Monday morning links: Survival still in question

The pain in Spain
The Economist– in places like Spain, an unsackable bureaucracy now co-exists with 40% youth unemployment. That is a recipe for reform or revolt. Half measures will not do the trick.
Not dead yet– In 2009, European countries borrowed more than €800 billion, partly to bail out banks, which in turn then bought public debt that had been driven up by the bail-outs.

The chimera of college brands– The idea implicit in college brands, that every course reflects certain institutional values and standards, is mostly a fraud.
Hard times, bright futures– Many of those who joined the ranks of the self-employed last year will eventually become employer firms, however large or small.
Can a soda tax protect us from ourselves?
NY Times– We sometimes wish for parents to be looking over our shoulders and guiding us to the right decisions. The question is, do you trust the government enough to appoint it your guardian?
Where did all the executives go?– Despite the so-called résumé tsunami, employers looking for managers with all the right soft skills are finding slim pickings.

No need for a drawdown drama– Understanding that market falls of 50%, or more, are normal – if rare – is an important element of a strong investor’s psyche. Unfortunately many understand this without understanding the corollary: when markets collapse weak companies get hammered.
From the oil spill to the financial crisis, why we don’t plan for the worst
Washington Post– There is a natural tendency to postpone preventive action against dangers that are likely to occur at some uncertain point in the future, especially if prevention is expensive, and especially because there is so much else to do in the here and now.
Declining Latin American inequality: Market forces or state action?
Voxeu– Both. The trend is driven by both a decrease in the earnings gap between high-skilled and low-skilled workers, and an increase in government transfers to the poor.

Sweet land of… conformity?– American-style individualism lies in the freedom to choose; American-style collectivism lies in the commitment to the group that freely choosing entails.
Does the Internet make you smarter?
WSJ– The case for digitally-driven stupidity assumes we’ll fail to integrate digital freedoms into society as well as we integrated literacy.
India’s rent-a-womb industry faces new restrictions– India has become the world capital of outsourced pregnancies, whereby surrogates are implanted with foreign embryos and paid to carry the resultant babies to term.
The enemy within – Who’s behind Conficker?– Imagining Conficker’s creators as a skilled group of illicit cyber entrepreneurs remains the prevailing theory.

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Media hype or trending violence in China?

Is China becoming more violent? Patrick Chovanec asks:


Yesterday, a 40 year-old woman went on a rampage onboard an overnight sleeper train in northeastern China, stabbing and wounding nine people as they slept before she was wrestled to the ground by fellow passengers.  The same day, a 46 year-old bank guard opened fire outside a courthouse in central Hunan province, shooting three judges dead and wounding three others before killing himself.  The man was reportedly upset about the division of assets in his divorce case.  These two incidents come on top of a series of bloody knife attacks aimed at schoolchildren that have left 17 people (including 15 children) dead, and dozens injured.

Certainly, the availability of online media has amplified the reach of random acts of violence, so that previously local acts of violence can now suddenly make the news around the country.

But the question remains whether random violence of this nature occurred previously at the current level of frequency.  Has the pressure of such rapid modernization over the past three decades, and the toxic byproduct issues in living environment, income inequality, corruption, housing, etc, driven more and more lower-income classes, in the words of one of the commentators, postal?

Some bloggers think so.

Han Han, one of the country’s most popular bloggers (and a huge irritant to the authorities), wrote that killing the weak was seen by the attackers as the most effective way of exacting revenge on a society “that has no way out”. He said that local governments should send the guards at official buildings to help protect schools, “because a government that can’t protect children doesn’t need so many people to protect itself”.

Others say a lack of mental health help compounds the problem.

A newspaper in the central province of Henan said that while the West had many NGOs that could help people suffering from mental distress, in China there were very few. This, it said, led to problems becoming bottled up and eventually erupting in violence.

When politicians don’t play ball

Last weekend the NYT weekend magazine edition published a feature on Job Cohen, one of the frontrunners in the Dutch national election in the coming week.

An interest in him is expected and entirely logical: he’s Jewish, an academic and highly intelligent, a moderate integrationist in a country increasingly mired in populism rooted in anti-Muslim rhetoric.

In recent weeks however, Job Cohen’s status has dimmed with each intensely scrutinized TV debate.  The well-regarded former major of Amsterdam has stammered, stuttered, said no to questions that could have demonstrated his knowledge of everyday life, as well as generally refusing to engage in political banter with his opponents.

[A]ccording to the criteria of the modern mediacracy, Cohen is failing spectacularly. When he doesn’t have an answer to a question, he admits it honestly instead of dancing around it peddling half-truths. The effects register in the following day’s headlines. When other politicians interrupt him, he lets them speak for minutes, and only resumes his answer after they have finished. The camera zooms out and the organised applause cuts through his answer. He shrugs helplessly when interviewers persist in stirring things up with trivialities. “I don’t play those kinds of games,” he says.

End of the day, Cohen seems to operate on a separate plane than the other players in the pen, which begs the question: when a politician refuses to play the game, does that make him more admirable or just a bad politician?

The NRC thinks this particular affliction strikes those on the left often, and hard.

Left-wing politicians are, in their thoughts and actions, primarily indebted to what one could call the Platonic tradition. The characteristic of this tradition is that all its representatives – from René Descartes to Immanuel Kant – start from a philosophical distinction introduced by Plato: the contrast between ‘appearance’ and ‘reality’. The starting point of this is, to put it concisely, that two sorts of ‘reality’ can be identified. One is reality as we experience it, mediated by our emotions, language, culture and interests. Behind that, these thinkers say, is objective reality: reality ‘as it is’, the ‘facts’ that we all share.

On the other extreme is the tradition which, broadly put, runs from Thomas Hobbes via Friedrich Nietzsche to Richard Rorty. Their philosophies differ widely, but they share a criticism of the Platonic differentiation between appearance and reality. Reality, they argue, is just as it appears – mediated by emotions, language, culture and, most importantly, our competing interests. There is no ‘objective’ reality beyond this; human being can’t go beyond their ‘perspective’ on the world. Right-wing politicians generally feel much more at home in this tradition. Thus they regard the business of politics as an issue of rhetoric. What matters is the image of reality you want to create, not whether that reality corresponds with ‘reality’.

Interesting theory, but true?  Only to a limited extent, in my opinion. In both the UK and US, the Labour Party in the last decade, and the Democrats in this one, triumphed despite their (relativist) left-leaning policies.

Passive citizenship bears bitter fruit

Culture is one of these double-edged swords.  Certain aspects of a culture might help a country during one period of economic and political development.  The same traits will hinder development, if not outright self-destruction, during another period.

I enter Japan as exhibit number one.

On the heels of Japan’s latest prime ministerial resignation, the following seems especially relevant.

Dogged resignation to the status quo is inculcated from an early age here. There is next to no education in civics and no attempt to make children aware of their democratic rights. Children are not encouraged to express an opinion at school, where classes are large and taught by rote. The energies of pushy children are channeled into sports clubs where they learn how to fit into a hierarchy, first learning how to stoically endure discipline from older members, and then, as they get older, learning how to discipline their juniors. Less pushy children, meanwhile, can sleep in class and go unnoticed.

There is also great emphasis placed on the individual’s ability to gaman (put up stoically with suffering), rather than on problem-solving skills, and children are taught to fear the censure or ridicule of others, which makes them unwilling to stand out. In fact, the education system, with its songs, uniforms, rituals and group-focused activities, has achieved an almost perfectly Foucauldian model of passive citizenship. It’s an achievement, of sorts.

What helped to propel Japan to economic stardom post WWII is now dogging both its political and economic systems.  A lesson for China perhaps?

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Who put Iran in a corner?

Notice how incredibly quiet Iran has been in this whole flotilla fiasco? Surprising, considering its history of rhetoric and hysterics towards Israel, no?

As far as popularity is concerned, Turkey has scored major points with its Muslim allies in the region, and is undoubtedly reasserting its presence in the region.

Iran is getting edged out for three reasons.  One, its domestic politics is no doubt still in turmoil from last year’s mess.

Two, it doesn’t have the economic resources nor power to compete with Turkey.

And three, its relations with its neighbours is nowhere as good as as Turkey’s, making it difficult to make demands on a rival that’s more or less tuned it out.

The flotilla incident and Turkey’s role have catapulted its status in the Muslim world as the defender of Muslim rights. This most probably includes members of Hamas, whom Iran has been spending millions on in an effort to buy their support and loyalty.

Which other Muslim country has enough credibility, power and self-confidence to do what Turkey did? It promised to dispatch the flotilla and it went through with its promise.

The icing on the cake came when prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a very clear ultimatum to the Israeli government: free every single Turkish citizen, including those who assaulted your soldiers, otherwise our relations will suffer. Within three hours, Binyamin Netanyahu had accepted. Had this been an Arab country, including those that Israel has relations with, such as Jordan and Egypt, the Israelis would probably have stuck to their guns. The same for Iran.

But not Turkey. There is a new player in town and Israel takes it very seriously. Unlike Iran, Turkey has a powerful economy. Its GDP is the 18th largest in the world – one place above Iran. This is a major achievement for a country which is not a gas and oil exporter. It sits on the border of Europe and its relations with the EU and the US are astronomically better than those of its Iranian neighbour. Its power is expanding in the Caucasus, and relations are improving with its old foe and rival, Greece.

It’s the same in the Middle East, where Turkey, unlike Iran, enjoys good relations with Sunni-ruled countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, as well as among Iran’s friends Iraq and Syria. If current trends continue, Turkey could do what the Islamic Republic of Iran has been trying to do for the last 32 years: become the most powerful and credible political and military force in the Islamic world.

There’s a lot of political manipulation from Turkey here. The fact that the ship pressed on at all despite repeated calls to abandon course makes it a willful participant in this conflict.  But orchestrated or not, Turkey made the point it wanted to, based on many years of purposeful economic and political maneuvering.

Now it’s payoff time.

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Thinking our way through Utopia

Some philosophical musings for the weekend, on the idea of Utopia, and the mistakes we make fumbling towards the light.

Here is an example. A Chinese social critic in the 1930s might have observed tenant peasant farming in North China; he/she might have argued that the system was exploitative, unfair, and inefficient (three different social values); and he/she might have argued that the collective farm was a superior alternative, being more democratic, fair, and efficient.  The collective farm might have been offered as a utopian alternative to tenant farming.

So the collective farm is likely not to be a utopian solution to China’s rural problems in 1930.  And in fact, subsequent history confirms this conclusion; the Great Leap Forward famine was the consequence of many of these institutional failures.

And here lies the risk behind our overwhemling urge to do good, or better in the world.  Experiences have shown us the very word “utopia” signals something distinctly opposite most of the time – it gives us dystopia.

The idea of emancipatory agency: that it is possible for us humans to restructure our social institutions in a direction that fits our fundamental values better than the present institutions do.  And it is worth underlining how important, but also how risky, this effort is: important, because it gives a basis for thinking that we can create a better world; and risky, because many of the worst historical experiences of modern memory came from “utopian” efforts to redefine society.

So, Utopia, better ingested in small dosages, and slowly?

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Rearranging deck chairs on a sinking Titanic?

Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew School of International Affairs, has written a stern piece on how Europe just “does not get it” in three strategic areas.

The greatest strategic challenge to Europe is the Islamic one. It exists within the body politic of many European societies. And the fastest-rising Islamic demographic is on Europe’s doorstep. Europe should, therefore, see it in its long-term interest to defuse Islamic anger. Instead, it has shown moral cowardice on the Israel-Palestine issue, refusing even to admit that an unbalanced American policy will hurt European interests more than American interests. No major European leader has the moral courage to speak truth to power on this issue.

Europe’s second error is to ignore its No. 1 strategic opportunity: Asia. [Asians] do expect Europeans to treat them with respect, not cultural condescension. This is another thing Europeans do not get. The protests in European capitals before the Beijing Olympics, the efforts to dictate human-rights clauses in the India-E.U. cooperation agreement and the obsession with Burma show both a lack of sensitivity and of strategic thinking. If Europe does not act fast, it will miss the boat on Asia.

The third strategic error is to remain obsessed with the transatlantic relationship. It is difficult to capture in a few words the strange mix of European attitudes towards America: admiration and resentment of American hyperpower, respect and condescension towards U.S. culture, dependence on and discomfort with American leadership. At the core of this is a deep European belief that culture is destiny and that the common Judeo-Christian heritage and common Enlightenment values will ensure an eternal commonality of interests. America will always put Europe first because Europe, not Asia, exists in American hearts.

Over the long run, geography — when combined with economic shifts of power — determines destiny. America’s interests in Asia are rising while its interests in Europe are declining. A growing Hispanic population will make Latin America more important. This is why the time has come for Europeans to think the unthinkable: the “natural” transatlantic partnership may someday come to an end.

The question now begs, is the perceived decline in European power in the global geo-political sphere a result of actual power decline, or simply a lack of nuance and strategic foresight when it comes to soft power management?

As an example of our limited soft power, consider that when I ask people around the world, what ‘Europe’ means for them, I am always surprised how little they mention social democracy, or human rights, or even ‘the good life’. Overwhelmingly, the most common response is a memory of European colonial rule, and an abiding sense of our satisfied self-superiority. While Europeans mark history by 1918, 1945, and 1989, the rest of the world still remembers 1842, 1857, and 1884, and always will. Many opportunities have come and gone to draw a line under the past, yet many see Europe as a closed fortress offering few opportunities for integration or innovation.

Will it come to this?

Are we really faced with an inter-generational struggle in resources for the coming decades?

The politics of the next decade will be dominated by a battle over public spending and taxes between the generations. Young people will realise that different categories of public spending are in direct conflict — if they want more spending on schools, universities and environmental improvements they must vote for cuts in health and pensions.

Schools and universities are more important for a society’s future than pensions. Yet every democracy around the world has made the opposite judgment. While many politicians claim to be obsessed with education — recall Tony Blair’s three priorities were “education, education and education” — in reality they support health and pensions to the point of national bankruptcy, while squeezing universities. The same applies to the many fiscal benefits heaped on pensioners over the years. Is it, for example, better for society to offer free bus travel to wealthy 80-year olds rather than students or impoverished youngsters looking for their first job?

Or will it find some kind of resolution not unlike the compromise made between developed and emerging worlds?

Does the increasing first-world sense of austerity give the rest of the world room to grow into middle-class status? If so, we need to find a few Saudi Arabias worth of oil to fuel their ensuing energy needs, and that seems unlikely. Or will we all meet in the middle somewhere, with declining resource requirements increasingly hard-wired into our makeup, the way it is already. happening already in Europe and elsewhere?

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Brain drain along linguistic lines?

Evidence seems to show that the “brain drain” effect is strong along linguistic lines, so that the income distribution along the top income brackets for a few of the largest English-speaking countries move in tandem with each other.

I wonder if the same can be found for Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America?

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Pre-weekend links: Things politicians say

Europe must focus on what works
FT– Chris Patten weighs in on the future of knowledge economy, security policy and enlargement in Europe.
Euro exit is ludicrous idea for any country: Hannes Androsch– We must be prepared to bite the bullet with regard to pensions and social services, something our governments have shown little appetite for to date, says Austria’s former finance minister.
Vladimir Putin, transaction cost economist– Putin is advocating a system in which the state plays an important role in setting and administering prices, and governing contractual relationships between big firms. Coolidge once said “the business of America is business.”  In this case, the politics of Russia is business.

Consumer adverts for pharmaceuticals: Impact on prices and sales
Voxeu– As a result of changes in regulation in the late 1990s, spending on direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceutical drugs in the US leapt from $150 million in 1993 to $4.24 billion in 2005.
Digital self-publishing shakes up traditional book industry
WSJ– Much as blogs have bitten into the news business and YouTube has challenged television, digital self-publishing is creating a powerful new niche in books that’s threatening the traditional industry.
How much the average American spends on entertainment– On average, Americans devotes 5.6% of their budgets to entertainment. The biggest chunk? Audio and visual equipment and services.
The counter-revolution of development economics: Hayek vs. Duflo– Experimentation, for Hayek as well as Duflo, is the chief instrument of social change. Making experimentation work for development requires institutional feedback mechanisms which can fit together newly-discovered ways of doing things in mutually reinforcing ways.

At the heart of the crash– The current finance reform legislation before Congress may well turn out to be tame. The provisions passed will probably provide for only a minor breakup of the banks, and doesn’t adequately address the conflicts of interest and market-rigging that have discredited the ratings agencies.
The anglosphere and high-income concentration– Research shows strikingly similar patterns in high-end income concentration in five English-speaking countries. One story that suggests itself immediately is that of the ‘brain drain’.
The future of America’s working class– The potential yobization of the American working class represents far more than a political issue. It threatens the very essence of what has made the U.S. unique and different from its mother country.
Should we retire later– Leaving the pension age unchanged when life expectancy changes pushes people to work harder since their required savings increase. So, it makes sense for public policy to encourage later retirement, and discourage ultra-long working hours.

Morning links: What if we are all middle class?


The world goes middle class, vs. the case for less
Infectious Greed– Does the increasing first-world sense of austerity give the rest of the world room to grow into middle-class status? Or will we all meet in the middle somewhere, with declining resource requirements increasingly hard-wired into our makeup.
As governments borrow, many people save
New York Times– The association of more public dissaving with more private saving continues to be confirmed with data from recent quarters.
Misguided compassion hurts the poor– The more impoverished the country, the greater the need for foreign aid; the greater the foreign aid, the more privileged the elite; the more privileged the elite, the greater the adherence to policies that resulted in poverty.

Spillonomics – Underestimating risk
NY Times– For all the criticism BP executives may deserve, they are far from the only people to struggle with such low-probability, high-cost events. Nearly everyone does.
World military spending soars in spite of recession– Although military spending wasn’t usually a major part of the economic stimulus packages, it wasn’t cut either.
Switzerland ratchets up tax relief as rest of Europe fights hefty deficits– Tax breaks under an “auxiliary company regime” have helped Geneva attract oil and commodity trading companies. One third of the world’s petroleum is traded through the city.

Why Europe is responding so timidly to its economic crisis– A whiff of inflation and Americans think about Jimmy Carter. In Germany, when there’s a hint of a whiff of a trace of inflation, they think about Hitler.
Iran selling 45 billion euros of reserves for dollars– Iran’s shift out of euros has been prompted by the single currency’s decline. Other central banks, including those of the Persian Gulf states, also are selling their euro.
When does large-scale public ownership work?– Very often governmental prestige stifles innovation and implies a series of more general insider, elitist, and sometimes authoritarian attitudes.
Why our poverty measure misleads
Real Clear Markets– People get richer but “poverty” stays stuck. The new “supplemental measure” raises questions about whether the statistic is tailored to favor a political agenda.

WikiLeaks and Julian Paul Assange– WikiLeaks is not quite an organization; it is better described as a media insurgency.
How links hurt reading– Reading on the Web takes more self-discipline than it does offline. How many browser tabs do you have open right now?
Life in a glass house– Self-invasions of privacy on the Internet now compete with “bureaucracy with its documents” and “the press with its reporters” for a place on Kundera’s list of the institutionalization.
How butterfly wings can stop counterfeit currency– Scientists have reproduced the brilliant optical effect of tropical butterfly wings. The advance could lower bank fraud by leading to improved security in the printing of paper money.
Selling free food– The sense of adventure and discovery that comes with trying to make weeds palatable spreads even to those working with more traditional ingredients. Producers feel empowered to innovate. Consumers offer direct financial support for even their most radical R&D efforts.

Shifting sands within Middle Eastern alliance system

A while ago, I wrote about the mood changes in the Middle East, specifically the re-emergence of Turkey as a regional power.  Now in face of drama between Gaza and Israel, Americans and Europeans woke up to an angry Turkey.  Both are taken aback, albeit in different ways.

Americans suddenly realized their strategic partnership with Turkey is rapidly eroded by a more self-serving, assertive, and ambitious Turkish state.  Amazing what can happen in less than a decade while you are busy digging yourself out of two messy wars, no?

It is hard to admit, but after six decades of strategic cooperation, Turkey and the United States are becoming strategic competitors — especially in the Middle East. This is the logical result of profound shifts in Turkish foreign and domestic politics and changes in the international system.

Monday’s events might prove a wake-up call for the U.S. foreign-policy establishment. Among the small group of Turkey watchers inside the Beltway, nostalgia rules the day. U.S. officialdom yearns to return to a brief moment in history when Washington and Ankara’s security interests were aligned, due to the shared threat posed by the Soviet Union. Returning to the halcyon days of the U.S.-Turkish relationship, however, is increasingly untenable.

The stark reality is that while Turkey and the United States are not enemies in the Middle East, they are fast becoming competitors. Whereas the United States seeks to remain the predominant power in the region and, as such, wants to maintain a political order that makes it easier for Washington to achieve its goals, Turkey clearly sees things differently. The Turks are willing to bend the regional rules of the game to serve Ankara’s own interests. If the resulting policies serve U.S. goals at the same time, good. If not, so be it.

Europe, on the other hand, has little in common with the America’s strategic concerns in the region when it comes to its Islamic cousin.  Its point of reference is driven solely by its own narrow experience with the somewhat backwards (real or perceived) Turkish diaspora in Europe, and memories of Turkey’s desperate attempt to enter the Eurozone a few years ago.

Thus, despite its own complete and utter distain for Israel’s human rights violations (as a side note, Sweden’s most successfully and living crime writer Henning Mankell was on that ship, and mused alarmingly on the possibility of an Israeli atomic bomb), Europe is nonetheless horrified by Turkey’s more, visceral, reaction.

Writing for a Brussels audience, though, another more immediate thought occurs to me. This is yet another piece of bad news for those (like this newspaper) who believe that the EU’s ambition should be the admission of Turkey to the EU. True, the EU consensus is critical of Israel’s actions. And so the EU consensus, logically, is not a million miles away from the angry reaction of the Turkish government to the killing of activists aboard the Gaza flotilla. But emotionally, as a gut instinct, I have a feeling that lots of Europeans woke this morning to pictures of Turkish demonstrators in the streets of Ankara and Istanbul, chanting “death to Israel” and “God is Great”, and thought: whoa, that really does not look like a European country.

Private savings and public dissavings

Are people saving more to make up for government budget shortfalls?  There’s evidence to support that hypothesis.

Data from the most savings-obsessed country also supports that. It would make sense if you think about it – if you expect the government to cut back on everything from mortgage subsidies and employment benefits, to raising retirement age, healthcare co-pays and your children’s tuition fees, it would make a lot of sense to save.

And yes, all the aforementioned points are in hot debate, in preparation for the election next week in clogs country.

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Criticism from inside the EU

Harsh criticisms over this non-optimal currency zone is now emerging from within the EU.

Here, president of the Czech Republic talks about the conflict that many Eastern European countries faced after the fall of communism: the need for closer integration with the west, in this case, western Europe, while shying away from the statist aspirations spear-headed by France and Germany that only reminded them days of Soviet rule.

People like me understood very early that the idea of a European single currency is a dangerous project which will either bring big problems or lead to the undemocratic centralization of Europe. My position was clear: With all my reservations, we had to apply for EU membership, but at the same time we had to fight against projects such as the euro.

His criticism separated the idea of European cooperation, from the euro project itself, which for all intents and purposes, has failed.  Klaus the economist says:

The huge amount of money that Greece will receive can be divided by the number of the euro-zone inhabitants, and each person can calculate his or her own “contribution.” However, the “opportunity” costs arising from the loss of a potentially higher growth rate, which is much more difficult for a non-economist to imagine, will be far more painful. I do not doubt that for political reasons this price will be paid and that the euro-zone inhabitants will never find out just how much the euro truly cost them.

Unsurprisingly, as the leader of a country that’s suffered dearly in the hands of communism, Klaus the politician minces no words in his critique of opaque bureaucracy centered in Brussels.

The recent dealings in EU headquarters in Brussels—literally behind closed doors—about the aid package for Greece demonstrated that there is no democracy there. The German-French tandem made the decision on behalf of the rest of the euro-zone countries, and I am afraid this will continue.

Not everyone heeds to this view, of course.  As late as March, many eastern and central European states still aspire to join the euro party, many already pegging their own small currencies to the euro.

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Morning links: Mixed blessing, beware of WC predictions, for love and money


Indian air safety: Mangalore crash shows systemic faults– Analysts have long warned that the sector’s phenomenal growth masks a laundry list of safety violations: inadequate infrastructure, poorly trained and overworked personnel, and insufficient disaster preparedness.
Wind power losing its punch
Dallas News– The high cost of building wind farms and transmitting their electricity to population centers coupled with a reduced price advantage has slowed the growth of the industry nationwide.
How Dell provides technical support through Twitter– Dell and Bank of America are using Service Cloud, a web-based application from, that allows reps to answer Twitter based customer support requests in seconds.
Time to short Apple stock?– Surely Jobs will one day tire of wielding his charismatic authority as CEO of Apple. And there is no woman or man alive who could fill that man’s turtleneck.
Balkanizing the web– The very absurdity of the global digital system is revealing itself. It created all the instruments for global access and, then, turned around and arbitrarily restricted its commercial use, paving the way for piracy.

The west re-examines the rat race
FT– While taking a more relaxed attitude towards the pursuit of wealth may make sense as a personal philosophy, it is an uncertain guide to public policy. Adjusting to a stagnant national income can be a painful process, as many European countries may soon discover.
Why the optimists are wrong about the eurozone– Governments have chosen to chase speculators and to impress each other with austerity packages. They are only contributing further to the eurozone’s increasingly probable though still distant disintegration.
A mixed blessing
The Economist– The biggest worry for European business is not so much the decline of the euro itself but rather what it says about the European economy. The introduction of the single market and the single currency were supposed to spark a glorious period of innovation and productivity growth.

Beware Wall Street’s World Cup predictions– The migration of players and coaches since the 1990s has profoundly altered the global balance of power in the game.
Chile sees an opportunity to rise from the rubble and prevail– The country that last played the World Cup 12 years ago looks to Humberto Suazo, who led his team to victory hours after February’s earthquake. History hints that more triumphs could be on the horizon.
Fraudsters limber up for World Cup themed scams– FIFA lottery, prize draw or competition scams are likely to abound. All represent types of advanced fee fraud where fraudsters attempt to trick people into paying “administrative fees” supposedly needed to secure non-existent World Cup tickets or cash prizes.