Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Brilliant brilliant

Three cool stories caught my attention today.

First, of course, about the US primaries. Apparently Obama and Hillary went at each other's throats in a big way during last night's televised debates. Got seriously personal. And if ever there was evidence of the need for an also-ran to just step aside: "The third Democratic contender, John Edwards, had to fight to speak." Get the scoop here. Perfect teeth and a winning smil are NOT enough to win a primary!

Franny I hoped you tuned in with popcorn!

Obama is also going after Bill I didn't enjoy the bloz Clinton these days, who is campaigning vigorously for his wife. My personal view is that criticising Bill Clinton is political suicide (Bill Clinton is a demi-god in American politics, 'first black president' and all that), but I guess Obama can't take shit lying down from some old guy that should've been impeached. And Obama would be right. But Americans do not like people attacking Bill. Just not allowed.

Second, Justin Yifu Lin, a Chinese national, is about to be appointed World Bank Chief Economist. He would be the first from a developing country. And Mr Lin defected from Taiwan to the mainland in 1979 by swimming across the Taiwan strait. But most interesting? He did a masters in Marxist political economy at Peking University, and then a PhD in neoclassical economics from Chicago, the capital of academic free-market thinking. Let's hope he's managed to sort it all out in his head.

Last, sovereign wealth funds (investment funds controlled by governments, not private entities) now control more assets than hedge funds and private equity combined. That's a LOT of money. China has the biggest (of course), and through it bought that big chunk of private equity group Blackstone last year. They also tried to buy CNOOC earlier, but Congress said no, no, no. So they're buying up less politically sensitive stuff now. Still, we've liberalised international capital markets because we understand the motives of privately-owned capital. We have no idea what publicly-owned capital might be chasing, since profits aren't a concern. Interesting times indeed! And no this is not conspiracy theory nonsense.

The Doctor.

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