York Times (Thurs., July 21, 2016): B4.

(Note: the online version of the article has the date JULY 20, 2016.)






April 11, 2017

Hong Kong Is No Longer a Libertarian Dream Come True




(p. 5) HONG KONG -- For the 23rd year running, Hong Kong is, in the opinion of the conservative Heritage Foundation, the freest economy in the world. With low taxes, an efficient government and private businesses running the city buses and its spotless subways, this place is a libertarian dream come true.

So the story goes.

Many people who live in Hong Kong beg to differ. This has long been a city of tycoons, with a few families holding sway over the supermarkets, drugstores and real estate market, limiting competition and keeping prices high. And in the past few weeks, four words have further shaken the story line that this former British colony is a free-market nirvana.

Food Truck Pilot Scheme.


. . .


In Hong Kong, the government agency that devised the Food Truck Pilot Scheme had a new, bold and innovative idea: stationary food trucks that don't park on the street. A spokesman for the city's Tourism Commission explained why in an email:

"Since the urban area of Hong Kong is already saturated with traffic, it would not be desirable from the traffic management and road safety angles to allow food trucks to park and operate on public roads. Moreover, as many locations in Hong Kong have already got a number of food establishments, it would thus be desirable to introduce food trucks away from those areas."

It's all explained in a raft of guidelines. There are seven annexes in all, including licensing requirements (Annex D), special government loan programs (Annex B) and fixed venues (Annex F).

Then there is Annex C -- "Mandatory Requirements for a Food Truck" -- that lists in painstaking detail what each truck must have. Some examples: The kitchen floor space must be at least 65 square feet. Each truck must have a potable water tank with a capacity of about 32 gallons, and a wastewater tank at least one and a half times that size. The sink must be at least a foot and a half in length. And so on.

To meet all of those regulations, Hong Kong food trucks must be custom vehicles, bearing little resemblance to the decades-old trucks that congregate near the National Mall in Washington, the capital of a country that has only the 17th freest economy in the world.

All these rules and regulations have Liu Chun-ho, the owner of Ma Ma's Dumpling, very worried. To meet the stringent requirements, he paid about one million Hong Kong dollars ($129,000) for his new Isuzu truck.


. . .


The workers at Book Brothers hope that their next location, closer to the city's central business district, will be busier. And if they can't sell their pork buns, they could always try something else, right? After all, that's what capitalism is all about.

Not so fast. Please refer to Answer No. 8 of the government's "Frequently Asked Questions: Application of the Food Truck Pilot Scheme (Pilot Scheme)."

"No alteration of the signature dish proposed by the applicant in the application form will be allowed after the submission of Application and throughout the Scheme," it declares. "If the operator wishes to change dishes other than the signature dish, he should obtain prior written approval from the Venues and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department."



For the full story, see:

MICHAEL FORSYTHE. "Food Truck Rules Outnumber Patrons in Hong Kong." The New York Times, First Section (Sun., FEB. 19, 2017): 5.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the article has the date FEB. 18, 2017, and has the title "The Economy Is Free in Hong Kong. Running a Food Truck Isn't (See Annex C).")






April 10, 2017

Founder-Led Firms Do Better




(p. A19) A study out earlier this year from Bain & Company, where we work, shows that over the past 15 years founder-led companies delivered shareholder returns that are three times higher than those of other S&P 500 companies.


. . .


Great founders imbue their companies with three measurable traits that make up what we dubbed "the founder's mentality."

The first is insurgency: The founding team declares war on its industry on behalf of underserved customers.


. . .


The second trait is an obsession with how customers are treated--an attention to detail that borders on compulsive.


. . .


Third, these companies are steeped in an owner's mind-set. Too often in business, the founder's vision becomes distorted.


Bain's research found that the best companies--the top 20% of performers, founder-led or not--exhibit the three traits we've described four or five times as often as the bottom performers. The bad news: Only about 7% of companies, founder-led or not, manage to maintain these traits as they grow to scale. Yet those that do create more than 50% of the net value in the stock market in any given year.



For the full commentary, see:

CHRIS ZOOK and JAMES ALLEN. The Company Founder's Special Sauce; No one leads a firm as effectively as the person who started it." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Dec. 19, 2016): A19.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Dec. 18, 2016.)


The Bain research mentioned above, is:

Chris, Zook. "Founder-Led Companies Outperform the Rest -- Here's Why." Harvard Business Review Digital Articles (March 24, 2016): 2-5.


The passages quoted above are related to the authors' book:

Zook, Chris, and James Allen. The Founder's Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press Books, 2016.






April 9, 2017

Government Threw the Party; Taxpayers Pay the Bill




(p. A1) RIO DE JANEIRO -- It is not uncommon for the Olympics to leave behind some unneeded facilities. Rio, however, is experiencing something exceptional: Less than six months after the Summer Games ended, the host city's Olympic legacy is decaying rapidly.


. . .


"The government put sugar in our mouths and took it out before we could swallow," Luciana Oliveira Pimentel, a social worker from Deodoro, said as her children played in a plastic pool. "Once the Olympics ended, they turned their backs on us."

Olympic officials and local organizers often boast about the legacy of the Games -- the residual benefits that a city and country will experience long after the competitions end. Those projections are often met with skepticism by the public and by independent economists, who argue that Olympic bids are built on wasted public money. Rio has quickly become the latest, and perhaps the most striking, case of (p. A8) unfulfilled promises and abandonment.

"It's totally deserted," said Vera Hickmann, 42, who was at the Olympic Park recently with her family. She lamented that although the area was open to the public, it lacked basic services.

"I had to bring my son over to the plants to go to the bathroom," she said.

At the athletes' village, across the street from the park, the 31 towers were supposed to be sold as luxury condominiums after the Games, but fewer than 10 percent of the units have been sold. Across town at Maracanã Stadium, a soccer temple, the field is brown, and the electricity has been shut off.

"The government didn't have money to throw a party like that, and we're the ones who have to sacrifice," Ms. Hickmann said, referring to local taxpayers.



For the full story, see:

ANNA JEAN KAISER. "Legacy of Rio Olympics So Far Is Series of Unkept Promises." The New York Times (Thurs., FEB. 16, 2017): A1 & A8.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date FEB. 15, 2017.)






April 8, 2017

People Root for Billionaires If They Believe They Also Could Become Billionaires




(p. 22) "Billions" manages the feat of making you want the guy who has everything to have even more.

"People still root for billionaires because it reinforces the idea that they can do it too," Mr. Kirshenbaum said recently. "People don't want to be in a place where there's not a lot of magic left in the equation." Political analysts have long given this explanation for why poor or working-class people vote against tax increases for the wealthy: They want to believe that some day they, too, will have assets to guard.


. . .


Like the TV series, the film "The Big Short" puts you in the position of wanting the investors -- or at least the investors depicted on the screen -- to win. The movie channels your anger at the banks that came up with the perilous financial instruments that devastated the economy, but it leaves you no room to despise the charmingly eccentric rogue geniuses who made hundreds of millions of dollars shorting the housing market. All that hard work, the culling of documents and the fact-gathering trips to endangered Sun Belt real estate markets -- it would be so wrong if they didn't triumph in the end. Institutions are greedy; people are merely obsessed.



For the full commentary, see:

GINIA BELLAFANTE. "Big City; Rooting for the Robber Barons, at Least Those Onscreen." The New York Times, First Section (Sun., MARCH 20, 2016): 22.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date MARCH 18, 2016, and has the title "Big City; Rooting for the Robber Barons, at Least on the Screen.")






April 7, 2017

Public Policies Choke Off Entrepreneurial Opportunities





George McGovern was the Democratic candidate for President of the United States in 1972. He was a fervent advocate for expansion of the federal government.



(p. A12) We intuitively know that to create job opportunities we need entrepreneurs who will risk their capital against an expected payoff. Too often, however, public policy does not consider whether we are choking off those opportunities.

My own business perspective has been limited to that small hotel and restaurant in Stratford, Conn., with an especially difficult lease and a severe recession. But my business associates and I also lived with federal, state and local rules that were all passed with the objective of helping employees, protecting the environment, raising tax dollars for schools, protecting our customers from fire hazards, etc. While I never have doubted the worthiness of any of these goals, the concept that most often eludes legislators is: "Can we make consumers pay the higher prices for the increased operating costs that accompany public regulation and government reporting requirements with reams of red tape." It is a simple concern that is nonetheless often ignored by legislators.

For example, the papers today are filled with stories about businesses dropping health coverage for employees. We provided a substantial package for our staff at the Stratford Inn. However, were we operating today, those costs would exceed $150,000 a year for health care on top of salaries and other benefits. There would have been no reasonable way for us to absorb or pass on these costs.

Some of the escalation in the cost of health care is attributed to patients suing doctors. While one cannot assess the merit of all these claims, I've also witnessed firsthand the explosion in blame-shifting and scapegoating for every negative experience in life.

Today, despite bankruptcy, we are still dealing with litigation from individuals who fell in or near our restaurant. Despite these injuries, not every misstep is the fault of someone else. Not every such incident should be viewed as a lawsuit instead of an unfortunate accident. And while the business owner may prevail in the end, the endless exposure to frivolous claims and high legal fees is frightening.



For the full commentary, see:

McGovern, George. "Manager's Journal: A Politician's Dream Is a Businessman's Nightmare." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., June 1, 1992): A12.






April 6, 2017

Mokyr Credits the Great Enrichment to a Culture That Values Scientific Inquiry




(p. A13) Life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" Thomas Hobbes proclaimed in 1651, and it had been that way ever since humans had inhabited the Earth. At the time Hobbes wrote those words, life expectancy averaged about 30 years old in his native England and income per person typically was around $5 a day (in 2016 dollars). Thanks to the Industrial Revolution and the Great Enrichment that followed, the typical subject of Queen Elizabeth II lives to almost 80 and has an income of over $100 a day. Perhaps more impressively, most people in the world today face the prospect of living at least that well within a generation or two.

What brought about the Great Enrichment? And why did it all start in England? Joel Mokyr, in his fine book, attributes it to the unique and productive culture that evolved there. It was a culture that welcomed change and favored scientific inquiry that spurred radical technological improvements.


. . .


According to Mr. Mokyr, three factors led to the ultimate triumph of the new modern search for scientific truth over the largely inaccurate "science" of the ancients. First, Europe's fractured political environment was a blessing: Scientists who were banned or ostracized in one political jurisdiction fled to other locales more tolerant of their views. The controversial Franciscan monk, Bernardino Ochino (1487-1564), for example, was often in trouble and moving to evade authorities, leading him to flee from Italy to Switzerland and later, England, Poland and Moravia. Second, the invention of Gutenberg's printing press around 1440 enormously lowered the cost of widely disseminating knowledge over large areas. Third, an extraordinary intellectual community evolved--Voltaire and others called the Republic of Letters--that made the dissemination of new information (through letters to fellow scientists) obligatory for anyone who wanted to gain respect in the growing international community of scientists.



For the full review, see:

RICHARD VEDDER. "BOOKSHELF; The Genesis of Prosperity; What brought about the Great Enrichment? And why did it start in England? It had a culture that embraced change and scientific inquiry." The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Nov. 11, 2016): A13.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Nov. 10, 2016.)


The book under review, is:

Mokyr, Joel. A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy, Graz Schumpeter Lectures. New Haven, CT: Princeton University Press, 2016..






April 5, 2017

"Tax and Regulatory Policies" Influence Intel to Build Arizona Chip Plant




(p. B1) SAN FRANCISCO -- Intel, the world's largest computer chip manufacturer, will invest $7 billion to finish a factory in Arizona, adding 3,000 jobs, the company's chief executive said on Wednesday after meeting with President Trump at the White House.

The completion of the factory, which will complement two other Intel semiconductor plants in Chandler, Ariz., had been under consideration for several years.

Standing beside Mr. Trump in the Oval Office, Brian Krzanich, Intel's chief executive, said the company had decided to proceed now because of "the tax and regulatory policies we see the administration pushing forward."



For the full story, see:

VINDU GOEL. "Intel Will Invest $7 Billion in Chip Plant in Arizona." The New York Times (Thurs., FEB. 9, 2017): B1-B2.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date FEB. 8, 2017, and has the title "Intel, in Show of Support for Trump, Announces Factory in Arizona.")






April 4, 2017

IBM Advance May Help Sustain Moore's Law




(p. B3) In the semiconductor business, it is called the "red brick wall" -- the limit of the industry's ability to shrink transistors beyond a certain size.

On Thursday, however, IBM scientists reported that they now believe they see a path around the wall. Writing in the journal Science, a team at the company's Thomas J. Watson Research Center said it has found a new way to make transistors from parallel rows of carbon nanotubes.

The advance is based on a new way to connect ultrathin metal wires to the nanotubes that will make it possible to continue shrinking the width of the wires without increasing electrical resistance.

One of the principal challenges facing chip makers is that resistance and heat increase as wires become smaller, and that limits the speed of chips, which contain transistors.

The advance would make it possible, probably sometime after the beginning of the next decade, to shrink the contact point between the two materials to just 40 atoms in width, the researchers said. Three years later, the number will shrink to just 28 atoms, they predicted.


. . .


. . . , during the last decade, the pace and power of semiconductor technology has begun to slow. The switching speed of computer chips stopped increasing because heat created by ultrafast processors was rising to the point where the chips would break.

More recently, for most of the industry, the cost of transistors has ceased to decline with each new generation. This has undercut the tremendous power of the technology to create new markets. And this year, Intel announced that the challenges and costs of bringing a new generation of technology to market had forced it to slow the every-two-year pace it had been on for more than a decade.

Now the industry has a new reason for optimism.



For the full story, see:

JOHN MARKOFF. "IBM Scientists Find New Way to Shrink Transistors (Measuring in Atoms)." The New York Times (Fri., OCT. 2, 2015): B3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date OCT. 1, 2015, and has the title "IBM Scientists Find New Way to Shrink Transistors.")


The IBM advance is documented in:

Cao, Qing, Shu-Jen Han, Jerry Tersoff, Aaron D. Franklin, Yu Zhu, Zhen Zhang, George S. Tulevski, Jianshi Tang, and Wilfried Haensch. "End-Bonded Contacts for Carbon Nanotube Transistors with Low, Size-Independent Resistance." Science 350, no. 6256 (Oct. 2, 2015): 68-72.






April 3, 2017

Government Job Certification Boards Reduce Opportunities for Former Prisoners




(p. A21) . . . while there's been a rightful focus on ending mass incarceration, there has been little public discussion of how we reintegrate this growing population.


. . .


. . . , we should remove unfair barriers to employment. Many jobs now require professional certification, like being a barber in Connecticut or a truck driver in Texas, and state certification boards often bar former prisoners. We should eliminate those blanket prohibitions.



For the full commentary, see:

ROBERT E. RUBIN. "How to Help Former Inmates Thrive." The New York Times (Mon., JUNE 3, 2016): A21.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the title "The Smart Way to Help Ex-Convicts, and Society.")






April 2, 2017

Christian Praise for Ayn Rand Novels




(p. A13) Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE restaurants and a practicing Roman Catholic, finds nothing worrisome in that fact: "I encouraged my six children to read both 'Fountainhead' and 'Mere Christianity' by C.S. Lewis," he told me. Each child later read "Atlas Shrugged." Mr. Puzder argued that "there's no contradiction between raising my children in the church, and urging them to lead the kind of lives of achievement, integrity and independence that Ayn Rand celebrated in her novels."

Randall Wallace, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of 1995's "Braveheart," and the director of 2014's "Heaven Is for Real," is such an admirer of Rand's work that he wrote a screen adaptation of "Atlas Shrugged." Mr. Wallace, a Southern Baptist, said, "My faith isn't contradicted by her beliefs. We live in a world of labels, but God surely cares less about the labels we give ourselves than about how we live because of them." Rand, Mr. Wallace feels, wrote fiercely and fearlessly about bold and brave characters. "I think it would contradictory to my own beliefs not to admire her."



For the full commentary, see:

JENNIFER ANJU GROSSMAN. "Can You Love God and Ayn Rand?; A friend claims the atheist philosopher at one point saw the appeal of spirituality." The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Nov. 11, 2016): A13.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Nov. 10, 2016.)


The Ayn Rand novels praised above, are:

Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House, 1957.

Rand, Ayn. The Fountainhead. The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1943.






April 1, 2017

Chinese Economic Stimulus Creates Egg Bubble




(p. A1) HONG KONG -- China is pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into its economy in a new effort to support growth. Some of it is going into roads and bridges and other big projects that will keep the economy humming.

And some of it is going into eggs.

China's latest lending deluge has sent money sloshing into unexpected parts of the economy. That includes a financial market in Dalian where investors can place bets on the future productivity of the country's hens.

Egg futures have surged by as much as one-third since March, the sort of move that would be justified if investors believed China's chicken flocks were headed for an unfortunate fate.

But the market's usual participants say the flocks are fine. In fact, the actual price of eggs in the country's markets has fallen from a year ago, according to government statistics.

The reason for the unusual jump in egg futures, they say, is China's tendency to experience investment bubbles when the government steps up spending and lending. China's previous efforts to bolster growth unexpectedly sent money into real estate and the stock market -- markets that had unexplained rises followed by striking drops.



For the full story, see:

NEIL GOUGH. "China's Flood of Cash Roils Egg Futures." The New York Times (Mon., MAY 2, 2016): A1 & B2 [sic].

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MAY 1, 2016, and has the title "China Lending Inflates Real Estate, Stocks, Even Egg Futures.")






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