The Great Debate UK
- Steven Barnett is professor of communications at the University of Westminster, and a writer and commentator on broadcasting issues. He is finishing writing a book “Just Wires and Lights? The Rise and Fall of Television Journalism” that will published by Sage in 2010. The opinions expressed are his own. -
I was in the audience for Murdoch senior’s MacTaggart lecture 20 years ago, and was shocked –- as were many others –- by the ignorance and shallowness of his analysis. It wasn’t just the blatant self-interest of promoting his newly launched Sky channels; it was the sheer incomprehension of British television’s achievements in broadcast journalism compared to its manifest failure in the United States. Murdoch senior pretended it was the other way round, a strange distortion of the empirical evidence.
Son James is clearly a chip off the old block. His MacTaggart lecture was adapted for modern times, but his analysis of what was “wrong” with British broadcasting –- and particularly broadcast journalism –- was as misguided and self-deluded as his father’s.
There was the usual stuff about free enterprise, free choice and freedom in general being undermined by “massive, state-funded intervention”, and the usual claptrap about the TV licence fee penalising the poor (in fact, it provides astonishingly good consumer value and is disproportionately valuable to the poorest who make most use of television).
It beggars belief that humbled telecom equipment supplier Alcatel-Lucent could be scooped up by a Chinese rival with nothing better to do. Huawei or ZTE seem credible candidates. The question is, why would they ever bother?
That didn't stop shares of Alcatel-Lucent from rocketing up as much as 21 percent on Wednesday on rumors of an unnamed suitor. Momentum was helped by a rating upgrade on the depressed stock by French broker Natixis. The shares later settled back somewhat to trade at 2.75 euros, up 12 percent on the day in Paris.
from The Great Debate:
That's despite the fact that as much as 70 percent of the value investors put on Yahoo's depressed shares are tied up in its international assets or cash holdings -- factors that have nothing to do with Microsoft.
from The Great Debate:
Chinese banks are like enthusiastic runners on an accelerating treadmill. The weakening economy means poor lending decisions are threatening to catch up with them, but the banks are sprinting ahead by expanding their loan books ever faster. They cannot keep this up for ever.
For now things still look fine. China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) this week claimed that Chinese banks were managing credit risk sagely, pointing to record low non-performing loan ratios. Given the massive increase in the number of loans outstanding -- up 24 percent since the start of the year -- it's not surprising that the proportion of them that are non-performing at large commercial banks, which accounts for 60 percent of the lending, has declined from 2.4 percent to 1.8 percent in the past six months.
- John Ross is visiting professor at Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University where he writes a blog on globalisation. The views expressed are his own. -
The success of China’s economic stimulus package has attracted increasing attention in Britain and internationally for two reasons. The first is simply its importance for the world economy. Second whether there are general lessons to be learned.
- Steve Radley is Director of Policy at EEF, Britain’s manufacturers’ organisation. The views expressed are his own.
This week the index of manufacturing activity in the UK moved into growth territory for the first time in more than a year. While that does not necessarily mean that the recession is over, it does suggest that we should be thinking a bit more about what sort of recovery we are likely to see and how well placed the UK is to meet it.
from The Great Debate:
The world is witnessing a shift in the balance of power, from the West to the East. This shift will take place over decades, and the winners will be:
- Those economies that have financial clout, such as China
- Those economies that have natural resources, whether it be energy, commodities or water, and will include countries, some in the Middle East, some across Africa, Brazil, Australia, Canada and others in temperate climates across, for instance, northern Europe
- And the third set of winners will be countries that have the ability to adapt and change. Even though we are cautious about growth prospects in the U.S. and UK in the coming years, both of these have the ability to adapt and change.
China's sovereign wealth fund has bought a 1.1 percent stake -- worth around 240 million pounds -- in drinks group Diageo, which owns the legendary Irish stout.
China isn't yet among the top five markets for Guinness -- although Johnnie Walker whisky is apparently a favourite -- but the stout does already feature among Diageo's top brands in South East Asia and Japan.
Political and economic logic are set to collide in the byzantine decision-making over the future of German carmaker Opel, the main European arm of fallen U.S. auto giant General Motors.
If politics prevail, as seems likely, the cost to German taxpayers will be higher and the chances of commercial success lower.
The aim of the Berlin government and four federal states, which are sustaining Opel with bridging finance, is to save as many German jobs and production sites as possible. That makes political sense ahead of September's general election. But the business logic is that only a greatly slimmed-down Opel can survive in an industry with chronic overcapacity.
In theory, it is up to GM's board to choose among the three offers it expected to receive on Monday from Canadian-Austrian car parts maker Magna <MGa.TO>, Belgian financial investor RHJ <RJHI.BR>, and, less plausibly, Chinese state-owned auto maker BAIC. But there are several other powerful players with a say. They include the trustees responsible for the company since GM entered U.S. bankruptcy in June, the German federal and state governments, Opel's works council and, last but not least, the European Commission, which must approve the restructuring plan as a condition for authorising the state aid.
Judging from the draft communique of the G8 leaders meeting in L'Aquila, no one is in a particular hurry to talk about ending the domination of the dollar in world currency reserves. Our correspondents at the Italian summit report that the debate being pushed by China and others is likely to be played down.
But the genie is out of the bottle. Beforehand, Beijing floated the idea of alternative to the dollar. Russia and Brazil weighed in with some thoughts. The United Nations also acknowledged earlier this year the desire of some countries for a "more efficient reserve system" in a series of proposals for global financial reform.