#8 The world's most dangerous border (May 21th, 2011)

#8 The world's most dangerous border (May 21th, 2011 Full edition)
May 28, 2011 (SUN) 10:00~12:00

[Britain] [The profit motive] Where lucre is still filthy
[Economic & Finance] [Japan’s post-quake economy] Casting about for a future
[Economic & Finance] [Indian stock markets] Barbarian near the gate
[Economic & Finance] [Stock exchanges] Maple fig-leaves 


#7 The new tech bubble (May 14th, 2011)

#7 The new tech bubble  (May 14th, 2011 Full edition)
May 21, 2011 (SUN) 10:00~12:00
At SENDAGAYA Good Morning Cafe

[Leaders] [Silicon Valley and the technology industry] The new tech bubble
[Business] [Multinational manufactures] Moving back to America
[Asia] [Rethinking nuclear energy in Japan] Japan unplugged
[Middle East & Africa] [Africa’s growing middle class] Pleased to be bourgeois
[US] [Shale gas extraction] The need to be seen to be clean

   A new member came to join this week. Yamagata invited Takuma Iino who works in METI to our study group. He has a great passion to study so it may create a new atmosphere to our group. Ono was absent because of his dating with a girl and two more members planned to come at the first time but they didn’t. So this week we mainly discussed three topics by three members.

   The first article Ogawa chose is about an economic bubble in IT industry. Leading sentence is a bit exciting: irrational exuberance has returned to the internet world. Investors should be aware. It might be a fresh memory for us that IT bubble was taken place in the early 2000s. In 2010s, new kind of big branded companies, such as Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn with customers all over the world, come to be famous and taken notice of by investors all over the world. The article says this boom will become to be a new bubble but it looks like a different boom from 2000s. For example the population of netizens is wider, broadband speed is faster and investment situation is changed widely. I picked up the article is because I don’t think it already becomes the next bubble. Iino and Yamagata said it’s a bubble because SNS is not so innovative as some people passionately insist. I think this technology has a potential to change our world more than expected. The article the new boom does not have influence on wider infrastructures. I think it has a potential to innovate on media industry and publishers.

   The second topic was interesting for me. As the title “Moving back to America” already shows, the article shows that American manufactures are changing their mind to “stay at home” not for a patriotic reason but for economical reasons. Companies are thinking in more sophisticated ways about their supply chains. They will build plants in a variety of places including America. The current movement was called “Manufacturing Renaissance” on this article. We discussed not only America’s situation but also Japan’s one. The earthquake and tsunami shows us a huge global supply chains connect all over the world including Tohoku rural areas. There is a hidden cost, which up keeps the chains.

   The third article is about Japan’s energy policy and political situation. Every time I thought The Economist have a good insight into political atmosphere of Japan even though this newspaper comes from the UK. Prime minister Naoto Kan was a social activist when he was young. His political attitude is like a social movement. He catches “Setsuden” saving energy feeling and anti-nuclear movement of the nation and declared his new policy in front of world leaders like a social activist leader. 


#6 Now, kill his dream (April 30th, 2011)

#6 Now, kill his dream (April 30th, 2011 Full edition)
May 14, 2011 (SUN) 10:00~12:00

[International] When others are grabbing your land
[Briefing] Law firms: A less gilded future
[Asia] China’s population: The most surprising demographic crisis
[Finance & Economics] Cutting it fine

   This week we gathered in Shinjuku. Nagao was the first time to join our group. He loves to discuss social issues so his join is, so to speak, “innovation” by Ono. We discussed about 4 articles and had a short talk about Osama bin Laden.

   The First article was “When others are grabbing your land” from international that Ogawa chosen. It is about acquisition of farmland in poor countries. We picked up the issue because it is the typical development issue we have to keep on looking. The article insists that such an acquisition is more like “Land grabs” than “development opportunities” showing facts of hot land deals. This phenomenon itself is not a problem because it is the case of supply and demand. However in Africa, there are unfair relationships between foreign investors and local elites and corruption. We discussed about the solution and concluded transparency of contracts and establish of law institution are the goals.

   Second is from Briefing “Law firms: A less gilded future”. The photo on the top of the article is a beautiful lady sitting and tearing her hair out in front of a legal book. As this image shows this article focuses on a structural change the legal business has undergone. Ever-growing profits are no longer guaranteed in their business. Nor, for some firms, is survival. We discussed profession and business. Qualified professions such as lawyers and doctors are considered as “good” professions if they can pass the high level exams. This is because these professions don’t suffer from cutthroat competition other workers are confronting. However, the environment around them is changing so they also are confronting competition. We mainly discuss about doctors. Development of IT makes easy to build a huge database on the Internet. We can compare doctors and choose suitable one much easier than previous period. That is why professionals like doctors and lawyers are in severe situation.

   Third article picked up by Nagao is about China’s population. As we know it, China has put up “One child policy” since 1979. This policy is successful in decreasing the population growth. However, the article shows that there are three surprising demographic problems China confronts now.
The first problem is dramatic aging of population. The ratio of over 60s increased to 13.3% in 2010 from 10.3% in 2000 while the ratio of younger generation below 14 is decreasing from 23% in 2000 to 17% in 2010. The second problem is an imbalance between male and female population. Parents especially in rural areas of China want to have a boy as their inheritor so the number of boys is larger than girls as a result of abortion and infanticide. As a result, 20% of males cannot get married in the future by an estimate. Third concern is about a penalty to get more children than two. Rich couples can pay for it easily and it enlarges a gap between rich and poor. We discussed about right or wrong of One-child Policy, effectiveness of population controls by governments and how to conquer aging population issues that Japan already confront.

   Final article is from Finance and Economics, picked up by Ono. It’s about mismatches of the length of funding of European banks that were suffered by the current economic crisis. Short funding looks much attractive compare with long one because of the difference in interest rates considering risk premium of long term funding. But the crisis gives us a lesson: Long term investment / lending by short term funding has a big risk. Regulators in Greeks or Spain may want to prevent another crisis by lengthening bank funding. But they are finding it much harder than they expected because of Basel III or Solvency II regulation. We shared ideas related with these issues and talked about the words from Mr. Edano about credit renunciation of banks.

   The place we gathered this week is a café in front of a main street of East side of Shinjuku. Yamagata was in a business trip to Swiss this weekend. Ono and I had a lunch in Lumine building. We chose Sushi bar at the top of the building. It was clean, simple and beautiful bar. Sushi Neta looked so delicious in a showcase in front of us. I decided to invite friends from abroad to a Sushi bar like there.


#5 What’s wrong with America’s economy? (April 30th, 2011)

#5 What’s wrong with America’s economy? (April 30th, 2011 Full edition)
May 7, 2011 (SUN) 10:00~13:00

Articles we discussed:
[US] Life in the slow lane
[US] Still full of ideas, but not making jobs
[Business] Areva: Gauging the pressure
[Finance & Economics] Botox and bean counting
[International] Dead man’s talking

   This week we discussed about (1) Two problems of the US (2) French nuclear power plant company, Areva (3) America’s cosmetically enhanced official statistics (4) WTO and Doha round. All of us prepared summaries this week for the first time. A guest, who Yamagata invited, came to join. His name is Yamamoto and he is working for Minister of Defense. We want to make this study group expand gradually.

   Two articles from US that Ogawa picked up are about concern of that country. The areas of concern are 
transport infrastructure and innovation. In the first article “Life in the slow lane”, they show us a puzzling situation of transportation in America. Not only well-known poor railways but also highways and airways are concern. We shared the experiences related with the issue and discussed the best way that has to be done. They suggested several ways to solve the issue so we checked the possibility of each way. Second article ”Still full of ideas, but not making jobs” shows a dilemma that the innovation essentially has. They brought up a passage of Obama’s speech and explain why his speech is flawed and the fact rising innovation spending would not produce many jobs. We discussed how to overcome the dilemma. This topic is interesting because we approached to the essence of innovation.

   Next Areva’s article is an interesting report that shows a situation that a nuclear power plant industry is confronting after Fukushima. Areva’s third generation reactor, EPR is costly but safer than generation 2 reactors. In the short term, this is good for Areva, but in the long run, the situation is challenging because many developed countries halted their construction. We focused on competitiveness of both French and Japanese companies.

   Third article is about America’s official statistics. Why this topic is interesting is that the article insists that official statistics in the US cosmetically enhance America’s economic appearance. They picked up (1) public sector debt, (2) budget deficit, (3) relative performance on productivity growth, (4) the way GDP quarterly are published and (5) method of measurement of GDP growth compared with EU’s case and how the US exaggerated their numbers. They also show a relief fact that history shows America’s measure is a front-runner. Ono explained us about “hedonic pricing” from his experience.

   Last article we discussed was “The Doha Round: Dead Man Talking” from international which Yamagata picked up. This title comes from a film “Dead Man Walking” by Tim Robbins about a prisoner to death (1995). The title implies Doha Round is also like a talk of a dead man. Doha Round began in 2001. They insist 10 years of trade talks don’t have reached to meaningful agreement but have sharpened divisions. What we discussed about the article was (1) a meaning of Doha Round (2) how to reach the next step such as NTB (Non Tariff Barrier) agreement. Yamagata commented that it might be difficult to make full agreement in a world level and that we already reached certain level of agreement in Uruguay Round already. Lastly he mentioned WTO’s future and the possibility of extinction of the organization.

   The place we gathered this week was Yotsuya. Every week Ono came first on time but Ogawa was a little late and Yamagata came lately. I thought this difference comes from busyness of each job. Yamagata works hard till late night every weekday so for him, weekend is the time to sleep. Nevertheless, he comes every weekend. He is so enthusiastic. Yamamoto joined for the first time. He will get used to the study group and will take an active part soon.


Visions of this study group



モデルケースは東大の中原教授が実践していて、著書も出されている「Learning Bar」。

たかが雑誌なのになぜ権威があるのか? なぜ海外の雑誌なのか?

同じことが、The Economistにも言えるように私は思った。