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from The Great Debate UK:

The Consumer Student

--Priyamvada Gopal is a University Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of English and Fellow of Churchill College, University of Cambridge. The opinions expressed are her own.--

The once highly-regarded British public university is not quite dead but it is in terminal care. After half a century of global success on public funding that amounted to less than 1.5% of Britain’s GDP, in the space of two years we’ve seen the partial withdrawal of the state from the sector, and it is expected that this is a precursor to full withdrawal followed by extensive privatisation.

With the overnight tripling of tuition fees in 2010 (in the face of widespread protests) and with further rises in the offing, the student has been reframed as a consumer buying private goods in the form of a degree. Combine this with a mortgage and you have a large number of citizens who are unlikely to be debt-free at any point in their life.

Formerly known as a university, the service provider of higher education is now to sink or swim in response to the pressures of competition, as degree-awarding corporations rather than sites of inquiry and learning. Ironically, however, it turns out that the new fees regime which David Willetts, the Universities Minister, keeps bizarrely insisting is fairer than the previous one, is actually costing the exchequer more, through the rising costs of subsidising student loans.

from The Human Impact:

India’s surrogacy tourism: exploitation or empowerment?

In a globalised world where everything at home is becoming more costly, outsourcing your needs to a third party thousands of miles away for less money makes a lot of sense.

For a country like India, one of the top global destinations for outsourcing, the benefits are tremendous – creating millions of jobs in sectors ranging from garment, software and car manufacturing to call centres and back office operations.

from The Great Debate:

Edward Snowden and the disaster of privatization

In May, computer analyst Edward Snowden flew to China, handed over volumes of National Security Agency surveillance data to a reporter, and launched a heated national conversation about our nation’s surveillance state. Underscoring that conversation was the fact that Snowden was a private contractor, given access to a vast store of information despite having virtually no track record with the NSA or the private firm with which he was employed.

Snowden’s leaks exposed a widespread lack of oversight of the contractors working at every level of our government; outsourcing can be nearly as damaging at the state and local levels as it is for federal contracts. The same lack of transparency, accountability and oversight threatening our national security threatens public services provided each day across the country. Cash-strapped mayors and governors are handing over control of critical public services and assets to for-profit corporations and Wall Street investment banks that promise to handle them better, faster and cheaper. Too often, such deals entirely undermine transparency, accountability, shared prosperity and competition -- the very underpinnings of democracy.

from India Insight:

Indian IT finds promise in Europe as continent looks at offshoring

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)

Europe's reluctance to send information technology and other business processing work to India might be changing, based on recent financial results from companies that specialize in handling "IT and business process outsourcing" work. It looks like this is a trend that will last more than a quarter.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

U.S. bank regulators warn on due diligence in using cloud computing services

By Emmanuel Olaoye

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, July 13 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Bank regulators this week raised their warnings to financial institutions on the dangers of using vendors that provide so-called "cloud computing" services.

Cloud computing lets businesses outsource data storage and transactions to vendors that host remote datacenters that can only be accessed over the internet. The model allows the companies to change their information technology without buying and setting up new systems.Bank regulators, however, want financial firms to do a better job of evaluating their vendors' practices, citing the fact that a number of cloud computing vendors have suffered data breaches.

from India Masala:

India: More than just call centres

India is the land of colours, sound, and call centres -- or at least, that is what Western popular culture has been trying to reinforce over the past few years. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", starring Judi Dench, is Hollywood's most recent expedition to India, and it sticks to the formula.

The film is a comedy about a group of British retirees, shunned or underestimated in their own country, rediscovering their desires and ambitions in India.

from Tales from the Trail:

New Obama ad goes after Romney on outsourcing


The Obama reelection team is out with a new ad today defending itself against allegations, advanced last week in an ad from the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, that billions of stimulus dollars meant to create "green energy" jobs in the U.S. had been spent instead on creating jobs abroad.

"Obama's clean energy initiatives have helped create jobs for projects across America, not overseas," the new ad insists, citing fact checks at Politifact and the Washington Post and suggesting that "Big Oil" was the force behind the AFP attack. The video, which will air in Ohio, Virginia, and Iowa, also alleges that Mitt Romney has outsourced jobs in the past, first as a CEO and then as governor of Massachusetts, and now supports tax breaks for companies that do the same. "It's just what you'd expect from a guy who had a Swiss bank account," the ad's narrator says.

from MuniLand:

Muniland holds steady

Municipal bond ownership has remained relatively steady over the past year, according to the Federal Reserve's latest Flow of Funds data, which was released yesterday (Fed's L.211 Municipal Securities and Loans page 92). The data paints a different picture than the one we typically hear from the media of large outflows from retail investors and mutual funds following Meredith Whitney's prediction of massive municipal defaults. Essentially the whole municipal bond market has increased slightly in size, growing from $2.842 trillion in 2Q 2010 to $2.886 trillion in 2Q 2011. Ownership for all categories has remained pretty steady.

The puzzling part is that the Federal Reserve continues to maintain that muniland is about $2.8 trillion in size. Back in June my colleguage Daniel Berger of Thomson Reuters Municipal Market Data kicked up a dust storm when he began to question the overall size of the municipal bond market. George Friedlander of Citigroup got on the story too and wrote the following:

from India Insight:

Has India squandered its English advantage?

When the British were finally expelled from India in 1947, driven out of a country scarred by decades of imperialist rule, they left at least one parting gift: a linguistic legacy that has formed a crucial ingredient in the country's economic miracle.

English proficiency is hailed as an invaluable foundation in India's rise to the top of the world's information technology and knowledge outsourcing industries, fuelling the country's rapid growth with billions of dollars of business every year and streams of overseas investments into global IT centres such as Bangalore.

from Felix Salmon:

Learning from Boeing’s outsourcing disaster

Michael Hiltzik has a fantastic column on Boeing's outsourcing disasters in the LA Times; it's well worth reading the whole thing, complete with a link to a prescient 2001 paper by Boeing technical fellow LJ Hart-Smith.

Hiltzik's point, which is undeniable, is that Boeing's outsourcing mania has cost it billions. It's not a new idea (Reuters ran this special report in January), but it's rarely been this well expressed:

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