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Will the Chinese economic miracle fade?

Oxford Analytica pointed out that in 2002 there were Communist Party groups in 17% of foreign-funded enterprises in China. Today 70% have Party groups.  Clearly, the Chinese government prefers to have Soviet-style control over private enterprises, rather that free market dynamics and creativity.  It looks like the Chinese economic miracle will be gradually fading…  Senior management duality caused massive issues in the Soviet Union, why wouldn’t it do the same to China?

Steven Mnuchin has more punch than Trump

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin implied in Davos that he preferred a weaker dollar, but President Trump countered this with a subsequent comment that he wants to see a strong dollar.  Today 1 AUD buys you 81 US cents, so it seems that Steven has more punch than Donald.

US complains about unfair trade

The International Monetary Fund official gave credence to US complaints about unfair trade, urging the rest of the world—and in particular China—to take note.  Distortive trade practices and massive trade imbalances cause issues in multinational relations and internally.  

Starbucks to pass tax savings on to employees

Starbucks in the US announced that $250 million from the tax savings under the new taxation regime in the US will be passed on its employees in various forms of payments.  It will be interesting to see what this continuing tax flow on effect will have on the US economy.  With already low unemployment rate (around 4%), could the US economy overheat as a consequence?

Michael Hill to exit US

Inside Retail reported that Jewellery retailer Michael Hill (MHJ) is exiting the US.  This doesn't surprise us.  The US is a very tough market for foreign retailers.  One more reason to admire those who were able to successfully establish themselves in the US - companies such as Cotton On and Rodd and Gunn.

Bitcoin holders: lock in your profits

The Australian Financial Review published a sobering comment from Michael Glennon (from Glennon Capital) who referred to Bitcoin as a quasi-ponzi scheme, selling something that has no value.  Michael reiterated our earlier sentiment (expressed a few days ago) that Bitcoin is a ‘currency’ that doesn’t do anything, is not backed by any sovereign nation, is not accepted in most places, is hard to buy and sell, and has no fundamentals to support it.  His advice to Bitcoin holders is to ‘lock in your profits’ and get out, considering yourself lucky you have made profit in the greatest bubble in recent times.

About 45% of Americans get their news from … Facebook

About 45% of Americans get their news from … Facebook.  Scary statistics, considering that Facebook doesn’t have to abide by the principles applicable to official networks and their journalists.   With Facebook’s stated intention to make the data flowing through its environment more people-driven, the level of unverified, opinionated data will go up.  Expect even more polarised societies in the years to come.

The evolution of Humans 2.0

We keep a watchful eye on the continuing evolution of Humans 2.0 (the term we use to describe people permanently paired with their smartphones).  The Wall Street Journal reported that an average 2-11 old US child spends 4.5 hours a day in front of a screen.  This is time that is no longer available for physical activities, human contact and “the good time of boredom that spawns creativity”.  This looks like a looming tragedy, yet some people argue that kids need more rather than less time on the Web, to capitalise on the extraordinary learning opportunities.  They missed the point that the content on the Internet is a volatile mix of facts, opinions and nonsense.  How are kids going to figure it out?

New tax rules boost US economy

The Australian Financial Review noted that large US corporations started to move capital back to the US, post the introduction of the new tax rules.  Experts estimate that in excess of $3 trillion has been kept offshore.  Whether the repatriated cash will be invested in the US economy or distributed to shareholders, it will certainly boost the US economy.