Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Emergency Meeting

The Economist reports Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's hand picked successor, Brazilian President Dilma Roussef, has seen her popularity drop in half "after the eruption of nationwide protests involving more than 1m people."  The people are upset over corruption.

In response she "has put forward a five-point plan focused on political reform and investment in long-neglected public services. On July 2nd she sent a list of proposals to the Senate. She wants a consultative referendum on the public financing of campaigns, the abolition of secret ballots in parliament, an overhaul of rules that govern political alliances and a new electoral system (the current one uses an open-list, proportional-representation model for the lower house)"

Our correspondent on the scene, Friends University student Lucas Bariani Machado, tells us from Brazil that some may be skeptical.  He provided us with the YouTube spoof (in Portuguese with English subtitles) below: enjoy!



Lucas offers this video as a 5 minute explanation of "why we are into these protests that you've been aware of lately." 

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

An "Ordinary Man" to Build a 180 Mile Canal Across Nicaragua. We Will See.

When the United States was deciding how to cut the passage from the east to the west it considered two alternatives: Nicaragua and Panama.  Thanks to fortuitous events and the opportunism of Panamanian patriots, it chose Panama.  The idea of a canal through Nicaragua is being revived by a Chinese businessman.

John Paul Rathbone wrote in the Financial Times that Nicaragua's "congress voted to give Wang Jing the go ahead to build a new canal in its country.  On June 13th, Daniel Ortega left-wing Sandinista government gave HKND, the newly-registered group [a] 50-year concession' to study the feasibility and build a canal."   So HKND is a special vehicle for this $40 billion project.  Furthermore "HKND is working on the feasibility study for the giant project with McKinsey as well as China Railway Construction, a large state-owned group."

Nicaragua is ruled by the left wind Sandinistas under Daniel Ortega.   Mr. Wang is a good friends of President Ortega's son.

And who is Wang Jing? Rathbone described Mr. Wang as a "40-year-old businessman...who also heads Beijing Xinwei, a midsized telecoms company."  The FT's Kathrin Hill interviewed this self described "very ordinary Chinese citizen" for its "Beyond the BRICs" blog. Hille tells us, "he lives with his mother, his younger brother and his daughter in Beijing."

Hille talks with Wang in this video about his plans and asks whether his US$40bn project is a front for the Chinese government's ambitions to extend its influence in the US's backyard:

This is a project not without risks.  Rathbone warns, "[a]lthough global trade is growing, the Panama Canal is nearing the end of a $5bn expansion plan to double its capacity, while global warming means melting ice packs in the Arctic could make a northern route a viable alternative to crossing the central American isthmus by canal."

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Why Wichita and Kansas Are Places to Move Your Business to or Start Your Business.

John Stears writes in the Wichita Business Journal that "Wichita businessman Wink Hartman hopes [he can[ elicit warm and fuzzy feelings about living in Wichita and Kansas — and catch the eye of job creators."  He has produced a pair of ads highlighting the type of people who make up our local economy and its culture of growth.  Spending his own money for production and airing the ads,  Stearns characterizes Hartman's campaign as "one man’s economic-development cause."

Meanwhile the American Legislative Council has boosted Kansas' economic outlook based on improved policies.  Kansas jumped 15 rankings in the ALRC's ratings of the fifty states' prospects: "Rich States, Poor States."