Category Archives: Europe

Replica cities lack something

The economic miracle in China has led to the creation of many ‘fake’ replica cities; Paris, London, Jackson Hole, etc.  Despite features like a 1/3 replica of the Eiffel Tower, a modified Tower Bridge and Route 66 these ‘duplitecture’ cities are missing something according to this piece over at ABC Nightline.

Is it Joie de vivre? Culture? or simply population? Apparently if you build it, they won’t necessarily come right away.

Tianducheng, or “Sky Capital City,” is a real estate development modeled after the city of lights, right down to a version of the Eiffel Tower that is one-third the height of the real one.

“I think [it’s] a little strange,” Rachel Ni, who moved to Tianducheng six years ago, told ABC News’ “Nightline.” “I don’t like it here.”

Unlike the real Paris, laundry hangs in full view everywhere in Tianducheng, even on trees, and the fountains are dry. Many apartments are empty, and few stores are even open for business.

“I live here because it’s cheap. In Hangzhou, this is very, very cheap,” said Ni. “The environment is good, especially for the baby.”

Is it jealously that made ABC find a negative angle on this? Replica theme park cities sound great, think of the savings on travel budget!  Just imagine if we could have a replica Interlaken in Stanley park, a tiny NYC on the east side or Honolulu in Poco…  Read the full article and view the video here.

Mark Carney vs. The Race below Zero

Mark Carney (why does that name sound familiar?), The Current Head of the Bank of England is speaking out against negative interest rates.

While defending ‘monetary stimulus’ he points out that negative interest rates haven’t done much to improve economies and is instead a game of hot potato where everyone loses:

So negative interest rates are effective in only one way: via the exchange rate – or as he says, “via beggar-thy-neighbor” – which might be “an attractive route to boost activity” for an individual country. “But for the world as a whole,” this “transfer of demand weakness elsewhere is ultimately a zero sum game.

Read the full article over at business insider.

Investigative Journalism is alive and well

Channel 4 in London has done an experiment on estate agent reactions to potential buyers using obviously ill-gotten gains. The results were predictable:

In a documentary called From Russia With Cash, to be broadcast on Wednesday, two undercover reporters pose as an unscrupulous Russian government official called “Boris” and his mistress “Nastya” whom he wants to purchase an upmarket property in London for.

The couple – Russian anti-corruption campaigner Roman Borisovich and Ukrainian investigative reporter Natalia Sedletska – view five properties ranging in price from £3m to £15m, on the market with five different west London agents, in Kensington, Chelsea and Notting Hill.

Despite being made aware they are dealing with ill-gotten gains, the estate agents agree to continue with a potential purchase. In several instances the estate agents recommend law firms to help a buyer hide his identity.

One estate agent names a “very, very good lawyer … the last person I put them was another minister of a previous Soviet state” in a deal worth £10m.

The estate agents suggest that in the capital secretive purchases of multimillion pound houses are common. One claims that 80% or more of his transactions are with international, overseas-based buyers and “50 or 60%” of them are conducted in “various stages of anonymity … whether it be through a company or an offshore trust”.

Read the full article here.

Dutch Disease: Alberta Canada vs. Norway

The term ‘Dutch Disease‘ refers to an increase in natural resource based economy crowding out manufacturing and other sectors. It’s also a stand in descriptor for taking all your winnings in a booming market and re-investing them in the same market.

When Oil prices were high, both the province of Alberta and the country of Norway benefited from a petroleum based economy, but they approached the future in different ways.

Brian Ripley over at CHPC summarizes Bruce Campbells take-away of the differences between these two economies approach to oil wealth:

Alberta’s so called “progressive” conservative governments; 7 consecutive iterations since 1971, have squandered their provincial energy resources leaving their treasury with a CAD 12 billion dollar debt and a 500 million dollar deficit.

Norway, a county of 5.2 million people (Alberta’s population is similar at 4.2 million), began their first successful North Sea oil drilling in 1971 and by maintaining sovereign control and creating partnerships with the private sector “… now sits on top of a CAD ONE TRILLION DOLLAR pension fund established in 1990 to invest the returns of oil and gas. The capital has been invested in over 9,000 companies worldwide including over 200 in Canada. IT IS NOW THE LARGEST SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUND IN THE WORLD”

Read the full article over at CHPC.