#2-3 Asia's lonely hearts [Aug 20th 2011]

#2-3 Asia's lonely hearts [Aug 20th 2011]
Aug 28, 2011 10:00-12:00   Iidabashi Café Di Espresso
Members: 8 people
Ogawa, Ono, Iino, Nagao, Tomozawa, Tahara, Sotani and Yokoyama

[Leaders] Asia’s lonely hearts
[Leaders] [Intellectual property] Patent medicine
[Business] [Google’s takeover of Motorola Mobility] Patently different
[Finance & Economics] An unpalatable solution

    This week’s our study group was an innovative experience. 8 members came to join and it was the maximum size we have experienced thorough our group. 3 new comers came to join this time. Tahara is my old friend and works for a hedge fund, which headquarter is located in Singapore. He sent me a message on twitter that he wants to join with us. Sotani is a friend of Tomozawa and she is investment analyst. Yokoyama is a dietitian working for a hospital. They each have a very clear-cut personalities and I had a fun discussing with them.

    The first article Ogawa chose was a sensational one especially for Asian youngs like us. “Asia’s lonely hearts” points out “a flight of marriage”, instead of a divorce or a late marriage, is more common among Asian young people. The article insists that burdens that Asian women carry is heavy, and then they don’t want to or hesitate to get marry. We mainly discussed about what politics can do for the issue. Japanese legislation doesn’t acknowledge de-fact marriage as a normal one and a legitimate child is inferior to a normal one when it comes to inheritance and legal issues.

    Secondly, we discussed about patents on two articles from leaders and business section. Both articles focuses on Google’s recent takeover of Motorola Mobility. The attraction for Google is its portfolio of 17,000 patents, with another 7,500 in the pipeline. The article insists that the patent system has been stifling innovation rather than encouraging it so our discussion mainly focused on how to overcome this dilemma. Iino gave us an example of a pharmaceutical industry. He explained us that pharmaceutical manufactures were turning to be investment companies because it took huge cost to make a new medicine. Someone gave a good idea of two-story patent system, which is to separate patents of short term investment and long term one.

    Last article “An unpalatable solution” that Ono picked up is from Economic focus on Euro fiscal crisis. It verifies the possibility of issuing Eurobonds. We already picked up this issue last week so this week we more focused on concrete possible solutions. The Economist was skeptical about the idea of Eurobonds. It was more like bold bond reorganization. Other solutions are financial transferring and centralization of fiscal policy but both of them are inconsistent with reality because countries such as Germany and France would have an acute pain by these policies.

    We gathered in Iidabashi for the first time. An aiming café was closed so we had to change the place to discuss thirty minutes before start. Takase was registered on this study group according to our spreadsheet but we all didn’t know him so we couldn’t contact him. The café had a large space so we easily prepared our seats. 


#2-2 Time for a double dip? [Aug 6th 2011]

#2-2 Time for a double dip? [Aug 6th 2011]
14th August 2011 10:00-12:00  Shinjuku Ranbure
Ono, Fujisaki, Shimada, Ogawa

Articles we discussed:
[Leaders] Time for double dip?
[United States] The debt-ceiling deal
[Europe] Hot, hot August
[Business] Robots don’t complain

   This week another new member came to join for the first time. Fujisaki reads The Economist from her  college time, long before this study group started. She took a class in which members discussed economic issues on articles of the magazine. She seemed to get used to reading it and made so much contribution to our discussion. We hope that she will join us continually when she backs to Tokyo from Hiroshima.

    We discussed roughly on 3 topics of 4 articles from both macroeconomic and microeconomic points of view. Ono and Fujisaki picked up articles about America’s economic and political sufferings that are cleared after debt ceiling deal. “Time for double dip” from Leader focuses on uncertain economic restoration of US economy. Ono showed us several important discussion topics on this issue: “false dawns” of US economy, a possibility of QE3 during a zero interest policy continuing, a necessity of adjustments of the national balance sheet and so on. The article criticizes a large slug of austerity and poisonous politics of the past few weeks and concludes avoiding recession depends on accurate political leadership.

    Second article “No thanks to anyone” focuses the political dysfunction that is threatening its chances of economic recovery. Fujisaki picked up the article because it presents us America’s structural political defects clearly. She explained to us about “polarization” of American politics. She also mentioned characteristics and historical transition of American politics. Why a third party couldn’t gain power in America and how the size of constituency influences outcomes of elections was interest topics of our discussion.

    Ogawa picked up third article “Hot, hot August” from Europe. In August, something important has happen in our history. Wars have odd tendency to break out in this month. Signs of economic crises we could find in August. The meaning of “Hot, hot…” on the title comes from this awareness of August. The article is about the crisis of EU and euro leaders’ attitudes to fight against it. Our discussion focused on “a momentous decision” that euro zone leaders could face very soon; should they allow countries to default and break the currency or should they try to save the euro by creating unpopular fiscal union with jointly backed Euro bonds. Ogawa said that Euro, the integrated currency of Europe, is their dream so they would never throw it away. Fujisaki mentioned from history that they would not make such a decision and might reach a vague conclusion because they always did in such a way.

    Lastly, we discussed on “Robots don’t complain” which reports FOXCONN’s latest decision of mechanization in their plant. Shimada explained why this decision is worth watching. It is because this company has their assembly plants located in China and their advantage is that they can use cheap labor forces there. We discussed several case of mechanization for a while. Ono presented automation of cars. Cars can be driven automatically by using latest technology but carmakers don’t step in because of the issue of responsibility if an accident happens while automatic drive.

    We gathered a nostalgic café in Shinjuku. It was hot, hot August day and was Fujisaki’s birthday. She left to have lunch with her family earlier so we couldn’t do anything for her. Ono and Shimada and Ogawa went to Lumine to have a lunch and talked mainly about our common friends.  


#2-1 Turning Japanese [July 30th, 2011]

The Economist Study Group 2011 summer-autumm launched

#2-1   Turning Japanese [July 30th, 2011]
Aug 7th 2011 10:00-12:00 Sendagaya GoodMorning Cafe
Ono, Iino, Ogawa, Goda, Shimada, Ido, Tomozawa 

Articles we discussed
[Britain][Manufacturing] A tale of two industries
[Business][Schumpeter] The trouble with outsourcing
[Business][French newspaper] The revolution at Le Monde
[Finance & Economics] [Economic Focus] Beefed-up burgernomics
[Leaders][Debt and politics in America and Europe] Turning Japanese

This week we started second season of the study group and surprisingly 4 new members came to join with us. Iino invited 3 of them and Ogawa invited 1 of 4. They are smart and have passions to contribute to our discussion. New members are necessary for our group to be continuing. We very appreciate it.

    We discussed 4 articles and commented 1 article. The cover picture of this week was sensational particularly for Japanese people. American President Obama and German Prime Minister Merkel both wear kimonos that have their flag-like patterns. The title of a cover article is ”Turning Japanese”. This illustration implies that both Europe and America turn to be like Japan, which suggest both fall into the absence of leadership. I feel ashamed because they probably think it is a “fact” of the world that leadership doesn’t exist in Japan and readers also know about it. Moreover, this article does not focus on Japan itself. Japan is like a lure to discuss their greater matters of concern such as US debt ceiling and EU debt issues. We should bear in mind that world sees us .

    Let’s follow our discussion briefly. The first two articles are about corporate strategies mainly on an aerospace industry. Britain’s article compares two Britain-located manufacturing company Ralls Royce (an example of succeed) and Bombardier (failure). The keywords are “service revenue”, “globalization and standardization” and “diversion”. We mainly discussed characteristics of the two industries. Second article Iino chose is “the trouble with outsourcing”. Unique example on the article is Boeing 787 Dreamliner. We mainly discussed “core values” of aircrafts industry. The core values we think of at first are technologies of engines and wings but Iino said they are not. He said “integration know-how” is the core value in this industry. That was an interesting point of the discussion.

    On third article about French newspaper, we also discussed core values of media industry. Goda chose the article and he proposed to discuss the role of journalism mentioning a current issue of Fuji TV. We focused how to prevent journalistic impartiality from influence of capitals and unions. Current TV companies have not only news sections but also entertainment sections. We should discuss the issue separately. Goda said the core value of journalism is to make good articles without any influence.

    Last article is about the famous BicMac Index. Ono presented the summary in English for the first time. This was challenging but necessary to improve our English skill. We mainly discussed why BicMac? Various reasons can be imagined but we focused two. The first is that BicMac is a consumer good that we can find globally. The second is that it is a food that is made by local harvests.

    We gathered at Good Morning Café in Sendagaya. We were 8 (large group) but seats were available fortunately. We have used the café four times already. Location and atmosphere are nice so I like there but BGM was loud so a little difficult to hear their voices. If members will gather more than 5 like today, we should find more comfortable space.