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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘globalization

[URBAN NOTE] On the imminent arrival of Jollibee in Toronto

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blogTO noted yesterday that, as promised back in 2013, Filipino fast food chain Jollibee will be establishing an outpost in Toronto.

For anyone familiar with the cuisine of the Philippines, this is big news: Jollibee, a Manila-based fast food chain that’s widely seen as the country’s answer to McDonalds, is planning to open a restaurant in Toronto. The company, which already has about 30 stores in the U.S., has chosen Toronto for their first Canadian store, with their CFO saying they hope to be open here within the year.

For those previously unacquainted with the chain: The menu spans North American fast-food classics with a few local favourites. (Their mascot, naturally, is a jolly bee.)

Part of a large overseas expansion plan to set up restautants in the Middle East, Europe, and Japan, this seems to be the chain’s second attempt to expand overseas. Robin Levinson’s February 2014 Canadian Business article notes how the first push into the North American market was flawed, trying to compete head-on with established giants, and suggests that targeting urban centres with large Filipino populations is part of Jollibee’s North American strategy.

When its first location opens here next year, Canadians will finally be able to enjoy the distinctive pineapple-topped Aloha burger that has helped make Jollibee the Philippines’ largest fast-food chain. But the restaurant took its time expanding globally, having opened in the U.S. 15 years before considering coming north of the border.

Founded in 1975 as a single ice cream parlour just outside downtown Manila, Jollibee is today the flagship brand of a family-run empire, spanning 2,700 stores and nine brands around the world.

Jose Miñana, who heads U.S. operations for the company, says Jollibee initially limited its expansion to just those areas with large Filipino populations. But the company later decided to aggressively pursue “mainstream” clientele, opening branches in further-flung locations and tweaking recipes to cater to North American tastes.

[. . .]

After opening its doors in Toronto, Jollibee hopes to expand to other cities in Canada—like Vancouver and Winnipeg—with high Filipino populations.

Unlike in the Philippines, where Jollibee is a franchise, all of its North American stores are company-owned. Although franchises would allow Jollibee to expand faster, Miñana says that’s not the point: “We want to enter there with the Jollibee brand the way we want it done—really right.”

Written by Randy McDonald

March 26, 2015 at 1:03 am

[LINK] “Surveillance shouldn’t be the new normal”

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Mathew Ingram makes the case against the emergent panopticon state.

As the Globe and Mail has reported — based on classified documents obtained from an anonymous source — U.S. intelligence officials appear to be mapping the communications traffic of several large Canadian corporations, including Rogers Communications Inc., one of the country’s largest internet and telecom providers. Perhaps the most depressing aspects of this news is how completely unsurprising it is.

By now, we have all been subjected to a veritable tsunami of surveillance-related leaks, courtesy of documents obtained by former U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, a trove from which this latest piece of information is also drawn. These files suggest the National Security Agency uses every method at its disposal — both legal and otherwise — to track every speck of web and voice traffic, including tapping directly into the undersea cables that make up the backbone of the internet.

In that context, the idea that intelligence agencies are snooping on the networks of Canadian corporations like Rogers seems totally believable, despite the fact that a 66-year-old agreement between Canada and the U.S. supposedly prevents either country from spying on the residents of its partner. While the document in question doesn’t say that any snooping is occurring, it seems clear that the behaviour it describes is designed to create a map of those networks in order to facilitate future surveillance activity.

The U.S. has repeatedly argued that this kind of monitoring is necessary in order to detect the activities of potential threats to U.S. security. The problem with this approach, of course, is that no one knows where those threats will appear, or how they will manifest themselves — thanks to the diverse nature of modern international terrorism — and so the inevitable result is a kind of ubiquitous surveillance, in which every word and photo and voice-mail message is collected, just in case it might be important.

One of the risks inherent in the steady flow of leaks from Mr. Snowden and others is that the new reality they portray eventually becomes accepted, if not outright banal. Of course we are being surveilled all the time; of course our location is being tracked thanks to the GPS chips in our phones; of course the NSA is installing “back door” software on our internet devices before we even buy them. At this point, it’s hard to imagine a surveillance revelation that would actually surprise anyone, no matter how Orwellian it might be.

Much more is available if you follow the link. Go, read.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 25, 2015 at 11:07 pm

[LINK] “Banking Enclave of Andorra Shaken by U.S. Accusations”

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Bloomberg’s Macarena Munoz depicts the effect on Andorra of accusations from the United States that some in its substantial banking sector are laundering money.

Juan Ovelar made a quick decision when he heard the U.S. government had accused his Andorran bank of money-laundering, and immediately withdrew most of his funds.

“I’m worried that everyone will do the same as I did and there will be a knock-on effect that could affect other banks,” said Ovelar, 27, a computer expert from Argentina, in an interview outside the headquarters of Banca Privada d’Andorra in the capital Andorra La Vella.

The U.S. Treasury named Banca Privada d’Andorra, the country’s fourth-largest bank, a “primary money-laundering concern” on March 10. That led to its seizure by Andorran authorities, the arrest of the chief executive officer and a run on customer funds at the lender’s Spanish unit.

The bank’s fate sent tremors through Andorra, a 181-square-mile (469 square-kilometer) Catalan-speaking microstate in the eastern Pyrenees with an economy based on skiing, tax-free shopping and banking. The scandal raises risks for its financial industry, which makes up almost a fifth of the 1.8 billion-euro ($2 billion) economy and is too big to be bailed out by the state, said Xavier Puig, a professor at Barcelona’s Universidad Pompeu Fabra.

Customers lined up at the bank’s branches to take out their money after it limited cash withdrawals to 2,500 euros a week, starting March 16. The bank’s new management, appointed by local regulators, imposed the limit after international banks severed credit lines, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 25, 2015 at 11:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • Alpha Sources’ Claus Vistesen argues that as a result of various factors including shrinking populations, economic bubbles are going to be quite likely.
  • blogTO argues that Toronto’s strip clubs are in trouble.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly wonders who is going to pay for journalism in the future.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at ringed Centaur objects.
  • Crooked Timber’s Daniel Davies describes his family’s recent experience in New Zealand. Want to find out how the Maori are like the Welsh?
  • D-Brief notes the return of wood bison to the United States.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting Alpha Centauri Bb is a superdense world.
  • The Dragon’s Tales note Indonesia’s upset with Chinese claims to the South China Sea.
  • Far Outliers reports on how NGOs feed corruption in Cambodia.
  • Language Hat links to a gazetteer of placenames in Jamaica.
  • Language Log’s Victor Mair looks at some Sino-English constructions.
  • Marginal Revolution points to its collection of Singapore-related posts.
  • The Planetary Society Blog considers Cassini‘s footage of Saturn’s F ring.
  • The Power and the Money hosts Will Baird’s argument that the Ukrainian east will soon see an explosion of violence.
  • Spacing Toronto and Torontoist look at the architectural competition for the Toronto Islands ferry terminal.
  • Torontoist reports on Martin Luther King’s 1962 visit to Toronto.
  • Towleroad notes a raging syphillis epidemic among gay men in New York City’s Chelsea neighbourhood.
  • Window on Eurasia notes changes in the Islam of Tatarstan, notes Russia’s transition towards totalitarianism, observes Russian claims of Finnish meddling in Karelia, and looks at polls suggesting Ukrainians fear Russia but do not trust the European Union.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell describes what seems to have been a shambolic attempt to co-opt the English Defense League somehow. (I don’t understand it. All I can figure out is that.

[DM] On the case of Open Borders

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I’ve a post up at Demography Matters noting how, last Monday at the American libertarian blog The Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin made a post announcing his support for the thesis of the Open Borders
NGO that migration should be as unhindered as possible. Linking to various authors’ arguments in favour of this thesis, Somin makes the argument that the tendency worldwide should be not to raise barriers to migration but to lower them.

As the Open Borders Manifesto notes, and as I have said in the past, most open borders advocates do not claim that the right to free migration is absolute and always trumps opposing considerations. Just as I reject absolute property rights or absolute freedom of speech, so too I reject absolute rights to free migration. But we do believe there should be a strong presumption in favor of free migration that can only be overcome by strong evidence that restriction is the only way to prevent a harm great enough to outweigh the vast benefits of freedom to natives and migrants alike.</blockquote

Many of the commenters at the Volokh Conspiracy are unconvinced, arguing that the author underestimates the costs involved. I myself am undecided about the thesis: There do seem to be great potential gains in GDP globally if there was a freer global market in labour alongside other global markets, but I'm also quite aware that there could be significant political costs if these associated migrations ever became problematic.

What do you think of the argument?

Written by Randy McDonald

March 24, 2015 at 1:24 am

[LINK] “Singapore, the country run like a corporation”

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Today, the day after the death of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, I thought I’d link to a June 1974 article in Fortune written by one Louis Kraar praising Singapore at the beginning of its economic boom. The article is worth reading, for all of its biases.

Pime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, a fifty-year-old lawyer educated at Cambridge, calls himself a “democratic socialist.” But he shows more concern with rates of return (for both investors and the state) than with political dogma. In fact, Lee rules as though he were the autocratic chief executive of Singapore Inc.

Under his tight managerial control, nothing is long tolerated if it interferes with economic performance. Young men are prohibited from wearing modishly long hair, which the chairman regards as a symbol of the Western counterculture and a menace to the work ethic that he prizes. Lee keeps the country’s labor force cheap and disciplined by setting strict guidelines for both wage increases and working conditions. Since he has the political power to enforce his rules, factory wages, which are about one-fifth of those in the U.S., help to keep Singapore products internationally competitive.

Lee’s economic philosophy is stern and simple. “We do not expect something for nothing,” he says. In a characteristic jab at his less energetic Asian neighbors, he explains: “We haven’t got oil and minerals on which other people have to pay royalties. So we develop a different approach to life.” He calls it “the rugged society,” but it is really his own special blend of pragmatic socialism, freewheeling capitalism, and plain opportunism.

The Prime Minister has hitched the island to the global economy through multinational corporations, which supply needed capital, expertise, and export markets. Singapore ardently woos foreign business, a rare policy among countries that have only recently emerged from colonialism. Besides providing such familiar tax incentives as a five-year income-tax exemption for coveted corporations, the government often shares the cost of training workers and even puts up part of the capital for plants and equipment.

[. . .]

An avowedly nonaligned foreign policy makes Singapore useful—for a price—to nearly every trading nation. Soviet merchant ships as well as vessels of the U.S. Seventh Fleet patronize its efficient port and repair yards. Peking maintains a busy Bank of China branch, while within walking distance Taiwan runs an active trade office. Arab oil producers, which provide most of the crude for the refineries, are now being urged to invest in Singapore industries. And Lee’s government has entered into a joint venture with an Israeli concern that produces communication equipment, and has hired Israeli military advisers to shape Singapore’s fledgling armed forces. His country’s real protection against undue influence by any foreign power, says Lee, is to maintain a balance of investment by the U.S., Japan, and Western Europe.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 23, 2015 at 9:15 pm

[ISL] “Philippine Billionaire Razon to Buy Korean Island in Casino Push”

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Norman P. Aquino at Bloomberg describes a very interesting casino project in South Korea funded by a Filipino billionaire.

Philippine billionaire Enrique Razon will buy an island in South Korea to develop a leisure and tourism complex, as he taps the country’s growth in gambling on rising tourist arrivals from China.

Bloomberry Resorts Corp., controlled by Razon and operator of a casino in Manila, will buy the 21-hectare (52-acre) Silmi Island through unit Solaire Korea Co., according to a Philippine Stock Exchange filing on Tuesday. It’s Bloomberry’s second announcement of a property purchase in the country this year after the company signed in January four deals with landowners on Korea’s Muui Island, which is adjacent to Silmi Island.

Asian casino operators including Bloomberry are capitalizing on a downturn in the gambling industry of Macau as China’s corruption crackdown scares many away from the world’s biggest gambling hub. Macau casino revenue fell last year for the first time and may decline another 8 percent this year, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

In contrast, gambling revenue in South Korea and the Philippines will grow 16 percent and 33 percent respectively this year, gaining from the spillover of Chinese gamblers, Deutsche Bank analyst Karen Tang wrote in a note in January.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 18, 2015 at 10:23 pm


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