Unions, Japan Equity Buy, Israel’s Enemy, Oil, Public Sector Pay, Educating Rita, China Study, History’s Fog, Crosby’s Head
The last week has brought a few key issues to a boil.
First, the sustainability of public sector workers receiving promises of pensions and medical care that have been unfunded against a backdrop of private sector workers getting less of the pie.
Second, the ability of authoritarian regimes to manage the combination of global attempts at reflation and the rapid disemmination of social networking technologies without restoring to grape shot tactics of crowd control.
And how will financial markets price these issues given the doubling of the S&P since March 2009, and rock bottom interest rates.
It does make us think of the climatic moment of a kabuki play.
Also articles on Japanese equities, Israel and its neighbours, oil prices, education strategies, good books on China, Russia and Poland try to work through a difficult history, and the sad state of North American professional hockey.
Walking through the difference between private and public sector unions, it’s still about getting the best deal possible no matter who you are negotiating with, a shareholder or taxpayers' representatives.
Economist – Are Public Sector Unions Different?
UNIONS, what are they good for?
Quote worth quoting.
“But of course, we trust private firms to do some things while at the same time relying on unions, regulators, and other organisations to make sure that those firms treat workers fairly. Because we don't necessarily trust them to do it on their own. Because they haven't in the past.”
Conrad Yakabushi, the Globe and Mail’s outstanding US-centred columnist, argues that the pressure on public sector unions is a function of a country that is living beyond its means, and jealousy.
Globe and Mail -- Labour showdown in Wisconsin – a battle with national consequences
The high-stakes battles being waged by public sector unions throughout the U.S. rust belt is rattling the entire nation for much the same reason Watson the computer worries Jeopardy! aficionados.
American Enterprise Institute -- Public Unions Force Taxpayers to Fund Democrats
Everyone has priorities.
The Buffalo Beast’s editor’s prank call flushes out Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s goal to break the public sector union. (ed’s note – we thought he has been honest about that from the outset).
Buffalo Beast -- Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker answers his master’s call
Yes. What follows is a rushed, abridged transcript of my—I mean, David Koch’s conversation with Gov. Walker.
For the last 21 years, and particularly since 1997, many well meaning strategists have been gored by the ‘it’s time to buy Japanese equities’ call. Peter Tasker is one of the best Japan thinkers around and he is arguing that now is the time. (ed’s note – non-yen investors, beware a reversal in the currency)
FT -- Stop looking in the rear-view mirror at Japan
“What most likely happened was pedal misapplication.” So concluded an official of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the US body that has just published its report on the spate of accidents involving Toyota cars.
Israel’s moral high ground has been eroding for decades despite the dubious nature of its greatest foes. Now there is the real risk that new democratic neighbours will get on the better side of the moral divide on issues like nuclear weapons, the right of return, high levels of defence spending, dependence on foreign military assistance, and fencing out Palestinians. Depotic neighbours have their advantages, no more perhaps.
FT -- Middle East: Uncertain horizons
For a few hours, the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City is firmly in the hands of the Israeli military: soldiers in red berets have cordoned off the centre of the square that abuts the ancient monument, and are keeping a watchful eye on racks of polished assault rifles.
NYT -- Upheaval Jolts Israel and Raises New Worry
The old certainties of the Middle East have been upended, and Israel finds many of its most reliable partners buffeted or blown away by popular agitation from below.
Food for thought chart. NYSE Market Capitalization as a percentage of US GDP.
What police and firefighters make in the United States by state. The trick is the present value of pensions and health. It comes to much more.
Oil prices. Following the bouncing ball. Explaining different oil prices and how to invest.
Word on the Street -- Sea Change in Pricing of Oil Coming
The violence in Libya has brought oil into focus once again but not all crude oil prices are the same.
Pesky unfunded liabilities driven by social security in the United States is the easy one, just try Medicare.
LA Times -- Social Security: Just the facts
A reader from Manhattan Beach wrote last week to ask for help in understanding the heated debate over Social Security.
An economist gets real about education and parenting.
Bloomberg -- Chicago Economist’s ‘Crazy Idea’ Wins Ken Griffin’s Backing
John List, a University of Chicago economics professor, strides through the Griffin Early Childhood Center chatting with teachers, complimenting girls on their braids and hollering out the window.
Swedish-style innovation in British schools can’t get going because the option of state funded for profit schools has been rejected. More’s the pity.
FT -- Profitable lessons for Cameron’s schools revolution
What if you sent out an invitation and nobody came?
When public sector unions get in the way of innovation.
modeled behavior -- Unions and good policy
In the debate over public sector unions a lot of liberals have been arguing that they are a positive political counterweight to corporate interests and a defender of the working man, and without them democracy will fail, the American Dream will die, and the earth will drift into the sun… or something like that.
5 good books on China.
Asia Sentinel – Victor Shih Recommends 5 Books on China’s Economy
Five books recently featured recommended reading from political economist Victor Shih on the topic of China’s economy.
Quote worth quoting.
“The biggest misperception about China is that it’s a dynamic market economy – it isn’t. It’s a fast-growing, state-dominated economy with some dynamic, private-market aspects. If you look at investment, a main driver of growth, much of it is going to state-owned enterprises (SOEs) or shareholding companies dominated by state entities.”
Economist -- Clashing with the foreign devils
AS NUMEROUS museums across China testify, the country dwells on its past in order to justify the present.
WSJ – Beijing and the Arab Revolt
Bahrain is an island kingdom in the Persian Gulf with a population of about 1.2 million. The People's Republic of China is 12,000 times as large and 1,000 times as populous. Yet what is happening in Manama ought to be profoundly disquieting to the strongmen of Beijing.
Economist – Population Control in Bejing
A FRUIT-SELLER walks from his stall, across a snowy courtyard, to a shabby little building overshadowed by apartment blocks.
Home sweet home.
FT -- Nervous China puts security apparatus into overdrive
Sitting last week in his cramped Beijing flat just beyond the city’s fifth ring road, Teng Biao talked about a joke he used to share with Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned activist who won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Mr Liu would tease him about his ability to continue working as a human rights lawyer without being sent to jail.
A reminder of how history fogs up today, Poland and Russia struggle to become better neighbours.
Guardian -- This tortured Polish-Russian story is something we can all learn from
Adam Daniel Rotfeld, a former Polish foreign minister, has on his visiting card one of the world's more extraordinary titles. It reads: Plenipotentiary for Difficult Matters. What a wonderful idea. Every country, every company, every family should have one.
Quick question. Why has it become the responsibility of the Canadian government to ‘rescue’ Canadians who find themselves in some God forsaken country in the throes of revolution when Canadian's don't pay world wide income taxes?
CBC -- Flight to airlift Canadians from Libya cancelled
A plane that was set to fly to Libya from Rome on Thursday and pick up Canadians seeking to escape the violence of the troubled region has been cancelled.
Is Sidney Crosby’s season over?
National Post -- NHL should be terrified of threat to Crosby
It has been eight weeks now.
Quote worth quoting if you like hockey sur glace.
“So many players have never been the same after suffering a concussion this severe, or at least, that has lasted this long. Eric Lindros, Paul Kariya, Pat LaFontaine, Keith Primeau, Savard, on and on. Not every concussion opens a window to more concussions. Maybe this is the only brain injury Sidney Crosby will ever suffer, and he will fulfill the promise of being a generation-defining player. He is just 23.”
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