- Meaningful advances in battery technology
- A 24 inch monitor for $229. My, how the prices have fallen
- China executes ex-drug chief for graft
China executed a former drug and food safety chief on Tuesday for corruption in an unusually swift sentence which will serve as a warning amid a series of health scandals that have stained the “made in China” brand.
Can you imagine that happening in the US? I can’t.
I read this fawning article on the future of China in der Spiegel. The go on and on about the benefits of state owned industry, and a central strategy for all of China’s economic activity. And not once do they use the term “National Socialism”!
- An interesting profile of Robert Levy, who spearheaded the successful DC gun ban lawsuit. I met him several years ago when I was interning at Cato. A very smart and nice guy.
- More future of the automobile, this time from CNN. The big three American automakers and their Japanese counterparts seem to be hopelessly stuck in the past and burdened with vast wastelands of legacy costs and outdated equipment. I still have hope for American cottage industry to fill some of the gap, but I expect most of the “new” ideas to come from China. My reasoning is: The single largest unrealized opportunity for efficient cars is not the propulsion, it’s in the weight of the car itself. With new advances in carbon fiber and plastics (to replace the body, windshield, axels, and so on) you can lighten the vehicle considerably while keeping safety and performance constant. Lighter vehicle=greater fuel efficiency (by whatever measure). I think the existing players have too much invested in the current scheme and will get whupped by Chinese auto manufacturers when China reaches the necessary level of industrial sophistication (my prediction, 2015).
- Microsoft is giving away a new accounting program. I’ll have a field review in a few days.
- A pretty cool homemade fuel cell system. Not commercially viable (yet), but a good start at the grass roots.
- I just got John Boyd’s biography.
Chinese officials have decided to crack down on the practice at some rural villages of hiring strippers to perform at funerals. The practice is intended to attract more attendees to funerals because many people believe that a greater number of people improve the deceased’s chances for better afterlife.
Tyler Cowen shares my concerns about China, namely that they can’t take a punch, or in this case, an economic downturn.
If you are not convinced, raise your right hand and repeat after me: “China in the 20th century had two major revolutions, a civil war, a World War, The Great Leap Forward [sic], mass starvation, the Cultural Revolution, arguably the most tyrannical dictator ever and he didn’t even brush his teeth, and now they will go from rags to riches without even a business cycle burp.”
It’s worth reading the whole thing.
The ever-readable Mickey Kaus has some good insight
Escape from TimesSelect: The NYT’s Tom Friedman, in an exceptionally blowhardish appearance on Meet the Press, laments the effect of massive U.S. borrowing from China:
I think we have–we are now in a position where China has– they’re heading for $1 trillion, OK, of our–in reserves that they’re going to be holding, basically. And the leverage that is going to give China over the United States in the coming years, God knows where– how that’s going to play out.
Hmm. If you lend a trillion dollars to someone, does that give you leverage over them or them leverage over you? I’d always thought it was the latter, especially when the debtor is a sovereign nation. (Keynes: “Owe your banker 1000 [pounds] and you are at his mercy; owe him 1 million [pounds] and the position is reversed.”)
It’s worth noting that the Chinese (and whoever) are gambling on the US Government keeping it’s word and paying back all of their debts, which seems a bit iffy.
While various members of the Commentariat (I’m looking at you Charlie Rose) talk quite a bit about the “peaceful rise of China” articles like this one about Indian Medical Vacations make me think that it will be India that will rise much higher. China seems to be putting a lot of effort into posturing lately, and their currency machinations will come back to bite them big time.