3-4 The rise of state capitalism

Taxing the rich in America
The politics of plutocracy(富裕層の政治)
America’s rich should pay more, but there is no need to raise their income-tax rates

Americans have long considered wealth something to admire and pursue. But this is no ordinary election. And so the rich are now a campaign issue.

Democrats say only the top 1% need pay more. Barack Obama calls for “millionaires and billionaires” to “pay their fair share”
Republicans shoot back that raising any taxes would destroy jobs and business confidence. They think you can fill the budget hole by spending cuts alone.

Neither side is talking sense. (1) America’s rich should indeed pay more tax; but (2) marginal rates should not go up (Others will have to pay too.).

(1-1) Technological change and globalisation have sharpened demand for the rich who have done so well from recent trends (superstars). 
(1-2) Tax policy (George Bush junior slashed top income-tax rates as well as rates on dividends and capital gains) has exacerbated this trend. Equalising would make it possible to lower America’s corporate tax rate.
(2-1) Restoring the top income tax rates would raise revenues of only about 0.3% of GDP and do nothing to make America’s complicated tax system more efficient.
(2-2) Loopholes and deductions, currently worth up to 7% of GDP, distort behavior and mostly benefit the affluent.

1) Do you agree/disagree with the Economist’s opinion? It sounds equivocal picking up insistences from both sides. Which side do you prefer to support?

2) Japan has the same issues of income inequity and fiscal reconstruction. What can we do based on the article’s point of view?


3-3 America's next CEO?

I will introduce articles I picked up from the Economist every week.

Mitt Romney’s career says a lot about how American business has changed

Discussion points:
Who is Mitt Romney? Why does he become a candidate of Republicans?
Which do you want to vote Romney or Obama if you are a US citizen?

Mr Obama wants to curb capitalism’s excesses. Mr Romney offers, in his own words, “a clear and unapologetic defence” of “the American ideals of economic freedom”. He even tried to explain the virtues of profits to an Occupy Wall Street heckler. This year’s election will not just be about Mr Obama. Voters will have their say on capitalism, too.

Mitt RomneyHow has this happened in the nation that leads the world in innovation and productivity? The answer is that President Obama’s policies have failed. He and virtually all the people around him have never worked in the real economy. They just don’t know how jobs are created in the private sector.”

As a businessman, Mr Romney was at the heart of three revolutions.

1. The first was the rise of meritocracy in corporate America. He joined BCG in 1975 and Bain and Company later. These companies valued analytical skills above all else and brought a new type of brain-intensive management to American corporate culture.

2. The second revolution was the idea that a company’s purpose is to make money for shareholders. Post-war American capitalism was dominated by managers, not shareholders. But by the time Mr Romney came of age in the 1970s this comfortable world was crumbling. Corporate America had a principal-agent problem. The solution was to force managers to focus on shareholder value. The result was Bain Capital, a company that Mr Romney ran from 1984 to 1999.

3. The third revolution was the shift from manufacturing to services. Bain Capital “re-engineered” 150 companies during Mitt’s tenure. Mr Romney and his ilk have made corporate America more efficient. But for many people this has involved an upending of the natural order of things, with young men with flip-charts wandering into proud firms and telling veteran managers what to do.


Self-helpからCo-help へ

ESG Season3 has started!!









From Self-help to Co-help

Spirit of self-help is the base of learning. We learn, without knowing it, that a study is to improve your ability by yourself for your future. In any scenes of learning, we have a conscious of virtue on a hidden effort of studying by individuals don’t we?

Because of the conscious, we often hesitate to talk serious issues with people around us, especially with the same generation. “I don’t study so much” “I am not smart” Modesty is a virtue of human, but we hide ourselves in modesty and escape from discussing serious issues in front of others don’t we?

Out of those people, we already know that there are a certain number of hard workers who are leaning and thinking serious issues individually. We hesitate to talk serious topics because we recognize that there are these respectable people around us but we couldn’t make anything by hesitating.

Our study group thinks to free those individuals from traps of modesty. We gather to share our learning, discuss with others to know their and our principles and corporate with them to tackle real issues in our society.

Living in the 21st century, we encounter crossover issues that we cannot solve by individuals. Especially Japan is a front-running country that faces unknown issues the world has never encountered. There should be more places for discussing global unknown issues by the people of strong will in a glass roots level.

From Self-help to Co-help

Our group is for the people who try to establish themselves and to make solutions to the unknown issues by cooperating with others.


3-2 Save the City

3-2 ESG Review season3 
Save the City [Jan 7th, 2012]
Kanda 15th Jan 2012 10:00-12:00
Ogawa, Ono, Yamagata, Mizutani, Shimada, Sugawara, Murakami and Miyabe

We discussed:
[Briefing] Death by a thousand cuts
[Finance & Economics][Schumpeter] The dangers of demonology
[Asia][Damming the Mekong] In suspension
[Finance & Economics][The world economy] Self-induced sluggishness
[Finance & Economics][Spain’s banks] Horn of a dilemma
[Science & Technology][China’s space programme] Rockets galore

Second discussion in 2012 was also held in Kanda. The number of people of the week was eight and we discussed based on 6 articles. This amount was tough to discuss in 2 hours but it was happy to share various opinions at one time. We already changed all the discussion held in English so I spent enough time to make output. I would like to change my documentation or record in a simpler way. The most valuable thing of our discussion is what we think are the points of the articles we have chosen. I would like to share the points of each article below.

[Briefing] Death by a thousand cuts
(1)   Can financial industry get back its glory?
(2)   What is the main obstacle which prevents Tokyo from being competitive financial center like the City?
(3)   Financial industry plays a key role in job creation. Should we foster the financial center(cluster) in Tokyo? and how?
(4)   Is it better to focus on real engineering rather than the illusory financial services in this country?

[Finance & Economics][Schumpeter] The dangers of demonology
(1)   Ono-san said the prosperity of investment banking business has gone but is it right understanding?

[Asia][Damming the Mekong] In suspension
(1)   Who are stakeholders of this issue? Fishers, constructers and enegy suppliers etc.
(2)   To what extent does the environment really matter?
(3)   What is the interest of China and US in the lower Mekong region?

[Finance & Economics][The world economy] Self-induced sluggishness
(1)    Many troubles should be attributed to the politicians. What makes politicians so bad at trouble-shooting? Is it due to their talent or ability?
(2)    Any other causes other than “politicians”?
(3)    What kind of measures should be taken to realize the world economy?

[Finance & Economics][Spain’s banks] Horn of a dilemma
(1)   Which methodology is effective and efficient for bailout on the banks?
(2)   What caused the series of crisis in PIIGS countries? Will the same things occur in Japan?

[Science & Technology][China’s space programme] Rockets galore
(1) What’s real purpose for China to be an earthly space power? Is it good reason?


3-1 We need to talk about Kim

ESG season3 has launched
We need to talk about Kim  [December 31st 2011]
Kanda 8th Jan 2012 10:00-12:00
Ogawa, Iino, Ono, Ido, Shimada, Sugawara and Mizutani

[Leaders] We need to talk about Kim.
[Leaders][Economics blogs] A less dismal debate
[International][Muslims and the Koran] In the beginning were the words
[Business][Ethnic Advertising] One message, or many?
*[Mercenaries] Mad Mike comes in from the cold

   Our season 3 session started from this week. In season 3, we change our debate style and start a new project called “ANSWER”. All of our discussion is held in English and we increase facilitators from 3 to all members. “ANSWER” project aims to make a response to the articles related to Japan. From the new year of 2012, we start a brand-new ESG.

   Ono chose the first article about Kim dynasty in North Korea. As you may know, Kim Jong Il was dead in December and his successor Kim Jong Um turned out to be the next leader of the country. We need to talk about Kim as the title says. Ono skipped making summary and we went into discussion directly. This topic is popular among us so it was a good decision. We already read the article beforehand so we don’t need summary actually. We discussed mainly about “how long does Kim’s dynasty seem to last?” and “what kind of action should we take to make North Korea more open and democratic? ” We also talked about the key person named Jang Song Teak, China’s diplomatic strategy and the power game between China and US.

   Next article Iino picked up was about blogging of economists. Blogs are blamed for cheapening debate in some field. Yet the article insists that they have enriched economics. He chose it because he is interested in how blog or SNS change the world and wanted to discuss how we should make the most use of them as producers or consumers of blog/social media. Interesting “Killer question” of the discussion was “Can you open your blog online with your real name?” Iino has his blog and he opens in his real name and the position in his company because he wants to be a person who can stand as an individual. But most of us feel nervous about opening blogs and stating opinions in real names. Why can US people open and we can’t? We agreed that economists in Japan should state their opinion on their blogs to enrich economics.

   Two articles picked up by Ogawa and Shimada was about people who are unfamiliar to us. “In the beginning were the words” shows us academic current situation of the Koran. “One message, or many?” is about ethnicity and business. Both articles tell us about the world we do not face with in our daily life. The Economist usually picks up topics from every region in the world so it is interesting to know how the people in other society in other culture live a life and make their living.

   Sugawara san chose the last article about mercenaries from the article in 2002. She is interested in military and security so she always picks up related to these issues. We could get to know insightful knowledge and facts from her presentation.

   We started to use Saint-Marc Café in Kanda from the end of the last year. It is comfortable because there are few people in Kanda on Sunday and this café has much space and large table on the 3rd floor. We are going to use this space for a while. 


What I want to achieve in 2012

#1 Building English vocabulary
The first thing I want to do on weekend is to improve my language skill.
The goal is to get good scores in general tests.
TOEFL score 90-100 by taking tests twice in a year
TOEIC score 990 by taking a test once in a year

#2 Discussing issues and making outputs 
I continue to manage ESG discussions on every Sunday morning.
Also I continue to attend Jeff’s lesson on every Sunday afternoon.
The goal is to share ideas with people all over the world by uploading outputs online.

#3 Finding a partner to enjoy life together
You should stand alone first but you should also corporate with people.
Eat, Travel, Play and Study together with your best partner brightens our life.

#4 Hosting on Sekaimeshi project
I started Sekaimeshi project with a friend of mine last year. We eat world delicious foods in various restaurants in Tokyo.
The goal is to “Travel” every month totally in 12 countries and make crossover friends.

#5 Studying on “Principles of corporate finance”
I bought the book on my birthday in April. Many people around me recommend to try it.
The goal is to complete the textbook (11part, 34 chapters) with my colleagues.

#6 Making lifelong Friends
I enjoy my life with friends by playing tennis, golf, climbing mountains, riding a bicycle and so on.
Several times in a year I gonna play together with friends.

#7 Training to build a strong body
Strong body is needed to use the time more efficiently. On every weekend, I go on training to keep my body and mind in good condition.