Tag Archives: Super regions

Resisting Authoritarian Populism: Lessons From/For Singapore

By Kenneth Paul Tan – Although a young, small, and multi-ethnic nation-state, Singapore is prosperous, peaceful, and surprisingly influential in the global imagination. But its international image has attracted contradictory reactions.

History presents numerous examples of fragility where liberal democracies are concerned. Political philosophy tells us that diversity—and nearly every society today is diverse—can weaken the  communitarian basis of a society, making it difficult for the state to function well and eroding the trust that binds people to one another and to their institutions.

Without a strong institutional basis, the nation-state can become vulnerable to authoritarian populism, particularly when hit by crisis. Out of a demoralized society, moral and political entrepreneurs, often skillful demagogues, emerge and compete for power by mobilizing a collective sense of victimhood directed against an allegedly corrupt establishment as well as scapegoats such as immigrants, ethnic minorities, and sexual minorities, upon whom the entire blame for all of society’s ills are placed. more> https://goo.gl/8GKyGP

Skills and Global Value Chains

OECD – Since 1990s, the world has entered a new phase of globalization. Information and communication technology, trade liberalization and lower transport costs have enabled firms and countries to fragment the production process into global value chains (GVCs): many products are now designed in one country and assembled in another country from parts often manufactured in several countries. To seize the benefits of GVCs, countries have to implement well-designed policies that foster the skills their populations need to thrive in this new era.

GVCs give workers the opportunity to apply their skills all around the world without moving countries: an idea can be turned into a product more easily and those who are involved in production can benefit from this idea.

GVCs give firms the possibility of entering production processes they might be unable to develop alone. At the same time, the demand for some skills drops as activities are offshored, exposing workers to wage reductions or job losses in the short term. In the long term, however, offshoring enables firms to reorganize and achieve productivity gains that can lead to job creation.

The rise of GVCs has prompted a backlash in public opinion in some countries. This negative reaction has sometimes focused on the leading role of multinationals and foreign direct investment. Multinationals can boost production and job creation in the host country by engaging local companies as suppliers, but they can also quickly relocate parts of the production process from country to country. This increases uncertainty about the demand for jobs and skills in each country, while making uncoordinated policy response in each country less effective. Multinationals are often seen as responsible for offshoring jobs while contributing to the increase in top incomes.

In all countries, more educated workers enjoy high job quality than low-educated ones. But the gap in job strain between low-educated and high-educated workers is larger in countries that participate more in GVCs (Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia). Investing in skills along with increasing participating in GVCs is particularly important in developing economies that tend to be at the lower end of value chains, where working conditions are more often poor.

Strong cognitive skills are not enough on their own to achieve good performance in GVcs and to specialize in technologically advanced industries. Industries involve the performance of several types of tasks, but all require social and emotional skills as well as cognitive skills. To succeed in an internationally competitive environment, countries and industries needs in addition to those related to their domain specializations. more> https://goo.gl/a8hPgv

Can Asia reach high-income?

By Donghyun Park, Abdul Abiad, Gemma Estrada, Xuehui Han, and Shu Tian – In a single generation, Asia has transformed itself from a low-income continent to a middle-income one.

In 1991 more than 90 percent of the region’s population still lived in low-income countries. By 2015, more than 95 percent lived in middle-income countries.

Is the continent now on its way to reaching high income in the next generation?

The experiences of the newly industrialized economies might give some cause for optimism about the region’s prospects. After all, the Republic of Korea made the transition from middle to high income in only 23 years. Yet global experience is far less reassuring. Historically it has taken the typical middle-income country more than half a century to graduate to high-income status, leading some economists to label this the “middle-income trap.”

As countries develop their economies, traditional sources of productivity growth—such as shifting labor from agriculture to manufacturing or the imitation of foreign technologies—decline in importance. Innovation assumes a more central role, especially for upper middle-income countries. Middle-income economies that successfully graduated to high income had 2.5 times more research and development stock per worker as those that did not, for example. more> https://goo.gl/CfPW4u

Related>

Updates from GE

Leaner Than Lean: How Digitalization Transforms Manufacturing
By Randy Stearns – If you want to see the future of manufacturing, follow the Tama River about 45 kilometers upstream from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to the GE Healthcare facility in Hino, Japan. Inside this outwardly conventional, low-rise suburban business complex is emerging the blueprint for the future of manufacturing, tweak by painstaking tweak.

The Hino factory makes both parts for large medical scanners and small, precision equipment. Compared with similar facilities, its production lines are exceptionally efficient — fast, with less waste, errors and unplanned downtime — thanks in part to the successful integration of advanced digital information technology with operational systems. GE calls this convergence of hardware and software on the shop floor the brilliant factory.

The Hino plant is where the Industrial Internet meets Kaizen, the Japanese concept of continuous improvement pioneered by Toyota after World War II that undergirds Lean methods for eliminating waste in manufacturing. more> https://goo.gl/euCTYE

Updates from GE

Chips Ahoy: The Port Of LA Is Getting A Digital Makeover
By Kristin Kloberdanz – The day after Christmas in 2015, workers at the Port of Los Angeles set a personal record. They unloaded a massive cargo ship called the Benjamin Franklin, the largest ever to land in North America, in just three and a half days.

Such brisk efficiency takes lots of planning. The right equipment has to be in place to move the merchandise from the ship and onto trucks and trains for distribution. In this case, it was a months-long logistical exercise — carried out mostly by telephone and spreadsheets.

Port operators knew they could do better. So they partnered with GE to create a pilot program making cargo shipment data visible with GE software. The pilot, which went live this week, will help the port’s complex system of shippers, terminal operators, trucks, rail cars and other components run more efficiently.

Seth Bodnar, GE Transportation’s chief digital officer, says the port resembles a giant restaurant. “In the past, we didn’t know who to serve until the customer showed up — you didn’t know what was coming off the ship until a couple of days before the ship arrived,” he says.

Such short notice can lead to bottlenecks. The new GE software system makes data available to the ports two weeks before the ship arrives, giving everyone plenty of time to synch their assets. The system will also tell workers the cargo’s final destination so that trucks and machines can be ready to move the goods in the most efficient way possible. The payoff can be huge. Bodnar says that a 1 percent improvement in efficiency at just one port can net $60 million in savings. more> https://goo.gl/EcDUvb

Updates from GE

Physicists Are ‘Breeding’ SchröDinger’s Cat, And It Could Reveal The Limits of The Quantum World
By Bec Crew – Physicists have figured out how to ‘breed’ Schrödinger’s cat – an object in a quantum superposition of two states with opposite properties – to produce enlarged versions that could one day reveal the limits of the quantum world.

If they can continue to breed their ‘cats’ even bigger, the experiment could finally reveal the exact point at which objects switch between classical and quantum physics – the divide between the microscopic and macroscopic worlds that physicists have been chasing for decades.

The original Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment states that if you put a live cat in an explosion-proof box with a bomb, until you open the box, you’ll have no idea if the bomb exploded and the cat died. Or maybe the bomb didn’t explode and the cat is still alive.

From our perspective, as long as the box is shut, the cat is occupying two realities. It’s both dead and alive, because we can’t confirm which one, but we know it can’t be neither.

This isn’t just a hypothetical question – in quantum physics, being in two different states at the same time is known as a superposition state, and it’s the entire basis of quantum computing, which is set to revolutionise how we process data in the future. more> https://goo.gl/XMFMB6

The European Crisis

By Ross Douthat – Those problems bear a certain resemblance to those of our own politics. In Europe as in the United States, recent trends in culture and economics have elevated an educated upper class while separating it, geographically and ideologically and in every other way, from a declining and fragmenting working class. In Europe as in the United States, a growing immigrant population serves this upper class while seeming to compete with downscale natives for jobs, housing and social benefits.

In Europe as in the United States, the center-left coalition has become a kind of patronage arrangement between the multicultural meritocracy and minority groups both new and old, while the white working class drifts rightward and votes for Brexit, Trump and now Le Pen.

So far, so similar. But as counterintuitive as it may seem — after all, we elected Trump and they have not — in many ways these problems are worse in Europe, part of a systemic crisis that’s more serious than our own.

They’re worse because Europe is stuck with a horribly flawed experiment in political economy, a common currency without a common fiscal policy or a central political authority capable of claiming real legitimacy. The damage that this combination has done to the economies of Southern Europe, in particular, is striking and severe — years of elevated unemployment and stagnation, all of it imposed without democratic accountability by a mostly Northern European caste of bankers and politicians. more> https://goo.gl/VTMNjq

A world-class long jump to a more social Europe

By Patricia Scherer – Who would not like to go to a free public school in Finland or buy their groceries at a local cooperative in Italy?

Who would not want to receive quality community-based support for their grandparent suffering from dementia in some remote rural village, following the Swedish model?

Which working parent would not want to have access to all-day childcare, as in France?

And breathe in fresh air in a buzzling downtown, is the case in car-free Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital?

Who would refuse the support, rather than stigmatization, that the Danish flexicurity system provides to laid-off workers?

Would you not want to vote electronically from home, as in Estonia?

Or take part in the Irish citizens’ assembly to decide on legal and policy issues facing the society you live in today?

All that is Europe; all those are benchmarks to aspire to. more> https://goo.gl/qXmAUX

Old economics is based on false ‘laws of physics’ – new economics can save us

By Kate Raworth – In the 1870s, a handful of aspiring economists hoped to make economics a science as reputable as physics. Awed by Newton’s insights on the physical laws of motion – laws that so elegantly describe the trajectory of falling apples and orbiting moons – they sought to create an economic theory that matched his legacy. And so pioneering economists such as William Stanley Jevons and Léon Walras drew their diagrams in clear imitation of Newton’s style and, inspired by the way that gravity pulls a falling object to rest, wrote enthusiastically of the role played by market forces and mechanisms in pulling an economy into equilibrium.

Their mechanical metaphor sounds authoritative, but it was ill-chosen from the start – a fact that has been widely acknowledged since the astonishing fragility and contagion of global financial markets was exposed by the 2008 crash.

The most pernicious legacy of this fake physics has been to entice generations of economists into a misguided search for economic laws of motion that dictate the path of development. People and money are not as obedient as gravity, so no such laws exist. Yet their false discoveries have been used to justify growth-first policymaking. more> https://goo.gl/hbL9yx

Parliamentary Democracies Are Just Better at Resisting Populism

By Leonid Bershidsky – Recent and upcoming political upheavals in a number of countries provide some evidence that the institutional design of democracies can be critically important.

A clear advantage is emerging for countries that don’t directly elect a president: They are more likely to resist the wave of populism sweeping the West.

Where there are no direct presidential elections, populists must win many individual elections over many cycles in order to rise to a nation’s chief executive; Donald Trump seized the White House in his first run for public office. It took less than 17 months.

When a country’s constitution provides for the direct election of a president, even with largely ceremonial powers, a strong leader with a lot of political weight can quickly turn things around and make the office more powerful, and more dangerous, than written laws allow. more> https://goo.gl/nmQGCC