Friday, December 21, 2007

A 3D map better than gmap!


This map site from Sanya, China, is even better than google map!

It has beautiful 3D graphic in the map, a sim-city style google satellite/road hybrid plus street view all in one. Even better, if you click into each building, it has the photo of the building on the left column.

If you are one of the migrating birds planning to get to Sanya in the winter. This is the planning tool for you.

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p.s. I followed a referral link to Brough's Comunication blog, (btw, a very good and insightful blog for those interested in technology), and there is an introduction to edushi.com, 12 cities and grwoing, wow! I have been wondering why it had to be Sanya instead of Shanghai or Beijing and this is the answer. I am not surprised this comes out from China (instead of USA or Japan) because only China has such cheap labor and entrepreneurship.
One got to admire the power of internet linkages. I have to say this again, by blocking some selected sites, the Chinese government is effectively cutting the internet's powerful linkage of knowledge into disparate subgroups.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Light viewing: "... and all the pigs laughed"

This is very politically incorrect, but actually funny, with quite an elaborate plot to reach what the angry-netizen wanted to say.



-- it seems this is censored in some Chinese video sites, either been removed or the latter part truncated. IMHO the whole effect would be much 'better' if the final punch line is limited to not more than 2 repeats.

and there are, as usual, many variation from the angry-netizen (including e-gao from Stephen Chow's movie, etc) ...

Monday, December 10, 2007

blogspot unblocked ... for now

Seems blogspot is unblocked again in China, for now.

Though not sure when they might decide to block it again, still good news. What is more important is to unblock wiki. Without wiki China is hurting its own competitiveness in all areas.

Seem it started on Dec 2nd, according to google analytic

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"所有選民眼睛都是雪亮的"

所有選民眼睛都是雪亮的 via ESWN

十多年下來,真想不到能讓數字說話的竟然是曾,也想不到指鹿為馬的竟然是部分泛民份子,
更想不到貶低選民和貶低民主恰恰就是高喊普選的泛民,反而是曾(金玉)成畫龍點睛地證明了他比泛民更懂甚麼是“民主”,
“假如這個社會有許多「盲票」,普選不是很危險嗎?”

related
1)so called 140,000 iron votes
2)Pan-dem Viagra

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

結束賓主關係

本文只涉及商業投資,與政治無關。不過,這跟最近有關傳媒取向的討論還是有間接關係(是誘因,只限于商業判斷層面)。

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今天在網上下了order。我要出賣壹傳媒。限價2.93。到價就賣,價不到繼續持有。過幾天再以同價問沽。(p.s. 運氣很好,當天成功沽出
  • 本來要說“炒肥佬黎魷魚”,不過不太恰當,因為我只是一個微不足道的小小股東。雖然蘋果中人口口聲聲說讀者才是老板,而我敢說也是忠實讀者之一,顯然他們指的只是忠言不逆耳的那部分讀者。畢竟,魏徵是幸運的。 -- 這引申出一個問題,在很多公司(包括)西方先進企業也曾發生過的。就是,“你認為你理解的顧客需求是否就是顧客的真正需求”?是顧客說了算還是你說了算?Kodak 就曾經許下豪言壯語,認為顧客會忠于“高素質”的感光膠卷!用數碼相機的顧客不值得柯達費心。
  • 本來想學金手指來個,“一注獨沽”。不過這也不對。這是個人的選擇,別人有別人的投資策略,不足為人道。何況今天不能排除蘋果往后的大陸概念,即使那是一個比較遙遠的概念。
  • 前幾天就有了這想法,不過投資最忌意氣用事。因此等了幾天,冷靜了才能做正確的決定。雖然錯過了2.90上的沽售點,不過這等待是無可避免的。
我要分享的是我賣股的原因,282只是一個例子。邏輯如下:
  • 對于消費股(consumer goods),我們小投資者一般只應該買我們本身是顧客的公司。因為這些公司已足以消化我們僅有的一點資金。比如,可口可樂:當你或者你身邊的人改喝冰茶的時候,大概也是該換股的時候了。假如你是Esprit或Giordano的持續顧客,我也建議你買其股票,因為你會是對其產品最有第一手資料的人。唯一要注意的,不要因為你成為了股東,就不分青紅皂白的去支持其產品。當你覺得其產品失去吸引力的時候,你該去沽其股票而不是姑息養奸。應該做一個非股東消費者該做的購買決定。對于esprit如此,對于大家樂也該如此。不買產品就要沽出股票,只有常逛其店才能繼續持有。最近看到味千在國內好像非常成功,香港的價錢,大陸的成本,還有無限的增長空間。不過由于消費市場瞬息萬變,只建議常光顧其國內分店的朋友投資,因為只有你本人才知道最適合沽出的時候。
  • 對于282,我是言行一致的。臺灣的增長已反映了,香港只有 downside沒有upside,而且本人已不再是忠實讀者,無從得知往后產品的優劣。大陸當然還有無限前途,假如以後壹傳媒可以進入 -- 不過到時再補進也未晚。
  • 對于香港市場,本來就太小了,沒有規模效益。因此,竊以為壹傳媒必須面向所有讀者,把目標讀者最大化,否則不足以成規模。很明顯,壹傳媒已經做了這樣的決定,就是要放棄部分(”高端“)讀者,以小股東的利益為大股東的政治目的服務。做過管理財務分析的都知道,breakeven 后的每一分錢收入,幾乎都是利潤。而壹傳媒要放棄的就是這部分收入。
  • 以上討論對香港市場比較適用,假如放諸大陸市場卻不盡然。因為大陸市場之大,任何窄眾(niche)市場都足以成規模。
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(回到香港的彈丸政治)對不起,我不同意以我僅有的幾塊錢資助肥佬黎為了香港天主教保守勢力而進行的政治訴求。我做了一個理性的投資決定。這就是資本主義的民主。(当然,证监会是否该谴责肥佬蚕食小股东利益又是另一回事)

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p.s. regarding the quality of AD reporting. Here is a minor comment from today's AD. The AD caption said "Flying Business class". From the 4 boarding passes I can read (the Charlotte flights are covered), only one is on business class, which is 30th Street Station Philadelphia to Penn Station New York City, on Amtrak train (not a flight). Total fare $101. The bottom three BPs are:
  • AA120 V-subclass (discount economy)
  • World Traveller (economy class for BA 179) London-New York
  • Euro-traveller (economy for BA 135) Paris-London.
Maybe a careless slip. But I would suggest one focuses on his core competence. One only has so much resources to do so much work in 24 hours. Without a high quality product as a base it is hard to turn it into a propaganda machine.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Stephen Cheung on RMB (iii)

This is actually the 4th and 5th part of his speech -- I combined 2nd and 3rd as (ii) in my previous post, where hemade it very clear that he is supportive of letting Chinese investors go abroad and also very strongly against restricting their choice to the HK equity market only (the logic flows directly for free market believers), lest we forget
  • 把人民币放出去 与此前决定(而最近剎掣)的天津「直通车」到香港买股票很不相同。「直通车」是 内资外流,但人民币外放有引进外汇的效果,国家是有钱赚的。这里要说清楚:从经济学的角度看,我不反对内资外流,但指明是购买股票却是劣着。股票之价,原 则上,是反映着上市公司的回报率,市场应早有定论。无端端因为「直通车」而使港股上升了百分之四十,反映着股民一般无知,早晚会损手烂脚!买股票不是移民 潮买楼,不是自由行购物,而是市场投资,要看上市公司的投资回报。
  • 炎黄子孙有钱出外投资,那很好,但要让他们自由选择投资的项目与回报的预期。说实话,当今之世,不容易找到一个地方投资比神州大地更可取,但如果炎黄子孙要分散一点,那到外间下点注,过瘾一下,也无不可,但不要强迫他们通过港股市场。
Please enjoy the rest of the speech below.

In 4th he pointed out the the effort of using a currency to achieve multiple target will be an effort in vain. I can paraphrase it in business term, that de-focusing will dilute one's impact; or in mathematical terms, that adjusting one independent variable can only optimize for one independent variable at most.

In 4th he recapped and illustrated the Basket Commodity theory. This alone is a Nobel worthy result. The pity is that the Chinese government is so risk averse that it will not try anything not tired in other country before. Therefore, I suggest Professor Cheung to sell this to another country, e.g., Malaysia, Brazil, or Korea, Russia.

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人民币的困境(之四)

不久前在报章上读到周小川先生在十七大的言论,有云:「中国当前货币政策仍要坚持多目标,并强调促进经济发展……。他大称,中央银行首先要注重通货膨胀的防治,保持币值稳定,其次在宏观调控和制定货币政策时要考虑促进就业……。」

上述的观点无疑是西方某传统的货币政策观。可以办 得到吗?地球历史没有成功过。今天欧元币值稳定,主要是因为他们放弃了「多目标」。可不是吗?欧元成立以还,德国与法国的失业率毫无改进,其它的欧盟国家 有失业率低很多的。欧盟之邦有不同的经济困境,是佛利民当年认为欧元行不通的原因,而今天欧元成功,是因为主事者只求币值稳定,不管其它。货币政策的「多 目标」,在实践上没有成功过。原则上行得通吗?理论说很困难,困难重重也:一石多鸟要碰巧。国家大事,岂同儿戏哉?

虽然不是我的研究专业,但自六十年代初期起我跟进货币,有名师指导,同学了得,而后来认识佛利民、夏理·庄 逊、蒙代尔等货币大师,要不跟进也艰难。记忆所及,佛老当年认为没有一个联邦储备局的主席是及格的。后来到了格林斯潘,佛老认为最好。格老的政绩如何呢? 处事临危不乱,国会应对一流。然而,他在任的二十年间,美国的利息率轮上轮落凡八次之多。我早就说过,利息率辘来辘去,辘上辘落,早晚会有投资者或借贷者 被辘瓜。言犹在耳,次按风暴就出现了。

费沙的利息理论说得清楚:投资的回报率应该与市场 的利息率相等。很显然,投资的回报率不可能像格老任内的利息率那样辘上辘落。换言之,格老的货币政策基本上是违反了经济原则。佛利民当年是反对以利息率调 控经济的,但以币量调控,困难重重,格老转用利率也就无话可说。可惜佛老去年谢世,否则见到今天的次按风暴,足以仰天大笑矣!中国的央行最近加息五次,也 是以利率调控,拜格老为师,放弃了比格老高明的朱镕基传统。不敢说朱老比格老聪明,而是美国的「无锚」(fiat money)货币制度有不容易解决的困难。佩服蒙代尔,他四十年前就这样说。

西方的币量理论(quantity theory of money)起于史密斯之前,其后参与的天才辈出,实证研究的大好文章数之不尽,可谓精英尽出矣。然而,理论归理论,实践归实践。实践上,该理论有一个无可救药的要点:我们不知道方程式内的货币量究竟是些什么!是M1?是M2?是M3?还有其它吗?

我肯定币量理论有严重的失误,始于一九九五。该年我的一位师兄A. Meltzer访港,我带他到雅谷进午餐。在货币研究上,这位师兄非同小可。他是K. Brunner的学生,与老师拍档研究货币得享大名。单以调控银根(base money)来调控币量的主张,是这位师兄一九六三首先提出的。这个「银根」法门后来被西方的国家普遍采用,是以利率调控之前的事了。可以说,从货币理论实证研究的角度衡量,这位师兄的成就不在佛利民之下。

在那次雅谷午餐中,师兄向我提出一个困扰着他的问 题:美元的币量急速上升了好几年,但美国见不到有通胀复苏!他说想不通,唯一的解释是当时美元在国际上强劲。分手后我再想,得到的解释是:一九九一波斯湾 之战后,苏联解体,国际上要持美元者急升,而外间多持美元是不会导致美国本土的通胀上升的。三年前,佛利民直言他对自己多年来的币量观有怀疑,那是大师的 风范了!

于今回顾,我历来敬仰而又拜服的佛利民,币量之说 外,其货币观还有两处失误。其一是他对美国三十年代经济大萧条的解释,是货币的顶级研究,详尽得前无古人,但轻视了当时的美国工会林立,福利大行其道,最 低工资半点也不低。这些加起来约束了劳工合约的选择,而重要的件工合约当时在美国是被判为非法的。我绝不怀疑佛老说的,当年美国的联邦储备局做错了,失误 频频,币量应加不加,或应加反减,也不怀疑在合约选择自由不足的情况下,大幅增加货币量,搞起一点通胀,对当时的大萧条有助。然而,朱镕基的中国经验却令 人大开眼界。神州大地一九九三的通胀率越百分之二十,一九九七下降至零,跟着有负三强的通缩,如果算进当时的产品与服务的质量急速提升,通缩率达两位数字 应无疑问。楼房之价是下降了三分之二的。就是在这样的极为「不景」的时期,中国的经济增长保八,而失业率徘徊于百分之四左右。长三角的经济就是在那时颷 升,只八年超越了起步早十年的珠三角。是重要的经验,明显地否决了佛老的单以货币理论解释大萧条的分析。

佛老的另一项失误,是他认为金本位制度放弃了之 后,一个大国不容易甚至不可以用实物为货币之锚。昔日以金或银为锚的本位制,导致西方太平盛世很长的时日,今天还有不少经济学者向往。可惜此制也,金或银 本身的价格波动会导致其它物价的波动,而这本位制的瓦解,起于经济增长或行军打仗,金或银的供应量不足。

没有谁不同意有实物为本位的货币制度最可取,只是找不到可取的实物。是朱镕基在九十年代处理货币的方法使我霍然而悟,站了起来:以实物为货币之锚,市场要有实物存在,但政府不需要提供实物,而市民是不需要储存有关的实物的。解释是后话。

这里要向周小川先生澄清一下。多目标的货币制度虽然老生常谈,但历史的经验没有成功过。货币的基本用途是作为计算单位(unit of account), 亦即是协助市场交易的单位了。凯恩斯是这样看的。作为计算单位,货币的主要目标是稳定物价,而如果只针对这单一目标处理,成功不难。这应该是中央银行要集 中的唯一职责。经济的其它方面应该是央行之外的责任。不要羡慕美国联邦储备的主事者基本上是管到经济的各方面去。看似大权在手,其实手忙脚乱!是那个无锚 的fiat money制度使然。货币无锚,以币量调控物价难于登天,顾此失彼,于是不能不管到多方面的目标去。

君不见,西方常说的商业周期(business cycle),开放改革后的中国从来没有出现过。不是说经济没有波动,而是没有周期性。货币制度不同,市场合约选择的自由度不同,所以有别。个人认为:朱老搞出来的中国货币制度是好的。非常好,要不然中国不会有今天。我同意蒙代尔为此而提出的格言:还没有破坏,不要修理它。

(之四)

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人民币的困境(之五)

有数之不尽的理 由一个国家的货币要下一个固定的锚,然后让所有汇率自由浮动。人民币目前的主要困境,是一方面要解除外汇管制,让人民币外放来纾缓币值上升的压力;另一方 面,这汇管的解除有很大的机会带来不可以接受的高通胀。在这样的情况下,我几次建议的把人民币与一篮子物品挂钩,即是说以一篮子的物品价格指数为人民币之 锚,就更加重要了。

解释过几次,明 白的朋友拍手称善,但好些读者不明白,可能他们想得太深了。不是我的发明。我只是把古老的本位制与朱镕基的货币政策结合起来,知道可行。与一篮子物品挂钩 的想法二十多年前向佛利民提出过,但要等到十年前,得到朱老的政策启示,我才知道提供货币的政府机构是不需要有篮子内的物品在手的。当年大家都想错了。

让我从金本位说 起吧。黄金的本身值钱,以金币作货币,金的所值就是币值。金有重量,携带不便,提供货币的机构可以发行钞票,是纸钞,面额说明可以换取多少重量的金,发钞 的机构是有黄金储备的。这个古老的本位制有两大缺点。其一是金价的波动会导致其它物价的波动,其二是发钞的机构可能遇上黄金储备不足的困难。后者其实是误 解,是错觉,起于发钞的政府或机构营私舞弊,或言而无信,或上下其手。中国清代的一些钱庄与后来国民党的关金、银圆券、金圆券等,说明有金或银作本位,都 是骗人的玩意。我们有理由相信今天中国的央行再不会那样做,而如果他们那样做,没有谁有理由去关心中国的经济改革。

今天,我们要把 问题倒转过来看。央行发钞,大可说明一百元(或某面值)可以在市场买到某重量的金。短暂的波动当然存在,但可以容许。央行本身不提供金,只是见市场金价上 升,央行把部分钞票收回;见金价下跌,则多发钞票出去,那钞票面值的金量可以稳守。目的只一个:稳守金价,其它货币政策不管。这样稳守就是以黄金作为货币 之锚,也是本位制,是另一种,增加了不需要储备黄金的弹性。容许短暂的金价波动,稳守币值的金价不困难。困难是其它两方面。一、市场的黄金需求或供应可以 大上大落,稳守币值的金量,其它的物价会跟着大幅波动,对经济有不良影响,可以是很坏的。二、市场中的大富君子可以跟政府赌一手,炒金图利。这是说,以市 场的黄金为货币之锚,金量的多少不是问题,其它物价的可能大幅变动才是。

这就带来以一篮 子物品作为货币之锚的建议了。曾经建议用三十种物品,认为不够安全用六十种吧。要选对衣、食、住、行有代表性的,物品的质量要有明确的鉴定准则,要从没有 讨价还价的期货市场及批发市场选择。不难选出约六十种,但再多不容易。篮子内的物品各有各的不同价,比重也不同,而这篮子中的相对物价是自由浮动的。固定 的是一千元人民币(或某面值)可以在市场购得那篮子内指定的物品的质与量,及物品之间的固定比重。最简单是用一个指数处理。说一千元可以购得一个固定的篮 子物品,称指数为一百,央行如果调高指数为一零一,是说要有百分之一的通胀,调低为九十九,是说有百分之一的通缩了。容许每年有上、下限百分之三左右的变 动吧。篮子内的相对物价自由浮动,人民币的对外汇率也自由浮动。篮子内的物品是些什么要公布,每种选哪个市场不一定要公布,而物品的不同比重也不一定要公 布。

这就是了。西方考虑过以物价指数为货币之锚。这不成,因为这指数不能直接在市场成交。物价指数只能作为币值的目标,牵涉到不少困难。以「目标」为货币之「锚」不可能固定,算不上是真的锚,是今天西方的fiat money制。 这里提出的以一篮子物品为锚,是可以在市场直接成交的,任何人都可以。央行在明,每天甚至每个小时的篮子内的物价变动清楚,整个篮子的物价指数是随时明确 的。短暂的篮子物价指数波动容许,如果这指数上升过高,央行把部分人民币收回来;如果下跌过多,多放人民币出去。从中国目前的货币运作看,集中于钞票的收 回与放出应该是立竿见影的。最简单是由央行以外币在国际市场处理人民币的交易,而如果外币在国内自由流通(目前差不多),在国内买卖货币对通胀的调控会快 一点。外汇储备那么多,有需要时用很小的一部分足够,何况把人民币外放,有一段时期外汇储备还要急升。

民无信不立。经 过那么多年的风风雨雨,今天我们要假设央行不会营私舞弊。这假设容易接受,因为我们没有其它选择!以一篮子物品为货币之锚无疑会增加人民对央行的信心,而 外间给人民币升值的压力会消散:汇率自由浮动,你们要对人民币贬值或升值自便吧。主要是与中国竞争的廉价劳力之区,尤其是亚洲一带的发展中国家彼此之间的 汇率。大家揾食,懂得做他们的货币会以人民币为锚。另一方面,国内的通胀预期会因为人民币以一篮子物品为锚而烟消云散。

在地球一体化正 在演变的今天,举世的经济形势很不妥。金融(包括股市与国际币值)的大幅波动,半个世纪以来没有见过那么严重。石油之价达百美元一桶,而如果伊朗事发,不 知会升到哪里去。不对头,因为这几年大油田屡被发现。中国呢?屋漏更兼连夜雨,最近深圳推出的约束人民币提款,与明年初举国推出的「新劳动法」,皆令识者 心惊胆战。读者相信吗?不久前两家欧洲机构,说明年起中国会领导世界经济。不知是欣赏还是中伤,树大招风肯定是大忌。

在制度上,中国 还要清理的沙石数之不尽。非清理不可:还有太多太多的同胞的生活水平不可以接受。未富先骄,花巧的经济政策是来得太多太早了。要先稳守然后清理。这几年我 最担心的是人民币的问题,因为只要在货币政策上一子错,其它沙石怎样清理也帮不到多少忙。要一次过地稳定币值,不要管花巧的理论或政策,要把改革的精力集 中在教育、医疗、宗教、言论、法治、知识产权等事项去,大家都知道是沙石很多的。最好用自己想出来的方法,不要管外间的专家怎样说。

是不容易明白的 现象。西方的经济专家云集,但没有政府听他们说的。中国的经济专家数不出几个,但今天却喜欢引进西方的不成气候的非专家经济思维。希望北京的朋友明白,中 国的经济改革是历史奇迹,方法主要是中国人自己想出来的。高斯最近读了我那篇关于中国制度的英语文章,非常欣赏我提到的邓小平说过的一句话:「试一试,看 一看。」这是中国改革走了近三十年的路,继续这样走下去看来最上算。

(之五·

Reading list Jul-Nov 2007

原来如此

謝冠東思考日記陶傑過檔蘋果 (via VC)

原来如此。我怪错了苹果“东方化”,也错怪了陶杰的跳跃逻辑。

Sunday, December 2, 2007

可以休矣

陳太終于,不出所料,淫了葉太。就如王佳芝的自述,“老是輸,就淫過她”

經濟日報社評 (via 這雙手雖然小)

“這種反鐵票的告急策略雖有催動支持陳太、反葉太的選民出來投票的效果,但卻低貶了選民,此包括低貶了投票予葉太的選民,認為他們沒有獨立思考能力,亦低貶了支持民主的選民的行動選擇權,認為不告急便不能催谷他們投票予陳太。”

去周在家媽媽說她會第一次去投票,選陳太。我很高興,即使我心里不想她投陳太。我從來沒有想過要去貶低我媽媽。我可以面對曾仲榮先生。

媽媽只看蘋果和壹周。不過我知道她的想法,即使沒有蘋果那些骯臟低招她也是會支持泛民的。其實,泛民這一次和臺灣的DPP沒啥分別,因為投兩太的人們分別大都是鐵票。花盡心思,只用在鐵票里,同時使得中間游離派離心離德。為了招攬一朵昨日黃花,送上一個最輕易的席位,未來還將賠上更多。

葉過去的名聲太差了,因此左派只把這必輸的盤作個順水人情,算是給她一個體面的臺階,以后也不要再作非份妄想。

泛民贏了一場本來就必贏的無關痛癢的戰役。代價卻是一周前那場較大的戰役,和將來的全盤戰爭。香港的泛民可以休矣,期待新勢力的崛起代之。

Friday, November 30, 2007

不投陳皮老太的幾個理由

1) 陳皮代表泛民當權派,可泛民當權派不代表‘泛民’,泛民也不一定就代表“民主”
2) ‘泛民’當權派已淪落為只求目的,不擇手段的黨棍。支持泛民當權派只會助長大佬文化,扼殺泛民新生代的機會
3) 壹傳媒已淪落為當派工具,不惜蓄意誤導讀者。陳老太的支持率竟然能在幾天之內有比葉劉高10%以上掉到“不足1%”。不是撒謊是甚麼?華爾街日報只是社論胡來,報道可從不馬虎。蘋果竟然淪為連其他新聞都不放過的高喊”狼來了“的牧羊郎。
4) 陳老太當選,對于香港民主、或者直選的來臨,沒有任何正面的意義。

(I made no consideration of her alleged mortgage scandal, as I believe scandal should not change one's view on competence)

因此,為了香港的民主,也為了加速直選的來臨。我們不能投陳老太一票。

p.s. @賭徒
No. I am not misled by anyone. You can call me 無間道 or whatever you like as well. I had come to this view long before Wong Onyin said anything.
Please do not "insult the intelligence" of other people. Read AD again to spot its shameless biase.
We are not to be misled so easily. Apple Daily tried to mislead the mass and myself. I am frustrated and angry. AD is "insulting our intelligence" by trying to manipulate us like idiot. Jimmy Lai has now turned one of the best media in HK into a propaganda machine, which will bear no credibility. To me it has cried wolf too many times, and bears the same credibility as Oriental Daily.
I honestly believe it is better that he migrates to Taiwan (than staying here in HK), since his AD was much more truthful over there.
I can list a few "product placement" reports from AD almost every single day. e.g. When it talked about new technology and blog, it listed Mrs Chen as an example and throw a few random political propaganda sh_ts at an otherwise totally apolitical news thread.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Stephen Cheung on RMB, Rural China (ii)

When I first started as a management consultant a dozen years ago, the MNCs focus on "big 3" -- Beijing Shanghai and Guangzhou. They complained that there is no scale in such a huge market. I laughed, and created a tiered city approach using the China City Statistical Yearbooks. Without going for the 200+ cities China does not have the scale to support these capitalist fat pigs. The role model of the time, Xian Janssen, already went to that depth while everybody was insisting only the big 3 can afford his product and they will never compromise by "lowering" their price.

The Excel database and classification I established is still in use today by the firm, quite widely, AFAIK.

Today, our focus should shift to rural China. Only those with the vision to reach rural China, and the ability to understand rural China will succeed in the coming decade.

This is why I am thrilled by Professor Cheung's speech below (ii), and (iii)

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说过多次,反对人民币升值是为了中国的农民。也说过多次,中国农民的生活搞不起,经济增长怎样了不起也没有用。说要改善农民的生活说了几千年,得个「讲」字,但今天是看到曙光了。

近来反对人民币 升值有点火气,情难自禁也。可不是因为农民的生活没有改进,或改进得太慢。正相反,大约二○○○年起,中国农民的生活改进得快,上升速度超过我的期望。形 势好,是关键时刻,泼冷水愚不可及。左盘算右盘算,我认为这几年农民生活改进的速度,如果再持续十年——从历史看是很短的时日——中国的农民会达到小康。 还要鼓励城市的工商业发展。农民生活的改进,是要靠工商业的继续励进带动的。不容易看到农民的生活与城市的人均收入打平,因为后者有大富人家。但农民的人 均收入,要达到城市的中等人家水平不苛求。那是小康,大约还需要十年吧。这是以目前农村的发展速度算,也把二○○三年起农产品价格上升的速度算进去。

说实话,要一下 子大幅提升农民的生活,易过借火。那是拜当年的日本为师,禁止农产品进口。但这样做,中国整体的经济发展会变得溃不成军,无从再进矣。我反对禁止农产品进 口,或抽进口税;我也反对最低工资,反对补贴农业,反对福利经济——因为这些会扼杀农民自力更生的机会。我赞成大事推广农村子弟的知识教育,认为最好鼓励 私营的慈善机构办学,赞成在农村推广适用于中国的农业科技,也赞成大学取录学生时,农村子弟的高考成绩不妨让个折头。

我也认为两年前取消农业税是对的。这「取消」协助了在农民大量转到工商业去的情况下,农产品的总量还继续上升:弃置了的农地再被耕耘,雇用全职农工开始盛行,而农作的机械与建设投资,虽然还简陋,是明显地急速上升了。

不要相信农民的 生活愈来愈苦,或贫富两极继续分化。就是北京也难以估计流动人口,以户籍人口算农民的人均收入不对,而外国机构的什么分化指数统计,根本不知道中国发生着 些什么事。在收入的差距上,城市与农村之间可能还在加阔,但相对的百分比升幅,这几年农民比市民升得快是没有疑问的。这发展继续,农民的收入早晚会追上城 市的居民。

北京目前的统 计,是全国农民人口下降至总人口的百分之五十六。是以户籍人口算吧。我调查了几个农村(包括河南、江苏、浙江、广东、贵州),图案竟然一样:可工作的农村 劳力,十个走了七个。近城市的走得较少,因为容易半农半工。大略地算一下,从总人口看,今天农村的实际人口只有总人口的百分之三十五左右,而从劳动人口 看,操作农业的大约是百分之二十(一位作过比较深入调查的专家朋友,说只剩百分之十五左右)。六年前在广州讲话,我说中国操农作的要下降至总劳动人口百分 之二十左右才算及格。这言论给人痛骂,说永远不可能。曾几何时,今天应该是达到了,比我六年前想象的快。今天看,农作劳动人口再下降五个百分点就差不多 了。

无可置疑,近两 年建筑工人的收入上升得很可观,反映着从农转工的速度缓慢了下来。雇用的农工兴起,而他们的全职收入,目前是略高于工厂的低薪工人。这里要指出一个考虑重 点。以低工资从工商业学起,只要勤奋,知识与日俱增,假以时日,其收入的上限有机会高到天上去。换言之,工商业的知识有很大的争取空间,机会有很大的变 化,因而收入增长的弹性高。农业可没有这样的际遇。中国的农作知识了不起,但主要是数千年的智慧积累,农村的孩子从小耳闻目染,长大后一般都学满了师。不 是说先进的农业科技对中国毫无用处,但地少人多,好些外来的科技没有多大用场。技术上,这些年中国的农业有长进,而以胶布建造温室这几年盛行了。那天我见 到农民投资五千,用胶布建一间房子,可养鸡千只,有无限感慨。是新法饲养,而令我心跳加速的是一户农家拿得出三个五千元。

无论怎样说,一 个地少人多的国家,加上农业的本质,农民收入的上升弹性远不及工商业。所以我认为一个年轻力壮的农工收入,只略高于工业的低薪是不够的。这几年农产品的价 格比工业产品的价格上升得快,是好现象。假设工业产品之价不变,农产品之价再升一倍至一倍半,加上设备投资与新技术,农民一般可达小康。这样盘算,我的估 计是再要大约十年。

漫长的黑洞,中 国的农民终于走到尽头,见到光亮了。为什么不让他们走出洞口呢?发神经!说过无数次,农转工,中国的农民起步时是转到我称为接单工厂去。这些工厂的产品没 有自己的商标,也没有任何专利,只是有单接单,有版照造,他们的竞争对手不是什么先进之邦,而是越南、印度等工资比中国还要低的地方。人民币升值,大家用 美元结算,订单会容易地跑到这些后起的地区去。今天的中国可没有日本当年那样着数,可以让日圆上升一两倍还有竞争力。一九九一年,在瑞典,我跟佛利民说得 清楚:世界大变,不久的将来地球会增加十至二十亿的廉价劳力在国际上竞争。没有看错,这竞争出现了,是地球之幸。我为印度、越南等的兴起感到高兴,而对中 国来说,落后之邦有点钱是大吉大利,因为与之贸易可以多赚一点。但让人民币升值是让赛,是轻敌,是未富先骄。

是的,就是农转 工到了一个饱和点,北京还不能让人民币升值。原因是要提升农民的收入,我们要让工商业的收入上升。这上升会自然地迫使工业改进产品的质量与引进科技,而这 几年中国的研究投资的上升率是世界之冠。人民币不升,中国的接单工业总会有抬头的一天。是的,中国早晚要放弃低下的接单工业,让改革较慢起步的接单去吧。 绝对不是看人家不起,而是中国的劳苦大众吃了那么多年苦,今天的形势是他们的血汗换回来的。

五年前说过,人民币强劲,主要是因为中国的人民大众吃得苦。人民币升值,对富有的炎黄子孙无疑有利。但劳苦大众呢?难道他们会旅游巴黎喝拉图红酒吗?

(之二)

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上文提到人民币面对两项困境。其一是兑美元上升, 外贸以美元结算,弹性系数不协助,中国的外贸顺差不跌反升。这会带来外间再强迫人民币升值,有可能一重一重地逼上去,使中国走上日本当年的不幸的路。其 二,中国的劳苦大众的工资,高于跟他们竞争的印度及越南等地,人民币再上升,这几年发展得很有看头的农民生活,会遇到严重的打击。

这里转谈第三项困境。那是这几个月中国的通胀是明 显地上升了,到了近于不可以接受的水平。这里我们要冷静下来,思量一下。首先,近来的通胀加剧主要是农产品的价格上升得快。这是好现象。农转工的人数那么 多,农产品的价格上升是自然的现象,而如果农产品的价格不升,农民的生活不容易有抬头的一天。然而,普通常识说,农转工的人数多,非农业的物价理应下降才 对。但没有,只是上升得少。原则上,中国的物价指数,农产品占三分之一,其价上升一个百分点,其它物价下降半个百分点可以抵销,使通胀率为零。但没有。在 目前中国的发展中,通胀年率低于五可以接受,目前是在六至七之间,不好,也不大坏。

大坏而又头痛的,是人民币兑美元上升了百分之十, 按照经济常规,币值上升是会带来通缩的,但没有。以香港为例,近两年港人到大陆消费,物价是上升了百分之二十强。不是说国内的人也遇到同样的通胀,分析复 杂,但可以肯定地说,因为人民币值在国际上升了,国内的通胀率其实不止目前公布的六至七之间。

这就带来一个有趣的经济学问题。币值上升,应该有通缩—读者不妨想象人民币值大幅上升,通缩必至—但为什么上升了百分之十还会有通胀加剧的现象呢?

我的解释有两方面。其一,贸易顺差急升,外资继续 涌进,外汇储备激增,这些进帐或迟或早是要用人民币兑换代替的。这会导致人民币的国内流通量增加。不是说外汇进帐要下降至零才没有通胀,但因为这进帐的激 增使人民币量上升,央行加息约束的主要是国内市民的消费与投资,不是明智之举。其二,央行以压制人民币需求的方法来纾缓其上升压力,例如禁止在国内自由地 以外币兑换人民币,有适得其反的效果。压制需求会促使市场预期人民币会继续上升,争持人民币会使币量被迫提升。

这就带来我曾经说过的一个重点:要纾缓人民币上升的压力,约束需求(目前做的)是劣着—正着是增加人民币的供应。后者,为避免国内的通胀加剧,央行要把人民币大量地放出国外—这是要解除目前的外汇管制了。

解除汇管,把人民币大量放出去,要人民币变得毫无 上升压力很容易,而放出去够多人民币值是会下降的。要注意:把人民币放出去与此前决定(而最近剎掣)的天津「直通车」到香港买股票很不相同。「直通车」是 内资外流,但人民币外放有引进外汇的效果,国家是有钱赚的。这里要说清楚:从经济学的角度看,我不反对内资外流,但指明是购买股票却是劣着。股票之价,原 则上,是反映着上市公司的回报率,市场应早有定论。无端端因为「直通车」而使港股上升了百分之四十,反映着股民一般无知,早晚会损手烂脚!买股票不是移民 潮买楼,不是自由行购物,而是市场投资,要看上市公司的投资回报。

炎黄子孙有钱出外投资,那很好,但要让他们自由选择投资的项目与回报的预期。说实话,当今之世,不容易找到一个地方投资比神州大地更可取,但如果炎黄子孙要分散一点,那到外间下点注,过瘾一下,也无不可,但不要强迫他们通过港股市场。

要纾缓人民币的上升压力,大量把人民币推出国际是 最上选的了。这里还有一个很少人注意到的重点。这两年人民币上升,主要是兑美元上升,而我说的接单工厂今天叫救命,主要是他们一律以美元结算!是个尴尬的 问题,炎黄子孙很有点面目无光:既为泱泱大国,经济搞了起来,震撼世界,但外国人购买中国货,为什么不能用人民币结算呢?这是因为中国还有汇管,人民币不 自由外放。

北京的朋友要为国家的尊严设想一下吧。但在目前的 形势下,解除汇管让人民币自由外放,有不小的机会带来相当头痛的麻烦:国内的通胀因而急速上升的机会存在。这里我们有两方面的考虑。一方面,有两点对通胀 是有利的。第一点,如果北京依照我的建议,取消进口税,贸易顺差大跌,有纾缓通胀的效果。第二点,以提升人民币的对外供应来减少该币的上升压力,市场再不 争持。另一方面,人民币自由外放,对通胀不利也有两点。第一点,人民币的强势下降的本身,会增加通胀的压力。第二点,如果外放了的人民币回流,国内的人民 币量增加也会导致通胀。人民币留在外地则不会,但外放了的总会有某部分回流,尤其是投资中国这些年成为风气了。我们无从估计外放了的人民币的回流比率会是 多少。

两点会纾缓通胀,两点会增加通胀压力,一起合并, 国内的物价会向哪个方向走呢?很难说。如果一定要我猜一下,我认为在目前的物价明显地趋升的形势下,解除汇管,外放人民币到没有上升压力的那点,国内通胀 加速的机会较高,有可能引起急速通胀。因此,我不能不旧话重提,建议人民币与一篮子物品挂钩。这后者我分析过多次,但好些读者还是不明白。应该是传统的货 币观误导了他们。我要从另一个角度再说一次。

这里要补充一下的,是人民币大量外放,中国的外汇储备会相应上升。与贸易顺差及外资涌进的储备上升不同:除非人民币大量回流,其外放带来的储备上升是不会增加通胀的。

(之三)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

色、戒 - 杂谈

李安是好导演。买票进场绝对值回票价。只是个人从来不是李安的粉丝。’卧虎藏龙’不过尔尔。‘断背山’更要闷出鸟来了。张爱玲更是酸溜溜的,看了几页就睡着了。

不过色戒绝对是经典。"色戒"是个人认为今年最好的电影。另一部故事题材雷同的好戏是Paul Verhoeven 的‘黑皮书’(Black Book/Zwartboek)

已看了三遍。第一遍盗版DVD,他妈的是国内删减+枪版!第二遍是国内电影院。第三遍才是香港的"足本"。从来没有以这种次序看电影,这实在显示了我之前对色戒的轻视。因此破例在博客杂记如下:

A)先谈大家关心的五场色戏
  1. 第一场没什么可谈的。不过与黑皮书比就凸显了东西文化的差异。“三年前,你可以的”。可是你偏偏要舍本逐末,抵抗日本人凌辱的方法竟然是把所爱的人送给日本人的走狗污辱!这种舍本逐末、罔顾原则的做法,今天香港的所谓饭民派还在做。(至于荷兰佬,要你去牺牲,我不先上了还不是便宜了那豺狼)
  2. 第二场在国内给剪了,是王与同学在练兵。他俩大概练了不少次。王骑到上面去了。这镜头在第五场还有deja vu。
  3. 第三场为了表现易的猜疑与不信任。李安大概想以这三段来交代王的感情转变,王开始是这样的。
  4. 第四场易还没解除戒心,数次把王的头按下。显示这毒蛇钻洞的过程是漫长的。
  5. 第五场的易已完全卸下心防。王把易的头用枕头蒙着,假如她要的话,完全可以当本能的Sharon Stone.(恰恰也是Verhoeven的成名作)
Leona说的对,其实中了色计还有王佳芝。而什么是色计?才子也终于歪打正着了一次。

不过,朋友说,“没有完成过戏里十招中之八九,还不配评这第五场戏”。看来才子真是只说不做,竟然以为“一招”就可以制敌。就像其惯常以为流莺三年就能以英国人自居一样。原来才子的德行还停留在研究蛋蛋和招式的阶段。李安在第五场里招式层出不穷,不是在给才子出课题,而是要显示两位主角鱼乐无穷。这不是那一招就可以了决的,招数可以无限。不说了,还是让他在家好好练他的猿搏宝典好了。

B) 色戒讲的是醉心电影的王佳芝演戏的故事,可能也是李安本人对电影的自白吧。麦太太就是王在戏中的角色
  • 一句‘以后演戏用的着’,王二话不说就把烟往嘴里送。其后我们看到的是王习惯性的抽烟
  • 在浅水湾酒店(VERANDA?)那经典晚餐戏王喝白兰地(口仓)了一口,回到家立马要了一杯酒,可见不会喝酒是装的,是在演戏,演的B真
  • ‘王之所以能撑到现在,是因为她除了当麦太太之外不作外想’。其实王就是在演戏。全面进入角色。
  • 王一直在演戏,即使最后一场色戏里也是。那Deja vu的姿势就令人想起第二场色戏的排演。王真正意识到给毒蛇钻进心里是在收到钻石后。不是因为什么愚蠢的De Beer 广告效应,而是因为老易在一开始就明言了他不会为了讨好女人买什么烂石头的,却竟然违背了他自己的理性而行。王在那一刻分不清到底麦太太还是王佳芝是一个虚假的角色了。对手不是在演戏,对白不是这样的(this is not how it was supposed to happen),难道戏早已闭幕了?
  • 还有,任务‘失败’后,王想起了一个人在戏台上,画外音“王佳芝”,然后看到二楼她的同伴们。她是如何开始演这一场戏的。。。
C) 色戒是一部爱国电影。就那场陆佑堂演戏就足够证明其爱国之意了。现在还有什么电影会有这些熱血沸腾的片段。我们看Casablanca,除了飞机送别,就是高唱马赛曲的一幕。

D) 一些小处:电影的名片里写着“易默村”,郑萍如要暗杀的是"丁默村"。要说李安张爱玲合谋暗算郑萍如,不无道理。不过,怎么去理解一些客观的现象,是由观众的心态定的。比如说,我们也可以说李安刻意以王佳芝来衬托出郑萍如的伟大---换了一个普通女子早就出卖组织了。

E) 一见钟情:王第一次在货车上看到邝裕民、邝第一次在港大校园看到王、王第一次看到易后回来说他跟想象的不一样埋下往后事情的伏笔、易在王第一次离开后在屋顶的窥视。说没有一见钟情的人是可怜的,因为他们还不如貌丑的张爱玲,没有体验一见钟情的福气。

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p.s.

1) 悬疑版《色戒》图片之旅
2) 开启《色戒》悬疑迷案的钥匙(douban转贴)

Monday, November 19, 2007

They would not listen they're not listening still Perhaps they never will

香港民主黨的發言越來越虛了:
  • 民主黨主席何俊仁承認這次區議會選舉失敗,未來要重新整頓選舉策略。他曾提出辭職,但獲得挽留。副主席李永達因擔任選舉委員會主席要為選舉失利負責,中委會接納他的辭職。
  • 何俊仁其後在記者會上表示會全面檢討及汲取經驗,希望從失敗中建立成功道路。李永達說,選前對競爭對手的選舉動員及形勢研判不確,也未看清對手的進步速度,是他們得到最大的教訓。過去以為中產階層一定會支持泛民派的假設目前已不成立,這都需要檢討。
Huh? What exactly do these empty words mean? I will offer a song to them, the name is "Starry, starry night". 厚顏無恥,還受挽留。I am angry.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Light viewing / idea for the 2008 Olympic opening

This could be an idea for the 2008 Olympic opening...



Now, give each dancer a mobile phone, build a software to pixelize a picture and call/sms the phones about the color of their pixels, we have instantaneous customized picture! A picture can be displayed immediately after the guest provides it.

Further, give each dancer 3 flags: red, yellow, blue. A 3x3matrix of 9 player can represent one full color pixel (3^9 colors). Just like what you see in a color printer print-out using a microscope.

Steve Job and Li Kashing

What I want to say is, they are pretty much the same.

Li Kashing is clever, rational, made a lot of money selling Orange. But failed in "3", because he failed to realize that 3G is just an ISP with a mobile premium. He is too greedy. He wants to control the content.

I got my iPhone yesterday, was told of the availability but had not much time to do research on the internet. It turns out that Steve Job is even greedier. He forbids us from using a normal music track as ringtone. He wants us to pay him $2 for every ringtone we use! This may work in US, where consumers are relative generous. But he will fail in Asia and Europe. Even in US many hacks have become available.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The fundamental things apply

From the World Economic Forum’s annual Gender Gap report (via the rather conservative blog Cominganarchy), there are two interesting charts. They both provide evidence for my earlier comparison of the fundamental issues regarding the economic potential of India and China.

GDP/cap vs Gender Gap


Competitiveness vs Gender Gap


China is placed a bit lower than I had expected on this chart. I think it has to do with the scoring system. e.g., women literacy vs male were ranked and scored. Even though Chinese women's relative literacy is 0.91, it is only ranked #81. This means in certain measure a small difference (in terms of economic and social impact) has been magnified in this scoring.

But the more seirous problem with the China data here (and in general for all statistics) is that the urban-rural difference has been averaged. If we are to look at the urban data alone, I am sure the relative literacy (and most other measures) will greatly improve. I would not be surprise if urban China is ranked in top 25, or even 15. However, much of what the report reflects about China, esp the rural area, is true. When you listen to a restaurant waitress that she quitted school at 13 and now sending money back to pay for her younger brother's school fee, you know how much we still have to do in this country. When you are picking up your shirts and dresses from Banana Republic or A&F, with a "Made in China" sign, you would appreciate who really created the economic miracle in China. It is the hundreds of millions of country girls who work 70 hours a day in these sweat shops.

The fundamental things are that in China, 2 people works to support 3 people; in India only one person works to support 3, they do apply, as time goes by... this is what contributed to China's successful economic transformation, and what India needs to consider very seriously.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Happy problem for China -- stephen cheung

Okay, I distorted what Prof Cheung says. But I do think this is a happy problem for China, and Prof Cheung proposed a happy solution -- China to abolish tariff.

Yes, why not?

NB. The price elasticity problem: what Prof says is this, Revenue = Price x Volume. If RMB appreciates, Price increase and Volume drops. Price elasticity measure the % change in Price and Volume. Therefore, if initially R=PV. now Pa become 1.1P but Va=0.95V then Ra=1.1x0.95PV=1.045R. This is what happened to China's export value during the past 2 years.

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人民币的困境(之一)

(按:此文乃二○○七年十月二十九日于贵阳贵州财经学院讲话之大略。是日也,朝雨送寒,午后讲座,老师同学云集者二千。随后挥毫数纸,晚宴贵州茅台,夜叙法国红酒,老生常言该地贫瘠,盖前日事耳。)

各位同学:

我老是想得简单,这次讲话,每点要说的都简单,但因为有多点,加起来就变得复杂了。所以同学们要听得留心,否则加不起来。

一个国家的经济发展得快,历久不衰,其货币币值强劲,在国际上有上升压力,是大吉大利的形势,与货币呈弱势是两回事。好比一个男人找不到女人,相当头痛,但如果有多个美女追求,则过瘾之极,处理何难之有哉?目今人民币在大好形势下遇到不容易解决的困境,恐怕源于处理失误,为何如此,怎样解救,说来话长,让我说说吧。

二○○二年我在南开大学说人民币是天下第一强币(当时黑市还低于官价),二○○三年三月说两年内先进之邦会强迫人民币升值(当时黑市与官价打平)。不出所料,只四个月后这「强迫」就出现了。我当时是反对人民币升值的。这反对今天依旧——为何反对我会解释。感谢货币大师蒙代尔。他也屡次公开反对人民币升值,后来知道他的理由与我的差不多,可谓英雄所见略同矣。

首先要说的困境,是人民币兑美元上升了百分之六至十之间后,中国对外贸易的顺差急升。说过好几次,货币汇率上升会导致顺差上升的机会很大。经济本科一年级的弹性系数分析,说物价上升,需求量下降,但总消费可能增加。到了三年级的对外贸易课程,这弹性系数增加了好几个,方程式长而复杂,都支持着货币汇率上升不一定可以减少贸易顺差,但没有谁可以事前推断弹性系数是哪个数字。当然,如果人民币升得够高,到某个价位中国的贸易顺差一定会下降,但到那一点,或到顺差不存在的那一点,中国的经济很可能会走上日本的路。我大概是一九八六年发表《日本大势已去》的。

是的,当年发展得头头是道的日本,经济不景已有二十个年头了。二○○一年在三藩市与佛利民畅谈日本的困境,他说日本看来有转机,六年过去,这转机还看不到。这可能是因为日圆币值在国际上大幅上升了,受益的多是有钱人,话得事。三十年前红极一时的日本,在经济政策上犯了两项大错。其一是禁止农产品进口,使地价急升,飞到天上去。其二是让日圆汇率升值,从三百六十兑一美元升至八十兑一(今天约一百二十兑一)。史坦福一位名教授作过深入研究,两年前发表所得,直指日圆升值对日本经济的祸害。像蒙代尔一样,这位教授支持中国,反对人民币升值。

不容易明白为什么经济学诺贝尔奖十之八九落在美国学者手上,但那里的议员老是认为人民币值上升会改善美国对中国的贸易逆差。更不容易明白为什么外国坚持要求中国货价上升。说会增加本土的就业机会是浅见。最近见报,中国货的价格在美国是明显地上升了,需求弹性系数低于一,中国货的总消费于是上升了。

这里有一个关键问题。人民币兑美元上升,中国的贸易顺差大幅上升,我敢十对一打赌,外国施压要人民币再上升必将加剧。另一方面,虽然中国贸易顺差上升的本身不一定会导致人民币值上升,但市场一般是这样看。如此一来,政治施压,市场又施压,人民币要不升很头痛。

不止此也。最头痛的关键,是如果人民币受到压力而再上升,中国的贸易顺差会继续上升的机会很大。这是因为中国货在外地畅销已有十多年,那里的消费者养成了惯性,这是会促成弹性系数下降的。我们无从知道人民币要升到哪个价位这惯性才会改为有利中国贸易顺差下降的弹性系数。这样,人民币值再上升,中国顺差又再上升,外国加重施压,一重一重地推上去,中国会被迫走上日本的不幸的路。前车可不鉴乎?

只有两个可以改「善」中国贸易顺差(指减少)的途径,肯定有效的。其一是中国大幅施行出口关税。这对中国的工业发展极为不利,但总要比外国大幅提升中国货进口税为佳,因为前者税收由中国获取。其二,最佳的选择,是废除外国货进口中国的关税,或起码大幅减少。废除所有进口关税是妙着,最好的,贸易顺差一定下降,而炎黄子孙可以大享鬼子佬的名牌真货之乐矣。不妨考虑与外国洽商,大家一起取消所有关税,但中国单方面取消所有进口税也是正着,何况这后者潇洒好看,干脆利落,有大国之风。这也是对世界公布:地球一体化,我们不跟你们婆婆妈妈,身先士卒地表演一手,成为天下第一个自由贸易大国。

纵观天下大势,我认为中国取消所有进口税不仅要做,而且迫在眉睫,要尽快做。这是一项肯定可以大幅减低中国贸易顺差的法门,而又因为有那么多的外资要到神州大地下注,我们无需担心取消进口税会对中国目前的外汇进帐有不良影响。说过了,中国的外汇储备那么多,要烧也要烧好几天。

取消进口税对中国的工业会有负面影响吗?也不用担心。一个原因是中国货的竞争者绝大部分不是先进之邦的优质名牌,另一个原因是让优质名牌免了关税杀进中国,这些产品会迫使中国提升产品质量,很快的。今天,我绝不担心中国的工业家会那样不争气,见到外来的名牌就心惊胆战,鸣金收兵,躲起来了。

六年前,在某次讲话中,我说如果举世取消关税,全球一体化竞争产出,我会将身家押在炎黄子孙那边去。这类推断我从来不错。

(之一)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

綠色GDP

有關中國的綠色GDP,外界一直興趣頗濃。所以到最近統計局確定不推行綠色GDP時,外界的極度失望是很自然的了。如所報道,地方的壓力當然是部分的因素。可是,最主要的問題還在技術上。

先說明設定綠色GDP的初衷。中國各級官員的考核升遷裏最主要的考核指標就是GDP的增長。中國過去27GDP的高速成長,跟考核方式脫不了關係。也正正因為如此,世界上只有中國的GDP裏水分特多。縣虛報一點,到了市級又來個四舍五入或幹脆增加幾個百分點,到了省也一樣。到了中央,才可以勉強往下壓一點,因為國家級幹部考核的指標不完全相同了,而且GDP增長率也已高得不可信了。別的國家地區並沒有這種考核制度,因此也沒人去花這種心思虛報。謠傳上一任的統計局長邱曉華的下臺,就與他收受賄賂,串同虛報GDP有關。上海的陳良宇是其中一個行賄者。由是統計局雖名為局,卻是一個部級的機構,因其責任重大。綠色GDP的用途,就是要在官員考核的方程式裏扣減綠色GDP的損失。

GDP的計算,是經濟學家的範疇。筆者,門外漢也。班門弄斧,勉為之。據說綠色GDP本來要采取類似GDP的框架。於是,就產生了如每噸煤該扣減多少綠色GDP的難題。環境汙染如何難以量化先按下不表;GDP是每年計算的,單位是“元/年”,環境汙染是長期的,單位是“元”。要把兩個不同單位的量相比(或相減)在數學上是不可能的。當然學術上的綠色GDP是存在的,就是體現其總體影響的凈現值(NPV)。可是要達到計算綠色GDP的初衷卻不容易。此為中國綠色GDP推行不了的最主要原因。其次,據說統計局參考了各方學者的研究,其中不合理之處不勝枚舉。例如,有提議把煤的汙染都算到采礦者的頭上。實際上,產煤者只該負責生產過程中所產生的汙染,而用那種燃煤發電機,如何過濾燃燒產生的廢氣,乃用煤者的責任。目前國家的統計法和資料收集,不足以支持較真實的計算。這是目前國家統計局暫時停止了綠色GDP項目的最主要原因。

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A lousy reporting from IHT -- about the case of Jin Lei and Gensci

This is not to defend Dr. Jin Lei. I am just shocked at the lousiness of the NYT reporting.

IHT and NYT today carried one of the most ignorant and biased articles for such a renowned paper.

Two reporters, David Barboza and Duff Wilson, reported a case against dr. Jin Lei, founder and Chief Executive of Genesci, the market leader of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and also one of the most successfully biotech companies in China.

A few very important facts seem to have been deliberately missed or mis-directed, which made this reporting look like total trash.

  1. Jintropin is no different from any other Human Growth Hormone that is marketed by US companies such as Genetech, Eli Lilly or Swiss biotech company Sereno. However, the articles made it sound like Genesci was the only company in the world that produced such drug, and hence Gensci committed an unforgivable crime by selling this to rouge distributors in USA. The fact is, HGH is an FDA approved drug, its main function is to treat dwarfness and other growth retarded diseases. No quality related complaint about Jintropin was reported, the only difference seems to be the process of physician prescription
  2. The reality is that Jintropin does not have FDA approval, just like any of the other Chinese drugs, such as another biotech blockbuster, recombinant insulin. When it was produced by a Chinese company, it was not allowed to be imported to USA. It is extremely costly to apply for FDA approval (US$10-100M)
  3. This is simply a case of selling a China SFDA approved drug into US where it was not approved by US FDA. Yet the two reporter, whether being ignorant or lazy, or for other reasons, reported it as if it were some novel dopes Jin patented for himself. Jintropin is just a brand for a generic drug that is also sold by US companies.
  4. In fact, it is unforgivable that these reporters missed a rumour in the past that Genentech had allegedly accused Jin of stealing its technology for manufacturing Jintropin (HGH). Perhaps this will weaken their story of misleading the reader through demonizing HGH
  5. Finally, in the last paragraph of the report our 'respectable' reporters inserted an innuendo linking Jin to the executed corruptor Zheng Xiaoyu. Zheng has been the head of SFDA since its foundation. Almost all drug companies in China have photo of his visit. It is commonplace that Chinese companies (this is not unique for China) showing photograph of their bosses with Clinton and Bush, or Zheng Xiaoyu, which often has no correlation to their actual relationship. In reality, this is at best an oversight from Gensci’s web manager, who forgot to distant themselves from a corruptor. Yet the two IHT idiots tried to hint that Jin was linked to the corruptor.

I do not want to defend Dr. Jin and I do not have any knowledge about the case. All I know is that if I were Dr. Jin, the report would suffice a libel suit against IHT and the two reporters. I also believe that sloppy reporting like this will be viewed as part of the coordinated efforts in a malicious attack on anything China, the Mattel-toy mess being the other.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lessons from the Golden Triangle

The IHT (and the NYT) ran an excellent article of the transformation of the “Notorious” Golden Triangle, around the shared border of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, where economic opportunity and development has almost eradicated the opium production in the area, of which the diffusion effect of China’s economic growth played a pivoted role.

The story runs in parallel with that of Afghanistan. According to IHT, [the Golden Triangle], “once the epicenter of [opium] trade, has been eclipsed by Afghanistan. Despite the accusation that Al Qaeda has been funded by opium planting and that the American invasion would correct Afghanistan’s agricultural practice, the chart showed that Afghanistan’s opium production tripled under American control, while that of the Golden Triangle reduced by over 80%.

This is another proof of Barnett’s theory of “economic connectedness”. If situation in Iraq persist, and oil price drops, I am not surprised to see Iraqi start growing pop in large scale. On the other hand, if we encourage economic growth and integration of the neighboring country, i.e. Pakistan, UAE, Iran or China, the problem of Afghanistan and Iraq might disappear gradually without external inference. The question is then, of course, whether the power hungry are content to let things develop without interfering them. A good strategy means to achieve one’s objective with minimum cost, this is often in conflict with the lobby groups who wants business by forcing the governments to spend more, and in conflict with the power hungry who has the addiction to do more.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Inflation in China is a very good thing, provided that ...

I was going to write a post about this. But I was glad that Professor Cheung already did this.

若要马儿好,让马儿吃草——从通胀说一篮子物品


Related links:
Commodity Peg
Cheung's interview with Phoenix TV
All essay on the basket peg
Series 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (or here)

IMHO, The arrogant professor may really be hitting the Nobel jackpot this time.

---
最近北京公布通胀上升加速,是大新闻了。与去年七月相比,物价指数上升了百分之五点六,其中农产品之价上升尤甚,是百分之 十五点四。媒体纷纷求教,只覆一处,说:「我一则以喜,一则以忧,你要先听哪一则?」是女孩子访问的,聪明兼漂亮,难道老人家动了凡心乎?女孩子说要先听 「以喜」的那一则。
  
  一时间我有无限感慨:神州大地满是伪君子!又要马儿好,又要马儿不吃草!大家不是抢着说要改善农民的生活吗? 人均的农地面积那么小,而这些年数之不尽的农作青年随着流动人口流到工业那边去,加上炎黄子孙的袋里多了一点钱,要吃得好一点,农产品之价岂有不升之理? 我反对福利经济,反对补贴农民,但同意取消农业税,而更喜欢见到的是农产品之价上升了。这是我期待了很久的事,不出现中国农民的生活不会有大好转。三年前 农产品之价明显地上升了,我高兴,这次升得急,大吉大利也。朋友,要协助农民的生活吗?长贫难顾,补贴不是好办法。多花一块几毫购买他们的蔬菜,才是通过 市场来协助农民的妙方。
  
  在北京的物价指数内,农产品约占三分之一。算起来,农产品之价升百分之十五点四,非农产品之价的升幅只百 分之零点九,近于零。如果要物价指数整体的升幅是零,即是说毫无通胀,那么非农产品的物价指数要下降百分之七点七。农产品相对非农产品的物价一定要上升, 中国的农民才有希望的。最近的指数,显示这相对物价上升了百分之十七点一,是大好形势,可喜可贺也。
  
  转谈「以忧」的一则吧。中国 的物价指数何止上升了百分之五点六?一年来,人民币兑美元上升了百分之七强。一字都冇咁浅的经济逻辑说,币值上升,物价指数理应下降才对。这次币值上升而 物价指数又上升,物价的真实升幅应该是百分之十以上。跟与美元挂勾的港元相比,一年来人民币兑港元上升了百分之七强,国内物价指数上升了百分之五点六,从 香港游客的角度看,以港元兑换人民币到国内消费,国内的物价升幅约百分之十三。不是说百分之十三才是去年中国物价的真正升幅——对香港游客来说当然是—— 但因为国内的对外贸易一般以美元结算,通过外贸与外资的进入,这百分之十三的物价升幅早晚会大约地传达到中国人民的消费那边去。
  
   农产品之价上升了百分之十五点四是佳音,而非农产品之价只升百分之零点九也不是坏消息,然而,因为人民币的币值上升了不少,国内的人从旅游或物品进出口的 物价变动衡量,国内的物价是大幅地上升了。这可能引起国内的人对通胀形成了恶性预期,而这预期一旦形成了,不容易改过来,就算央行能成功地大事收缩人民币 的币量供应,改变通胀预期所需的时日不短。
  
  不要误会,我不是说通胀预期已经在中国形成了,也不是说因为最近公布的物价指数与人民币值的上升,这预期早晚会出现。我不知道,也无从知道,只是说,如果有通胀预期这回事,近今的数据变动逻辑上是通胀预期的成因。
  
   老实说,预期这回事或什么理性预期的,只有上苍才知道,我们凡夫俗子无从考究。人的预期是脑中的抽象物,既看不到,也摸不着。「预期」之所以在经济学存 在,是因为在推理时,逻辑上,不用上「预期」好些现象我们无从解释。另一方面,凡是难明的现象,推出「预期」可解,但一般性的解释力,以左预期右预期之法 作解释,不容易避免前后矛盾,低能也。再另一方面,不管预期何物,现象的观察是,预期一旦形成了,要改过来很困难。
  
  近今世界大 乱,什么恐怖活动,什么次按风波,而各地股市无不大上大落,到处汇率、利率皆如冇尾飞铊。中国呢?还是尽可能避开外来的波动为上。这不是说中国要独善其 身,只管自扫门前雪,不管他人瓦上霜。地球一体化,可以帮助他家中国要考虑,但如果中国因为外间的影响而自己波动起来,说什么协助他家是不自量力了。
  
   我因此不能不旧话重提,建议北京把一篮子物品的物价指数作为人民币之锚。只要这篮子的物品选得适当,人民币之锚稳守,通胀可以一次过地解决,而通胀预期 必去如黄鹤矣!这个以一篮子为锚的货币制度我解释过多次,这里不重述。以近今公布的物价指数为例,升幅百分之五点六,其中农产品升百分之十五点四,非农产 品升百分之零点九。如果人民币以一篮子物品的物价指数为锚,而该篮子有北京统计物价指数所选的物品有同样的代表性,那么坚守这篮子的指数不变,如果农产品 的物价上升了百分之十五点四,非农产品的物价一定会下降百分之七点七——通胀率是零。为锚的一篮子物价指数既可调高,也可调低。我认为每年调高百分之二, 即让物价上升至百分之二,是可取的。
  
  有了一篮子物品的依凭,要纾缓人民币上升的压力,北京大可解除外汇管制,把人民币推出国外。 人民币外放国家有钱可赚,而有了以一篮子物品为锚的维护,通胀无技可施。央行把人民币外放,要放到人民币的上升压力毫不存在为止。每放一元,国家赚一元。 如果人民币的币值因为外放太多而偏高,回头走,国内会有通胀的压力。如果每年的物价调高百分之二不够,或守不住,央行大可把人民币收回来。外汇储备那么 多,兵来将挡,水来土淹,何难之有哉?何况,把人民币大量外放,在强势下外汇进帐如猪笼入水,储备之高天下奇闻矣。
  
  有钱可以做很多有意义的事,不单为炎黄子孙,懂得怎样花对地球会有重要的贡献。

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Uncritical reporting

I have read so many reporting and 'insider information' from so called China observers and experts, such as those about "all corruptors are caught as a result of Jiang-Hu power struggle". Such nonsense gradually faded when the notorious SFDA head Zheng was executed, as these observers could no longer trace the link to the alleged Jiang-Hu struggle.

A few days ago, there was another about the Minsiter of Treasury, Jin Renqing, alleging his demotion to be related to a careless leak about some casual remark form Wen. This, again, is absolute nonsense to anyone with a critical mind. The "Human Right Information Centre" really needs to be more scrupulous about its sources. Anyone with a sane mind would know the Chinese leadership are not primary school children as those informers to the "HRIC", who are into such kind of game.

Now, as the story unfolds, it confirms my theory of the story.

This is what I have speculated. There was a grace period given by the CCP to the corruptors, to admit their wrong-doing within a certain deadline. In return, they will be demoted or waived of prosecution according to the degree of their crimes. Most likely, Jin was one of those who confessed voluntarily. That was why he was only demoted. (yes, he moved from the head of a major ministry to become the deputy of a secondary ministry, DRC, the think tank. His new position was where the current head of Statistic Bureau Xie Fuzhan sat before he got promoted, and the Statistic Bureau is a less important ministry compared with the Ministry of Treasury)

The fact that he was "detained", was more likely a process for him to coooperate with the anti-corruption department, to provide evidence to prosecute the other corruptors. Chances are that, he would be released soon and be on his new position.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A picture in Beijing



This is a picture from my hotel room in Beijing. The two building in construction next to the tallest one in construction is the (in)famous CCTV Tower. A closer view of which can be seen below (taken at the SE corner of 3rd ring, just outside China World Hotel).



The sky is clear, because it has been raining the previous day.

The green area is the embassy zone in Chaoyang District. The only reason the trees were preserved is because the land belongs to foreign governments. All these friends who recognized China during the early years were rewarded financially (on paper) with the land appreciation. A particular example is the enormous lot comprises of two buildings right in front of the picture. It belongs to one of the former socialist brother countries. Later, after democratization. The two reached a deal for a friendly parting. The big brother was happy to get rid of the poorer pal, while the younger one wanted independence. So a part of the land was split and a new building was built. The enormous lot was split into two, the smaller building to the left of the picture becomes the embassy of the "new" country.

Quiz: (leave answer in the comment field please)
1) which two countries are these?
2) I pass by the German emabassy a few times, I am wondering what happened to the former Democratic Republic of Germany emabssy now. It should have been much larger than the size of the FRG embassy.

中国的绿色GDP

有关中国的绿色GDP,外界一直兴趣颇高。所以到最近统计局确定不会推行绿色GDP时,外界媒体的极度失望是很自然的了。如外界媒体所报道,地方的压力当然是部分的因素。可是,最主要的问题还是绿色GDP计算方法。

先要说明一点,为什么会产生绿色GDP的问题。中国官员(从省到市到县)的考核升迁,其中最主要的因素,就是GDP的增长。中国过去27GDP的高速成长,跟考核方式脱不了关系。也正正因为如此,世界上只有中国的GDP里水分特多。县虚报一点,到了市级又来个四舍五入或干脆增加几个点,然后是省。到了中央,才可以勉强往下压一点,因为国家级干部考核的指标不完全相同了,不过通常也只是因为GDP增长率高得不可信了。别的国家地区,并没有这种考核制度,因此也没人去花这种心思虚报。谣传上一任的统计局长邱的下台,就与他收受贿赂,窜同虚报GDP有关。上海的陈良宇是其中一个行贿者。由是统计局虽名为局,却是一个部级的机构。因为其责任重大。绿色GDP的用途,就是要在官员考核的方程式里扣减绿色GDP的损失

GDP的计算,是经济学家的范畴,笔者并不懂。据说绿色GDP本来要采取类似的框架。于是,就产生了每吨煤该扣减多少绿色GDP的难题。如何量化环境污染的难题先按下不表。GDP是每年计算的,单位是“元/年”,环境污染是长期的,单位是“元”。要把两个不同单位的量相比(或相减)在数学上是不可能的。当然我们还是可以研究一个学术上的绿色GDP,不过这参数难以简单地转变为考核指标,因此达不成原先构想的目标。此为中国绿色GDP推行不了的最主要原因。其次,据说统计局参考了北欧国家和各方学者的研究,计划中绿色GDP的统计算法把煤的污染都算到采矿者的头上。实际上,产煤者只该负责生产过程中所产生的污染,而用那种燃煤发电机,如何过滤燃烧产生的废气,该是用煤者的责任。目前国家的统计法和资料收集,没法考虑上述因素,因此也不能支持较真实的计算。这是目前国家统计局暂时停止了绿色GDP项目的最主要原因。

至于环境问题如何解决,且听下回分解。

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Shanxi travel notes


I went to Shanxi for a few days recently (the bonus is to cover one more province in my footprint map). For the interest of time, instead of posting a travelogue, I will just list a few notes to share.

The Brick Kilns

1. People talked to me about the slave kiln voluntarily (before I asked). People I talked to confirmed that this has been widespread for some time and the local governments have at least been aware of such things to some degree.
Worse still, there was at least another case of burying a slave alive in Ruicheng County (芮城). I hope if there are journalists who come across this could go there to confirm if this is true. Because if it is indeed the case, that means there have been cover-ups in the investigation. The People (or Mr Wen) will have more ammunition to ask for a thorough review of the accountability of the bad officials

2. Contrary to the sentiment outside, in general, the local people do not feel that the punishment has been too lenient. I even heard of sympathetic comment about a deputy county mayor who was on the job only for 1 year.

3. On the road, one often see some 'wanderers'. the locals who drove with me told me that many of them were "released" from the kilns, and left to survive by themselves. "release" was actually a euphemism, the kiln owners actually drove them to the middle of nowhere and got rid of them. Since many of these ex-slaves are mentally retarded, they have no idea where they want to go. So they just wandered around.

4. Across the border in Sha'anxi province (陜西), I saw many klins by the freeway as well. I do not know if the situation is similar as it is in Shanxi (山西). But I think this worths a good story to cover for the journalists because

  • if these kilns do not hire slave labor, it would be interesting to know how they managed to compete with the kilns 50-100 kms away across the provincial border
  • if there are many kilns in Shaanxi, but there has been no abuse. That means something has really been going wrong in Shanxi. Mostly likely it is the provincial government

Other observations

5. The railway goes South-North along the Fen River (汾河). The Fen River is polluted and water volume has been depleted (as are many other rivers in north China - over-irrigation). If you open the window, your hair will be stuck full of coal dust in 15 minutes.

6. Many small factories were seen along the coal area (e.g., between Linfen 临汾 and Pingyao 平遥 ). We saw coal everywhere along the river and the rail tracks. Many of these small factories store a lot of coal in their back yard. Apparently, it is cheaper to burn coal for power for them

7. When we passed through Xian 西安,construction was everywhere. It was reminiscent of Pudong in 1996-1997. If you ask me whether China's growth will continue for the next decade, you need to visit these cities. They are undergoing the same dramatic changes as the coastal cities on 10-15 ago. In 10-15 years, Xian will be like Shanghai, Taiyuan will be like Nanjing.

8. We took the cheap cabin train for a large part of our trip, mainly because there is only one cabin class ("Hard seat") available in the schedule. But we also wanted to talk to the average citizens. In a culture where people are shy in talking to strangers the train is perhaps the only exception, this has been so even back in the Mao era (when the society was more close).

On the way, we were inquired twice about the pork price in HK, by two groups of middle age ladies. They said 500g of pork cost 5-7RMB last year and it cost 17.5RMB now. To them pork price is like gasoline price to the American.

I asked my mom when I went back to HK. Apparently she failed to notice the difference. After some questioning, my conclusion is that the price hike was probably less than 50% in HK. It is understandable that the price hike was much more noticeable in Shanxi, because all the cost come from the real cost of "manufacturing" the pork, i.e. rearing. Whereas in HK, or perhaps in coastal province the "value-added" (transportation, middle man, distribution) represent a large portion of the price, which has not changed as dramatically.

(similar observation on the change in gasoline price in US vs HK, while crude oil price hiked in the past few years. The percentage increase in US was much higher than that in HK, as the base in HK was much larger.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Going into the GFW

Will stay for a while inside the GFW.

Probably much less blogging here, please also check the msn blog which I had sort of abandoned since this year. I will proably post there if I find the GFW too time comsuming to tackle.

Meanwhile, enjoy this cross-strait link via ESWN, perhaps a much better gauge of what the people inside the GFW think about the other side of the strait, which is quite different from what you read from the Angry-youth over the internet.

Monday, August 6, 2007

help - accessing blogspot from inside the evil GFW

I will be spending a lot of times inside the evil GFW, after the untimely blocking of blogspot. I understand that there are ways to access these blocked sites, proxy servers/etc. But many of them are very slow, and may not work well with the javascripts/etc blogger.

I would appreciate if anyone could let me know how to do this. my email is sunbinblog (at) gmail (dot) com.

Many thanks in advance.

Economists Against Protectionism - WSJ.com

Economists Against Protectionism - WSJ.com

Economists Against Protectionism

By PAT TOOMEY
August 1, 2007; Page A15

On May 4, 1930, 1,028 economists signed a petition urging Congress and President Herbert Hoover to reject the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, arguing that "increased restrictive duties would . . . operate, in general, to increase the prices which domestic consumers would have to pay." Neither Congress nor the president listened, but the stock market certainly did.

Though many associate the Great Depression with the stock market crash on Oct. 29, 1929, the market actually rallied during the six months following Black Tuesday, while the defeat of Smoot-Hawley appeared likely. The market turned south again in April 1930 as those hopes of defeat gradually dimmed.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank a full 8%, from 250 to 230, over just two trading days in June 1930, in direct response to the Senate's passage of Smoot-Hawley and Hoover's announcement that he would sign it. Exacerbated by other flawed governmental policies, an international trade war continued to drive the market down until the Dow hit a low of 41 on July 8, 1932, having lost 89% of its value from its September, 1929 high. It would be 25 years before the market recovered its 1929 peak.

Unfortunately, Congress is suffering from a bad case of amnesia. Over the past several months, protectionism has reached a fever pitch with lawmakers in both Houses clamoring to attach their names to as many as 50 anti-trade bills.

In the Senate, Max Baucus (D., Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) have joined longtime protectionists, Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), in sponsoring legislation to punish China for currency intervention. Tomorrow, hearings in the House Ways and Means Committee commence with a host of protectionist measures on the agenda, including legislation by Reps. Timothy Ryan (D., Ohio) and Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.) that would allow the Commerce Department to increase duties on China. Not to be outdone, the top-tier Democratic presidential candidates are falling over themselves to reject the free trade policies of Bill Clinton's Democratic Party.

In this respect, Congress hasn't changed much over the past 77 years. Thankfully, economics hasn't changed much either: 77 years after 1,028 economists stood athwart protectionism yelling "stop!" a new batch of economists are just as determined to turn back the rising protectionist tide.

The Club for Growth is disseminating a petition advising Congress "against imposing retaliatory trade measures against China." Like its historical counterpart, this petition is signed by 1,028 economists from the left and the right. They come from all 50 states and include four Nobel laureates, three former chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisors, former members of Congress, a former Treasury secretary, and economics professors from our country's most prestigious universities.

While the signatories on this petition will certainly disagree on a host of other issues -- at least 20 signed a 2003 petition against the Bush tax cuts -- they all agree that, in the words of the petition, "there is no foundation in economics that supports punitive tariffs."
Adam Smith long ago observed that "It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy." As members of Congress should know -- but unfortunately don't -- the maxim of the family applies equally to a nation. This simple truth explains the irresistible logic of free trade.

Free trade among and between people of various nations is the mechanism that allows producers to maximize their comparative advantage while consumers maximize the value they receive for their dollar. Free trade allows American producers to sell jets and software to the Chinese, while American consumers buy toys and apparel from China -- a win-win proposition for both buyer and seller.

Protectionists attempt to disrupt the market's natural tendency to seek efficiency by imposing tariffs in order to artificially increase the price of foreign goods relative to domestic competition. Thus, tariffs are simply a tax on American consumers, and it would be Americans, more than the Chinese, who pay the price. The very people Sens. Schumer and Graham claim to help will suffer from the higher prices, fewer jobs and potential trade war that will result from their legislation.

As the Club for Growth petition demonstrates, support for free trade is virtually universal among reputable economists. More importantly, history has shown the devastating consequences of protectionist policies. Let's hope Congress steps back from this precipice and rejects the misguided policies of Smoot, Hawley, Schumer and Graham.

Mr. Toomey is the president of the Club for Growth. More information about the petition is at http://www.clubforgrowth.org/

related:
Protectionism - the real threat to growth, stability
Stand Up, Free-Trade Democrats!
THE PETITION TO STOP PROTECTIONIST MADNESS

The net effect of Little Boy and Fat Man

Little Boy killed about 70,000 people in Hiroshima in 6 August, 1945.

Fat Man killed another 40,000 in Nagasaki on 9 August, 1945.

Tojo and Emperor Hirohito had 3 full days to save the people in Nagasaki. They decided to wait and take chance.

A total of 110,000 were killed as a result of these two bombs. Including the injured who are dead subsequently, the number could increase by another 20-35%.

Of the killed, perhaps only 10% or so are military pesonnels, plus another 15-30% engaged in military industry, as shown in the maps here.

Total death of the atomic bombs in WWII in then about 110,000 to 140,000 (according to the wiki source above).

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Total death in the Asian Theatre of WWII, according to wiki data, is about 29M (including civilians and military personnels).

Total number of days of WWII (from 8/Dec/1941 to 15/Aug/1945) is 1464 days, For China, the war started on 7/Jul/1937 and the total length is 2961 days.

The death/day, according to calculation here, is 12,889 people per day. i.e. had the war been prolonged for one more day, about 13,000 more people from all countries would have died.

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Therefore, if Little Boy and Fat Man had together ended the war by 140,000/12889 = 11 days earlier, they had reduced the total number of people died in the war.

If they ended the war half a year earlier, it would have saved (183-11=172) x 12889= 2.2 million people

If the war was ended one year earlier as a result, the number of people saved would have been (365-11=354) x 12889 = 4.6 million lives

The Japanese lives that were killed per day is 1790. So from Japan's perspective the sacrifice of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be "worthwhile" if the war was ended 140,000/1,790 = 78 days earlier. (i.e. less than 3 months)

Of course it is unfair to the people who lived in these two cities, especially those who were not even engaged in the military industry, who were the ladies, the elderlies, and the children. The tragedy is that it had to take all their lives to convince Tojo and Emperor Hirohito (Showa) that the war was over for them.

But in a war the victims are quite random. If it were not for them, it would be the residents in Tokyo...

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The Tokyo firebomb killed 80,000 to 100,000 Japanese people.

If Little Boy and Fat Man had avoided 2 such firebombs which might have been launched subsequently, they had reduced the net casualties of Japanese civilians.

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Total death in the Battle of Okinawa is about 77,500 (12.5k US soldiers, and 66k Japanese militia and soldiers).

If 2 of such battles were avoided as a result of Little Boy and Fat Man, they would have saved 155000-140000=15000 lives.

The population of Okinawa is about 1% of the total population of Japan. If conventional war had to go to Tokyo from the south, at least 60-75% of Japan would be battleground like Okinawa.
i.e. total death would have been 60-75 x 77,500 = 4.6-5.8M people.

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Fumio Kyuma might have been kissing up his US ally, or what he said was not exactly the right reason. The fact that the two bombs were necessary was something that could really "not be helped", as Fyuma stated. But to characterise the strategic importance of the two bombs as the beginning of the Cold War is gravely wrong, and is a great dis-respect to those who died in the two cities.
  • The Soviet entered the war on August 8, 1945. After Little Boy was dropped, and shortly before Fat Man arrived. Therefore, it its totally against any logic that US dropped the 2 bombs to prevent the Soviets from entering. The more realistic scenario is, that, Tojo and his clan is more afraid of the Soviets than the American, and decided to surrender.

Remember this when you visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki next time. Remember the sacrifice of the innocent Japanese who died in August 1945. Remember how many lives they have saved for their own country, and for the world.

Remember Manhattan Project. Remember Oppenheimer. Remember Einstein.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Geo-stats Jan-Jun 2007



You may wonder how I got different visitors from all these 150 countries, and why there is some traffic even though I almost stopped posting for a few months in this period of time. My page stats here is the answer.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

再談皇后碼頭



其實,我也會支持保衛皇后碼頭。不過,是上圖的那個皇后碼頭。當年拆掉那古典建筑的港督,才是造成今天我們普羅大眾對皇后碼頭漠不關心甚至鄙視的源頭。

硬要說建筑美感不重要,回憶才要緊的保皇黨,就如要香港小姐選內在美,比學歷一樣,正硬膠也。回憶在心中就夠了,拍一張照片,存在博物館、甚至網站,不就成就了你們的集體回憶了嗎?
要香港小姐選學歷?我們每年都有10A、6A的狀元,雖然試卷水平參差,總算也客觀公正,難道那幫選美評判的學歷更高,“內在美”無人可及,具備窺視人家內在的超能力?

明明知道皇后碼頭沒有任何美感好言,卻搬出似是而非的理由硬辯,不可能得到民心。 硬要把具體的事物(建筑)抽象化("歷史價值"),就如去了皮的毛,“毛之焉附”?

其實保皇黨真正想要的,是一個宣傳工具。他們要讓目前對皇后碼頭沒有印象的人、或者現在還沒出生的人,也有他們的“集體記憶”而已。所以,才覺得博物館和照片圖書不夠說服力。不過,這不是把自己的意愿強加在別人身上嗎?這不正正就違反了人家自由選擇的權利嗎?

今天,蘋果日報的尹思哲說的最好。 我的看法大致相同:
  1. 皇后碼頭該拆
  2. 而且要越早拆越好
  3. 同學們的精神可敬,希望以后繼續
  4. 下回挑一個真正能引起我們共鳴的題目,比如臭名昭章的“強迫金”

Why the Economist is so lovable

It has written what I have long wanted to write.
In Asia we do not have drinkable tap-water, but the boiled water from your mom's kitchen is even cleaner and healthier.

There are cases I have bought bottled water, mainly for convenience. But I have always been puzzled by why people would prefer a bottle, potentially with more bacteria and impurities, than the alternatives. I wonder why Green Peace never mention about this, and why the HK government is not imposing a 'plastic bottle tax' :)

Drink less bottled water, save the money and subscribe to the Economist.

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Bottled water and snake oil

Jul 31st 2007
From Economist.com
Is bottled water proof that consumers are daft?

SO THE emperor really isn’t wearing any clothes. Last week PepsiCo announced that the label on its Aquafina brand of bottled water will soon carry the words “public water source”, instead of simply the innocent looking “P.W.S.”. That’s right: Aquafina is to all intents and purposes tap water. Coca-Cola is under pressure to follow suit with its Dasani brand, though so far it is refusing to do so. “We don’t believe that consumers are confused about the source of Dasani water,” Diana Garza Ciarlante, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman, said. “The label clearly states that it is purified water.”

No doubt Coca-Cola still remembers what happened in Britain in 2004, when the press made a stink over the fact that Dasani was simply filtered tap water. The company became a laughing stock, as readers were reminded of an episode of a popular TV comedy, “Only Fools and Horses”. In it Del Boy, a decidedly dodgy businessman, decides to bottle tap water, selling it as “Peckham Spring”, named after the unprepossessing inner-London borough. No sooner had the initial furore died down than Coca-Cola discovered that some of the water had been contaminated betwixt tap and bottle, and decided to admit defeat. Dasani was axed in Britain a mere five weeks after it was launched.

Will Pepsi’s new label have a similarly disastrous impact on sales of Aquafina, which is now the market leader in bottled waters in America? It is by no means inevitable.

The success of bottled water is in many ways one of capitalism’s greatest mysteries. Studies show consistently that tap water is purer than many bottled waters—not including those that contain only tap water, which by some estimates is 40% of the total by volume. The health benefits that are claimed for some bottled waters are unproven, at best. By volume, bottled water often costs 1,000 times the price of tap water. Indeed, even with oil prices sky high, a litre of bottled water can cost more than a litre of petrol. And on top of that, there are the environmental costs of transporting bottled water and of manufacturing and disposing of the bottles.
Yet sales of bottled water have been booming. In 2006 Americans spent nearly $11 billion buying 8.25 billion gallons (31.2 billion litres) of the stuff, an increase in volume of 9.5% on a year earlier. The average American drank 27.6 gallons of bottled water last year, up from 16.7 gallons in 2000.
AFP Quite a business model

In Britain, despite the failure of Dasani, sales of bottled water have soared from 990m litres in 1998 to 2.28 billion litres in 2006—worth $3.3 billion and accounting for 15% of the total soft-drinks market. Its share is forecast to rise to 21% next year.

Moreover, drinks companies are betting heavily on the future growth of bottled water, including popular new varieties with added “healthy” ingredients. In May Coca-Cola paid $4.1 billion for Glaceau, the company that makes vitaminwater.

To many, all this is the ultimate proof that consumers are daft and easily manipulated by retailers to buy things they don’t need. Indeed, a campaign, “Think Outside the Bottle”, is now under way in America, aiming to wean the public off bottled water. It is winning influential converts. Having successfully popularised gay marriage, San Francisco’s charismatic young mayor, Gavin Newsom, is now trying to achieve the opposite impact on bottled water: his ban on the use of city funds to buy the stuff took effect on July 1st. Other mayors are starting to follow his lead.

Even so, there may be good, rational reasons for the popularity of bottled water. It is convenient, much more portable than a tap. Also, some consumers suspect, perhaps correctly, that there is a “last mile” problem with tap water. It may be pure as driven snow when it is tested at the plant, but is it still so virginal once it has passed through old pipes in homes and offices?

Above all, consumers may be buying bottled water because they believe it is fundamentally safer, less likely than tap water to become contaminated—a growing worry nowadays, thanks to terrorists. And, if it is contaminated, that contamination is likely to be spotted and neutralised faster and more effectively by a bottler than by government regulators or a water utility.

The contaminated Dasani water in Britain brought bad publicity, but the dirty water never reached the public. Likewise, the impressive way that Perrier handled its benzene contamination scare in 1990—immediately recalling its entire output of bottles—is a case study in how to manage such a problem.

Perhaps the popularity of bottled water is an indictment of the waste inherent in capitalism. On the other hand, maybe it is testimony to the good job that capitalism, in the form of bottled-water producers, has done in developing quality controls and safety protections that are more reassuring than those put in place by our governments and regulated utilities. The difference may be small—but big enough to get those who can afford it to pay a substantial premium for what is, after all, the stuff of life.

Monday, July 30, 2007

萬惡的GFW

Total pageviews:

Site visits in a week in June (3rd-9th)


萬惡的GFW就如Voldermot, 墙還在,心不死,終于在6月20日左右復辟。

Site visit in a week in July (8th-14th)


註:此圖不顯示臺灣的數據

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Good old days (all time stats for mainland China)


Taiwan (all time stats)


"自由中國" in July 2007 (其實過去只有澳門才是真正的自由中國。自稱‘自由中國’的臺灣直到1987年才解嚴,香港一直有迫害當地左派)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What Queen's Pier? 反對重置皇后碼頭

想來想去,實在想不出皇后碼頭有甚麼價值。四個平庸的毛筆字,同樣平庸的鐵欄、石柱,為甚麼要浪費我們納稅人的血汗錢來重置?港人對這件事已經越來越不理性,假如皇后碼頭要重置,鵝頸橋公廁是不是也要重置?

即使從歷史的角度來看,有多少人去過皇后碼頭多少次,都去那里干了甚麼事情?就本人了來說,以前游船上落點都是在天星的左邊,到卜公碼頭之間。直到回歸后才在皇后碼頭登了一兩次船。在盲目跟從媒體和所謂保育人士的宣傳之前,是否先想想,自己到底對這個地方有甚麼回憶?

我支持拆卸皇后碼頭,反對浪費納稅人的金錢去重置。

政府應該對人民有信心,就來一次民意調查或公眾投票,看看這是多少人的集體回憶。

要重置可以,政府也應該配合。不過應該由這些希望保留的人出錢買地和重置。畢竟,這是你們的集體回憶。

要進行民意調查也不難,先在此做一個網上投票。


(there was something wrong with the poll java script. it is now redone, please vote again)

相關連接:皇后碼頭的困局

light reading: Engrish menu in Japan

We have heard enough about bad/mechanical translation of Chinese menu into Engrish, and that Beijing has launched campaigns to clean this "racist park" fun away from us, preparing for the Olympic.

This will be something anyone with a sense of humour will surely miss. I wonder if those activists who are camping out of Queen's Pier in HK care to sit out for this piece of collective memory / 集体回忆 for us. Perhaps not, they only care about the colonial nostalgia and where their old colonial masters landed.

But no worry, our neighbour, the Japanese, now come to the rescue



FYI, "asspara" is not a para-para dance with the bottom. it is a vegetable that we all know, translated into Japanese Katagana with some truncation in phonetics and translated back to Engrish again losing some more fidelity. (like compressing a picture file into jpeg and then to gif and back to jpg again -- if that makes it easier to understand) As for "Shrimp and cock soboro hammering out pasta curry cream", I will leave your imagination to figure out what it is. All I can say is that I know how to distinguish male lobsters from female ones, but I have never been able to identify the same part of the body for shrimps.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Miss HK Will Hung 香江小姐孔慶翔

香江小姐選美,選出一個女版孔慶翔

黑幕內定各有其論,不過最一針見血的莫過于把前任落選港姐的評語斷章取義來讀,“ 好多網友淨係睇樣同身材,我審美係會睇埋邊,最初睇佢個個人履歷,知道佢加拿大返,識英文已經對佢有好感,睇佢寫文字仲知佢係有內涵

噢,原來這一次選的是絕對內在美。去年選的可能也是內在美。1988年選的絕對是外在。前年呢?明年呢?反正每年有新的評判,自然選的標準不一樣。務必讓你們這些蟻民無可適從。內定又如何,又不是你們在選,各位看官,你們只有看的份兒。“吹咩!”

我們特區還有一個八百人的評判團,成員與各次選美多少有重疊之處。都是名流仕紳,達官貴人,社會精英是也,且大都身懷絕技,掌握某些能人所不能的特異“功能”。選出來的特區代表如出一(車撤),都是傾城之貨色

有好事者,謂來年香港選美必重現1988之輝,以應本年成為郭隗千里馬頭骨蓋之典,戲言矣!由來唯客觀不變難以爭辯之基準能成長久之計,比如一號一票之SMS公投。只有公平、公開的規則標準,才能保證最有實力競爭者的勝利,也因而能鼓勵最有實力的競爭者來參賽。胡主席也理解只有社會公平才能持續發展。

不能把800個傀儡拉下馬,未來我們這些蟻民也免不了再遭建華之殃,者我們無能為力。可是,讓大家一起決定甚麼是美總可以吧?

連內地都可以一號一票選出超女快男,而這邊廂欣賞的美卻被牽著鼻子內外亂晃,難道這就是一國兩制?

泛民諸公,該是給三色臺施加壓力的時候了。

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

的士價格管制方法"板凳刻"

年多前本博已曾建議香港的的士價格計算方法需要改變了。

今天知日部屋提出了京都的板凳刻(benchmarking),其實并不新鮮,比如雅加達(Jakarta),便有銀鳥、藍鳥(此二鳥同屬PUKASA公司)等'的',價格各不一樣。北京的士起步價和每公里價也有多種選擇(跟公司無關)。吉隆坡(KL)也有Premier Taxi。有選擇有競爭當然好。可是這些改變沒有根治香港的士價格的根本問題。

香港的的士定價的問題出于其忽略了的士接客過程所需的固定成本,而形成了目前的不合理性。也就是說,的士每接一客,中間所費的時間空轉及其相關油費租金成本沒有反映在計價系統內。難怪司機會拒載短程客。

大家可知道,當你打的送朋友回家的話,假如要在朋友家門寒暄幾句的話(超過一分鐘),重新叫一輛的士比讓同一的士等待較省錢?(假如附近不難找的士的話)因為的士的起步價($15/2km)比起每公里價($7/km)相差無幾。(除非你家離朋友家的距離是在2公里內)

因此,價格改革的關鍵在于使這固定成本能反映到價格系統里。例如以下方案,就同時解決了長途的士折扣和短途拒載的問題。



其實上表的計價方法非常簡單,只是把每公里價按里程往下調。每增加一公里則新增公里價格減低一毫,直到略比邊際成本高一點為止。更重要的是,根據價格彈性的計算,的士司機的總收入其實增加了。詳細解釋見年前拙文,恕不贅述。

以前電腦技術昂貴,的士計價表只能用簡單的計價方法。現在,要做到上述的計價表成本是幾乎相同的了。是電腦技術為我們解決了經濟問題,請運輸處諸公,不要墨守成規,也不要等甚麼顧問公司的研究。這些三流顧問公司,不是McKinsey,BCG,很難靠他們真正解決問題。

Monday, July 23, 2007

A google bomb experiment to promote corporate governance (on 鍾斌銓 鍾金榜 鍾燊榮)

the result now is 3 2 2 1.

so i addition to linking to this OP, i am copying the whole html down here as well. and try to boost the laggers a bit

鍾斌銓 3 鍾金榜 2 鍾燊榮 2

below is the OP:

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對付無良大股東 初見成效
繼續連結榮豐!繼續推!Search 鍾斌銓 As of this moment, 3rd result.Search 鍾金榜 As of this moment, 5th result.Search 鍾燊榮 As of this moment, 6th result.Search 鍾斌盛 As of this moment, 1st result. 1st!要揭榮豐(063)無良大股東的所作所為!認識他們的人,告訴他們這個後果!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

How I learned to be not troubled by the re-militarization of Japan

It is not because I know that most people in Japan are peace-loving, or that Japan is a democracy or things like that.

The Weimar Republic was a democracy, so is the USA. (caveat here) The people in USA are definitely mostly peace-loving and benevolent, anyone who studied the history of the last century knows how USA has saved the world, twice. But look at what a mess it has created in Iraq today.

India is said to be the largest democracy in this world, look at how many wars it fought against Pakistan, how Sikkim, Goa, and the Andaman Isles were annexed, and how it detonated a nuke with no provacation or threat.

Now back to Japan. Read this IHT coverage of its remilitarisation.

Japan has accumulated the the economic power and the technology such that it can modernize militarize in just a few years whenever it wants to (or it has already done so), perhaps even faster that how Hitler has militarized Germany in the early 1930s.

The reason I think we should not worry about Japan's re-militarization is as below
  • If it wants to build an aggressive force. It can always do it in a few years
  • If it is doing it too early before it acts, the chances are that these resources are most likely wasted (as I explained in an earlier post regarding China), and be turned into obselete equipment in the future. Less than optimized timing in investment in military often lead to less than optimal deployment of resources, and hence affect its over economic progress (and generalized "power" per Paul Kennedy), a la USSR in 1970-80s

For years Japan has been able to flourish under the umbrella of US protection. Let it waste its resources if it chooses to do so. The gap between Japan and its neighbour is much narrower than it was in 1937 or 1941. Moreover, it is very unlikely that US would let Japan bully around.

Yes, there is concern on Japan's re-militarization, but the country that should most worry about Japan should be the one which has been most active in encouraging it to do so, because that country has humiliated Japan 62 years ago and nuked two of its cities. If you watch the pop arts (manga, animation, movie) you will understand why this is so.

What we really need to take out from Japan is, its enormous stockpile of Uranium and Plutonium, and make sure that US has the ability and the reason to "contain" Japan when it went out of control (i.e. to the right wing such as Isihara).