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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘china

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO lets us know about planned subway closures and reports about Sam the Record Man’s sign.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks bravely about her recent failures.
  • Centauri Dreams speculates about the future.
  • Crooked Timber examines the strength of the labor movement within the Democratic Party even if it wanes in the United States at large.
  • D-Brief notes a Chinese mechanical chameleon.
  • Language Hat shares Winnie the Pooh in multiple languages of the North Caucasus.
  • Steve Munro notes the collapse in Union-Pearson Express ridership.
  • The Planetary Society Blog updates us on Curiosity.
  • Progressive Download’s John Farrell notes a simulation suggesting black holes could be gateways after all.
  • Torontoist uses a photo of mine to illustrate an article on the LCBO.
  • Towleroad recommends Key West.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes Amazon Web Services’ support in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

[LINK] “In the Fastest-Growing African Economy, Government is the Fuel”

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Bloomberg’s William Davison notes how Chinese investment and government spending are driving Ethiopia’s booming economy.

Ethiopia is the new flavor of the month for Africa watchers.

The East African nation led the pack of fastest-growing economies — not just in Africa, but in the world — in 2015. While many African nations are struggling to cope with plunging currencies and falling revenue from commodities, Ethiopia’s economy grew 8.7 percent last year and is set to expand 8.1 percent in 2016, according to International Monetary Fund estimates. Globally, only Papua New Guinea grew faster last year, at 12.3 percent.

Much of Ethiopia’s success is due to the dominance of the state in the economy. The nation exports very little compared to its African peers and capital controls mean the currency, the birr, has retained its value despite the global downturn.

“The fact that much of the spending is on capital projects, especially infrastructure, means that government spending has been the key driver of the boom,” said Getachew Teklemariam, an independent economist based in the capital, Addis Ababa. “It is unimaginable to think of Ethiopia as one of the fast-growing countries in the world without government spending.”

It’s that spending by state-owned companies such as the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, Ethio Telecom and Ethiopia Electric Power that’s led to a 70 percent boost in capital investment in the past three fiscal years to 155.2 billion birr ($7.3 billion). The government is building everything from industrial parks to sugar factories and power lines.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 7, 2016 at 3:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Shaping Toronto: Chinatowns”

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Torontoist’s Jamie Bradburn shares the story of Toronto’s different Chinatowns.

A glance at the listing for Adelaide Street East in the 1878 city directory shows a mix of Anglo-sounding businessmen whose trades range from contracting to insurance. The name at number 9 stands out: Sam Ching & Co, Chinese laundry. Mr. Ching’s presence was a cultural milestone, as he was the first recorded Chinese resident of Toronto.

Since Ching’s era, Toronto has included several Chinatowns, a term which has evolved from its original negative connotation. As Library and Archives Canada observes, “’Chinatown’ was coined in the 19th century as a European concept to signify an undesirable neighbourhood full of vice, and peopled by an inferior race.” That proper Torontonians of the early 20th century viewed the city’s small Chinese population—just over 1,000 in 1910—as lesser beings puts it mildly.

Both the respectable and gutter press hyped up the “yellow peril,” editorializing on how the eastern mindset was alien to western concepts of democracy and good citizenship, and how the Chinese would corrupt morals via gambling and opium. Efforts to curb their presence in the laundry and restaurant trades ranged from licensing fees to unsuccessful attempts by City Council to deny business licenses. Paranoia led to provincial legislation preventing Chinese-owned businesses from hiring white women, lest they be sold into white slavery. The Rosedale Ratepayers Association wanted to keep Chinese laundries out of their neighbourhood, adding them to the long list of things people don’t want in Rosedale.

While there had been small clusters of Chinese along Queen Street (one at George, another at York), by the end of the First World War a stable community established itself in The Ward, the neighbourhood west of Old City Hall which, despite its great poverty, had welcomed numerous immigrant communities. Elizabeth Street between Queen and Dundas served as this Chinatown’s spine, lined with businesses, restaurants, and societies. It mostly served single men, thanks to a series of harsh immigration measures preventing families from joining them. These laws escalated from head taxes to the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, which all but banned entry to Canada for two decades.

Over that time, the “almond-eyed Celestials,” as the Globe dubbed Chinese residents during the early 1920s, endured frequent police raids on gambling houses, a riot, and periodic rumours of imminent tong wars. If anything, the gambling dens offered lonely people social space, work, and shelter during hard times. Viewed as a threat to the existing social order, the Chinese found Chinatown a refuge they felt accepted in.

Much more, including photos, can be found at the link.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 5, 2016 at 8:24 pm

[LINK] “China Can’t Postpone the Pain Forever”

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Bloomberg View’s Michael Schuman suggests that, looking at similar situations elsewhere in Asia, China is primed for a financial crisis. Is it ready?

First of all, China would have to defy decades of history to avoid being crushed by its mountain of debt. Research firm Capital Economics analyzed 30 years of emerging-market crises and concluded that “no country has experienced an increase in its private debt-to-GDP ratio of 30 [percentage points] within the space of a decade and not experienced problems.” At best such countries endured significant, and often protracted, slowdowns in growth. China has seen an 80 percentage point jump in that ratio over the past decade, to more than 200 percent. A reckoning seems inevitable.

And the chances of that debt bomb exploding are rising, since the government, rather than defusing it, is throwing on extra TNT. Terrified of the political fallout from a slowing economy, the central bank has been loosening money; credit growth is accelerating. Meanwhile, the stimulating effect from this renewed flood of lending appears muted, a sure sign that the new cash is being used unproductively. That means the weight of China’s debt burden will continue to increase and the inevitable damage will be even greater.

Nor does it seem possible for China to avoid a monstrous downsizing of industry. Chinese companies simply churn out too much steel, coal, cement and other stuff, no matter how many roads and railways the government builds at home and abroad. That reality is slowly sinking in. The State Council announced in late January it would speed up the elimination of steel capacity, a step analysts consider necessary to repair the sector. But the cost will be heavy. The China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute has estimated that the cuts could cause as many as 400,000 steel workers to lose their jobs. Now imagine those layoffs repeated across old-line manufacturing industries.

All of these problems will eventually show up on banks’ balance sheets. Officially, the government claims that the slowdown has barely dented the stability of Chinese banks, with nonperforming loans at a mere 1.6 percent of the total. If you believe that, I’ve got some subprime mortgages to sell you. Private estimates place the potential NPL ratio somewhere between the high single-digits and as much as 20 percent.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the banks will pancake Lehman-style. Backed by the state, they’d almost certainly be rescued. But policymakers should prepare for sticker shock. By one estimate, the price tag to support the banks could reach $7.7 trillion — or the equivalent of three-fourths of China’s 2014 gross domestic product.

Such figures may seem outrageous, but history tells us they’re not. Indonesia’s bank bailout cost the government nearly 57 percent of the nation’s GDP, while Korea spent 31 percent. If we extrapolate from Korea’s experience — which isn’t unreasonable, since the country had adopted a similar investment-led growth model — China would end up spending some $3 trillion rebuilding its banking system.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 30, 2016 at 7:09 pm

Posted in Economics

Tagged with , ,

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

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  • blogTO answers the question of why Toronto has “Lower” streets.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes how exoplanets can lose their exomoons if they orbit too closely.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes differences in American and Chinese rhetoric about nuclear weapons.</li
  • Geocurrents looks at Chavacano, a rare Spanish-based creole language in the Philippines.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the problems of unionization in the South, concentrating on non-white minorities in a region where state governments are dominated by white supremacists of one kind or another.
  • Personal Reflections considers visual language.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer wonders what, if the Democratic Party candidate loses the 2016 American president election, the postmortem would look like.
  • Spacing Toronto examines the downtown Toronto micronation known as the Republic of Rathnelly, created in the centennial year of 1967.
  • Torontoist notes Glad Day’s donation of hundreds of books to Toronto’s new LGBTQ youth shelter, while Towleroad notes how the hom of an anti-gay church in New York City’s Harlem can be made into a similar one.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia will be found culpable in The Hague for ethnic cleansing of Georgians in 2008, and notes Putin’s misrepresentation of historic demographics in Ukraine.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • As noted by The Dragon’s Gaze, Centauri Dreams hosts an essay hotly defending the argument that KIC 8462852 has dimmed sharply.
  • Crooked Timber looks at the links between classical liberalism and the refusal to aid the victims of the Irish famine.
  • D-Brief notes that ancient Babylonian astronomers were close to developing calculus.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that a large majority of Germans and a majority of Australian MPs back marriage equality.
  • Marginal Revolution speculates that much of China’s growth slowdown is a consequence of declining construction.
  • The Planetary Society Blog shares photos from Chang’e 3.
  • Peter Rukavina describes his work creating an online Schedule for Charlottetown transit.
  • Savage Minds considers authenticity in relationship to digital models of artifacts.
  • Science Sushi, at Discover, notes the complex social lives of at least some octopi.
  • Transit Toronto notes rising GO Transit prices.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the decline of the Russian Orthodox Church’s presence in Ukraine.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO notes underground constructions, from subways to roads, which never took off.
  • Centauri Dreams suggests that an analysis of KIC 8462852 which claimed the star had dimmed sharply over the previous century is incorrect.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze looks at the greenhouse effect of water vapour in exoplanets and wonders if carbon monoxide detection precludes life.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the economic radicalism of early Marvel.
  • Marginal Revolution argues China’s financial system should remain disconnected from the wider world’s so as to avoid capital flight.
  • The Numerati reacts to the recent snowstorm.
  • Personal Reflections examines Australia Day.
  • The Planetary Society Blog depicts an astronomer tracking a comet.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes that Ukraine now hosts one million refugees.
  • Towleroad notes that gay refugees are now getting separate housing in Germany.
  • Window on Eurasia talks about the worrying popularity of Chechnya’s Kadyrov and suggests that when the money runs out Russia’s regions will go their separate ways.
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