Reporting Season: NZX Stock Market Winners and Losers to Date
There is every chance this turns out to be a relatively brief foray into more restrictive conditions, and that for most businesses the ultimate impact is benign. A2 Milk has so far been the standout, with a 34 per cent lift in net profit to $385.8m for the June year. Distributor EBOS also put in a strong showing, but Auckland International Airport and Michael Hill suffered greatly from the effects of the Covid-19 lockdowns and border closures. Mercury Energy has so far proved the be the most resilient of the power generators, reporting an increased dividend and painting a positive outlook for 2021. https://preview.redd.it/h83rfv1vrej51.png?width=1270&format=png&auto=webp&s=6b54b6eebadb8da2a88eb81ec35b67d00568d7cc RESULTS TO DATE: Refining NZ went $186.4m into the red over the first half to June 30 due to sharply lower margins and throughput. Summerset Group's bottom-line profit plummeted 99 per cent from last year's $92.6 million to just $1m. NZX said its net profit shot up by 40.9 per cent to $9.1m in the six months to June 30, reflecting a significant increase in demand for capital and an unprecedented lift in share trading during the Covid-19 lockdown. Precinct Properties' operating income rose in the past year but net profit after tax fell due to devaluations from the pandemic, particularly on big inner-city Auckland office blocks. Contact Energy said its net profit fell by 26 per cent to $125m in the year to June, due in part to lower wholesale power prices. Vital Healthcare, a hospital, healthcare and medical property specialist, said its net profit fell 37 per cent to $58m. Mercury Energy has kept the faith with thousands of its mum and dad investors by eking out an increased final dividend for the June year and predicting another increase in the payout in year ahead. Fletcher Building won't pay a dividend and executive bonus packages were cut to zero after all divisional revenue and operating earnings fell in the last year. Michael Hill said its full-year profit plunged more than 80 per cent as the Covid-19 pandemic forced its stores to remain closed between five and 13 weeks. A2 Milk said its net profit hit a record $385.8 million in the June year but the company has a problem; what to do with its cash mountain. Genesis Energy said its earnings fell due to poor hydro conditions, but the company slightly increased its dividend despite the uncertainty posed by the planned closure of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter. Auckland Airport said its net profit plunged 63 per cent to $193.9 million. Chairman Patrick Strange said the past six months have been the most challenging of the airport's 54-year history. EBOS the Australasian distributor of healthcare, medical and pharmaceutical products, posted a net profit after tax of A$162 million, up 18 per cent. Skellerup said its net profit came to $29.1 million in the June year, level with the previous year's, despite Covid-19 disruption. Chorus confirmed once it puts the capital-intensive UFB rollout behind it in a couple of years, free cash flow will increase - and the majority of it will be paid in dividends. Freightways said disruption arising from the Covid-19 means that it will not pay a final dividend for the first time ever. Comvita after years of underperformance, says it has turned the corner. NZME has boosted its interim net profit and underlying earnings despite revenue taking a hit from the impacts of Covid-19. Meridian said its operating earnings - ebitdaf - rose 2 per cent to $854 million in the June year, driven by record generation and retail sales growth in New Zealand and Australia. Metlifecare said property revaluations reflecting valuer caution due to Covid-19's economic impact drove it to a bottom-line loss of $33.7 million. Spark reported across-the-board full-year growth despite the pandemic scare - but also warned that Covid-19 could hit harder next year. Coming up next TODAY: Air NZ NZ King Salmon Vista Group (first half) TIL Logistics Vector Aug 28 Port of Tauranga Marsden Maritime Steel and Tube Delegats Sept 3 Sky City Sept 4 Property for Industry (half year) Sept 8 Briscoe Group Sept 10 Sky TV Sept 17 Heartland Sept 18 Tourism Holdings
Taiwan's economic direction and its place in Asian trade
I want to summarize a YouTube commentary I listen to -- Tang Xianglong, a pro unification analyst in Taiwan. In Mandarin: https://youtu.be/HtYIKYY2vSM I will add my own commentary as well. Two points: the ten year old Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) will expire this year. It lowered tariffs on goods between the mainland and Taiwan, with Taiwan getting the benefit of saving more on tariffs. During the 2014 Sunflower Movement, the DPP said the KMT 'betrayed' Taiwan and 'sold it out' to mainland interests with ECFA. this movement affected the mentality of Taiwan youth in tilting them towards an anti mainland stance. But it was based on scaremongering, prejudice and lies. It was clearly a lie because each side could exit ECFA at any point and Tsai Ingwen has never done so since became president in 2016. On any day in the last four years she could have left the ECFA that she denounced but she has never done so. In fact her economic ministry even recognizes its benefit to Taiwan. Objectively ECFA benefits Taiwan more than the mainland. Yet Tsai Ingwen's political career was catapulted up by trashing ECFA. This is another example of the DPP being liars and peddlers of anti China prejudice. Second point is that once ECFA automatically expires this year, it will hurt Taiwan and furthermore Taiwan is not part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_Comprehensive_Economic_Partnership RCEP is a huge trade agreement removing tariffs between China and the southeast asian counties of ASEAN, as well as with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. Taiwan will further be economically marginalized. Also Taiwan has recently been pressing the USA for a free trade agreement to decouple from China. but the US is not really interested in this. Bolton's book also confirms this. The US is dangling the FTA to get Taiwan to buy shitty US beef and pork, laced with Beta-adrenergic agonist which is banned by the EU and China. but there will surely be no FTA afterwards. The failure of Taiwan in joining RCEP also shows how Tsai's southbound policy has utterly failed. The policy tries to decouple from China by turning to southeast Asia. Now southeast Asia is being more tightly bound to China with RCEP. The DPP has boxed itself in with its anti China prejudice and now it cannot move forward in trade with south east asia, China or the US. The chickens are coming home to roost. The DPP's shitty short-sighted platform is finally catching up with it now, with ECFA's expiration. I hope this brings about a real reflection and public debate about what direction Taiwan is heading. the Taiwan youth know nothing outside its island and are constantly lied to by the media. But at this point no amount of lies and scaremongering can alter the reality of Taiwan's situation in Asian trade.
Siyata Mobile provide vehicle communication devices that delivers cellular voice calls, push-to-talk over cellular, data applications, navigation, built in camera, DVR, and others. Basically everything a cop, paramedic, fire fighter, fleet driver, etc. uses on a daily basis but rolled into a single higher tech device. Siyata Mobike sells to cellular network operators and their dealers, as well as commercial vehicle technology distributors for fleets in Israel, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. Currently trading at $0.105. They have had a hard time taking off as the company’s focus for so long has been on product development and improving profit margin over the past couple years. Now finally all new products are ready and focus is completely shifting to sales (said CEO on investor call). They’ve already announced huge sales and partnerships with USA First Responders network and AT&T for example. US will be a huge market for Siyata, but they also have sales in Europe, Middle East, Canada, and Australia - that’s a lot of big markets for a micro cap company to tap into with new products all at once! They had an investor call last week and seemed quite bullish with respect to their current sales pipeline and financial objectives for positive cash flow. They didn’t seem to have slowed down due to covid. They will be releasing their Q1 2020 earnings before June 30. Overall, I think this company is very undervalued and has been overlooked in the market. They haven’t spent much on marketing before, but will be shifting to marketing and sales now, with major leads in US and AUS. Anyone else invested in $SIM or have thoughts?
Good morning from the UK. It’s Friday 24th April. My marigold seeds have taken off and are starting to sprout secondary stage leaves (marigolds are good companion plants; they ward off various pests in a vegetable garden whilst they can also be good sacrificial plants should a slug manage to somehow breach our electric barrier). Meanwhile, the first of my wife’s radishes seeds is starting to emerge from the compost she put in a recycled milk carton tetrapak a few days ago; she’s very excited by this. Advance warning, today’s post is a bit food supply chain heavy. Happy Friday everybody.
Virus news in depth
AP Story from Tuesday 21st April: UN food agency chief: World on brink of `a hunger pandemic’ - The head of the U.N. food agency warned Tuesday that, as the world is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, it is also “on the brink of a hunger pandemic” that could lead to “multiple famines of biblical proportions” within a few months if immediate action isn’t taken. World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley told the U.N. Security Council that even before COVID-19 became an issue, he was telling world leaders that “2020 would be facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.” That’s because of wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, locust swarms in Africa, frequent natural disasters and economic crises including in Lebanon, Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia, he said. Beasley said today 821 million people go to bed hungry every night all over the world, a further 135 million people are facing “crisis levels of hunger or worse,” and a new World Food Program analysis shows that as a result of COVID-19 an additional 130 million people “could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020.” He said in the video briefing that WFP is providing food to nearly 100 million people on any given day, including “about 30 million people who literally depend on us to stay alive.” (Cont’d) Beasley, who is recovering from COVID-19, said if those 30 million people can’t be reached, “our analysis shows that 300,000 people could starve to death every single day over a three-month period” — and that doesn’t include increased starvation due to the coronavirus. “In a worst-case scenario, we could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries, and in fact, in 10 of these countries we already have more than one million people per country who are on the verge of starvation,” he said. According to WFP, the 10 countries with the worst food crises in 2019 were Yemen, Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, Nigeria and Haiti. He pointed to a sharp drop in overseas remittances that will hurt countries such as Haiti, Nepal and Somalia; a loss of tourism revenue which, for example, will damage Ethiopia where it accounts for 47 percent of total exports; and the collapse of oil prices which will have a significant impact in lower-income countries like South Sudan where oil accounts for almost 99 percent of total exports. The Gulf Times takes a different slant on the story: ‘Instead of coronavirus, the hunger will kill us’; COVID-19 brings fears of a global food crisis - In Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, people desperate to eat set off a stampede during a recent giveaway of flour and cooking oil, leaving scores injured and two people dead. The coronavirus has sometimes been called an equaliser because it has sickened both rich and poor, but when it comes to food, the commonality ends. It is poor people, including large segments of poorer nations, who are now going hungry and facing the prospect of starving. “The coronavirus has been anything but a great equaliser,” said Asha Jaffar, a volunteer who brought food to families in the Nairobi slum of Kibera after the fatal stampede. “It’s been the great revealer, pulling the curtain back on the class divide and exposing how deeply unequal this country is.” Already, 135 million people had been facing acute food shortages, but now with the pandemic, 130 million more could go hungry in 2020, said Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Program, a UN agency. Altogether, an estimated 265 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by year’s end. “We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Husain said. “It wasn’t a pretty picture to begin with, but this makes it truly unprecedented and uncharted territory.” (Cont’d) There is no shortage of food globally, or mass starvation from the pandemic yet continues the Gulf Times article. But logistical problems in planting, harvesting and transporting food will leave poor countries exposed in the coming months, especially those reliant on imports, said Johan Swinnen, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington. While the system of food distribution and retailing in rich nations is organised and automated, he said, systems in developing countries are “labour intensive,” making “these supply chains much more vulnerable to COVID-19 and social distancing regulations.” On a recent evening, hundreds of migrant workers, who have been stuck in New Delhi after a lockdown was imposed in March with little warning, sat under the shade of a bridge waiting for food to arrive. The Delhi government has set up soup kitchens, yet workers like Nihal Singh go hungry as the throngs at these centres have increased in recent days. “Instead of coronavirus, the hunger will kill us,” said Singh, who was hoping to eat his first meal in a day. Coronavirus-driven CO2 shortage threatens US food, water and beer supply, officials say - The Guardian reports that there is an emerging shortage of carbon dioxide gas (CO2) according to a Washington state emergency planning document. The document, a Covid-19 situation report produced by the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), contains a warning from the state’s office of drinking water (ODW) about difficulties in obtaining CO2, which is essential for the process of water treatment. The document says that the ODW is “still responding to [that day’s] notification of a national shortage of CO2”. It continues: “Several [water plants] had received initial notification from their vendors that their supply would be restricted to 33% of normal.” It further warns: “So far utilities have been able to make the case that they are considered essential to critical infrastructure and have been returned to full supply. However, we want to ask if CISA [the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] can assess this through their contacts, if this is sustainable given the national shortage.” (Cont’d) Asked to clarify the nature of this problem, ODW director Mike Means said in an email that his agency had first learned of potential problems when Seattle public utilities were “contacted by their vendor Airgas who supplied a copy of a Force Majeure notice”, warning them that their CO2 order would be reduced due to pandemic-related shortages. Force majeure is a contractual defense that allows parties to escape liability for contracts in the case of events – such as a pandemic – that could not be reasonably foreseen. In this case, Means wrote, “Airgas informed in their notice that they would only be able to do 80% of their normal service but subsequent discussions said to expect more like 33%”. At this point, he added, “we reached out to understand if this was a WA specific problem or national. We quickly understood it to be a national issue.” (Cont’d) ODW had then contacted federal agencies such as CISA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) and industry bodies such as the Association of State Drinking Water Authorities (ASDWA). The main reason for national shortages, according to the CEO of the Compressed Gas Association (CGA), Rich Gottwald, is a ramping down of ethanol production. “Back in the summertime, the [Trump] administration exempted some gasoline manufacturers from using ethanol. Then we had Russia and Saudi Arabia flooding the market with cheap gasoline. All of that led to an oversupply of ethanol,” Gottwald said. “As ethanol manufacturers were ramping down because there wasn’t a market for their product, along comes Covid-19, which meant people weren’t driving anywhere”, he added. This led to plant closures, including among the 50 specialized plants that collect CO2 for the food and beverage market. Gottwald’s association, along with a number of associations representing food and beverage industries, which together use 77% of food-grade CO2, issued a joint warning to the federal government about the shortage. In an open letter to the vice-president, Mike Pence, the coalition warns: “Preliminary data show that production of CO2 has decreased by approximately 20%, and experts predict that CO2 production may be reduced by 50% by mid-April.” It continues: “A shortage in CO2 would impact the US availability of fresh food, preserved food and beverages, including beer production.” The 'land army' needed to keep the UK's food supply chain going as thousands of tonnes of food risks going to waste - ITV has done a piece on the UK farming supply chain. Farmers are desperate for help. Without their usual influx of migrant workers from the EU, thousands of tonnes of food risk going to waste in fields up and down the country, just as the summer crops come into season. Every year our farming industry needs 90,000 seasonal workers. Like Robyn, many have put themselves forward - but in no way near the numbers needed. Others are finding the application process hard to navigate. Mark Thorogood, whose family have run the Essex farm for three generations, says it’s a perilous time for the food supply chain. "If we can't get the labour – it doesn’t get picked. That’s the crux of it", he said. Meanwhile, the charity The Food Foundation claims more than one and a half million Britons are going without food for at least a day because of the pandemic and three million have experienced hunger since the lockdown. On top of all that - the reality that nearly 50% of our food comes from abroad. With the numbers of ships crossing the Channel reduced and port workers hit by the virus, this is now under threat too. So could this crisis see a permanent change in how we feed our nation? The country's leading voice on food security, Professor Tim Lang gave us a grave warning: "The entire world food system is being disrupted. More disruptions are coming. Plantings not happening, food being wasted. "Britain only produces about 50% of its food - the country that can only half feed itself has got to wake up". (Personal note: this is why I’m putting effort into growing veg)
New Zealand: People are being urged not to relax alert level 4 restrictions over Anzac weekend. The country will move to level 3 at 11.59pm on Monday but police say they will continue to enforce the current restrictions until then. They say officers will be visible on the roads, with checkpoints operating at holiday hot spots. (Personal note: It’s the local equivalent of memorial weekend there with NZ and parts of Australia enjoying Monday as a public holiday). Level 3 restrictions mean organised sports are still not allowed outside the home bubble, including playing frisbee or kicking a rugby ball around. Playgrounds and public sports facilities are still off limits, and physical distancing is still required when exercising outside. Sports such as golf, tennis, and bowls, where two metres of distancing is possible can be played, and mountain biking on known trails is permitted for experienced bikers.
Three southern Sydney beaches closed for a second time, only five days after being reopened, according to a statement from the Randwick City Council. The beaches of Clovelly, Coogee and Maroubra were shut at 1pm Friday after “people failed to use beaches for exercise only.” The three beaches will reopen Saturday and Sunday between 6am to 9am for exercise only, according to the council. The situation will be reassessed on Monday.
Results of a new survey from C+R Research shows that 60 percent of American shoppers are “now fearful” to shop at grocery stores, with 73 percent saying they are shopping less at physical stores says The Spoon. Not surprisingly, C+R’s survey also found that grocery delivery has shot up 3.5x during the pandemic. Whereas consumers used to take an average of 2.3 weekly trips to the grocery store before the COVID-19 outbreak, they now average 1 trip a week.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has criticized China previously for its handling of coronavirus, but tonight he was clearer than ever, saying, "China caused an enormous amount of pain, loss of life, and now a huge challenge for the global economy and the American economy as well by not sharing the information they had." Pompeo, appearing on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox, added, "I am very confident that the Chinese Communist Party will pay a price for what they did here, certainly from the United States."
Inevitably, left leaning media sources such as The Guardian have attacked President Trump for his suggestion yesterday of injecting disinfectant to cure the virus. At Thursday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing, the US president discussed new government research on how the virus reacts to different temperatures, climates and surfaces. “And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute,” Trump said. “One minute! And is there a way we can do something, by an injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that. So, that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me.” Dr Deborah Birx, the task force response coordinator, remained silent. But social media erupted in hilarity and outrage at the president, who has a record of defying science and also floated the idea of treating patients’ bodies with ultraviolet (UV) light. (Personal note: already I’ve seen several memes on the topic).
Germany’s coronavirus reproduction rate has increased to 0.9 according to the country's centre for disease and control, the Robert Koch Institute, meaning every 10 people with the virus infect an average of nine others. That’s up from a reproduction rate of 0.7 a week ago, according to the Institute’s Vice President Lars Schaade. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has previously warned that if the number -- also known as the R0 value -- rises above 1, the country’s health system would eventually be overwhelmed. Yesterday she expressed concern that some German states were moving to ease coronavirus restrictions too soon, saying it could undermine the results that have been achieved.
The British prime minister is recovering at his countryside retreat, but there's no decision yet on when he will return to work, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News.
It's the first day of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims; in Indonesia, millions can't travel home as is custom due to travel bans, and in Malaysia, the national lockdown has been extended through early May. Meanwhile, Muslims in India are facing discrimination, attacks, and being blamed for spreading the virus. An infection cluster was identified at a Muslim group's event last month, heightening public fear and Islamophobia.
Police in the United Arab Emirates are deploying smart helmets that can scan the temperatures of hundreds of people every minute in their effort to combat the new coronavirus. The helmets, which need less time and less contact than traditional thermometers, can measure temperatures from five metres (16ft) away and scan up to 200 people a minute, triggering an alert if a fever is detected. Chinese company KC Wearable says it has sold more than 1,000 of the temperature-scanning helmets and has received orders from the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
Supply chain news in depth
Hidden threat: Japan only has a 2-week stockpile of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) - If supplies stop, it will cause major power supply problems in the country says Nikkei’s Asian review which has an article highlighting the continuing energy supply chain vulnerability in Japan ever since the Fukushima nuclear disaster. It takes about one month to ship LNG from the Middle East to Japan explains the article but if the coronavirus outbreak prevents ships from docking in Japan it could have a big impact on the country's power supply. The physical properties of LNG mean it is poorly suited for long-term storage hence the country only holding a two-week stockpile. Despite this, the country depends on the fuel for 40% of its electric power generation needs, and all of the LNG it uses is imported from the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Tokyo Bay, which stretches across the prefectures of Chiba, Tokyo and Kanagawa, is Japan's most important LNG power generation hub. JERA operates many of the power plants there, all of which run on LNG. Accounting for about 30% of Japan's total LNG power generation, these plants produce 26 million kilowatts of electricity. If, for instance, the coronavirus was to force these plants to stop, the Greater Tokyo area would immediately lose its power supply (Personal note: that’s a population of approx 38.5m people). (Cont’d) Today, LNG is a pillar of Japan's electricity. Before the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami in Japan, LNG made up 28% of the country's power generation. That increased to 40% in fiscal 2017 as the nation's nuclear power plants went off grid, one after the other, following the Fukushima nuclear crisis. While some of Japan's nuclear plants have come back online, based on the strictest standards in the world, only three of the 10 electric power companies have been able to do so. Moreover, the coronavirus is inching closer and closer to the nuclear plants. Recently, a contractor working at the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in the southern prefecture of Saga tested positive for the virus and construction at the site was stopped temporarily. Japan has traditionally tried to maintain a diverse mixture of power sources -- including nuclear, LNG, fossil fuels and renewable energy -- due to its reliance on imports as an island nation. "It is highly unbalanced to depend close to half of our energy on LNG alone," an official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry concedes. With shipments arriving constantly, a few missed shipments will not immediately signal a crisis. But an extended cutoff will spell trouble for the country. (Cont’d) Japan was already facing a power shortage this year, "so the timing is very bad," said a power industry source. The Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture was shut down last month because it failed to meet antiterrorism standards. The No. 3 reactor at the Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture is offline following a court injunction. The number of nuclear reactors in operation this year is expected to temporarily fall by half from nine, so Japan cannot rely heavily on nuclear power. Japan's energy self-sufficiency stands at about 10%, well below the 40% for food. The movement to shift away from carbon has led to a backlash against domestic coal-fired power plants, so dependence on LNG could rise further. One reason that Tokyo Electric is rushing to restart its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture is because "heavy concentration in LNG power in Tokyo Bay is a major risk to the stable supply of power," according to an official at the utility. The coronavirus pandemic is testing whether Japan's government and utilities can diversify energy sources to prepare against the risks that threaten supplies. USA meat packing plant Covid-19 problems worse than originally thought - A rash of coronavirus outbreaks at dozens of meatpacking plants across the nation is far more extensive than previously thought, according to an exclusive review of cases by USA TODAY and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. More than 150 of America’s largest meat processing plants operate in counties where the rate of coronavirus infection is already among the nation’s highest, based on the media outlets’ analysis of slaughterhouse locations and county-level COVID-19 infection rates. These facilities represent more than 1 in 3 of the nation’s biggest beef, pork and poultry processing plants. Rates of infection around these plants are higher than those of 75% of other U.S. counties, the analysis found. (Cont’d) While experts say the industry has thus far maintained sufficient production despite infections in at least 2,200 workers at 48 plants, there are fears that the number of cases could continue to rise and that meatpacking plants will become the next disaster zones. "Initially our concern was long-term care facilities," said Gary Anthone, Nebraska's chief medical officer, in a Facebook Live video Sunday. “If there's one thing that might keep me up at night, it's the meat processing plants and the manufacturing plants." Factory workers, unions, and even managers say the federal government – including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – has done little more than issue non-enforceable guidance. On its website, for example, the CDC has released safety guidelines for critical workers and businesses, which primarily promote common-sense measures of sanitization and personal distancing. USA Today says that state health departments have also taken a backseat role in all but a few places. There’s more in the article here.
Supply chain news in brief
Supply chain dive gives a glimpse into the soaring demand for PPE during the pandemic. Numbers from group purchasing organization Premier and data software company ESO show the supply chain gaps in getting needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to those on the front lines. Data on increasing orders of PPE in the hospital setting and the arc of COVID-19 calls compared to a typical flu season show the pandemic in a new light. Healthcare procurement departments and group buying organizations track purchases as part of business. When a spike in usage occurs, it helps them understand their needs and project what will happen. "Dealing with COVID, we’re using five to seven times more PPE than with the traditional patient," Michael Alkire, president of Premier (a group purchasing organisation), told Supply Chain Dive. Typically, Premier purchases 22 million to 24 million N95 respirators per year for its members, including about 4,000 hospitals and 175,000 nonacute healthcare providers and organizations. In January and February, before the virus was spreading rapidly in the U.S., Premier’s members used 56 million respirators.In late March, Premier's systems were ordering 110 million to 150 million respirators, Alkire stated in an Alliance for Health Policy webinar. According to a March Premier survey of its hospitals, 23% of respondents had less than a 10-day supply in inventory. The number of SKUs (SKU = Single Keeping Unit, think of it as a unique product code) on allocation, meaning ordering is restricted due to a shortage, has also skyrocketed. On March 23, 2,600 unique SKUs were on national allocation, Alkire said. By April 1, that number had risen to 9,200. PPE categories can have multiple SKUs. The N95 respirator could have 50 SKUs, including various sizes and colors.
The Singapore Times reports that small businesses in Thailand’s food manufacturing and wholesale trade industries have been encouraged to buy and sell across regional borders, with the help of a new online channel. Thaitrade.com, an e-commerce portal run by the country’s Department of International Trade Promotion, teamed up with a Singapore-based firm to raise the profile of selected Thai brands. The partnership with business-to-business wholesale food platform OctoRocket, which is partly owned by Business Times publisher Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), aims to help Thai food manufacturers export their wares. Food suppliers in Thailand can also tap the new channel to connect with regional counterparts and source products from the rest of South-east Asia for Thai consumers.
A billion kilos of French fries but nobody wants them anymore; NRC.nl reports (link, in dutch) that the demand for French fries has collapsed now that the catering industry is closed due to the coronavirus meaning growers across the Netherlands are left with full sheds. The Netherlands is one of the largest chip potato producers in Europe the article explains, clarifying that the potatoes mainly end up in restaurants, cafes, canteens and fast-food chains, but catering has been largely closed worldwide since the outbreak of the corona virus. 1.5 million tons of Dutch fries potatoes remain from the 2019 harvest. Two-thirds of this is unsaleable, the potato sector estimates. It works out at around sixty kilos per inhabitant of the Netherlands. André Hoogendijk, director of branch organization BO Akkerbouw, says that the Dutch potato sector does not quickly ask for help and until recently the sector had been buoyant but this week, the potato sector held a crisis meeting with Minister Carola Schouten of Agriculture (ChristenUnie). According to Hoogendijk, the minister accepts the severity of the problem and economic need but no concrete commitments have yet been made. "We hope for financial compensation" he says.
The major US grocery chain Publix has committed to buying surplus milk and food that would normally go to schools, catering companies and restaurants and will donate it to America’s food banks according to Business Insider. The effort is intended to help both farmers who have had to discard unsold product and the growing number of Americans facing food insecurity. It expects to donate more than 150,000 pounds (circa 68 tonnes) of produce and 43,500 gallons of milk (approx 165,000 litres) in the first week of the initiative.
Major US supermarket chain Krogers has told ABC that America’s food supply is stabilizing, but it will be up to consumers to keep the supply for some hot-button items in check, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said in an exclusive with "Good Morning America." “I was in the store last night — we had toilet paper, plenty of meat variety products: beef, pork, chicken, all those things,” McMullen, CEO of America’s second-largest general retailer, said. “As for hand sanitizer, I think it is going to take a little bit longer.” The sentiment from Kroger’s CEO has been echoed by Wegmans (another supermarket chain in the US, predominantly in the NE of the country). “While the unexpected increase in demand has challenged the supply chain, we’re seeing it start to equal out,” said Laura Camera, a Wegmans spokesperson. “We are confident it will stabilize as long as we prioritize our needs.”
Manufacturing activity in the UK has slumped to record lows says the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (link). Widespread business shutdowns at home and abroad in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic unsurprisingly resulted in a rapid reduction in UK private sector output during April. The latest IHS Markit/ CIPS Flash UK Composite PMI® (Purchasing Management Index) signalled by far the fastest decline in business activity since comparable figures were first compiled over two decades ago. At 12.9 in April, down from 36.0 in March, the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit / CIPS Flash UK Composite Output Index – which is based on approximately 85% of usual monthly replies – indicated that the combined monthly decline in manufacturing and services activity exceeded the downturn seen at the height of the global financial crisis by a wide margin. Prior to March, the survey-record low was 38.1 in November 2008. (Personal note: The PMI is based on five major survey areas: new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries, and employment. The ISM weighs each of these survey areas equally. The surveys include questions about business conditions and any changes, whether it be improving, no changes, or deteriorating. The headline PMI is a number from 0 to 100. A PMI above 50 represents an expansion when compared with the previous month. A PMI reading under 50 represents a contraction, and a reading at 50 indicates no change).
Air New Zealand announced it will not resume operation of its suspended Auckland-Buenos Aires and Los Angeles-London routes due to the deep impact of Covid-19 on forward travel demand. The airline has also taken the decision to postpone the commencement of its non-stop Auckland-New York service from 29 October 2020 until late 2021 at the earliest. Along with 95 percent of its international flying, Air New Zealand's Buenos Aires and Los Angeles-London routes are currently suspended through to 30 June due to government travel bans and low demand. Last year, the airline announced its plan to exit the Los Angeles-London route in October 2020 and in March brought forward the closure of its London cabin crew base.
Meet the 12-year-old who rode 36 hours on Zwift alongside Geraint Thomas - The Tour De France winner and double Olympic gold medalist earlier this week did 3 12 hour cycling sessions to raise money for the UK’s NHS (National Health Service), eventually earning £350,000. Alongside him rode a 12 year old Mak Larkin who by the end of the 36 hours of cycling had managed to cycle 740km (460 miles). Proud mum Lynsey told Cycling Weekly: “Lockdown was really getting to Mak, being that he was so eager to race this season as it was his first year at national level road and mountain bike cross country. “He saw Geraint’s 36-hour challenge and told us he wanted to do some of it with him for something to do and to support the NHS. He then told us a few hours later that he wanted to do the full challenge and wanted to raise some money himself. At time of writing his fundraising page (also for the NHS) stands at £5,772 (approx €6,605 or $7,111 USD). Cycling weekly has more here. A toddler has been able to hear for the first time after a groundbreaking remote switch-on of her cochlear implants - The BBC reports that audiologists in Southampton activated the devices for 18-month-old Margarida Cibrao-Roque via the internet as they are unable to see patients in person due to Covid-19 measures. Professor Helen Cullington said the procedure took "technical creativity". Margarida's father said it had "opened a big window" for his daughter. Margarida, who has been deaf since birth because she has Ushers Syndrome Type One, had received her cochlear implants in an earlier operation. Staff at the University of Southampton's Auditory Implant Service (USAIS) used specialist software and were able to monitor progress via videolink to the family's home in Camberley, Surrey. During the switch-on levels of electrical stimulation were gradually built up and Margarida's responses were constantly monitored. It is hoped her new cochlear implants will, over time, help her to hear and to communicate more easily. Margarida's mother, Joana Cibrao said the team were "just brilliant and made it happen" despite the lockdown restrictions. "The possibility of Margarida calling me mummy one day would mean the world," she said.
CMV: There is nothing liberal about the European Union and liberals shouldn't waste their time defending it
The European Union and also continued membership of the EU by the UK has had widespread support from left liberals throughout the English-speaking world. I believe the EU is a tremendous institution and I believe it is good for Europe and was good for the UK and it will make the UK marginally less wealthy over time to leave the EU. But the EU seems to have widespread support, not just for these things, but out of some vague sense of cosmopolitanism or a spirit of international cooperation. It's there I think the EU doesn't live up to the hype. Dominic Cummings, an influential, shadowy figure in UK politics, has argued that EU trade rules go far beyond reducing tariffs between countries to liberalise trade. He says EU rules also work to exclude other countries from July trading within the EU by enforcing tariffs outside the bloc. Some nations, including the UK, might want to run a trade policy that is more liberal than is possible from inside the EU. If the EU were committed to open, liberal cosmopolitanism, it would break down barriers within the EU but also not stand in the way of its member states developing more liberal relationships with other countries. In New Zealand and Australia to a lesser degree we have felt the full brunt of this. Favourable agricultural trade relationships with the UK supported a strong agricultural industry here which helped make our countries prosperous. These had to be given up when the UK entered the EU. The adjustment was economically difficult in the short term and has produced dependence on China for an export market in the 21st century. I anticipate replies that NZ and Australia are pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things and that overall the EU has been very good at breaking down barriers within Europe. That has been great for Europe. But if your liberalization agenda is limited to one continent, it doesn't seem very consistently liberal - it's more of a kind of new expanded nationalism, albeit expanding the concept of nation to be a large continent-sized quasi nation. This is not really a utilitarian argument - more an argument that on principle, the EU has demonstrated its realpolitik and much like the US, it only supports wider openness within the confines of its own very narrowly defined and short term interests. EU protectionism has probably hurt lots of other countries throughout the world - I just happen to know more about my corner of it. The EU has been good for Europe, but the EU's goals of liberalising Europe have largely been achieved. I don't believe its current direction fits within a liberal, internationalist agenda, and people committed to those values should not waste time fighting for the EU or lose too much sleep over the UK leaving it.
Each day, millions of trades are made in a currency exchange market called Forex. The word "Forex" directly stems off of the beginning of two words - "foreign" and "exchange". Unlike other trading systems such as the stock market, Forex does not involve the trading of any goods, physical or representative. Instead, Forex operates through buying, selling, and trading between the currencies of various economies from around the world. Because the Forex market is truly a global trading system, trades are made 24 hours a day, five days a week. In addition, Forex is not bound by any one control agency, which means that Forex is the only true free market economic trading system available today. By leaving the exchange rates out of any one group's hands, it is much more difficult to even attempt to manipulate or corner the currency market. With all of the advantages associated with the Forex system, and the global range of participation, the Forex market is the largest market in the entire world. Anywhere between 1 trillion and 1.5 trillion equivalent United States dollars are traded on the Forex market each and every day. Forex operates mainly on the concept of "free-floating" currencies; this can be explained best as currencies that are not backed by specific materials such as gold or silver. Prior to 1971, a market such as Forex would not work because of the international "Bretton Woods" agreement. This agreement stipulated that all involved economies would strive to hold the value of their currencies close to the value of the US dollar, which in turn was held to the value of gold. In 1971, the Bretton Woods agreement was abandoned. The United States had run a huge deficit during the Vietnam Conflict, and began printing out more paper currency than they could back with gold, resulting in a relatively high level of inflation. By 1976, every major currency worldwide had left the system established under the Bretton Woods agreement, and had changed into a free-floating system of currency. This free-floating system meant that each country's currency could have vastly different values that fluctuated based on how the country's economy was faring at that time. Because each currency fluctuates independently, it is possible to make a profit from the changes in currency value. For example, 1 Euro used to be worth about 0.86 US dollars. Shortly thereafter, 1 Euro was worth about 1.08 US dollars. Those who bought Euros at 86 cents and sold them at 1.08 US dollars were able to make 22 cents profit off of each Euro - this could equate to hundreds of millions in profits for those who were deeply rooted in the Euro. Everything in the Forex market is hanging on the exchange rate of various currencies. Sadly, very few people realize that the exchange rates they see on the news and read about in the newspapers each day could possibly be able to work towards profits on their behalf, even if they were just to make a small investment. The Euro and the US dollar are probably the two most well-known currencies that are used in the Forex market, and therefore they are two of the most widely traded in the Forex market. In addition to the two "kings of currency", there are a few other currencies that have fairly strong reputation for Forex trading. The Australian Dollar, the Japanese Yen, the Canadian Dollar, and the New Zealand Dollar are all staple currencies used by established Forex traders. However, it is important to note that on most Forex services, you won't see the full name of a currency written out. Each currency has it's own symbol, just as companies involved in the stock market have their own symbol based off of the name of their company. Some of the important currency symbols to know are: USD - United States Dollar EUR - The Euro CAD - The Canadian Dollar AUD - The Australian Dollar JPY - The Japanese Yen NZD - The New Zealand Dollar Although the symbols may be confusing at first, you'll get used to them after a while. Remember that each currency's symbol is logically formed from the name of the currency, usually in some form of acronym. With a little practice, you'll be able to determine most currency codes without even having to look them up. Some of the richest people in the world have Forex as a large part of their investment portfolio. Warren Buffet, the world's richest man, has over $20 Billion invested in various currencies on the Forex market. His revenue portfolio usually includes well over one-hundred million dollars in profit from Forex trades each quartile. George Soros is another big name in the field of currency trading - it is believed that he made over $1 billion in profit from a single day of trading in 1992! Although those types of trades are very rare, he was still able to amass over $7 Billion from three decades of trading on the Forex market. The strategy of George Soros also goes to show that you don't have to be too risky to make profits on Forex - his conservative strategy involves withdrawing large portions of his profits from the market, even when the trend of his various investments seems to still be correlating upward. Thankfully, you don't have to invest millions of dollars to make a profit on Forex. Many people have recorded their success with initial investments of anywhere from $10,000 to as little as $100 for an initial investment. This wide range of economic requirements makes Forex an attractive venue for trading among all classes, from those well entrenched in the lower rungs of the middle class, all the way up to the richest people alive on the planet. For those on the lower end of the spectrum, access to the Forex market is a fairly recent innovation. Within the past decades, various companies began offering a system that is friendlier to the average person, allowing the smaller initial investments and greater flexibility that is seen in the market today. Now, no matter what economic position you are in, you can get started. Although it's possible to jump right in and start investing, it's best that you make sure you have a better understanding of the ins and outs of Forex trading before you get started. The world of Forex is one that can be both profitable and exciting, but in order to make Forex work for you it is important that you know how the system works. Like most lucrative activities, to become a Forex pro you need a lot of practice. There are many websites that offer exactly this, the simulated practice of Foreign Exchange. The services provided by online practice sites differ from site to site, so it is always a good idea to make sure you know all of the details of the site you are about to use. For example, there are several online brokers who will offer a practice account for a period of several weeks, then terminate it and start you on a live account, which means you may end up using your own money before you are ready to. It's always a good idea to find a site that offers an unlimited practice account. Having a practice account allows you to learn the ways of the trade with no risk at all. Continuing to use the practice account while you use a live account is also a beneficial tool for even the most seasoned Forex traders. The use of a no risk practice account enables you to try out new trading strategies and tread into unknown waters. If the strategy works, you know that you can now implement that strategy into your real account. If the strategy fails, you know to refrain from the use of that strategy without the loss of any actual money. Of course, simply using a no risk account won't get you anywhere. In order to make money with Forex, you need to put your own money in. Obviously, it would be ridiculous to travel to other countries to purchase and sell different currencies, so there are many websites that you can use to digitally trade your money. Almost all online brokerage systems have different features to offer you so you have to do the research to find out which site you wish to create an account with. All brokers will require specific information of you to create your account. The information they will need from you includes information required to communicate with you, including your name, mailing address, telephone number, e-mail address. They also require information needed to identify who you are, including your Social Security number, Passport number or Tax Identification number. It is required by law that they have this information, so they can prevent fraudulent trading. They may also collect various personal information when you open an account, including gender, birth date, occupation, and employment status. Now that you have practiced trading currency and set up your live account, it is time to truly enter this profitable yet risky world. To make money with Forex, you do need to have money to begin with. It is possible to trade with very small amounts of money, but this will also lead to very small profits. As is with many other exchange systems, high payouts will only come with high risks. You can't expect to start getting millions as soon as you put money in to the market, but you can't expect to make any money at all if you don't put in at least a 3-digit value. As most Forex brokers will warn you, you can loose money in the foreign exchange market, so don't put your life savings into any one trade. Always trade with money that you'd be able to survive without. This will ensure that if you get a bad trade and loose a lot of money, you wont end up on the streets, and you'll be able to make a comeback in the future. So how does trading currency work? Logically, trades always come in pairs. For example, a common trade would be the United States Dollar to the Japanese Yen. This is expressed as USD/JPY. The way to quote a trade is kind of tricky, but with practice it becomes as natural as reading your native language. In a Forex quote, the first currency in the list (IE: USD in USD/JPY) is the base currency, and in the quote the base is always one. This means if (hypothetically of course) One USD was worth Two JPY, that the quote would be expressed as 1/2. When trading in Forex, we use pips. Pip is an acronym for "percentage in point". A pip a certain decimal place in a number compared to the same decimal place in another number. Using pips, we track the gains and losses of a currencies value compared to another's. Let's take a look at an example. Say a value is written as 1.0001/1.0004. This would indicate a 3-pip spread, because of the 3 number difference in the fourth decimal place. Almost all currency pairs go to the fourth decimal place. The only currency pair that doesn't is that of the USD/JPY, and it goes to the second decimal place. For example, a USD/JPY quote with a 3-point spread would look like this: 1.01/1.04. A very common aspect to the foreign exchange is leverage. Leverage trading, also known as trading on margin, is a way to amplify the amount of money you are making. When you use leverage trading, you borrow a certain amount of money from your broker and use that to make your transaction. This allows you to trade with more money then you are actually spending, meaning you can make higher profits than you would normally be able to make. There are risks associated with leverage trading. If you increase the amount of money you are using, if a trade goes bad, then you'll loose more money than you'd usually loose. The risks are worth it though, because a big win on margin means a huge payout. As mentioned before, it is definitely a wise idea to try out leverage trading on your practice account before you use it excessively on your live account, so you can get a feel for the way it works. Now that you're an expert on the way Forex trading works there are some things about foreign exchange that you should know. Forex is just like the stock market in that there are many benefits and risks, but if you are going to invest your time and personal money into this system, you should be fully aware of all of the factors that may change your decision to invest in the currency market. Generally speaking, Forex is a difficult subject to opinionate on, because of the different factors that may alter the currency over the years. "Supply and demand" is a major issue affecting the Forex organization, because the world is in constant variable to change, one significant product being oil. Usually the currency of all the nations around the globe is described as a huge "melting pot", because of the fact that all of the interchanging controversy, political affairs, national disputes, and possibly war conflicts, all mixed together as a whole, altering the nature of Forex every second! Although problems such as supply and demand, and the whole "melting pot" issue, there are a numerous amount of pros to Forex; one being benefited profit from long term stock. Because of the positive aspects of Forex, the percentage of the use of electronic trading in the FX market (shortened from Foreign Exchange) increased by 7% from 2005 to 2008. Despite the controversial realm of Forex, it is still recognized today by many, and is still popular amongst many of the nations in the world. Of all the organizations that recognize Forex, most of them practice fiscal policy, and monetary policy. Both policies are dependent on the nation's outlook on economics, and their standards set. The government's budget deficits, or surpluses against the country, is widely affected by the country's economic status of trade, and may critically inflict the nation's currency. Another factor for the nation's deficit spending is what the nation already has, in terms of necessities for the citizens, and the society. The more the country already has, prior to trade, the greater the budget for other demands from the people, such as technology, innovations in existing products, etc. Although a country may have an abundance in necessities, greed may hinder the nation's economic status, by changing government official's wants, to want "unnecessary" products, therefore ruining or "wasting" the country's money. This negative trend may lead to the country's doom, and hurt the Forex's reputation for positive change. There are some countries which hold more of a product (such as oil stated above), the Middle East dominating that sector in the circle of trade; Since the Middle East suffers much poverty, as a result of deficit spending, and lack of other resources, they demand for a higher price in oil, to maintain their economic status. This process is known as the "flights to quality", and is practiced by many countries, wanting to survive in the trading network that exists today. Interest rate, and leveraged financing, is due to the inflations that occur in many parts of the world from one point to another. Inflations wear down purchasing abilities, causing the currency to fall with it. In some cases, a country may observe the trends that it takes, and beforehand, take action to avoid any mishaps that had been experienced before. Sometimes, the country will buy more of a product, or sell more of a product, otherwise known as "overbought" or "oversold". This may aid in the country's future, or devastatingly hurt the country, because of lack of thought, as a result of fraud logic. "What started out as a market for professionals is now attracting traders from all over the world and of all experience levels" is part of a letter of the chairman of Forex, and it is completely true. There is even a 30-day trial for Forex online if anyone interested in Forex wants to learn more about the company. Although affected by leveraged financing, interest rate, and causing an increase or decrease in exchange rate risks, Forex can be a great way for quick profits and integrated economy for the country. In investing in stocks that are most likely to be successful for a long period of time, and researching these companies for more reference and background that you need to know, Forex can aid in these fields. In the Forex market of different levels of access, the inter-bank market composed of the largest investment bank firm, which contains "spreads", which are divided into bid, and ask prices. Large amounts of transactions, with large amounts traded, and requesting a small amount of difference is known as a better spread, which is preferred by many investors. In comparison to the Stock Market, the Forex organization is just as stable, and safe, if the users on it are aware, and decently knowledgeable about the topic. The Stock Market Crash in 1929 was a result of lack of thinking, because of the extremely cheap shares, replacing the shares originally costing thousands of dollars. When the Stock Market crashed, and the New Deal was proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, leveraged finance was present, and utilized to stabilize the economy at the time. The United States was extremely wealthy and prosperous in the 20s (prior to the depression), and had not realized what could happen as a result of carelessness in spending. This is a result of deficit spending, and how it could damage a society, in less than a decade! When joining Forex, keep in mind that with the possible positive outcomes, and negative ones, there are obstacles that must be faced to become successful. As a result of many catastrophic events, such as the Great Depression that occurred in the United States, people investing in the Forex organization keep in mind of the dangers, and rewards that may come upon them in a certain point in time. With more work and consideration outputted by a person, or organization in the Forex program will there be more signs of prosperity as a result. In relation to individuals such as Warren Buffet and George Soros, they have become successful through experience, and determination through many programs, and research, for security purposes. Reserving some of the most riches people in the world, to others that are just test driving it to discover its potential for them, Forex is a broad topic that experiences different people everyday. Forex may not help everyone that invests in it, but if enough outputted effort is amplified in attempts to better the economy, it is most definitely something that any person should experience first-hand.
#GEXIV [National] Gregor talks Immigration, Small Business and all things Indian at a Hindu Temple
At a local Hindu temple in London, Gregor meets with fellow Indians from all throughout the world and converses with some of his own local Fijian family about the issues of the election and how the DRF is delivering for them. Eventually standing before the community gathered at the invitation of the Pundit, Gregor respectfully bows and touches the feet of the elderly around the speaking area before starting his speech. "The DRF has been the party with the most experience and the most backbone in talking about issues of immigration and teaching of Indian history. Our own history, the history of the Girmityas and the history of what we have achieved on behalf of Britain when we have been colonized and marginalized by Britain has been ignored and whitewashed. I'm proud to be taking the principled stand to restore some pride in being British Indian and to bring our communities back to the understanding of the importance of our own culture and our own history which our children and our future generations have forgotten. We need to show them that change and that adaptation of the old ways can be achieved to serve better outcomes and that we can know the history of our own people. The DRF has been leading the way while other parties fall behind on these issues, wanting to dismantle the statutes of people who have owned or traded in Girmityas and who led butchery or oppression in India. For our families and communities, Immigration is a vitally important topic. We will be ensuring that the Commonwealth visas program can be implemented to ensure our family and friends in New Zealand, Australia and others can come to the United Kingdom to live and work and add to our local communities. Nearly all of us in this room know how immigration can be transformational for people and how it adds to our communities. We are also going to fight for small business rights and the community businesses, primarily through contracting reform. Thank you"
54 Years since France detonated nukes on Moruroa after we fought for them in WW1 & against Nazism in WW2, & suffered in their colonial invasions of Vietnam - Europe & their Colonial States still excuse their criminal 'tests' on our tupuna Moananui. Scumbag USA President Trump mulls more crimes.
https://twitter.com/PeaceMovementA/status/1278501718733406208 " Moruroa: 54th anniversary of first nuclear bomb detonation On July 2, 1966 the calm of French Polynesia's Moruroa atoll was shattered by an explosion of unbelievable force. Within a second, the azure tropical sky flashed bright orange, and was ruptured by a towering radioactive cloud that mushroomed into the atmosphere; the placid lagoon was stirred into a tempestuous cauldron, while the coconut trees on the white sand islets were bent by the sheer force of the nuclear explosion. "It's beautiful", said President Charles de Gaulle.” Today is the 54th anniversary of France’s first nuclear bomb detonation in French Occupied Polynesia, the first in a total of 193 bomb “tests” at Mororua and Fangataufa from 1966 to 1996 which left a toxic radioactive legacy that continues to cause immense harm to the health and wellbeing of Tahitians and other Pacific peoples, and threatens the future of the Pacific ocean." "https://www.justsecurity.org/70976/as-trump-mulls-new-us-nuclear-tests-we-can-learn-from-a-small-countrys-resistance-to-the-bomb/ As Trump Mulls New US Nuclear Tests, We Can Learn from a “Small” Country’s Resistance to the Bomb
June 25, 2020 The Trump administration is reportedly considering restarting U.S. nuclear weapons testing for the first time since 1992. If President Donald Trump proceeds down this path, the United States would be the first, other than North Korea, to flout the global norm against nuclear test detonations in 22 years. Is it possible to stop a superpower from exploding a nuclear bomb? The story of Cook Islands, a “small” country in the Pacific, suggests people at the margins of global politics have unexpected agency. Between 1946 and 1996, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France conducted 318 nuclear test explosions in the Pacific region: in Australia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, French Polynesia (or Maohi Nui as it is known by supporters of its independence), Johnston Atoll (a U.S. territory) and Amchitka island in Alaska. The governments conducting the tests stereotyped the Pacific as a remote space ripe for experimentation, with people living there depicted as “few” and “uncivilized.” The nuclear detonations had catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences. With global attention understandably focused on stopping COVID-19, preventing new nuclear tests can seem like an irrelevant, retro concern. Despite concerted opposition from arms control experts, Trump has already turned his back on the Iran nuclear deal, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the Arms Trade Treaty, and previous administrations’ restrictions on landmines. How do progressive activists find agency facing a nuclear weapons complex backed by the most powerful militaries in the world? Answers may lie in the history of the struggle against nuclear testing and the remarkable story of Cook Islanders’ resistance to the Bomb. A “Small” Country Bans the Bomb Cook Islands was among the first countries to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in September 2018. Adopted by 122 governments at the United Nations the previous year, the TPNW will – when it enters into force – comprehensively outlaw nuclear weapons among its members and establish a framework for assisting communities affected by use and testing. The Treaty’s supporters – including the Cook Islands government – aim to stigmatize the only weapon of mass destruction not yet banned by international law. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for “its ground-breaking efforts to achieve” the TPNW and “draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of nuclear weapons. Cook Islands was not a site of nuclear testing. However, it was downwind from the U.K. and U.S. detonations at Christmas (now Kiritimati) and Malden islands in Kiribati from 1957 to 1963; and, in certain weather conditions, the French test sites at Moruroa and Fangataufa atolls from 1966 to 1996. Cynics were quick to sneer at Cook Islands joining the Treaty. Why would the United States or Russia care what a small island State thought about their arsenals? The nine nuclear-armed countries, along with their allies, boycotted the TPNW negotiations. What difference would the Treaty make? Echoing colonial condescension, commentators questioned whether Cook Islands even “counts” as a State in international law (factcheck: They do). But Cook Islands has played an outsized and rarely acknowledged role resisting big military powers’ use of the Pacific as a “nuclear playground.” Since gaining self-governance in 1965, key aims of Cook Islands’ foreign policy have been achieved: the Pacific is a nuclear weapons free zone; the U.K., the U.S., and France stopped their nuclear tests; the UN has adopted a nuclear ban treaty; and there is growing pressure to help nuclear test victims and remediate contaminated environments. Cook Islanders achieved these successes not by force – they have no military – but rather through diplomacy, international law, and connections with global activist networks. If we define power as the ability to shape the world according to one’s interests and values, Cook Islanders have been unexpectedly powerful. (See Epeli Hau’ofa’s analysis of how outsiders underestimate the power of “small” Pacific states, here and here). Downwind and Under Colonial Control A year before the U.K. tests in Kiribati commenced, traditional leaders of Cook Islands on the capital island of Rarotonga composed a report highlighting the potential risks. But, under New Zealand’s colonial control, Cook Islanders struggled to convey concerns to those in power. New Zealand allowed the U.K. to set up a monitoring station at Tongareva/Penrhyn, Cook Islands’ most northern island, 750 miles from Kiritimati. New Zealand naval personnel played a supporting role in the U.K. test program. Tauariki Meyer, who grew up on Rakahanga Atoll (850 miles from Kiritimati), later wrote that in 1957, when she was 10 years old, British and New Zealand naval personnel visited the island to inform them “not to drink any water from our wells or roof tanks nor to eat any vegetation, crops or fish for at least three months.” No alternative food supplies were offered. Playing hide and seek one day, she saw a “flash of light brighter than the sun. Shortly after the ground shook. … That evening the whole sky turned red [and] it stayed like that for about a week. … A few days after the blast our lagoon changed colour and all of the fish died floated to the surface….” Meyer’s campaign for compensation from the British government for the health problems she attributed to fallout was unsuccessful. Dr. Terepa’i Maoate, later Cook Islands’ prime minister, also reported seeing a flash while on Manihiki Island (900 miles from Kiritimati) during the period of the U.K. tests. He told a 2008 research conference “that he’d treated fatal cases of diarrhea and vomiting, and seen people with enlarged thyroids” but that no one at the time “made any connection to nuclear testing.” In the run up to its first Pacific atmospheric nuclear test, on Sept. 11, 1966, the French government asserted that “not a single particle of radioactive fallout will ever reach an inhabited island.” This did not reassure the Cook Islands Legislative Assembly, which passed a resolution noting the “practicable impossibility of preventing fallout” and describing the proposed tests as a “serious menace to health and security in the South Pacific.” As they prepared to explode the 120-kiloton device from a tethered balloon 600 meters in the air, French officials realized that winds were blowing toward populated islands. Since President Charles de Gaulle had travelled to French Polynesia to witness the test, they detonated it anyway. Over the following days, and throughout the French atmospheric tests, fallout was detected in Cook Islands by a monitoring network operated by the New Zealand National Radiation Laboratory (NRL). NRL repeatedly stated that low-level exposure to ionizing radiation from fallout in the South Pacific “constituted no public health hazard.” But the most recent and comprehensive review of the scientific literature has confirmed that there is no threshold below which radiation is safe. There is always an effect, even if small, on the overall cancer rate. A 1993 NRL report distanced itself from its earlier certainty, estimating a radiation dose from fallout that, according to the most widely used scientific model, would increase the cancer rate by about 1.1 per 10,000 people alive in the South Pacific during the period of atmospheric testing. Independent Diplomatic Action Cook Islands gained self-government from New Zealand in 1965 and has an unusual political status in the international system. Although a self-governing country with an elected government under a Westminster system, a constitution and the Queen of England as its head of State, it has residents but no citizens. All native Cook Islanders are also residents of New Zealand and can freely travel and reside in both countries. Foreign affairs and defense are responsibilities of the Queen, after consultation by the prime minster of New Zealand with the prime minister of the Cook Islands. In the decades since self-rule began, the Cook Islands has become increasingly assertive in pursuing its own foreign policy. While not a U.N. member, Cook Islands can join U.N. treaties and is a full member of regional intergovernmental institutions. Increased independence enabled Cook Islanders to express their concerns about the effects of Pacific atmospheric testing. Sir Albert Henry, Cook Islands’ first prime minister, had participated in anti-nuclear politics in New Zealand. Among his first acts in power was to deny flights associated with the French test program permission to overfly Cook Islands’ territory. The following year he refused to allow a dance team from the island of Aitutaki to participate in Bastille Day celebrations in French Polynesia. In 1965, Cook Islands proposed a resolution at the South Pacific Commission, calling on France to consider the impact nuclear testing would have on people in the region. The colonial powers refused to allow the Commission, a regional body coordinating economic and social policy, to discuss “political” issues and so the Cook Islands resolution was ruled out of order. “We are…a small country,” said Sir Albert, but “we are the closest to the French islands where the tests are to take place. … [I]f anyone has the right to speak out, then surely it is the Cook Islanders.” Unwilling to let their voice be stifled, Cook Islands proposed to Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa – the three fully independent Pacific island States – a new regional body that would allow the discussion of political issues. The first communique of this South Pacific Forum (now the Pacific Islands Forum) in 1971 raised concerns about French nuclear testing. Forum members then sponsored a U.N. General Assembly Resolution), passed in 1972, urging an end to French nuclear tests. Growing opposition to French tests was also expressed in major sea-borne demonstrations off Moruroa. Greenpeace boats sailed into the test zone, violently repelled by French security forces. The New Zealand government sent two frigates, the HMNZS Canterbury and the HMNZS Otago to register its protest. Australia and New Zealand (acting also on Cook Islands’ behalf) filed a case against France with the International Court of Justice in 1973, seeking to end atmospheric tests. Fiji also joined the suit. The judges’ preliminary ruling ordered the French government to “avoid nuclear tests causing the deposit of radioactive fall-out” on South Pacific countries. The Court declined to make a more comprehensive ruling when France stopped atmospheric testing in late 1974. When France announced that it would move tests underground, the Cook Islands government joined a joint diplomatic note expressing “fundamental opposition to all nuclear testing.” The government worried about accidents at the French test sites, as well as the risk of nuclear war in the region. In 1985, Pacific States met in Cook Islands to sign the Treaty of Rarotonga establishing the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone. The Treaty banned the “possession, manufacture, acquisition and testing” of nuclear weapons and the dumping of radioactive waste at sea anywhere in the Zone. Nevertheless, there were loopholes in the Treaty of Rarotonga that allowed nuclear submarines to traffic Pacific waters. While the Soviet Union and China ratified their relevant protocols in 1988, France, the U.K., and the U.S. did not sign until 1996. The U.S. still has not yet ratified, though then-President Barack Obama presented them to the Senate in 2011. Global Connections and Mass Protest Before the 1980s, most Cook Islanders were cut off from the international news media and knew little about regional debates on nuclear weapons. Many Cook Islanders also have close family, cultural, and social connections to French Polynesia, where the test program made enormous public investments, which muted their opposition. Even as he signed the Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, then-Prime Minister Sir Thomas Davis, chided New Zealand for closing ports to nuclear-armed U.S. ships. Davis, who had lived in America and worked for NASA, said the U.S. Navy were welcome in Cook Islands. There was little political action against the tests outside official circles and a few left-wing expatriates. Cook Islanders views changed as they became more connected with the world. Many travelled to New Zealand, where the nuclear issue was front-page news following the 1985 French bombing of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbor. Greenpeace protest vessels stopped in Rarotonga, welcomed by the government, drawing admiring crowds. By contrast, visiting French military personnel were met with verbal abuse from passersby. Meanwhile, the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) movement mobilized people at the grassroots. Backed by churches, trade unions, intellectuals, and NGOs, they amplified regional attention to the humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons. The French test program created stark economic inequalities and social problems, particularly in Fa’a’a, a working class suburb of French Polynesia’s capital Papeete, Tahiti. Test site workers and their families, concentrated in Fa’a’a, began to speak about their health concerns to political and religious leaders. In 1983, NFIP activist Oscar Temaru was elected mayor of Fa’a’a, which he declared a “Nuclear Free City.” Temaru has family connections and friends in Cook Islands and sought their support. When newly elected French President Jacques Chirac announced he would restart underground testing in 1995, ending a three-year moratorium, he ignited unprecedented indignation across the Pacific. Cook Islanders felt deeply afraid, both for themselves and their “cousins” in French Polynesia. Churches prayed for the tests to be cancelled. Children made anti-nuclear art in school. Medical professionals raised concerns about the effects of radiation. “We are defenseless against this outrage. The whole thing is just so bloody frightening. They will poison our seas,” businessman Ross Hunter told The Observer. Cook Islands’ then-Minister of Agriculture and Conservation Vaine Tairea reported that older people were “refusing to eat fish caught on the eastern side of the islands – the side facing Mururoa.” Cook Islands News, now a full newspaper, reported on the planned French tests in almost every issue. The prime minister, Sir Geoffrey Henry, sent a letter to the French government expressing “fervent hope” that it would “cease its testing programme at the earliest moment.” French claims that their nuclear tests were contamination-free were “an insult to our intelligence,” said Henry. These days, flipflops and plastic water bottles from French Polynesia end up on Cook Islands’ shores in Ngaputoru. We all live “in a single global environment,” he said. “All of humanity lives down current and down wind – we are all exposed, the amount is only a matter of degree.” But Henry’s rhetoric was less confrontational than other regional leaders. Henry refused calls for Cook Islands to boycott the 1995 South Pacific Games in Tahiti. And he welcomed a visit to Rarotonga from president of French Polynesia, Gaston Flosse. As a result, many Cook Islanders felt they could not rely on the government to express their indignation. Henry should “come out of his cocoon and take a much stronger stand,” said Dr. Terepa’i Maoate, then leader of an opposition party: “regardless of our small size, we cannot and should not continue to sit on the fence….” When opposition politicians organized a demonstration against the tests, Henry pivoted, perhaps seeking distraction from a government finance crisis. In a full-page ad in the Cook Islands News he invited all people “to march for Peace and a Nuclear Free Pacific” and express support for Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior II, then in Avarua harbor. On June 23, 1995, more than 1,000 people (around 5 percent of the population) marched in the country’s largest ever political demonstration. “We are here to protest against nuclear testing for the future generations,” a grandmother told the newspaper. Two days later, a delegation calling themselves Ipukarea-i-o-Kiva (Pacific Home) headed to Tahiti to show support for Oscar Temaru and local anti-nuclear activists. “Let the women and children of the Cook Islands convince the people of Tahiti” that they could not accept the “murderous” French tests in “silence,” said the group’s leader and former Miss Cook Islands, June Baudinet. Some Cook Islanders felt France’s intransigence required a more militant response. When Gaston Flosse visited Rarotonga on 7 August, 500 protestors met him at the airport. Felix Enoka, a Cook Islands champion body builder, was among them, having already joined a boycott of the upcoming South Pacific Games in Tahiti. Preparing for Flosse’s visit, Enoka and three friends hung a gigantic banner with the slogan “Nuclear Free” on Maungatea. Other activists collected tomatoes in an unsuccessful plot to give Flosse a pelting. 📷
Cook Islanders aboard a vaka (traditional canoe), perform a traditional chant in protest against French Pacific nuclear tests, just outside the 12-mile exclusion zone around the test site Moruroa, August 30, 1995. Photo: Steve Morgan, used with permission.
Cook Islanders also literally took their protest to the waves. As part of a pan-Pacific movement to celebrate the heritage of Polynesian seafaring, the Cook Islands government had been sponsoring cultural voyages of a vaka (traditional double-hulled canoe), the 72-foot Te-Au-O-Tonga. A Vaka ki Moruroa (Vaka to Moruroa) campaign persuaded the government to support sending Te-Au-O-Tonga to join the Greenpeace protest flotilla headed to Moruroa. “We are sending the vaka not because it’s aggressive or a threat to France,” said Brian Mason of the Vaka ki Moruroa committee, but rather “because it’s so utterly harmless and vulnerable.” Cook Islands News described it as “something of a David and Goliath situation.” The crew faced strong winds and turbulent waters and agauntlet of French battleships and military aircraft; they reluctantly accepted being towed much of the way by their escort patrol boat, Te Kukupa. But by August 30, the two vessels reached the 12-kilometer limit of territorial waters off Moruroa. Drawing intense international news coverage, the crew of the Te-Au-O-Tonga faced Moruroa and performed pe’e (traditional chants) “urging the French to take their bombs away.” On September 5, Cook Islands’ national seismic monitoring station detected the first nuclear detonation in the Pacific since 1991. Enoka, the bodybuilder, felt devastated: “I was thinking no, it can’t be true…it’s hard to believe.” Enoka had announced at a press conference the week before that if the test proceeded, he would burn a French flag at Rarotonga’s World War I memorial, dedicated to the 500 Cook Islands soldiers who helped defend France. Hundreds of people came to the Cenotaph to watch as Enoka, dressed as a traditional warrior and surrounded by WWI veterans “shedding tears”, touched a flaming torch to a French flag. Cook Islands News described how the “pent-up emotions” of “anti-test anger” produced an “instant reaction from the crowd, with a wave of shouting and jeering joining the drumbeats as the tricolour was reduced to ashes.” People fed paper flags to the flames, venting “their frustration at France’s deaf ear to pleas of the Polynesian, Pacific and global protest.” The same day, as the Te-Au-O-Tonga left Tahiti to return to Cook Islands, 15,000 Tahitians poured into the streets of Papeete to express their anger at the government. More militant activists occupied the Tahiti’s airport runway and set fire to the international terminal. The South Pacific Forum’s secretary-general, Ieremia Tabai, expressed the region’s “deep disappointment,” saying that the Forum countries “deplore … the way the French use our backyard to test nuclear weapons, putting at risk the Pacific environment, and the health of Pacific peoples….” France proceeded to detonate five more devices in French Polynesia. But facing diplomatic pressure, negative media coverage, a new case at the International Court of Justice, and global consumer boycotts, they finally backed down. Chirac cancelled the last two planned nuclear tests in 1996 and signed the recently negotiated Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Since 1999, only North Korea has flouted the international norm against nuclear tests. Cook Islands joined the CTBT in 2005. Jolene Bousanquet of the Vaka ki Moruroa campaign lamented that there were “no winners” in the story of nuclear testing in the Pacific. However, while France “lost respect,” Cook Islanders “gained mana [honor or authority] from their campaigns.” Support for the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Today, there remain an estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons in the world. While public mobilization for nuclear disarmament has waned in Cook Islands, it has remained the subject of regular coverage in the Cook Islands News, as well as a government priority. It would be “naïve” to believe Cook Islands could adequately respond to the humanitarian effects of a regional nuclear attack, Patrick A. Arioka told a 2013 conference in Oslo, Norway, on behalf of small island States. Then a Cook Islands emergency management official, Arioka is now a member of Parliament. Pacific States are “determined to support the disarmament of nuclear arms” because the tests have threatened the “cultures and traditions” of those who treasure “our ocean and land environments,” said Arioka. Rising sea levels have increased the risk of “radiation leakage” from Moruroa, even its “collapse.” As a result, “the time for half measures is over.” The way forward, Arioka said, was outlined in a 2011 international Red Cross resolution, co-sponsored by Cook Islands Red Cross, calling for a global prohibition of nuclear weapons, as well as international assistance for “recovery” of environments contaminated by nuclear tests. The Oslo meeting laid the foundations for a nuclear weapons ban treaty, by reframing nuclear diplomacy in terms of humanitarian, environmental, and human rights concerns, not just national security. As a non-member of the U.N., Cook Islands could not participate in the 2017 negotiations of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. But along with co-authors, Cook Islands submitted a working paper to the U.N., calling for closure of “the legal gap,” which left nuclear weapons the only weapons of mass destruction not yet banned by international law. The TPNW categorically prohibits nuclear weapons and establishes a framework for their elimination. The Treaty’s preamble recognizes the “unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims” of nuclear weapons use and testing, as well as the “disproportionate impact” on indigenous peoples. As a result, the TPNW obligates assistance to victims of nuclear weapons use and testing and remediation of contaminated environments. On June 11, the Republican-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee voted on partisan lines to appropriate $10 million for a nuclear test “if necessary.” The Arms Control Association said that if approved, a U.S. nuclear test would “raise tensions and probably trigger an outbreak of nuclear testing by other nuclear actors, leading to an all-out global arms race in which everyone would come out a loser.” Siai Taylor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Cook Islands News that “What is perhaps not immediately clear to many … is just how close ongoing warring, strategic military and conflict situations are to us.” The “rising tensions” between military powers and their “continued reliance on nuclear weapons” has increased “the risk of a deliberate or accidental nuclear detonation.” While it is “unlikely that we are the targets,” there is “a very real possibility” that Cook Islanders “would come in harm’s way, or fall victim to a … nuclear mishap,” said Taylor. Cook Islands’ 2018 accession to the TPNW was thus “a reiteration of our anti-nuclear weapons stance,” an expression of its commitment to “humanitarian values,” “sustainable development” and “international law.”
Cover photo: Cook Islands’ largest ever political demonstration, against French nuclear testing, 23 June 1995. Steve Morgan, used with permission."
[Econs] UK: Arrow Three - Regulations and institutions.
Introduction (sort of)
There have been many things said and done about economic policy of the government under Boris Johnson, especially joint efforts to create an environment for long-term sustainable recovery and growth within the British economy. With the most significant should've been considered as an application towards nominal GDP targeting instead of inflation controls, mainly to ensure the nominal economic growth being above the level of 3% per annum. But what is more interesting, the final part of £1.2 trillion recovery funds has finally arrived. A song called, the third arrow with primary focus on regulations and institutions aims to expand economic freedom and regulatory competitiveness of the UK, making life simpler for both, businesses, governments, and, at the very core, individuals. The government argues that it has been inspired in the reforms by the experience of Estonia, Switzerland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia. Quite a wider field for inspiration, isn't it? Is money being mentioned, the primary focus for many has shifted from institutional and regulatory reforms, towards the final round of deficit spending - massive four hundred billion pounds of worth infrastructure initiative. Its primary goal is to fulfil long-term gap and lack of investments into British infrastructure, coming from the Victorian era to hold across the 20th century, therefore it is much more comprehensive than just cash injections.
Money & Roads
Let's take a look on National Infrastructure Commission first. This body's primary concern is quality and investment, as well as security, of national infrastructure in the UK, and consequently, it replaces all of the authorities and bodies with an exception of those have been privatised before (such as Airport Authority). The head of the commission is appointed by the government from the conception of the House of Commons, and is responsible for coordinating local, regional, national policies and funding for infrastructure. The commission also has right to secure public and private investments, and local infrastructure projects borrowing, even in case of borrowing against future revenues. NIC additionally takes care about Local Development Corporations***.
*** Each LDC has an exclusive planning regulations authority in her area, working in the partnership with local financial institutions to fund infrastructure projects and about larger-scale initiatives to local landscape and requirements.
LCS also plays a role of “single entrance point” for local businesses and economic activity, fairly representing all government institutions and agencies under one label within the area corporation is responsible for. Consequently, if local development banks provide funding to create competitive local economic environment and ecosystem, local development corporations provide competitive regulatory environment for the local economic ecosystem to flourish and compete effectively on the global stage. Additionally, LDCs I focus on attracting foreign investments within the area and securing global ties around the world, working as a some sort of advertisement agency for the region. Local Development Bank funds, Local Development Corporation regulations, local authorities look after. Fundamentally, the only source of money for local development corporations is a share of tax revenues gained from local businesses by national government (a rebate), to make LDCs directly interested in creating competitive business environment within their areas. Increase the interest, and balance all stakeholders, CEOs Board is elected by a combined proportion of 30% seats elected by the local population, 40% seats by local businesses( each company elects a representer to vote on its behalf) according to the number of employees, and the final 30% being appointees from local authorities approved by NIC. If oversimplified, how do you see is a mix of Tennessee Valley Authority and Corporation of the City of London focused on promoting simple regulations for businesses and local investments. £400 billion investment amount actually represents the initial capital provided for local development corporations for them to launch local projects for future income would be gained. One more interesting moment, Local Development Corporations receive a ride to the wall of the planning competence towards municipalities, either even separate streets to make life even easier for local businesses.
Simplicity & Minimalism
However, it's not about spending very often, but the environment for business to operate and work. It's a common fact that Britain regularly has been ranked as one of the most friendly countries to start business, but at the same time being at the low bottom of the list of doing business environment. In other words it is easy to start, not too much business in the UK. Obviously, the easiest way to improve is to provide structural deregulation across the British economy - very unpopular move, which also contradicts many groups of interest. So instead of structural deregulation, the government opted for an alternative policy of market liberalisation: qualification and simplification. In essence, it means the government introduces new, simplified and universal rules of the game for businesses, rather than just abolishes existing ones. Similar experience had been applied in New Zealand under so-called 'Rodgernomics", and many former Socialist countries. Regardless, such a rapid shift in regulatory environment would definitely cause disruption on the markets, so it's highly unlikely to use this tool in its essential form. Instead, the cabinet proposes the concept of rulebooks — documents combining simplification, unification, rationalisation, and codification of standards and regulations to create as simple and clear a regulatory environment as possible. Due to adopting principle-based approach this is the last to close and burn the vast majority of uncertainty, complexity, loops. These rulebooks are voluntary, and can be opted instead of “classic” regulation, they include:
Labour Book - 300 pages long document to consolidate all labour standards from maternity leave to labour security, also introducing the universal definition of “worker” Applied to all employees and giving them the same rights regardless of employment status, also defines labour contract basic norms.
Consumer Code - consolidates and simplifies all acts, statutes, standards (including International ones) of consumer protection, supplier responsibilities, basic guarantees and procedures mechanisms to ensure consumer security. Also is expected to to take, the very most, 300 pages with all standards included. Notably, the document also shapes the system of collaboration among employees and employers and effectively promotes fundamental labour market reform.
Consolidated Tax Code - effectively replicates a combined version of Estonian and HK’s tax codes. This includes just 5 taxes to pay:
Consolidated Income Tax,
Single Business Tax - 10% tax on turnover of the company that replaces corporate tax, VAT, national insurance, business rates and property taxes, while withdrawing all fiscal benefits. It also turns into a progressive tax of 10p for each pound when the turnover exceeds £1 billion per annum.
Flat VAT. Interestingly, that does not applicable to exports, while products manufactured and assembled in the UK are eligible for 50% discount to the VAT rate. What is more important, all products of green industries are excluded from value-added taxation, either in case of more complex supply chains, such as in case winter power stations, the universal rebates that cover all costs can be applied.
Corporate Tax. Unlike “classical scheme” this one keeps corporate profits free from fees and provides a full coverage of equity finance costs via tax credits to abolish еру notorious Factory Tax, but burdens dividends additionally to CIT under a doubled rate.
Land Value Tax - a fee that replaces council tax, business rates and stamp duty by land value-determined fee paid by the occupant of the area under locally determined rates. LVT must be adopted by local authorities first, either being not forbidden as an alternative taxation scheme.
Codified Corporate Code deserves some sort of public attention too. Despite codifying and clarifying corporate governance rules in the UK, it also promotes a new status and corporate benefit schemes: Universal Ownership Scheme and Employee Participation Initiative.
UOS requires for company to guarantee its shares ownership to each British citizen at the age of 16 and above, for over 50 million people would become shareholders of the company. At the same time it's necessary for at least 30% of total capitalisation of the company or its British subsidiary being hold by workers through employee stock ownership schemes. In exchange, corporate profits remain free from any taxation, marginal income tax rate for all participants becoming limited to 25%. Dividend Tax, Capital Gain Tax, National Insurance Contributions being also withdrawn for all participants of the scheme. For smaller companies with lower levels of capitalisation for the scheme can be applied on locally.
EPI provides a reduced Single Business Tax 5%, limits income tax to 35%, withdraws Dividend Tax, and makes participating companies free to establish their own minimum wage, the size of national insurance contributions paid by their workers, and negotiating basic labour standards, it goes as far as limiting union participation for employees. I return it requires for businesses to provide share ownership for each employee, and reserve least 40% of seats on the Board for directly elected workers’ representatives, at the same time limiting the amount of shares owned by the Board members to 20%, while extending CEO’s bonus programmes for all the workers.
Government is ready to negotiate with the largest corporations to put them on board and apply for, first of all, Universal Ownership Scheme to give everybody this is an as share in exchange for lighter regulations and lower taxes, premier League focused on subsidiaries in case of multinationals. Including: Amazon, Alphabet, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, BP, HSBC, Centrica, Rolls-Royce Holdings, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, BT Group, British Airways, etc.
To these programs are fairly considered by many as the steps towards the restoring of popular capitalism and ownership society principles into a single agenda to counter Corbynites. Such approach would be to start from your vision to tackle inequality for many, based upon the concept of "levelling up" the society by granting everyone a share and participation in the wealth creation process. Is the Prime Minister announced himself, these two schemes will create the path for much deeper and comprehensive corporate and regulatory reform in the United Kingdom that will be drafted by 2024 general election.
The most notable advantage of consolidated text code scheme, however, is extremely simple one-page-long tax form that can be delivered digitally on the HMRC website, accessible for both: individuals and legal entities. The system also can be used under Pay As You Earn ordinary (employer fulfils employee’s tax forms individually for each worker) and consolidated (employer fulfils single tax form that covers consolidated income of the employees according to the tax bracket rate, instead of taxing everybody’s income separately) schemes.
All these schemes and simplified regulatory regimes are available on the completely voluntary basis to provide destruction and avoid hurting individuals and businesses, that are heavily dependent on tax benefits or more complex but flexible regulatory environment. However, replicating most attractive elements of Estonian and HK’s tax codes, while applying win-win approaches of regulatory simplifications allows Britain to pretend on the status of the freest economy in the western world without undermining know the consumer security, or labour standards, the welfare state in general.
It is also what we had claimed that stopping on the regulations in itself is not the best option to provide long-term economic freedom and friendly business environment. Is the experiences of both, former socialist nations, New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore show, some institutional reform required, and the government is willing to deliver it. Drastic reduction in number of ministries, agencies, reducing numbers of public employees, general digitalisation of the public sector, and abolishing regulatory market access barriers are at the core centre of the reform to be implemented by 2025:
National digital platform for companies, the “British Business Record" that covers registration, licensing, taxation (incl PAYE), procurement, public funding access, export guarantees, full and codified list of regulations applicable to certain businesses.
Internet reference and information portal, the “My Government" for individuals that include a full range of interactions with government from paying your taxes, claiming and receiving benefits, to making appointment with doctors, and payment of fines. This would allow any new company to be started within several seconds, reaching full operational capacity within a couple of days and minimal initial costs.
Nation-wide Welfare Wallet and Welfare Card, a debit card issued, or a digital wallet, by all public banks for receiving benefits, paying taxes, and paying public services, that can be used just like any other e-wallet or card with no limitations for payment or cash withdrawals.
It is noteworthy that users can directly see everyone who at a particular time has access to or uses their personal account in the system. They can also contact the viewer directly and request an explanation, or block access.
A reduction of number public employees to 350,000, back to the level of 1990s, primarily withdrawing them from welfare agencies and HMRC. A 100% of annual wage payment, including national insurance, is granted, as well as coverage for vocational training and re-skilling. Cuts do not affect fundamental public services, such as NHS, police, firefighters, teachers: their wages to be indexed on the same level of inflation, and linked directly to the GDP growth.
Fundamental reduction in numbers of ministries and agencies, as well as nurses themselves, including the creation of the so-called "economic superministry” being responsible for welfare and benefits, environmental, labour, investment, consumer standards and regulations and regulatory procedures. While the Treasury would remain an accountant for the government, HM Economic and Welfare Ministry takes jobs from such departments, and therefore agencies they control, as DWP, BIES, MHCLG, DHSC, DfT, DEFRA, Department for Education, DCMS, and ECGD. The ministry is also responsible for public education, healthcare, e.g. the NHS, housing, infrastructure and anti-trust regulations, taxation. National Monetary Authority together with the Bank of England will take care about devolved to banks and public banking system, and the Department for Innovations being focused on intellectual property, venture regulations, and digital security. The Union Office primary concern include regional affairs, local communities, devolution, constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom, coordination between the House of Commons, devolved parliaments and assemblies, also managing the Offices for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Department for International Trade being integrated into the Department for International Development and managed by the Foreign Office. It is important to note, the special attention is given to the principal "one ruler for one area” of replacing agencies and bodies with crossing responsibilities and doubling or similar functions.
The final injection of £400 billion into infrastructure projects via a network of Local Development Corporations with exclusive planning powers, National Infrastructure Commission as the supreme and the only infrastructure regulator in the UK.
Alternative deregulation and market liberalisation by introducing common rules books: Labour, Consumer, Tax, Corporate. They contain rationalised, codified, and massively simplified regulations (all statutes, acts, and any other legislations of the Parliament), especially the tax code which is replicates Estonia’s approach to taxation of businesses. They are completely voluntary to entitle, and available for both: businesses, and individuals. Such approach allows the UK to overtake New Zealand and Switzerland as freest t economies of the western world without undermining standards of safety.
Two schemes to blueprint upcoming corporate reform: massively encourage employee stock ownership and representation, either provides the share for each British citizen, in exchange for slashed taxation of capital, wealth, and profits for all participants. Additionally, nothing to hide here, these programs in to base a wider framework of stakeholderism to make corporate responsibility finally profitable, with no need for additional governmental interventions. Consequently, businesses and the wealthy get an increased freedom to get even more power, while granting that everyone benefits from it. (Similar system had been quite popular since fifties to seventies in the United States when the vast majority of shares was held by individual investors and employees, rather than CEOs. The same is true for the United Kingdom under Margaret Thatcher).
Fundamental reduction in public employment with generous compensation and increase for those who have stayed, cutting the number of ministries and public agencies by at least 40%.
Launching a long-term digitalisation of the public sector and regulatory bodies to cut physical interactions between individuals, businesses, in the government to an absolute minimum.
Note: this post contains a great variety of reforms, most of them have been presented over discussed, even outlined conceptionally, and been passed as bills provide the government a space to act and shape legislation. Some of them are retrospective, being launched in 2022 and 2021, as I simply couldn't manage the search volume of information, which is my fault. Sorry. I do understand it's quite complex, and unlikely to be accepted as one single bill within one year, so I had to unite several once and create a pathway for deeper reforms to come.
In the financial circles, a contract for difference (CFD) is a contract between two parties,described as "buyer" and "seller", this contract stipulates that the buyer will pay to the seller the difference between the current value of an asset and its value at contract time. History Developed in London by Brian Keelan and Jon Wood, both of UBS Warburg, on their Trafalgar House, in the 90s CFDs was an instrument used as a type of equity swap that was traded on margin. It was introduced to retail traders. They were popularized by a number of UK companies, characterized by innovative online trading platforms that made it easy to see live prices and trade in real time. The first company to do this was GNI. They were followed by IG Markets and CMC Markets who started to popularize the service in 2000. The year after, some CFD providers realized that CFDs had the same economic effect as financial spread betting in the UK except that spread betting profits were exempt from Capital Gains Tax. Most CFD providers launched financial spread betting operations in parallel to their CFD offering. In the UK, the CFD market mirrors the financial spread betting market and the products are in many ways the same. Subsequently CFD providers then started to expand to overseas markets, starting with Australia in July 2002 by IG Markets and CMC Markets. CFDs have since been introduced into a number of other countries. They are available in Australia, Austria, Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and New Zealand. They are not permitted in a number of other countries – most notably the United States, where, due to rules about over the counter products, CFDs cannot be traded by retail investors unless on a registered exchange and there are no exchanges in the US that offer CFDs. In 2016 the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) issued a warning on the sale of speculative products to retail investors that unfortunately included CFD sales. There are many risks involved in CFD transactions. These are divided into 3. These are Market risk, Liquidation risk and Counterparty risk. How does Koinpro step into all these? Koinpro is a crypto exchange of currencies in circulation. You can buy and sell some top coins like BTC, ETH, LTC, USDT, XRP with extremely preferential fees.We have a lot of regular exchanges, both crypto and fiat(mainstream and otherwise) trading tools like CFD, oil, futures etc; but not one of them integrates them like Koinpro. Its a no-brainer choice, since going for KoinPro’s unique double-UP contract, customers can simply enter into a predefined order position that will automatically terminate when the position either gains or loses 100% of its value, or when the contract expires — whichever comes first. Thus newbies and professionals, can trade any futures can easily benefit from trading with 100x leverage, without exposing themselves to the all too familiar risk of volatility associated with cryptocurrencies. Koinpro also reduces the risk of trading, especially that of CFDs with its in-depth insurance policy with Bitgo. https://koinpro.com/ https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=5219842
'Australia won't look the same': ANZ's Elliott warns coronavirus impact will be generational
Source: https://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/australia-won-t-look-the-same-anz-s-elliott-warns-coronavirus-impact-will-be-generational-20200403-p54gpb.html Article text: ANZ Bank chief executive Shayne Elliott has warned the coronavirus crisis will have a "material" impact on Australian house prices and affect the national psyche for an entire generation. But Mr Elliott pledged to use the giant bank's balance sheet strength to act as a "shock absorber" for the economy by allowing customers to defer repayments on loans, a plan he concedes will come at the expense of profits and returns for shareholders as some businesses fold. "We’re already being a shock absorber by being able to say to customers: 'You know what, if you want a deferral and not pay us for six months, you can do that,'" Mr Elliott said in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. "Does it come at a cost to shareholders? I would argue it already has." The big banks have been at the centre of an effort by the government and the business community to contain the economic impact of the coronavirus, agreeing to defer repayments on mortgages and waive fees. But this has come at a cost, with fears of rising bad debts and potential dividend cuts leading to savage declines in bank share prices. ANZ shares have fallen 40 per cent since February and are trading near their lowest levels since the global financial crisis. Speaking on the phone from the bank's near-deserted head office in Melbourne, Mr Elliott said the crisis could lead to a spike in unemployment and also make people more averse to taking on big debts, both of which could lead to declines for housing prices. "I’m not going to give you a price prediction, but you’d have to think it was material," he said. "It’s not going to be 2 or 3 per cent, it’s got to be a material [effect]." In a wide-ranging discussion, Mr Elliott said "more margin pressure" from falling interest rates, and the likelihood of higher bad debts could further hit shareholder returns. "Will returns in the banks be lower as a result of this? Clearly," Mr Elliott said. Regulators in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Europe even this week moved to suspend banks from paying dividends. Mr Elliott said he could understand why some overseas regulators had declared a "time-out" for dividends, though he did not know if this would happen in Australia. Yet despite the pain for shareholders, Mr Elliot said it was the duty of banks in crisis to wear loan losses and take risks to support their customers. Asked if ANZ was prepared to act as a "shock absorber" for the economy, Mr Elliott replied: "Yes we are prepared, that’s our role actually, and that’s what capital is for, that’s what all the provisions and all the various things that we have on our balance sheet are for." As part of the government's "Team Australia" plan for responding to the pandemic, the big four banks have a key role in cushioning the economy from a crisis Mr Elliott said would be "terrible" and "devastating for so many." Mr Elliott stressed the path of the crisis remained uncertain, and ANZ only this week ruled off its first half. Profits and the dividend will be announced at the end of this month after deliberations by the board. Even so, with unemployment expected to rise sharply, he predicted the crisis could have lasting impacts on consumers' attitudes to debt, the housing market, and how people do their banking. "Australia in the future won't look the same," he said. "It won’t look the same because it will impact a whole generation of our customers, the way they think about technology, the way they think about borrowing, the way they think about employment, the way they think about frankly the capitalist system and democracy." Social distancing might mean consumers become more willing to do their banking on their phones, which banks would welcome, but he also said people could potentially become "more fearful about taking on loans for example." Mr Elliott, who is from New Zealand, cited the example of his grandparents, who lost their home in the 1930s Great Depression. He said his father remembered the stories growing up, and it "scarred him for life in terms of his approach to borrowing.” "That’s a story of one, but you hear that a lot. You know there was a whole generation of people who came out of the Depression who were frugal, and you know, all of those sorts of things as a result. I don’t want to over-dramatise it, but I think if this thing goes on for months, it will have an impact,” Mr Elliott said. He said the pandemic was crucially different to the 2008 global financial crisis and the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s because it was affecting the way of life in Australia.“For Australia in particular and New Zealand, all of those other crises were something we almost watched on television, and we experienced in some ways. With this one it’s fundamentally changing our way of life. That is I think psychologically massive compared to all the other ones,” he said. The Reserve Bank is giving banks $90 billion in cheap funding, and the federal government is providing $20 billion in loan guarantees to keep small and medium firms alive during the shock. Lenders have promised repayment holidays to small businesses, consumers and landlords with up to $10 million in debt. Mr Elliott said small business clients have been especially hard hit, with 17 to 18 per cent of ANZ's 130,000 small and medium enterprise customers having requested a repayment deferral. Close to 50,000, or 5 per cent of its 1 million-odd mortgage customers have sought a repayment holiday. Hardship applications — for people who can no longer afford their loan, even with a deferral — have doubled. The crisis has also forced big employers such as banks to rapidly activate work-from-home plans for tens of thousands of staff, including in ANZ's case, thousands in Manila and Bangalore. Mr Elliott is one of the few ANZ staff still turning up to the office for work, with 90 per cent of non-branch its Australian staff working remotely. He said he was effectively working in a "bunker" of sorts, and work was "a bit lonely," with face-to-face meetings replaced with a stream of conference calls. "I’ve got literally half a floor all on my own," he said. "You spend your whole life on a phone, so you have your multiple conference calls. It’s very quiet, it is a bit strange. It’s a strange feeling to be perfectly honest, and you feel a bit disconnected." The bank is trying to keep staff healthy by providing webcasts from psychologists on how to stay resilient, and he said staff were using the online video-conferencing program Zoom to arrange social events like pizza nights and morning teas. But Mr Elliott said he was concerned about the toll it will take on people as the crisis drags on. "Not everybody is living in a nice cosy family situation at home, some are sharing houses, some are on their own, and that can be quite isolating and difficult for people. My concern is we’re only at the beginning of this thing, we’re in like week two really, I mean this is going to go on for a long time,” he said.
Why don't Chinese people hate their authoritarian government as much as we think they should? — Kaiser Kuo explains
I've been PMed by multiple people to repost this after my original SSC post was deleted, so here it is again: The following was originally written by the talented Kaiser Kuo as an answer to a question posed on Quora, but for the sake of easier readability, shareability, and the mobile users who don't want to create a Quora account, I've decided to repost it in text post form. I've also added the last part of the answer and postscript in the comments because of Reddit's character limit. Apologies in advance if that breaks any rules. Anyway. Why do many people feel that the Chinese can't possibly be basically okay with their government or society? I’m going to attempt an answer in three parts. First, I’ll look at the gap in political culture between China and the liberal western democracies, especially the United States. I’ll argue that there is little appreciation among most WEIRD individuals—that is, Western, Educated people from Industrialized, Rich, and Developed nations—for just how highly contingent political norms they take for granted really are from an historical perspective. I’ll sketch the outlines of the major historical currents that had to converge for these ideas to emerge in the late 18th century. Then, I’ll compare this very exceptional experience with that of China, which only embraced and began to harness those engines of western wealth and power—science, industrialization, state structures capable of total mobilization of manpower and capital—much later. And late to the game, China suffered for over a century the predations of imperial powers, most notably Japan. Hopefully, I’ll show why it was that liberalism never really took hold, why it was that Chinese intellectuals turned instead to authoritarian politics to address the urgent matters of the day, and why authoritarian habits of mind have lingered on. Next, I’ll argue that a lot of unexamined hubris lies not only behind the belief that all people living under authoritarian political systems should be willing to make monumental sacrifices to create liberal democratic states but also behind the belief that it can work at all, given the decidedly poor record of projects for liberal democratic transformation in recent years, whether American-led or otherwise. It’s important to see what the world of recent years looks like through Beijing’s windows, and to understand the extent to which Beijing’s interpretation of that view is shared by a wide swath of China’s citizenry. Finally, I’ll look at the role of media in shaping perspectives of China in the western liberal democracies and in other states. A very small number of individuals—reporters for major mainstream media outlets posted to China, plus their editors—wield a tremendous amount of influence over how China is perceived by ordinary Anglophone media consumers. It's important to know something about the optical properties of the lens through which most of us view China. Part I — The Values Gap: The Historical Contingency of Liberal Western Thought and Institutions One evening, I was chatting online with a friend here in China, another American expatriate living in another city, about the great disconnect in recent Western understandings of China—the thing that this question and answer seeks to get to the heart of. He suggested that at least for Americans (we’re going to use Americans here, mainly, to stand in for the Anglophone western liberal democracies) the question underlying the disconnect boiled down to this: “Why don’t you Chinese hate your government as much as we think you ought to?" The modern Chinese party-state, after all, is a notorious violator of human rights. It cut its own people down in the street in 1989. It prevents with brutal coercion the formation of rival political parties and suppresses dissent through censorship of the Internet and other media. It oppresses minority populations in Tibet and in Xinjiang, depriving them of religious freedoms and the right to national self-determination. It persecutes religious sects like the Falun Gong. It behaves in a bellicose manner with many of its neighbors, like the Philippines, Vietnam, and India. It saber-rattles over disputed islands with its longstanding East Asian adversary, Japan. It presses irredentist claims against Taiwan, which has functioned as an effectively sovereign state since 1949. It has pursued breakneck economic growth without sufficient heed to the devastation of the environment. It has not atoned for the crimes committed during the Cultural Revolution or the Great Leap Forward, when tens of millions died because of absurdly misguided economic policies. It jails rights activists, including a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. I could of course go on. Why then would any American not ask this question? Seems pretty obvious from the perspective of anyone from a liberal western democracy that this is a political system that needs to go, that has failed its people and failed to live up to basic, universal ideas about what rights a government needs to respect and protect. They’ll have heard the argument that China’s leadership has succeeded in other ways: it has allowed China to prosper economically, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty, creating a substantial and comfortable middle class with expanded personal (if not political) freedom. And the Chinese Communist Party has managed to ensure a relatively long period of political stability, with orderly leadership transitions absent the political violence that had accompanied nearly all others until Deng Xiaoping’s ascent. "Yeah, but so what?" asks the American. "Anyone who would trade a little freedom for a little personal safety deserves neither freedom nor safety,” he asserts, quoting Benjamin Franklin. He quotes this as gospel truth, ignoring the irony that many Americans advocated just such a trade in the aftermath of September 11. That aside, why shouldn't he quote it? It’s deeply engrained in his political culture. Political liberty is held up practically above all else in the values pantheon of American political culture. The American myth of founding sees the Puritan pilgrims, seeking a place where their brand of Protestantism might be practiced freely, crossing the Atlantic in the Mayflower, creating en route a quasi-democratic quasi-constitution, the Mayflower Compact, landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620, and over the next 150 years growing into the colony that would lead its 12 sisters into rebellion for freedom from the "tyranny" of King George III. Americans hold the ideas enshrined in their founding documents very dearly, and can't really be blamed for doing so: they are, after all, some very high-minded and frankly very beautiful ideas. What he doesn’t quite appreciate is the precariousness of the historical perch on which these ideas—ideas he holds so strongly and believes so ardently to be universal truths—ultimately rest. Americans, like everyone else for that matter, tend not to take much time to understand the historical experiences of other peoples, and can't therefore grasp the utter contingency upon which their own marvelous system rests. I'm going to grossly oversimplify here, in this grand backward tour of European history, but the political philosophy that gave rise to modern American political ideals, as even a fairly casual student of history should know, emerged during the 18th century in the Enlightenment—an intellectual movement of tremendous consequence but one that would not have been possible save for the groundwork laid by 17th century naturalists who, taken together, gave us an "Age of Reason" (think Newton and all the natural philosophers of the Royal Academy). Their great work could be pursued because already the intellectual climate had changed in crucial ways—chiefly, that the stultifying effects of rigid, dogmatic theology had been pushed aside enough for the growth of scientific inquiry. That itself owes much to the Protestant Reformation, of course, which people tend to date from 1517 but which actually reaches back over a century earlier with John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, arguably Erasmus, and the other pre-Lutheran reformers. And would the Reformation have been possible without the rediscovery of classical learning that was the animating spirit of the Renaissance? Would the Renaissance have been possible without the late medieval thinkers, such as Abelard, who sought out to subject theology to the rigors of Aristotelian logic and reason? Would all this have been possible, if not for the continuous struggles between Emperor and Pope, between Guelph and Ghibelline factions—partisans for the temporal power of the Vatican and Holy Roman Emperor? The fact is that this series of historical movements, eventually carving out politics that was quite separate from—indeed, explicitly separate from—theocratic control, was only really happening in this small, jagged peninsula on the far western end of the great Eurasian landmass. And in the rest of the world—the whole rest of the world—none of this was happening. Political theology remained the rule with rare, rare exceptions. What we've now taken as the norm and the correct form for the whole world—liberal, secular, democratic, capitalistic—is truly exceptional, recent, rare, fragile, and quite contingent. Let’s turn and look for a moment at China, which is arguably much more typical. China is a civilization that didn’t until much later and perhaps still doesn't fit neatly into the modern conception of the nation-state; a massive continental agrarian empire, a civilization with an integrated cosmology, moral philosophy, and political philosophy which together formed the basis of a holistic orthodoxy, deep knowledge of which was required for any man (alas, only men) who wished to climb the only real available ladder of success: the Civil Service Exams. The China that the West—in this case, chiefly the British—encountered in the late 1700s was really at or just past its peak, ruled by a reasonably competent and conscientious Manchu emperor who history knows as Qianlong, ruling a land empire matching, roughly, the contours of the contemporary People’s Republic, almost entirely self-sufficient but willing to sell its silk, porcelain, and especially its tea to anyone who brought minted silver bullion—two-thirds of the world’s supply of which, by the time of the American Revolution, was already in Chinese coffers. What followed was a crisis that lasted, with no meaningful interruption, right up to 1949. Foreign invasion, large-scale drug addiction, massive internal civil wars (the Taiping Civil War of 1852-1863 killed some 20 million people), a disastrous anti-foreign uprising (the Boxers) stupidly supported by the Qing court with baleful consequence, and a belated effort at reform that only seems to have hastened dynastic collapse. The ostensible republic that followed the Qing was built on the flimsiest of foundations. The Republican experiment under the early Kuomintang was short-lived and, in no time, military strongmen took over—first, ex-dynastic generals like Yuan Shikai, then the militarists who scrambled for power after he died in 1916. China disintegrated into what were basically feuding warlord satrapies, waging war in different constellations of factional alliance. Meanwhile, China's impotence was laid bare at Versailles, where the great powers handed to Japan the colonial possessions of the defeated Germany, despite China having entered the Great War on the side of the Allies. During this time, liberalism appeared as a possible solution, an alternative answer to the question of how to rescue China from its dire plight. Liberalism was the avowed ideology of many of the intellectuals of the period of tremendous ferment known as the May Fourth Period, which takes its name from the student-led protests on that date in 1919, demonstrating against the warlord regime then in power which had failed to protect Chinese interests at Versailles at the end of World War I. (The May Fourth period is also referred to as the New Culture Movement, which stretched from roughly 1915 to 1925). The "New Youth" of this movement advocated all the liberal tenets—democracy, rule of law, universal suffrage, even gender equality. Taking to the streets on May Fourth, they waved banners extolling Mr. Sai (science) and Mr. De (democracy). But with only very few exceptions they really conceived of liberalism not as an end in itself but rather as a means to the decidedly nationalist ends of wealth and power. They believed that liberalism was part of the formula that had allowed the U.S. and Great Britain to become so mighty. It was embraced in a very instrumental fashion. And yet Chinese advocates of liberalism were guilty, too, of not appreciating that same contingency, that whole precarious historical edifice from which the liberalism of the Enlightenment had emerged. Did they think that it could take root in utterly alien soil? In any case, it most surely did not. It must be understood that liberalism and nationalism developed in China in lockstep, with one, in a sense, serving as means to the other. That is, liberalism was a means to serve national ends—the wealth and power of the country. And so when means and end came into conflict, as they inevitably did, the end won out. Nationalism trumped liberalism. Unity, sovereignty, and the means to preserve both were ultimately more important even to those who espoused republicanism and the franchise. China's betrayal at Versailles did not help the cause of liberalism in China. After all, it was the standard bearers of liberalism—the U.K., France, and the United States—that had negotiated secret treaties to give Shandong to the Japanese. Former liberals gravitated toward two main camps, both overtly Leninist in organization, both unapologetically authoritarian: the Nationalists and the Communists. By the mid-1920s, the overwhelming majority of Chinese intellectuals believed that an authoritarian solution was China's only recourse. Some looked to the Soviet Union, and to Bolshevism. Others looked to Italy, and later Germany, and to Fascism. Liberalism became almost irrelevant to the violent discourse on China's future. For anyone coming of age in that time, there are few fond memories. It was war, deprivation, foreign invasion, famine, a fragile and short-lived peace after August 1945, then more war. Violence did not let up after 1949—especially for the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, who were "class enemies" on the wrong side of an ideological divide; or for the hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers sent to fight and die in Korea so soon after unification. And even with peace, prosperity didn't come: 1955 saw Mao announce a "high tide of collectivization," which was followed by the tragic folly of the Great Leap Forward and ensuing famine, in which tens of millions perished. A friend of mine named Jeremiah Jenne who taught US college students at a program here in Beijing once said something to the effect of, “When Americans create their movie villains, when they populate their nightmares, they create Hitler and the SS again and again: Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers.” The fear of the liberty-loving American, he implied, is of a surfeit of authoritarianism. What of the Chinese? The Chinese nightmare is of chaos—of an absence of authority. And such episodes of history are fresh in the minds of many Chinese alive today—only a handful are old enough to actually remember the Warlord Period but plenty can remember the Cultural Revolution, when Mao bade his Red Guards to go forth and attack all the structures of authority, whether in the classroom, in the hospital, in the factory, or in the home. And so they humiliated, tortured, sometimes imprisoned and sometimes even murdered the teachers, the doctors, the managers, the fathers and mothers. In the 25 years since Deng inaugurated reforms in 1979, China has not experienced significant countrywide political violence. GDP growth has averaged close to 10 percent per annum. Almost any measure of human development has seen remarkable improvement. There are no food shortages and no significant energy shortages. Nearly 700 million Chinese now use the Internet. Over 500 million have smartphones. China has a high speed rail network that's the envy of even much of the developed world. China has, by some measures, even surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest economy. So try telling a Chinese person that anyone willing to trade a little personal liberty for a little personal safety deserves neither liberty nor safety, and they’ll look at you like you’re insane. Therein lies the values gap. Part II — The View through China’s Window: Liberal Hegemonism in US Foreign Policy In the first part, I laid out a case for why it’s quite natural, given the tendency of Americans (as with all people) to ignore or understate historical contingencies and recognize their own privileges and prejudices, for Americans to be puzzled by Chinese acquiescence toward—indeed, by their often quite vocal support for—a political system so execrable by certain American standards. The hubris of some Americans about their own political system seems to me especially natural, even forgivable, in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union. From the vantage point of 1991, a kind of triumphalism was inevitable: the liberal west, with America at its vanguard, had just vanquished the second of the century’s great ideological enemies. First was Fascism and Naziism with the defeat of the Axis powers in 1945 (never mind that Bolshevik Russia, from the time Hitler invaded Russia, never faced less than two-thirds of German divisions in the field), then Bolshevism with the end of the Cold War. And what was on the minds of Americans—who had watched the Berlin Wall come down, Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel assume the Polish and Czech presidencies, Yeltsin defend the Russian parliament and Gorbachev declare the Soviet Union’s end—what was on their minds as they turned thoughts to China? Tiananmen, of course, with its incredibly potent imagery: a million people in the Square, Tank Man, and the Goddess of Democracy. Looming ever present in nearly every conversation about American perception of China in the last quarter century—now in the background, now in the fore—is the bloody suppression of the 1989 student-led protests in Beijing. (Fun Fact: The first democratic elections in Poland were held on June 4, 1989, the very day of the crackdown on the Beijing protests). The years that followed the end of the Cold War would see gathering in American foreign policy a new ideology that would come to supplant the realist school that had dominated from the time of Richard Nixon. This is what the MIT political scientist Barry R. Posen calls Liberal Hegemonism: an activist, interventionist thread that believes in the pushing of liberal democratic politics and capitalism through all available means from “soft power,” to operations aimed at destabilizing authoritarian governments, to actual preemptive war (the Bush doctrine) and the “regime change” of the Neoconservatives. Some of its basic assumptions—not all, but some—are shared both by liberal interventionists and NeoCons. For American liberals, it was guilt from failure to act in the Rwandan Genocide, or to the “ethnic cleansing” that characterized the wars during the breakup of Yugoslavia, that gave impetus to this; for NeoCons, it was the unfinished business of Desert Storm. They found much common ground in their support for “color revolutions” in the former Soviet republics. They may have debated tactics but the impulse was to spread American values and institutions, whether or not doing so would serve a specific and definable American interest. That could be done the Gene Sharp way, or the Paul Wolfowitz way. Neither way was something Beijing wanted done to it. And I don’t think it takes a whole lot of empathy to see what things have looked like from Beijing over the last 25 years. Deng Xiaoping, while he was still alive, pursued a policy of “biding its time and hiding its power” as he focused on building China's domestic economy, avoiding any real confrontation and trying to rebuild relationships post-Tiananmen. But it wasn’t long before tensions sparked. In May of 1999, US smart bombs fell on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, and virtually no Chinese believed the American explanation that it was a mistake, the result of an out-of-date map that showed the embassy as an arms depot. Later, in April of 2001, the collision of an American EP-3 spy plane with a Chinese fighter jet off of Hainan Island, off China’s southern coast, sent another chill through Sino-American relations. And things looked like they might have taken a turn for the worse, had not September 11 taken the pressure off. The “War on Terror,” which China could notionally join in, distracted the U.S., which quickly found itself fighting two long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile, the Chinese economy was in high gear, chugging along at double-digit growth rates right up to the eve of the Financial Crisis. The Sino-American waters were probably never calmer than in the years between 2001 and 2008. Perhaps history will see 2008 as an important turning point in these attitudes: during the same year that China staged its first Olympic games, the financial crisis, which China weathered surprisingly well, walloped the West (and much of the rest of the world) with what was arguably its signal event, the bankruptcy filing by Lehman Brothers on September 15—happening just three weeks almost to the day after the closing ceremony of the Beijing summer games on August 24. It was China’s turn to feel a kind of triumphalism, which often took the form of an unattractive swagger. Meanwhile, a sense of declinism gnawed at the American psyche. After 2008, China became the object of global (read: American) attention again, fueled for some by anxieties over the rapidity of its rise, in others by anger over major flare-ups in western China: riots in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, in March, 2008, and in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, in July, 2009. Factory conditions became a growing concern as Americans realized that even the most sophisticated electronics they sported—everyone had an iPhone by then, right?—were manufactured in China. Remember, too, that excitement over the political potency of social media was also enjoying something of a heyday in this period of liberal hegemonic ascent. As one color revolution after another was live-tweeted (Moldova was perhaps the first, but not the only, of the street movements to be called “The Twitter Revolution”), as every movement had its own Facebook page and Youtube channel, China’s reaction was to censor. There is, after all, one belief about the Internet that the most hardline Chinese politburo member shares with the staunchest American NeoCon: that the Internet, unfettered, would represent an existential threat to the Communist Party’s hold on power. They have of course very different views as to whether that would be a good thing or a bad thing. But can we really be surprised that, able as they are to open to the op-ed section of any American broadsheet and find this idea that Internet freedom is the key to toppling authoritarian single-party rule, the Communist Party leadership would conclude that their approach to censorship is correct? But this of course has created another potent issue over which Americans, very naturally, express outrage—and puzzled frustration that Chinese aren’t (literally) up in arms over Internet censorship. Beijing obviously lamented the Soviet empire’s incredibly rapid implosion. It doubtlessly chafed at how NATO expanded its membership practically up to the Russian doorstep. It certainly hasn’t loved it that American troops are operating from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, and were present in great numbers in Afghanistan (which by the way borders China, if only at one end of the narrow Wakhan Corridor). Beijing has surely fretted as American-backed NGOs (the National Endowment for Democracy, or NED, is the big boogeyman for pro-Beijing types—perhaps as Confucius Institutes are the bête noire for their anti-Beijing American counterparts) conspired, or so they believe, with the instigators of color revolutions. And it certainly sees the Pivot to Asia—now rebranded the “Rebalancing”—as a species of containment. But what I suspect really has Beijing freaked out, what really seems to have confirmed that America still has its cherished liberal hegemonic ambition, was the Arab Spring. Is Beijing so wrong, looking out on the smoldering wreckage of Libya and Syria, at the mess that Egypt still remains, to want to avoid that outcome at whatever price? Or to think that America’s true, ultimate intention might be regime change in Beijing? Kissinger once famously said that even a paranoid can have enemies. What does all this foreign policy stuff have to do with Chinese attitudes toward their government? It’s fair to ask this; after all, the question I’m trying to answer isn’t specifically about the Chinese state and how it sees things, but rather the Chinese people, and the attachment they seem to have toward a state that comes up so short by American measure. It’s the rare person who can truly separate, at both an intellectual and an emotional level, criticism of his or her country from criticism of his or her country’s government—especially if that government is not, at present, terribly embattled and is delivering basic public goods in a reasonably competent manner. States tend to try to reinforce that conflation of people with state (and in China’s case, party). They encourage the basic state-as-family metaphor, something that in the Chinese case is part of the deep structure of Confucian political thinking and is therefore probably easier to nurture than to extirpate. I don’t doubt that propaganda has a role in this, but I would assert that its role is generally exaggerated in American thinking about China. In any case, if you’ll indulge some pop psychological speculation, I’ll go out on a limb and posit confidently that external criticism of a leadership will tend to, if anything, reinforce a citizenry’s identification with the state and blur the lines even more between “government” and “people.” Perhaps I’m wrong. But most people I know who are known to bitch occasionally about their own parents get awfully defensive when people outside the family offer unsolicited criticism. This seems especially to be the case with mothers. And so it is that many ordinary Chinese citizens, online and inevitably aware now of the timbre of China discourse in English-language media, tend to elide criticism of the state and Party with criticism of China, and take it personally. They feel a distinct sense of having been singled out for unfair criticism and will reach easily for handy explanations: Hegemonic America can't abide another serious power rising in the world, and just wants to sow discord and strife to keep China down; America needs to create a boogyman, an enemy to replace its fallen Cold War foe and placate its military-industrial complex. And in any case, America doesn't appreciate just how far we've come under the leadership of this party, however imperfect. People will debate what the Party’s real role has been in poverty alleviation: is it accurate to say that the Chinese government “lifted 300 million people from poverty” or is it more correct to say that they mostly got out of the way and allowed those people to climb out of it themselves? (I tend to like the latter phrasing). That’s not the only accomplishment in China’s 35+ years of reform that will be fought over. But the simple truth is that by many, many measures of human development, the great majority of Chinese people are undeniably better off today than they were before Deng inaugurated reform. The grand unofficial compromise, in a kind of updated Hobbesian social contract, that the Party made with the Chinese people—“You stay out of politics, we’ll create conditions in which you can prosper and enjoy many personal freedoms”—has been, on balance (and to date), a success. No thinking Chinese person of my acquaintance believes that the Party or its leadership is anything close to infallible. Most can be quite cynical about the Party, the venality of officials, the hidden factional struggles, the instinct for self-preservation. They’re fully appreciative of the Party and leadership's many shortcomings. They don’t shrink from criticizing it, either; they aren’t reflexively careful of what they say and who might be listening. But they don’t bandy words like “revolution” about casually. They tend to have a sober appreciation for what’s at stake, for the price that would have to be paid. They’re realistic enough to understand that the Party is not apt to tip its hat adieu and go gently to history's proverbial dustbin. They still believe, and not entirely without evidence, that the Party leadership is attuned to public opinion and will respond when the will of the people is made manifest. They support reform, not revolution. I’ve little doubt that desire for more formal political participation, for a renegotiation of terms in that unwritten contract, will grow stronger. That’s in the cards. You’ll get no argument from me that it’s been a raw deal for many people with very legitimate grievances. There are many who’ve broken with the Party-state, who openly or secretly dissent, whose relationship with it is entirely and irreversibly oppositional. Among these are many whose courage of conviction and towering intellects I deeply and unreservedly admire, and others who I think are mere gadflies or attention-seeking malcontents without a sense of what’s at stake. In the case of all of them, regardless of what I think of them personally, I regard it as a black mark on the Chinese leadership each time a dissident is locked up for ideology, speech, religious belief or what have you. But most Chinese people tend to be pragmatic and utilitarian; the state’s ability to deliver social goods gives it a kind of “performance legitimacy." The good (prosperity, material comfort, sovereign dignity) and the bad (a censored Internet, jailed dissidents, polluted rivers, smog) go on the scales. For now, it’s unambiguous in which direction those scales are tipping. Part III — The Anglophone Media Narrative on China and Sources of Bias If you're a denizen of the Anglophone world, your impressions of China are almost certainly formed primarily by the media that you consume. There are of course exceptions: some 100,000 Americans have, in the last five years, spent time working or studying in China; there are several thousand enrolled in East Asian Studies graduate programs, or taking serious upper-division undergraduate coursework on China, or pursuing an academic discipline that focuses on China; and there are probably a few thousand more who, for personal reasons, have taken more than a passing interest in China and have read a good number of books on contemporary China or on modern Chinese history, have undertaken the study of Chinese, or have otherwise immersed themselves in trying to gain a deeper understanding of China. Taken together, though, these people represent a small percentage of the general media-consuming audience—the college-educated American who, say, reads a paper once in a while, watches cable or network news with fair regularity, listens to NPR on her drive to work, and occasionally clicks on a China-related tweet or on a friend's Facebook page, or her counterpart elsewhere in the Anglophone world. All told, that's several tens of millions of people, I'm guessing, in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. It's worth reflecting on that, for this majority of news-consumers, impressions of China are almost entirely dependent on the reporting produced, at least regularly and in the main, by probably fewer than a hundred individuals. I'm talking about the reporters for the major newswires like Reuters, Bloomberg, Dow Jones, and AP, whose stories appear not only in the major papers and on news portals online, but also in smaller metropolitan and even local markets; the journalists who write for the major newspapers and news magazines; television news reporters; and the foreign desk editors, subeditors, and producers working with the reporters. There are also the news assistants, unsung heroes without whom many of the China-based reporters who haven't mastered enough Chinese to read local media or documents, or conduct interviews in the native tongue of their interviewees, would be unable to do their jobs. If we include them, the number perhaps doubles but it's still no more than 200, perhaps 250 individuals whose contributions to the gathering, reporting, writing, and editing of news and the creation of news-related commentary actually matters. What, though, do we really know about these people? If this is the lens through which so many Americans (once again, I'll remind folks that "American" here is really shorthand for Anglophone westerners) view China, it seems to me very sensible that we should wish to understand something about the optical properties of that lens. Does it distort? Of course it does; it could notbut distort, could notbut offer only a partial and selective view—this mere few score of reporters trying to present a picture of the world's most populous nation as it hurtles ahead with unprecedented force (in the f=ma sense). This is not an indictment. These are people who I very much respect—indeed, the very people who these days comprise most of my personal circle of friends—and they are people who have my sympathy for what they must often endure in reporting from China. It's not an easy place to report from, especially if you're reporting on things that the Chinese government, or someone at least, doesn't want reported—and what else, after all, really qualifies as news reporting? They are subjected to some pretty shabby treatment, everything from the talk-to-the-hand they'll get from government ministries, to veiled and not-so-veiled threats related to visa renewals, to roughing-up by local thugs or plainclothes cops or even uniformed ones, to surveillance and harassment. I think if there's a source of bias with which I'd start my list, it's this. Seems only natural that this kind of treatment of a journalist anywhere would beget less than rosy coverage of the institutions doling it out. Negative coverage begets more of that nasty treatment, and so on in a most un-virtuous circle. Should the journalists be faulted for focusing on the things that power, whether political or corporate, wants to hide? No, I don't think so. Rightly or wrongly—and I'm unambivalent in my personal belief that it's "rightly"— this is what gets the journo juices flowing. Journalism is not about the quotidian. The historian Will Durant once wrote in The Age of Faith, "We must remind ourselves again that the historian, like the journalist, is forever tempted to sacrifice the normal to the dramatic, and never quite conveys an adequate picture of any age." I would note that while the historian can write enormously lengthy monographs in which some of that normal can be restored and that picture made more adequate, the journalist just doesn't have that leisure, and his sacrifice of the normal is more forgivable. And yet it has an impact on perception; it's still a source of distortion, of bias. This failure to focus on the more "normal" is, I would assert, one of the major reasons for the disconnect at the heart of the original question: the prevalence among Americans of "Why don't you hate your government as much as I think you ought to?" One of the more regrettable outcomes of this particular bias in the way China is reported reflects in the (notional, educated, mainstream-media-consuming) American public's understanding of the Chinese intellectual. Reporters tend to focus not just on critical intellectuals but on the more outspokenly critical ones, on the full-blown dissidents, on the very vocal activists, on the writers who challenge the establishment on human rights issues, on freedom of speech, on rule of law, on religious policy, on minority nationality policy and so forth. Of course they focus on these people; they're "the dramatic," in Durant's phrase. They set out to excite so no wonder that many of them are exciting. They play to the American love of the underdog. They flatter American values. It's right, I believe, to focus on intellectuals. One could make a very serious argument that China's history is at some important levels driven by the dynamics of the relationship between intellectuals and state power, whether dynastic or Party. Dissidents and the more stridently critical intellectuals certainly are part of that dynamic. But I would submit that it's actually more important to understand another type of intellectual, and another mode of relations between the intellectuals and state power, between, if you will, the pen and the sword: the "loyal opposition," who during most times—including this time—comprise the real mainstream, and who see it as their role to remonstrate and to criticize but not to fully confront. It's these voices, a kind of "silent majority," to use an apt phrase whatever its connotations in the American polity, who go too often ignored in our reporting. Because "Noted Chinese scholar is basically okay with the government, though he thinks it could be improved in X, Y, and Z" is not a particularly grabby headline or a compelling read. There's also a kind of source bias that's related to this and it's regrettably caught in a bit of a feedback loop, too. The general impression is that Anglophone media is pro-dissident, and so dissidents will tend to go on record with or speak at greater length with Anglophone reporters; moderate or pro-Party intellectuals will tend to decline interviews and comment, and the impression that Anglophone media is biased in favor of the dissidents gets reinforced: the narrative that they want is buttressed while the other is marginalized or weakened. Another almost ineradicable bias in Anglophone media reporting, so prevalent that it's almost not worth pointing out, is bias in favor of democratic polities. Authoritarian states like China tend to get reported on unfavorably because they behave like authoritarian states. They don't allow, by definition, rival political parties to freely form. They don't allow a free press. They censor the Internet. And of course journalists in the Anglophone world are themselves on the front lines of these speech and press issues. It's almost tautological that the press of the free world would want to free the press of the world.
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