2009年3月31日 星期二

BYD Is in Battery-Supply Talks

BYD Is in Battery-Supply Talks
Chinese Plug-In Car Maker's Chairman Looks to Put Its Technology in U.S., European Cars

BEIJING -- Fledgling auto maker BYD Co. is in talks to supply its batteries to car companies in Europe and the U.S., Chairman Wang Chuanfu said in an interview.

A deal could solidify BYD's growing prominence in the electric-car market after it surprised the automotive world by launching a plug-in car in December, ahead of more established foreign rivals.

Mr. Wang, BYD's top executive and founder, and other BYD officials declined to identify the companies the Chinese company is negotiating with. Mr. Wang said BYD is negotiating with one U.S. auto maker and two in Europe about supplying lithium-ion batteries it produces in Shenzhen, where BYD is based. Companies including Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. have chosen battery suppliers for their electric cars, but others are still talking to various companies or haven't announced who their suppliers are.

[BYD Electric Car photo] Bloomberg News

BYD hopes to sell to other car makers the same batteries it uses in its F3DM plug-in hybrid, which it began selling on a limited basis in December.

Mr. Wang said the batteries it is considering supplying are the same ones used in its F3DM sedan, a plug-in hybrid that BYD started selling in December to Chinese fleet customers, such as state-owned enterprises and government agencies. The F3DM's limited release hit the market about a year ahead of a similar car, also initially for fleet customers, being planned for late this year by Toyota. BYD plans to start selling the F3DM to consumers in June.

A deal to supply its batteries to other car companies could put BYD -- a battery producer that began selling cars in 2005 -- in competition with battery companies with similar technology, such as A123 Systems Inc., a closely held company based in Watertown, Mass. A123 Systems couldn't be reached for comment.

Mr. Wang said BYD's ability to produce lithium-ion battery cells at relatively low cost, in part because of its choice of technology and inexpensive Chinese labor, gives the company an advantage over other battery makers. Last year, a company controlled by investor Warren Buffett invested $230 million in BYD, chiefly because of BYD's cost-effective technology.

Concerns over gasoline shortages and climate change have prompted a global race to commercialize affordable electric-battery cars and plug-in hybrids like the F3DM that get most of their power from their batteries. Those efforts have been limited largely by immature battery technology.

While lithium-ion batteries are seen as the technology that will ultimately work, their successful use has been hindered by relatively high price, limited durability and safety concerns. BYD says it has largely resolved those issues by turning to a safer, more cost-effective technology called iron-phosphate-based lithium-ion.

2009年3月30日 星期一

A Blacklist for Websites Backfires in Australia

A Blacklist for Websites Backfires in Australia

australia banned web sites IP
Fancy / Veer / Corbis

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. If you want to reduce citizens' exposure to dangerous and illegal activities online, why not gather up all the URLs for sites that promote such acts — child pornography, extreme violence, weapon-making and so on — and have Internet Service Providers (ISPs) simply block them? Wouldn't that make the internet safer for families and children?

Actually no, as the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is finding out the hard way. The ACMA, Canberra's equivalent of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, put together such a list and sent it to more than a dozen companies. It was part of a trial program to develop software that would allow Australian ISPs to block the sites. But to ACMA's evident surprise, at least one person who received the list handed it over to Wikileaks, an online clearinghouse for anonymous submissions of sensitive material. The ACMA "blacklist", as it became known, was promptly posted online, becoming a handy compendium of internet depravity in one convenient package — courtesy of the Australian government. After it was posted, a surge in traffic caused Wikileaks to crash temporarily. (See the 10 most interesting finds on Google Earth.)

"It's the most ill-conceived pile of stupidity by the biggest bunch of cretins that I've ever seen in my life, " says Ross Wheeler, CEO of Albury.net.au, a regional ISP, referring to the web-filtering plan. "Every ISP that I know of has either publicly or privately said it's technically and practically impossible." The leak was further black icing on the cake. Among its more than 1,000 entries were URLs for child porn, rape and bestiality sites as well as online gambling (some forms of which are illegal in Australia) and gay and straight pornography. But many sites appeared to have been blacklisted almost at random. A dentist from Queensland, whose website had once been hacked into by a Russian purveyor of pornography, was on the list. So was pet care facility MaroochyBoardingKennels.com.au and canteens.com.au, a site belonging to a school cafeterias consultant. "The only thing I can think of [that got me on the list] is that I have e-mailed schools telling them about my book and CD resource How to Have a Healthy and Profitable Theme Day," owner Jocelyn Ashcroft told the Sydney Morning Herald.

And while the list in many cases appeared arbitrary at best, some selections appeared politically motivated at worst. Sites advocating legal euthanasia, Satanism and even Christianity were blacklisted. Initially, the minister for communications, Stephen Conroy, denied that the list on Wikileaks and the ACMA blacklist are the same, a denial that rang a little hollow when one of its partners, the Internet Industry Association (IIA), publicly condemned the release and posting of the list. "No reasonable person could countenance the publication of links which promote access to child abuse images, irrespective of their motivation, which in this case appears to be political," said IIA chief executive Peter Coroneos. (See the 25 best blogs of 2009.)

More recently Wikileaks updated the list and the Minister acknowledged the similarities, but stood firm on proceeding with testing the internet filtering software. "Does the [leaked blacklist] mean we are going to stop blocking access to the sites? No. People can continue to put up the lists if they are proud to do that," he told a press conference in Sydney. "It is completely untrue that the leaked blacklist contains political content. This is a list which contains sites that promote incest, rape, child pornography and child abuse."

As a result of the scandals, several of Australia's biggest ISPs have now pulled out of the filtering software trials and urged the government to drop the plan. "It became increasingly clear that the trial was not simply about restricting child pornography or other such illegal material, but a much wider range of issues including what the Government simply describes as 'unwanted material' without an explanation of what that includes," said Michael Malone, Managing Director of iiNet, an Australian ISP. He added that his company only agreed to participate in the trial to demonstrate that the policy was "fundamentally flawed, a waste of taxpayers' money and would not work." Critics of mandatory Internet filtering point out that in some countries, including China and Thailand, it's not only used to block morally objectionable content but those that are critical of the government. More to the point, many internet providers say blacklists don't work anyway: most illegal activity online happens via peer-to-peer networking, which Web filters can't block. "It's almost trivial to get around the filters," says Wheeler. "But I can't tell you how, because the government has now made that illegal."

2009年3月18日 星期三



By Stephen Roach 2009-03-17

A crisis-torn world is in no mood for the heavy lifting of global rebalancing.

Policies are being framed with an aim towards recreating the boom. Washington wants to get credit flowing again to indebted US consumers. And exporters - especially in Asia - would like nothing better than a renewal of demand led by the world's biggest consumer.

It is a recipe for disaster.

That is not to say that the fiscal and monetary medicine being administered will not alleviate symptoms of distress. But if the policies end up perpetuating the imbalances that got the global economy into the mess, the next crisis will be worse than this one.

Lest I be accused of fearmongering, it pays to replay the tapes of a decade ago.

Then, the Asian crisis was viewed as the worst since the Great Depression. As contagion spread from Asia to Russia, Brazil and a large US hedge fund, the turmoil was dubbed the first crisis of modern globalisation. Alan Greenspan, then Federal Reserve chairman, was stunned by an unprecedented seizing up of capital markets. Sound familiar?

As appropriate as those superlatives might have seemed in the late 1990s, they ended up depicting a squall compared with the current tsunami.

That is the point. Until an unbalanced world faces up to its chronic imbalances, successive crises are likely to be increasingly destabilising.

While it is hard to believe that anything could be worse than what is happening today, I can assure you the same feeling was evident in late 1998.

Ironically, the seeds of the current crisis may have been sown by policies aimed at arresting the Asian crisis.

Then, US authorities did everything they could to ensure that the crisis would not infect the real economy. The Fed's three emergency rate cuts in late 1998 worked like a charm. The US consumer never looked back. The personal consumption share of real GDP rose from 67 per cent in the late 1990s to 72 per cent in the first half of 2007. The US antidote to the Asian crisis was the greatest consumption binge in history.

Bruised and battered Asia could not have asked for more. The bingeing US consumer was Asia's manna from heaven. It reinforced the region's conviction over its export-led formula for economic progress. Developing Asia was quick to up the ante, pushing the export share of its GDP from 36 per cent in 1997-98 to 47 per cent by 2007.

It did not stop there. An increasingly integrated Asian economy discovered the synergies of a Chinacentric supply chain. Moreover, commodity producers - especially Australia, Russia, Canada and Brazil - drew sustenance from a resource-intensive, export-led Chinese economy.

So it was in the aftermath of the Asian crisis. Imbalances became the rule, not the exception.

Yet just as the US was steeped in denial on the demand side of the global economy, a similar complacency was evident on the supply side.

That was true of the US consumption binge - accompanied by record debt burdens, zero saving rates, and a multiplicity of bubbles in asset markets (equity and property) and credit.

It was also true of Asia's export boom, which spawned ever rising current account surpluses, reservoirs of foreign exchange reserves and a mega-bubble in commodity markets.

Imbalances were a problem for another day. All that mattered then was the post-crisis fix.

That is the mindset today.

To its credit, the Obama stimulus package is framed around the imperatives of investing in infrastructure, alternative energy technologies and human capital. But the Washington subtext is far more short-term, focused on increasingly urgent efforts to jump-start personal consumption.

Towards that end, the Fed, the Treasury and the Congress are all eager to restart borrowing for over-extended consumers and prevent foreclosures of indebted homeowners. The costs of inaction are billed as prohibitive. The US body politic is perfectly prepared to ignore the debt implications of its stimulus actions.

In Asia, hopes are focused on the mirror image of this tale. The questions Asians ask these days pertain to the state of the US consumer.

Apparentlyit is too hard for Asian policymakers to establish robust social safety nets and stimulate internal private consumption. Unbalanced Asian economies are desperate for unbalanced US consumers to start spending again and spark another post-crisis recovery.

Grow now, ask questions later. That has again become the mantra for an unbalanced world in crisis.

Yet that is the biggest risk of all for global policy. The G8 failed to embrace the imperatives of global rebalancing after the Asian financial crisis. The G20 seems destined to follow the same script at its summit in early April.

What a reckless way to run the world.

Stephen Roach is chairman, Morgan Stanley Asia


作者:史蒂芬•罗奇(Stephen Roach)为英国《金融时报》撰稿 2009-03-17






当时,亚洲金融危机被视为大萧条(Great Depression)以来最为严重的一场危机。由于其负面影响从亚洲蔓延至俄罗斯、巴西和一只美国大型对冲基金,这场风暴也被称作是首次当代全球化危 机。时任美联储(Fed)主席的艾伦•格林斯潘(Alan Greenspan),对资本市场这一前所未有的失灵深感震惊。这听起来是否有些耳熟?





当时,美国政府尽其所能,以确保危机不会波及实体经济。美联储在1998年底的3次紧急降息立竿见影。从此,美国消费者就没再回头。美国个人消费在 实际国内生产总值(GDP)中所占比例,从上世纪90年代末的67%升至2007年上半年的72%。美国抵御亚洲金融危机的对策,造就了有史以来最大的一 场消费狂潮。
















本文作者为摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)亚洲董事长


2009年3月12日 星期四

World's Most Admired Companies


  • Top 50
  • 363 Most Admired companies
  • All rated companies
  • Industries
  • States
  • Countries

  • Innovation
  • People
  • Use of
  • Social
  • Mgmt.
  • Financial
  • Long-term
  • Product
  • Global
  • All industries
  • Industry champions
How we pick them
This year Fortune has revamped the Most Admired Survey by combining the former America's Most Admired Company (AMAC) survey and the former World's Most Admired Company (WMAC) survey into one.

The new listing better represents the competitive landscape faced by today's companies. The survey covers 64 industries: 25 international industries and 39 primarily U.S.-market industries. Basically, the international industries follow the rules of the old WMAC (where as many as the 15 largest companies in an industry by revenue are chosen), and the 39 U.S. industries follow the rules of the old AMAC (where as many as the ten largest companies in an industry by revenue are chosen). The impact of the changes is a reduction in the number of smaller American companies in the international industries and a slight increase in the number of foreign competitors in the 39 U.S.-market industries.

The new Most Admired list is the definitive report card on corporate reputations. Our survey partners at Hay Group started with some 1,400 companies: the Fortune 1,000-the 1,000 largest U.S. companies ranked by revenue; non-U.S. companies in Fortune's Global 500 database with revenues of $10 billion or more; and the top foreign companies operating in the U.S.

They then sorted the companies by industry and selected the 15 largest for each international industry and the ten largest for each U.S. industry. To create the 64 industry lists, Hay Group asked executives, directors, and analysts to rate companies in their own industry on nine criteria, from investment value to social responsibility. This year only the best are listed: A company's score must rank in the top half of its industry survey.

To create the top 50 overall list of Most Admired Companies, Hay Group asked 4,047 executives, directors, and securities analysts who had responded to the industry surveys to select the ten companies they admired most. They chose from a list made up of the companies that ranked in the top 25% in last year's surveys, plus those that finished in the top 20% of their industry. Anyone could vote for any company in any industry. The difference in the voting rolls is why some results can seem anomalous-for example, Toyota is one of the top ten Most Admired Companies, but only second in its industry to BMW, which ranked 28th on the top 50.

A total of 689 companies from 28 countries were surveyed. Because of an insufficient response rate, the results for companies in Mortgage Services and in Oil and Gas Equipment, Services are not reported. In addition, in the Forest and Paper Products industry only the aggregate scores and ranks are published because of the distribution of responses in that industry.
また、『FORTUNE』誌は、産業別の最も賞賛される企業として、EMCを2年連続で最優秀企業に選出しました。EMCは、9つの個別カテゴリー(革新 性、人員管理、企業資産の使用、社会的責任性、マネジメントの質、財政的評判、持続的投資、製品とサービスの品質、そしてグローバルにおける競争優位性) において、いずれも1位を獲得しています。
Find companies you most admire
Innovation Quality of management
People management Financial soundness
Use of corporate assets Long-term investment
Social responsibility Product/services quality
Global competitiveness

2009年3月5日 星期四

亞馬遜電子書 iPhone看得到Amazon to Sell E-Books for Apple Devices

Amazon to Sell E-Books for Apple Devices

Published: March 4, 2009

Shaking up the nascent market for electronic books for the second time in two months, Amazon.com will begin selling e-books for reading on Apple’s popular iPhone and iPod Touch.

Skip to next paragraph
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Amazon says its Kindle 2, above, and devices like Apple’s iPhone and iPod are complementary.

Starting Wednesday, owners of these Apple devices can download a free application, Kindle for iPhone and iPod Touch, from Apple’s App Store. The software will give them full access to the 240,000 e-books for sale on Amazon.com, which include a majority of best sellers.

The move comes a week after Amazon started shipping the updated version of its Kindle reading device. It signals that the company may be more interested in becoming the pre-eminent retailer of e-books than in being the top manufacturer of reading devices.

But Amazon said that it sees its Kindle reader and devices like the iPhone as complementary, and that people will use their mobile phones to read books only for short periods, such as while waiting in grocery store lines.

“We think the iPhone can be a great companion device for customers who are caught without their Kindle,” said Ian Freed, Amazon’s vice president in charge of the Kindle.

Mr. Freed said people would still turn to stand-alone reading devices like the $359 Kindle when they want to read digital books for hours at a time. He also said that the experience of using the new iPhone application might persuade people to buy a Kindle, which has much longer battery life than the iPhone and a screen better suited for reading.

Amazon also said its recently unveiled Whispersync function would work for people who own a Kindle and one of the Apple devices. They can access their library of previously purchased e-books on all of their devices at no additional cost. Amazon will also create automatic bookmarks, so that a user can stop reading a book on one device and pick it up on another device at the same spot in the text.

The move by Amazon tangles competitive dynamics in the growing e-book industry. Many analysts thought pocket-size versatile smartphones could eventually eat into the small but growing market for stand-alone book readers that do little else and still do not have color screens or full-featured Web browsers. With the announcement, Amazon appears to be hedging its bets.

Analysts had also thought Amazon was closely following the template Apple had created with the iPod and trying to dominate the market with a ubiquitous, must-have consumer electronics device. Now it appears Amazon is more interested in selling as many e-books as possible on its site, and collecting the royalties, while strengthening its ties with customers, many of whom will buy other products from Amazon if they start buying e-books.

“A couple months ago a lot of people thought Amazon was slavishly imitating the Apple model,” said Bill Rosenblatt, president of the consulting business GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies. “It turns out they have a different model than Apple. They are smarter than everyone thought.”

The developments also suggest that, true to his word, Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, has little interest in the market for digital books. Mr. Jobs once dismissed the Kindle by saying “the whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

Unlike other forms of media like music and video, which Apple sells itself to iPhone owners through its iTunes store, Apple appears to be ceding the e-books market to Amazon and other companies that offer e-book applications.

“Apple is consciously skipping the e-book market,” said Evan R. Schnittman, vice president for business development and rights at Oxford University Press. “I think it’s pretty significant.”

亞馬遜公司4日推出一項免費應用軟體,可讓蘋果iPhone與iPod Touch用戶下載電子書內容。這是亞馬遜首度對手機用戶開放電子書庫,可望拓展客源。

亞馬遜表示,即日起,iPhone和iPod Touch用戶可從蘋果網路商店APP Store下載電子閱讀器軟體,安裝後就能閱讀Kindle電子書庫超過24萬本書的內容。其中,軟體提供的「悄聲同步」(Whispersync)功能 可記錄閱讀進度,下次使用者不論用何種裝置,都能從中斷處繼續閱讀。


亞馬遜Kindle副總裁佛里德(Ian Freed)說:「iPhone和iPod touch使用的Kindle軟體,是讓顧客隨時隨地追蹤新出版作品的好辦法。」

市面上許多電子書閱讀器也和iPhone結合,但亞馬遜率先提供龐大商品項目給這款最熱門的智慧手機。美中不足的是,iPhone和iPod Touch還無法閱讀亞馬遜網站上的雜誌和報紙,也缺乏二代Kindle的朗讀功能。

Kindle 2強調速度更快、體積更小,配備16灰階顯示器並內建2G記憶體,可下載1,500本書,每台售價359美元。相形之下,第一代Kindle只配備4灰階顯示器,可容納200本書。


創意策略公司(Creative Strategies)科技分析師巴傑林表示,亞馬遜把Kindle功能應用到蘋果的產品上,主要是希望電子書和閱讀器的銷售同步增加,但他認為此舉較有 助刺激電子書買氣。他說:「如果只把目標侷限在Kindle用戶,業績就不可能扶搖直上。新功能對電子書讀者群將有重大影響。」


GE Finance Chief Calls Market Fears 'Overdone'


General Electric
Facing a precipitous slide in its share price, General Electric is mounting a defense of its financial strength in hopes of reassuring jittery stock and bond investors.

G.E.'s chief financial officer, Keith S. Sherin, appeared on CNBC Thursday morning and said that market fears about the conglomerate were "overdone."

"We do not have a time bomb at GE Capital," he said, referring to G.E.'s lending arm. GE Capital has been the big concern among investors, who worry that the unit -- once a powerful profit engine for the company -- will become a serious drag on its credit rating and balance sheet if the economy continues to deteriorate.

Go to Article from CNBC.com»

By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) - General Electric Co acknowledged on Thursday that a cut in its top-tier credit rating was possible, but its chief financial officer said there was no "time bomb" hidden in its hefty finance arm.

Worries that unit might not have sufficient reserves to cover a feared surge in defaults as a deep recession makes it harder for consumers and businesses to pay their bills pounded shares of the U.S. conglomerate for the past three days.

But GE's stock slide paused on Thursday, rising 2.4 percent after CFO Keith Sherin said the concerns about its funding arm were "overdone."

"We're getting a lot of speculation about the risk in GE Capital, obviously, and I think it's overdone," Sherin, a GE vice chairman, said on CNBC television. "We can basically fund ourselves all the way through 2010 without any issues."

Some investors and analysts said the selling, which comes at a time of intense market volatility, may be excessive. They note that GE's industrial businesses -- it is the world's largest maker of jet engines and electricity-producing turbines -- remain on more solid footing.

"What is happening now is that both the fast money guys like hedge funds who are looking to make money quickly and the long-term investment advisers and trust banks that are rethinking this are selling," said Michael Vogelzang, president and chief investment officer at Boston Advisors in Boston, which owns GE shares. "GE is at ground zero of the storm right now."

GE shares are down 58 percent this year, a sharper decline than the widely watched Dow Jones industrial average or Standard & Poor's 500 index.

Some investors and analysts said Wall Street may be becoming too bearish on the stock.

"The industrial side of the business is still quite strong, they are leaders in many different industries," said Peter Jankovskis, director of research at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois, which owns 1.7 million GE shares. "Because GE Capital is a substantial part of the company, it is holding the stock back."

Deutsche Bank's Nigel Coe wrote in a client note: "Our view is that while there is a whiff of further funding requirements -- be it public equity or government funded -- the stock will remain oversold and highly volatile."

Deutsche Bank rates GE "hold," with a $12 price target.

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company last week cut its dividend by 68 percent in a move that it said will save $9 billion a year.


Nonetheless the two top credit-rating agencies continue to evaluate their ratings on GE's debt. Moody's Investors Service is reviewing its "triple-A" on GE for a possible downgrade and S&P has a negative outlook on its bonds.

Sherin said he could not imagine a downgrade to the "single-A" category by the major rating agencies, though he said a downgrade to "double-A" is possible. Continued...

There is "no silver bullet" to isolate credit losses at GE Capital, Sherin said.

Moody's is reviewing $446 billion of GE Capital debt and $10 billion of debt from its industrial businesses, according to a spokesman for the credit agency.

Fixed-income research service Gimme Credit recommended investors buy GE Capital's nine-year bonds, saying GE would likely remain a top-tier credit in the "double-A" range.

Sherin said GE Capital does not need new capital and will be profitable this quarter.

Barclays cut its profit estimate for GE Capital to $2.1 billion for this year, down from an earlier forecast of $3.8 billion. GE expects the unit to earn $5 billion, which would represent a 42 percent drop from 2008.

Sherin also said it would take an "incredibly disastrous economic situation" for GE to seek money from the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program.

"We recognize the need to be more transparent," Sherin said.

The company plans to meet with investors later this month to provide a deeper look into GE Capital and said it would disclose the results of a recent stress test of its finance business when it reports first-quarter results in April.

Railway equipment supplier Greenbrier Cos Inc said it would have to lay off workers if GE's railcar-leasing business trimmed back a long-term contract for 11,900 cars over eight years.

The cost to insure GE Capital bonds through credit-default swaps held steady on Thursday.

Five-year swaps were trading at 15.5 percent upfront, according to data from Phoenix Partners Group, meaning that investors had to pay $1.55 million immediately to ensure $10 million of debt, plus $500,000 per year.

GE shares rose 16 cents to $6.85 on the New York Stock Exchange. On Wednesday they briefly hit $5.87, their lowest point since 1991. They have traded as high as $38.52 over the past year.

(Additional reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston, Jonathan Stempel, Dena Aubin and Rodrigo Campos in New York; Editing by Patrick Fitzgibbons and Dave Zimmerman, Phil Berlowitz)

2009年3月4日 星期三

Warren Buffett vs Lee Kuan Yew (mistakes)

因為多少有公家資金 (輕描淡寫)與私人資金的對比問題



英国《金融时报》约翰•伯顿(John Burton)新加坡报道 2009-03-05

The Government of Singapore Investment Corp, one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, invested “too early” in Citigroup and UBS, Lee Kuan Yew, its chairman, said yesterday.

全球最大主权财富基金之一的新加坡政府投资公司(GIC)董事长李光耀(Lee Kuan Yew)昨日表示,该公司在花旗集团(Citigroup)和瑞银(UBS)的投资“过早”。

“When the market fell, we went into UBS and Citi. But we went in too early. That is part of the ride,” he told a forum of bankers sponsored by Thomson Reuters. GIC made the banking investments at the turn of 2008.

在一个由汤姆森路透(Thomson Reuters)主办的论坛上,李光耀对银行家们表示:“当市场下跌时,我们买入了瑞银和花旗,但我们进场过早。这是市场起伏的一部分。”新加坡政府投资公司是在2008年初投资银行业的。

Temasek Holdings, GIC’s smaller sister Singapore sovereign fund, suffered a 31 per cent fall in the value of its assets to $127bn between April and November 2008, a senior finance ministry told parliament last month.

一名财政部高官上月对议会表示,2008年4月至11月,淡马锡(Temasek Holdings)资产价值下降31%至1270亿美元。淡马锡是新加坡较小的主权财富基金。

However, GIC takes a more conservative approach than Temasek in its investment strategy, said Mr Lee, who was prime minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990. GIC invests Singapore’s foreign reserves in a variety of overseas assets, including equities, bonds, property and alternative instruments, in contrast to Temasek, which mainly holds stakes in domestic and foreign companies and banks, including Bank of America and Barclays.

不 过,曾在1959年至1990年期间担任新加坡总理的李光耀称,新加坡政府投资公司采取了较淡马锡更为保守的投资策略。该公司将新加坡的外汇储备投资于各 种海外资产,包括股票、债券、房地产和另类投资工具。与其相反的是,淡马锡主要持有国内外企业和银行的股份,包括美国银行(Bank of America)和巴克莱(Barclays)。

GIC, which was estimated by analysts in late 2007 to have had an asset value of $300bn, earlier cut the equity position in its portfolio from 60 per cent to about 45 per cent in anticipation of a downturn in the global economy, Mr Lee said.


GIC last week converted its preferred shares in Citi into common stock, becoming the second largest shareholder in the US bank with a 11.1 per cent stake. The fund continues to view financials as a long-term investment because they are “the circulation system of the world”, Mr Lee said.


Mr Lee predicted that China might increase investments in US assets, including property and natural resources, even if it decided to reduce holdings of US treasuries. China and the US have a “mutually reinforced dependency”, since the health of the Chinese economy was dependent on the US as its main export market.


Singapore’s economy might contract by up to 8 per cent this year because of its exposure to the global economy, he added. But Mr Lee said Singapore was likely to become one of the first economies to recover when the global economy bounces back.




Warren Buffett admits investment mistakes, warns economy is a “shambles”

Monday, 2 March 2009

Investment guru Warren Buffett has used his annual letter to shareholders of his investment company Berkshire Hathaway to confess he made several investment blunders in the last 12 months after Berkshire reported its worst-ever profit result.

The letter, which is closely read by investors who follow Buffett’s legendary business philosophies, contains the usual mix of economic commentary, market analysis and home-spun wisdom.

Not surprisingly, the theme of this year’s letter was the global financial crisis, which resulted in Berkshire Hathaway posting a 62% drop in net profit to $US4.99 billion in 2008, compared with $US13.21 billion in 2007.

“By year end, investors of all stripes were bloodied and confused, much as if they were small birds that had strayed into a badminton game.”

Buffett admits he did some “dumb things” in investments during 2008.

“I made at least one major mistake of commission and several lesser ones that also hurt. Furthermore, I made some errors of omission, sucking my thumb when new facts came in that should have caused me to re-examine my thinking and promptly take action.”

The error that stands out is Buffett’s investment in oil producer Conoco-Phillips when oil prices neared their peak in the middle of last year. Since then, oil prices have fallen sharply and Conoco’s share price has tumbled.

Buffett says is other blunder was buying stakes in two Irish banks.

“We spent $US244 million for shares of two Irish banks that appeared cheap to me. At year end we wrote these holdings down to market: $US27 million, for an 89% loss. Since then, the two stocks have declined even further. The tennis crowd would call my mistakes ‘unforced errors’.”

Buffett also uses the letter to:

  • Attack the use of derivatives. He describes them as dangerous and says they “have dramatically increased the leverage and risks in our financial system” and “made it almost impossible for investors to understand and analyse our largest commercial banks and investment banks”.
  • Outline a solution for the housing crisis. “Home purchases should involve an honest-to-god downpayment of at least 10% and monthly payments that can be comfortably handled by the borrower’s income. That income should be carefully verified.”
  • Praise the US Government’s actions to stabalise the economy in late 2008, but warned more organisations will be looking for Government support in the coming months. “Major industries have become dependent on federal assistance, and they will be followed by cities and states bearing mind-boggling requests. Weaning these entities from the public teat will be a political challenge. They won’t leave willingly.”

Buffett says the US economy “will be in shambles throughout 2009 – and, for that matter, probably well beyond” but he has sounded a positive note, pointing out that the US economy has survived two world wars, the Great Depression and a number of recessions in the past century.

“Though the path has not been smooth, our economic system has worked extraordinarily well over time. It has unleashed human potential as no other system has, and it will continue to do so. America’s best days lie ahead.”

Related articles:

2009年3月3日 星期二

A Life-Changing Case for Doctors in Training

A Life-Changing Case for Doctors in Training

A DAUGHTER LOST After Libby Zion died in a hospital at age 18, her father’s crusade led to changes in work hours and supervision of medical residents.

Published: March 2, 2009

When Libby Zion died 25 years ago this week, no one would have guessed that her case would change history. But it did.

The efforts of her bereaved and furious father, Sidney Zion, set into a motion a series of reforms to the system of medical education that he believed had killed his daughter.

I remember the Zion case vividly because I was a medical student when Libby died. To this day, especially among students and physicians practicing medicine in New York at the time, the case inspires intense emotions and impassioned arguments.

The exact cause of Libby’s death was never found, but many facts are known. When she was admitted to New York Hospital (now New York Presbyterian Hospital) on the evening of March 4, 1984, she was an 18-year-old college freshman with a high fever and mysterious jerking movements. She was alternately cooperative and agitated. She had a history of depression and was taking phenelzine, an antidepressant.

The physicians admitted Libby for observation and hydration, suspecting she had a viral syndrome. She was also given meperidine, an opiate drug used to stop shaking movements. The physicians who evaluated her — doctors in training known as residents — touched base with Dr. Raymond Sherman, the Zions’ family doctor and the attending physician of record, who agreed with the plan. It was about 3 a.m. on March 5.

But Libby became more agitated. When notified of this, the first-year resident who had evaluated her, Dr. Luise L. Weinstein, ordered physical restraints as well as a shot of haloperidol, another sedating medication. Busy covering dozens of other patients, Dr. Weinstein did not visually evaluate Libby again. The second-year resident on the case, Dr. Gregg Stone, had gone across the street to try to get a few hours of sleep, as was customary at the time.

The nurses later reported that Libby finally calmed down, but when her vital signs were rechecked at 6 that morning, her temperature was an alarming 107 degrees. The staff immediately tried to cool her. But she soon suffered a cardiac arrest, and despite extensive attempts at resuscitation, she could not be brought back.

After their initial grief and shock, Sidney Zion and his wife, Elsa, hired a lawyer and began to investigate Libby’s death. When Mr. Zion learned that his daughter had been tied down and not re-evaluated, that the only doctors who had seen her were in training, that such doctors routinely worked 36-hour shifts with little or no sleep, and that the attending physician had never come into the hospital, his response turned to fury.

He decided to make his daughter’s death a crusade for reform. A former lawyer and a powerful journalist who had worked for The New York Times and other newspapers, he enlisted fellow reporters across the country to tell his daughter’s story. He even persuaded the Manhattan district attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau, to take the highly unusual step of convening a grand jury to consider murder charges against the physicians involved.

At the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, my fellow medical students and I replayed the events of that night. Would we have ordered restraints and not seen her? Would we have sent her to the intensive care unit? Would we have known about a potentially toxic interaction between the drugs in her body?

Ultimately, we concluded that “there but for the grace of God go I.” We could not definitively state that we would have done anything differently. The young doctors caring for Libby Zion had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. When I subsequently had the opportunity to research the case for a book on famous patients, I concluded that the admitting team had a good plan but had erred in not realizing that their patient’s condition was deteriorating.

The malpractice case, which went to trial in 1994, ultimately assigned equal blame to New York Hospital and Libby Zion for supposedly concealing her past use of cocaine. But the case’s real legacies were the issues of resident work hours and supervision.

This came as no surprise to those of us in the trenches. We knew what it was like to stay up for 36 hours straight, first as medical students and later as residents. It was, in a word, insanity. Deprived of sleep, we roamed the wards, dreaming of when we could finally leave, dozing off on rounds, screaming at patients and colleagues and praying we would not make any grievous mistakes. As Sidney Zion’s campaign took off, I felt sorry for the competent and well-meaning doctors he pilloried, but was thrilled that change was occurring.

The impetus for reform was the grand jury, which did not indict the physicians but rather issued a report highly critical of the hospital. This led to the formation of a state commission, headed by the New York physician Dr. Bertrand Bell, which in 1987 recommended that doctors in training work no more than 80 hours a week and no more than 24 hours in a row and receive significantly more on-site supervision from senior physicians. In 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education made these recommendations mandatory for all residency training programs.

But this was not enough. This past December, the Institute of Medicine released a report recommending even stricter work-hour reductions and concluding that supervision of young physicians remained inadequate.

It had taken 25 years, but Sidney Zion’s dream had been realized — at least in part. In a recent interview, he told me he hoped that financing would be forthcoming to carry out the reforms. “I don’t know anyone who still works 24 straight hours in any other business,” he said. “And these are people with lives in their hands.”

The changes do have their critics, who say that “night float” systems, put into place to allow residents to sleep, make patient care disjointed, producing “shift worker” doctors who never truly learn how complicated illnesses evolve in the first crucial 24 to 36 hours. A 2007 study in The Archives of Internal Medicine, for example, revealed high rates of errors resulting from poor handoffs of information between physicians.

The Institute of Medicine report does not ignore these concerns and makes suggestions for improving the new systems. But thinking back to those days and nights throwing back cups of coffee to barely stay awake, I know we cannot afford to turn back. When I now work with well-rested, pleasant and enthusiastic residents, my thoughts turn to Libby Zion. Her father’s cause, at least, is alive and well.

Barron H. Lerner, a professor of medicine and public health at Columbia University Medical Center, is the author of “When Illness Goes Public: Celebrity Patients and How We Look at Medicine.“

2009年3月1日 星期日


Hundreds of Gallons of Water in Every Shirt

An interview with Rebecca Henderson

February 11, 2009

A founder of the MIT Sloan School of Management’s Sustainability Lab talks about how businesses and governments have to surmount social issues as well as economic ones if they are serious about sustainability.

Business strategy expert and longtime MIT Sloan professor Rebecca Henderson is a sustainability integrationist. Like other founding members of the school's Laboratory for Sustainable Business (S-Lab), she finds sustainability's implications everywhere in daily economic and social life—and everywhere interrelated. But among the multi-disciplinary angles from which she attacks sustainability are two questions that are interestingly oblique: What capabilities and behaviors make organizations themselves sustainable? And, why are some organizations so extraordinarily better than others at getting new things done? (Learn more about Henderson, and find selected links to her work.)

In this installment of The MIT Sustainability Interview series, Henderson spoke with MIT Sloan Management Review editor-in-chief Michael S. Hopkins about the baseline understandings—and misunderstandings—about sustainability, and the choices it will present to leaders.

You’ve said that the concept of sustainability includes building sustainable societies and sustainable personal lives—that we can’t build an economic system that is in balance with the natural world without addressing the social issues. Why?

Well, we know the intersection between climate instability and political instability: every major region of the world where there is a failed state is also under very significant environmental stress. It's most obvious in Sudan and Somalia, but we could point to areas in South America. Major environmental stress translates in a developing economy into agriculture problems and food problems, and when there's not enough to eat, we have trouble.

The MIT Sustainability Interview Series

The MIT Sustainability Interview appears every other Wednesday here on sloanreview.mit.edu (and in print in the MIT Sloan Management Review). The interviewees will include thought leaders from arenas as diverse as management, urban studies, history, energy science, civil engineering, and design. The conversations will be wildly varied, but at root their goal is to help leading managers answer just two questions: “As sustainability—economic, environmental, social, and personal—becomes the defining business issue of our times, what decisions will I need to face, and what will I need to know when I face them?”

I remember reading a wonderful piece on why we shouldn’t respond to global warming, which could be translated more or less as, "We shouldn’t respond to global warming because it's going to affect the grandchildren of peasants in Asia, and who cares about them?" But it is not okay to leave a scarred and broken world to our grandchildren.

So how do you define sustainability?

My personal definition is sustainability is the quest to find a way in which the economic activities of mankind can proceed in such a way that we do not actively degrade the capacity of the natural systems on which we rely to support our children.

Do you think that differs from the widely held definition?

I don't think there is a widely held definition. I think it's just a mess. People use the term to cover 100 million things.

In a modern corporation today, there's not much room or permission to think about the broader issue. If I'm a sustainability officer for a major corporation, I'm trying to make sure we don’t pump toxics into the groundwater. Stop doing the egregiously bad stuff and then try to do some good stuff.

Climate change and energy, broadly defined, are the sustainability issues that will have the biggest implications for business. There's huge uncertainty around this issue in terms of timing—we don’t know if it's will be next year or 5 years or 20 years from now, but we know it's going to be a very big issue. Businesses will find themselves gradually dealing with increased energy costs, the recent drop in oil price not withstanding.

The other issue is water. Businesses have been able to proceed essentially as if energy was close to free and water was close to free, and this will no longer be true. I mean, a lot of water goes into nearly every product we touch. There are several hundred gallons in that shirt you're wearing.

Several hundred gallons? I’m done with shirts.

Good luck. Point is, we've not learned to think of things that way. How many barrels of oil and how many gallons of water are in everything we buy? We’re going to become much more aware of that.

Now, we're so rich, we're going to be able to insulate ourselves. But if you are in Tanzania or Bangladesh, that's not true. Agriculture in Tanzania, where I just visited, is already under significant threat. For places in South America this is very real. Places in India, China.


How do you define sustainability?

  • Ways for economic activities to not actively degrade the future capacity of natural systems
  • Need to reduce carbon, water use, and waste and to build sustainable societies and personal lives

Which sustainability issues will have the biggest implications for managers?

  • Coming increase in energy and water prices
  • Worldwide social movement
  • Climate instability and social instability
  • Need to be proactive in face of coming regulation
Threats and Opportunities

What threats and opportunities will sustainability-related concerns present?

  • Threat: Fear and greed leading to a turning away from the problem
  • Opportunity: Working on sustainability releases new level of emotional commitment and excitement in firms

What obstacles keep organizations from acting on sustainability problems/opportunities?

  • Economic system that assumes externalities don’t count
  • Short-term pressures to maximize shareholder value

…Several hundred gallons of water go into one shirt … Challenge is that our economic system currently delivers enormous prosperity and wealth to many … The social movement to push sustainability will look like the civil rights or women’s suffrage movements … Question must not be “what might you do?” but “what are you doing today?”

Many people talk about sustainability in terms of reducing energy use, reducing water use, and reducing waste. But you’re particularly interested in social and even moral aspects of it—can you explain why?

You know, it's not fashionable to talk about it, but I think there's an important moral component here. Not moral in the sense of, you know, holier than thou—I mean, I really like a warm house, and I like my car, so there’s no holier than thou here.

But just as it's now unacceptable in this country to employ eight-year-olds in cotton mills, in my dreams it will be unacceptable to waste energy, to waste water, to cut down materials without thinking about how they're going to be replaced. This may be naïve, but give me a naïveté when it's compared to the other outcomes.

Now, you should know I do not believe this to be the most plausible future. If you were asking me to lay odds, I think the most plausible future is a kind of slow unraveling and hunkering down. The equivalent of walled cities, walled states; people saying, "I'm fine. Go away." When you talk to people, they may say they care about peasants in Asia because we are all living in a linked world, but when it comes to actually riding the subway instead of driving or having a smaller house instead of a bigger house, it’s not really what they care about. So I think the most plausible world is a rather nasty one.

But this issue is quite real and quite vivid outside the United States. I was working with a large mining conglomerate, and they're all over social issues. Not because they suddenly got religion, but because political instability is sufficiently intense in many of the regions that they're in, and the last major mine they tried to open was shut down by locals.

The need to prevent your operations from being summarily shuttered—that's pressure any manager would feel.

Yes. My colleague Peter Senge has this wonderful phrase, which is, "It is necessary to breathe, but no one thinks that breathing is the point of life." The parallel is that it is necessary to make profits and give an adequate return to shareholders, but it's not clear that that's the point of the corporation. And indeed, the single-minded pursuit of short-term profits has led to all kinds of uncomfortable outcomes, as we're now seeing.

We need to find a way to talk about the purpose of the corporation which is not moralistic, which does not lead to the government picking winners, but which is not value free.

What are the impediments to getting companies to talk about sustainability and think about it in big ways?

We have built a hugely effective economic system that has delivered enormous prosperity and wealth to many people. Not to everyone, by any means, but to many people. The current crisis doesn’t change that basic fact. And you know, I talk a good line about non-financial values, but I look at the returns on my investments, and if my short-term returns consistently underperform the market, I'm tempted to move my money, right? I've been in board meetings where people have said, "On the one hand, the market is forcing us into short-term actions. How do we do the right thing for the company?”

Have you read Ben Friedman's The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth?

No, I haven't. Several interviewees have mentioned it, though.

It's a very interesting book. The world is, in many ways, much more stable and prosperous than it was. I mean, just go back to 1909, let alone 1809 or 1709. In geological time, of course, these are tiny amounts of time, and even in historical time, these are tiny amounts of time; you know, we're closer to Shakespeare than Shakespeare was to Julius Caesar.

We’ve built an economic system that assumes externalities don’t count. And that’s our biggest challenge: we need to find a way to embed in our mechanisms the value of these externalities.

That’s a huge task, getting people to think about the world in a markedly different way.

Yeah. The challenge is that when we talk to people who have big houses and two cars, arguments based on social equity have typically gone over like a lead balloon. And when we go to a single mom who's working two jobs and living hand-to-mouth and say, "Oh, we're doubling the price of gasoline because it's good for the peasants in Asia" or even that "it's good for your grandchildren," she's like, "ahhh, I don’t know…."

So the real impediments are the obvious impediments, which is that we've got a massive systemic problem that none of us are properly motivated to deal with.

At the same time, I saw Al Gore give a speech at Harvard last Fall, and he talks about the fact that we used to think the sun went round the Earth. We used to think that carbon dioxide was harmless. So when you start working on this issue, you become aware in a deep way that the challenge is not that it's technically impossible, the challenge is that the issues are human. And human issues, in principle, we can fix. Humanity has made enormous shifts before. My personal favorite is the emancipation of women—I mean, we take that for granted, and here you are sitting in my office talking to me and I'm a tenured professor at MIT. That's a huge deal, and 100 years ago I don't think anyone would have believed it was possible. Same as electing an African American president. People do shift. They really do.

If one could imagine a social movement that looks like anti-slavery, that looks like civil rights, that looks like temperance, that looks like women's suffrage, that insists we find a way through these issues, then it looks more possible.

When you talk to executives about these things, what do they raise as the roadblocks in the way of taking action?

All the things I’ve been mentioning—the incentives in the economic system, the pressures of self-interest, the mindset about what a business is about…. And I'm very sympathetic with them. My rant is not to say "blame the executives" or "they should be doing more," because executives are in a box and the box is to max my shareholder value.

There are four things I say to executives. The first is that the price of energy will go way up and the price of water will go way up. Those things are facts and you need to prepare for them. Second, for some businesses, there are potentially enormous profit opportunities in sustainability, and you should go after them. Third, to the degree that the stresses and strains that will emerge as the result of these forces lead to a demand for business regulation, you are better off being informed and proactive. There's enormous difference between a carbon tax and piecemeal ad hoc regulation to reduce carbon use, but either way you should move before regulators force you to. That's a hard sell, of course

And there’s a fourth thing?

The fourth thing, which I'm beginning to see at some companies, is that working on sustainability issues in a coherent way releases a level of emotional commitment and excitement within the firm that's very positive. Tackling these issues and really getting people psyched about what's going on may cover the costs.

I recently did some preliminary work looking at the value of energy conservation, and for most regular firms, energy's tiny. It's, like, 3% of costs. So reducing the energy usage of a building might be nice, but it's not really a high priority.

But if efforts to conserve energy, to reduce water, to act in ways that are more consistent with the individual values of your employees gets them more excited about your company? Whoa. That’s huge. People say to me that their number one reason for caring about these issues is hiring. That it really helps them get good people.

Are there other stakeholders that will put pressure on organizations? From where will business leaders feel the most pressure first?

That's a great question. European companies feel under much more pressure than American companies, and it’s government-driven. So, government, when it's moving, is a force.

At the American companies with whom I have worked, the initial movement appears to be driven by passionate individuals at leadership levels. I remember meeting the head of the climate change practice for the head of a major consulting company, and he said, "Rebecca, you should know I'm in this because I care about poor people and what climate change is going to do to the poor is absolutely unacceptable. The way I sell it to my partners, though, is by talking about what it means for our hiring." When this goes well—which it does not always do—these individuals open up opportunities for more people inside the firm to go, "I want to act this way, too." Then that can become self-reinforcing.

There's a lovely story out of Nike. They made sneakers that were more environmentally friendly, and they brought them to Michael Jordan. The performance had to be amazing, but then they explained that everything about the new shoe was much greener than before, and he said, "That's way cool. I want them all like that going forward."

Are there questions you think we should be asking about personal commitment to this issue or what you personally are doing? Such as, “If you could undertake any sustainability initiative yourself, what would you do?”

No. I wouldn’t ask that.

What would you ask?

I would ask, “What are you doing about these issues?” Because, frankly, we hide behind this language. If it's always, "What could you do for sustainability if you could do any project,” then—blah. The question must be, What are you doing right now?

This is a moment where this is about what we are doing with our lives. If we just keep playing by the old rules, we are toast. Really. A critical mass of us must start making different choices, and the way we make different choices is we talk about them. We think about them. We go public with them.

We change our own actions.

Yeah. That's what I think.

About Rebecca Henderson

Rebecca Henderson is the Eastman Kodak Professor of management at the Sloan School of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She specializes in technology strategy and in the broader strategic problems faced by firms in high technology industries. She has experience working in a variety of industries, including machine tools, semiconductor capital equipment, computers, aerospace and consumer goods, but her current research focuses upon the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. She received an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in 1981 and a doctorate in Business Economics from Harvard University in 1988. She spent 1981 to 1983 working for the London office of McKinsey and Company.

There are many videos of Henderson available on MIT World. Those who’ve read this interview will be particularly interested in two of them:

Professor Henderson’s graduate-level course in technology strategy is available via MIT Open Courseware.