Thursday, September 17, 2009

A look at the People's Daily from China

Some things I read just scream out for commentary, even if there isn't time for a lot. Today I happened to see a reference to an article in the English version of the Chinese People's Daily Online ( -- who knows if it is the same as the Chinese version? -- entitled "Dongguan's dilemma: labor shortage vs job-hunting difficulties" that talks about how factory owners are having a hard time finding workers at the prevailing wage. The economist in me wonders, "why don't they increase wages, then?" and the article notes that the firms don't feel they can increase wages because of price pressures. The interesting thing is that the Chinese wages are always referred to as the culprit in why wages can't increase in places like the US, yet here the Chinese are talking about prices pressures, presumably at least some from outside China. Hmmm.

While on the page, I saw a few other interesting article titles referring to areas/countries in which I have an interest: "Baby alien found by Mexican farmer," "Why India is pursuing military strength?" "India's Media Stinks Up Public Opinion," and "How do India's Middle School Textbooks Portray China" -- all of which refer to bulletin board debates, the quality of which are themselves debatable. But Asian analysts certainly can pay attention to these kinds of places to track at least one slice of public opinion.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses

As we ponder appropriate urban development strategies in the booming cities of India, reconsideration of fights between alternative positions in the "urban renewal" fights in New York. Always insightful Edward Glaeser reviews a new book by Anthony Flint entitled Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City in an articled published on September 4, 2009 in The New Republic. It is worth a read for those interested in urban development -- which means anyone interested in India, or China -- as well as the rest of us who will be affected by development in those areas. He concludes by saying that cities need a combination of Jacob's humanism, concern for pedestrians, and creating opportunities for random (positive) encounters in vital human-scale neighborhoods, and Moses' concern for building of long-lasting and needed infrastructure.

I see this tussle everyday as I read about what is happening in Bangalore, and Mumbai. Yes, one laments huge high rises that intimidate, yet only low buildings lead to prices that are unaffordable for mere mortals, combined with lack of alternatives yet a demand for low-skilled labor, leads to expansion of slums. You will certainly read more about this in the future, at least if you keep reading this blog, as this topic is something I am spending more time on at work these days.