Archive for Business and Finance

Hu tieu, a Vietnamese dish spiced with prosperity and climate change – by George Black | Vital Signs | The Guardian

“On a visit last month to the town of My Tho, the capital of the Tien Giang province in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, I found a riverside restaurant that served the local specialty, a dish called hu tieu. It’s a delicious soup, dense with stretchy rice noodles and topped with succulent locally farmed shrimp.

These two ingredients of hu tieu have set the delta on a remarkable path to prosperity. In provinces like Tien Giang and neighboring Ben Tre, as one drives east toward the South China Sea, the landscape is stitched together with fertile rice paddies and brackish ponds teeming with shrimp. This transformation has taken place in just one generation.

As late as 1990, 15 years after the Vietnam war ended, the country faced the threat of famine, and rice was strictly rationed. Now, thanks to the government’s “rice first” policy, many farmers get three crops a year, including one in the dry season, from November to April. Earnings from this year’s harvests have broken all previous records. Last year, Vietnam overtook Thailand as the world’s leading rice exporter, with 90% of the export crop grown in the Mekong Delta.”

Source: Hu tieu, a Vietnamese dish spiced with prosperity and climate change | Vital Signs | The Guardian

Posted in: Agriculture, Business and Finance, Climate Change, Climate Change Polluters

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As Trump Visits India, a Trade Deal Remains Elusive – By Ana Swanson and Vindu Goel – The New York Times

By Ana Swanson and 

“WASHINGTON — President Trump’s visit to India includes a state dinner, tens of thousands of cheering onlookers and even a marching band on camels — but a long-awaited trade deal between the United States and India is notably absent.

For the second time since September, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India visited the United States, the two countries have failed to reach even a limited “mini-deal” that would increase trade for focused groups of goods, like dairy products, medical devices and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Negotiators from both countries have been working since 2018 on a deal that would lower Indian barriers to some American products, and restore India’s access to a program that allows goods to enter the United States tariff-free.

But the breakdown in negotiations illustrates the steep challenge in reaching a trade deal between two countries headed by populist leaders who harbor suspicions of multilateral arrangements. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi want to protect jobs in their own countries by fending off foreign competitors — shared attributes that make it even more difficult to strike a comprehensive agreement that would roll back trade barriers more broadly.”

Source: As Trump Visits India, a Trade Deal Remains Elusive – The New York Times

Posted in: India, Trade and Trade Policy, Trade and Trade Policy

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Opinion | How Technology Saved China’s Economy – By Ruchir Sharma – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Sharma is an author, global investor and contributing opinion writer.

Credit…China Network/Reuters

“Landing in Shanghai recently, I found myself in the middle of a tech revolution remarkable in its sweep. The passport scanner automatically addresses visitors in their native tongues. Digital payment apps have replaced cash. Outsiders trying to use paper money get blank stares from store clerks.

Nearby in the city of Hangzhou a prototype hotel called FlyZoo uses facial recognition to open doors, no keys required. Robots mix cocktails and provide room service. Farther south in Shenzhen, we flew the same drones that are already making e-commerce deliveries in rural China. Downtown traffic flowed smoothly, guided by synced stoplights and restrained by police cameras.

Outside China, these technologies are seen as harbingers of an “automated authoritarianism,” using video cameras and facial recognition systems to thwart lawbreakers and a “citizen score” to rank citizens for political reliability. An advanced version has been deployed to counter unrest among Muslim Uighurs in the inland region of Xinjiang. But in China as a whole, surveys show that trust in technology is high, concern about privacy low. If people fear Big Brother, they keep it to themselves. In our travels along the coast, many expressed pride in China’s sudden rise as a tech power.

China initiated its economic miracle by opening to the outside world, but now it is nurturing domestic tech giants by barring outside competition. Foreign visitors cannot open Google or Facebook, a weirdly isolating experience, and the trade deal announced Wednesday by President Trump defers discussion of those barriers.”

Source: Opinion | How Technology Saved China’s Economy – The New York Times

Posted in: Business and Finance, China, Information Technology

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A Maine Paper Mill’s Unexpected Savior: China – By Ellen Barry – The New York Times

By Ellen BarryPhotographs by Tristan SpinskiJan. 15, 2020, 5:00 a.m.

By 

Photographs by 

“OLD TOWN, Maine — During the deepest part of last winter, a van pulled off the highway and followed the two-lane road that skims along the Penobscot River, coming to rest beside the hulk of a shuttered pulp mill. The van’s door slid open and passengers climbed out: seven Buddhist monks from China.

Andrew Edwards, a mill superintendent from the nearby town of Lincoln, led them to a room where he had stockpiled the things they had requested for the ceremony: oranges, limes, apples and seven shovels, one for each monk.

Snow lay deep on the ground, two feet of gritty, frozen crust, and he remembers worrying a little about the visitors. “They were in their, I don’t know what they’re called, their Tibetan outfit,” he said. “With the sandals and whatnot.”

He stepped back and watched as the monks wandered from the boiler houses to the limekiln to the pulp mill, chanting, burning candles and gently tapping a gong.”

Source: A Maine Paper Mill’s Unexpected Savior: China – The New York Times

Posted in: Business and Finance, China, Decline and Renaissanace, United States

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Opinion | How to Survive as a Woman at a Chinese Banquet – By Yan Ge – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Yan is the author of 13 books, including, most recently, “The Chilli Bean Paste Clan.”

Credit…Lisk Feng

“A Chinese banquet can be many things, but it is never a gastronomic occasion.

It is more like a sport, one in which the primary goal is to drink a toast with each individual sitting around the table, in a rigid successive order, starting with the most prominent and proceeding clockwise. If that sounds straightforward, it isn’t: Bear in mind that everyone at the table is playing the same game simultaneously, which means just as you’ve homed in on your target and are ready to make your move, he could be raising a toast to another guest, who could very well be looking to drink with someone else.

Other rules: Make sure to turn the shot of baijiu bottoms up with every encounter; say flattering words in your toast, but nothing too flowery; appear cordial and personable; smile, but avoid inappropriate body contact. Finally, while you’re busy circling the table, don’t forget to eat.

At a Chinese banquet, the eating is the least important part. The problem, though, is that Chinese food is irresistibly delicious, especially if you’re someone who’s lived outside China for the last four years. And so this summer, when I returned to my home city of Chengdu for a visit, and a friend called to ask me to meet up at a local restaurant, I said yes without any hesitation.

On the day of, I arrived late. The restaurant had been revamped since the last time I’d visited, six years ago. A slim hostess in a red qipao welcomed me while I stood dazzled by the colossal crystal chandelier suspended from the high ceiling. I told her my friend’s name and was escorted to a private dining room at the end of the hall.”

Source: Opinion | How to Survive as a Woman at a Chinese Banquet – The New York Times

Posted in: Business and Finance, China, History and Literature

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China Cracks Down on Fentanyl. But Is It Enough to End the U.S. Epidemic? – By Steven Lee Myers – The New York Times

“XINGTAI, China — An online pharmacy advertising itself as a seller of “high purity, real pure” fentanyl still responds right away to potential customers.

“Which products do you want to buy,” a salesperson replied within a minute to an inquiry in English on WhatsApp, the encrypted messaging service.

But when contacted from an American telephone number and asked about the availability of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid fueling an epidemic killing tens of thousands of Americans a year, the seller demurred.

“I don’t sell any more.”

Until recently, much of the illicit fentanyl that found its way to the United States came like this: easily ordered online from a source in China and seamlessly shipped by international delivery companies, including the United States Postal Service.

Fentanyl sourced from China accounted for 97 percent of the drug seized from international mail services by United States law enforcement in both the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Now, China’s Communist government is taking steps to stop the flood, as the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, promised President Trump he would do.

After the two leaders met in Buenos Aires at the Group of 20 summit at the end of last year, the White House released a statement saying that “President Xi, in a wonderful humanitarian gesture, has agreed to designate fentanyl as a controlled substance.”

Source: China Cracks Down on Fentanyl. But Is It Enough to End the U.S. Epidemic? – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Drug Wars, Trade and Trade Policy

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Prime Mover: How Amazon Wove Itself Into the Life of an American City – The New York Times

Amazon just put this department store out of bussiness in Baltimore, and its largest hardware store, both owned by the same family.

“. . .  Ms. Black said she quit after two written warnings that she wasn’t meeting productivity standards, knowing a third would get her fired.

“The machines determine so much,” she said. “You’re clocked from beginning to end. They grind through people.”

When another employee told the National Labor Relations Board that he had been fired for complaining about working conditions, the company said he had it wrong: He had been fired for working too slowly.

In fact, an Amazon lawyer wrote to the N.L.R.B. last year, it had fired “hundreds of other employees” at the Baltimore warehouse for failing to make their numbers. The letter, obtained by The Verge, listed more than 800 workers fired in the previous year, but the company now says the correct number was 309.

Automated dismissals are a feature, the letter said, not a flaw. “Amazon’s system,” the lawyers wrote, “automatically generates any warnings or terminations regarding quality or productivity without input from supervisors.” Amazon says termination decisions are ultimately made by managers.

Workers at Amazon who run into that kind of trouble have no unions to represent them — a shift from Baltimore’s past. G.M. employees were represented by the United Automobile Workers. At the second warehouse, on the old Bethlehem Steel site, United Steelworkers held sway. At both plants, the pay was adequate to support a family.

Credit…Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

In the G.M. plant’s final years, line workers made an average of $27 an hour, equivalent to more than $35 today. G.M. workers could make $80,000 annually with overtime, according to contemporary news reports, equal to $102,000 in 2019 dollars.

The vehemently anti-union Amazon has raised its lowest hourly pay to $15.40, which is a little over double the federal minimum wage, the company points out. But even a veteran worker at its BWI2 warehouse would have to put in considerable overtime to get to $40,000 a year, less than half of what a G.M. worker could make in the past.

Nor are the job numbers comparable. The G.M. plant employed 8,000 at its peak; Bethlehem Steel employed 30,000. Amazon has a total of 4,500 workers at the two warehouses.”

Source: Prime Mover: How Amazon Wove Itself Into the Life of an American City – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, Monopoly or Monopsony

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New Nissan Pay Problems Point to Conflicts at the Top – The New York Times

By

“TOKYO — An outside law firm investigating problems at Nissan, the troubled Japanese automaker, this summer discovered some potentially explosive information.

Hari Nada, a powerful Nissan insider who was behind the ouster last year of Nissan’s chairman, Carlos Ghosn, over compensation issues, had been improperly overpaid himself, the firm found. A second insider involved in the corporate coup was responsible, the firm said, and had briefed Mr. Nada on what he had done.

A senior Nissan compliance officer planned to share the findings with the company’s board of directors, according to people familiar with the situation.

But the full board never heard the details of the findings, according to people who attended the board’s last meeting on Sept. 9. Moments after the meeting ended, Nissan issued a statement that cleared an unnamed group of executives of misconduct.”

Source: New Nissan Pay Problems Point to Conflicts at the Top – The New York Times

Posted in: Business and Finance, Japan

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Carlos Ghosn Is Out of Jail. What Happens Next? – The New York Times

“Carlos Ghosn, the man who created what was effectively the world’s largest carmaker, has been released on bail after spending more than three months in jail.

Mr. Ghosn once oversaw the alliance of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi and was the consummate high-flying executive. On Wednesday, he walked out of a Japanese detention center disguised as a construction worker to prepare for a trial on charges of financial misconduct. Under the terms of his bail — set at 1 billion yen, or almost $9 million — he cannot leave Japan.

Here is what has happened since his arrest and what he faces now.

Mr. Ghosn has been accused of underreporting his compensation and shifting more than $16 million of personal losses to Nissan. He was in jail, questioned by prosecutors, for 108 days.”

Source: Carlos Ghosn Is Out of Jail. What Happens Next? – The New York Times

 

 

Posted in: Business and Finance, Japan

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Opinion | China Deserves Donald Trump – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

By Thomas L. Friedman

Opinion Columnist,  May 21, 2019,   1420

 President Trump insists that his tough approach to China will benefit the United States.CreditEric Thayer for The New York Times

“A U.S. businessman friend of mine who works in China remarked to me recently that Donald Trump is not the American president America deserves, but he sure is the American president China deserves.

Trump’s instinct that America needs to rebalance its trade relationship with Beijing — before China gets too big to compromise — is correct. And it took a human wrecking ball like Trump to get China’s attention. But now that we have it, both countries need to recognize just how pivotal this moment is.

The original U.S.-China opening back in the 1970s defined our restored trade ties, which were limited. When we let China join the World Trade Organization in 2001, it propelled China into a trading powerhouse under rules that still gave China lots of concessions as a developing economy.

This new negotiation will define how the U.S. and China relate as economic peers, competing for the same 21st-century industries, at a time when our markets are totally intertwined. So this is no ordinary trade dispute. This is the big one.”

Source: Opinion | China Deserves Donald Trump – The New York Times

Posted in: China, Thomas Friedman, Trade and Trade Policy, United States

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