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Sims Group
18 октября, 10:28

Шредер для автомобилей

Всякие видел в интернете, но этот "съел" ее самым быстрым и аккуратным способом.А вот например самый большой в мире "авто-шредер" пожирает 450 старых автомобилей в час.Установка LYNXS, стоимостью в 10 миллионов фунтов стерлингов, является одной из самых совершенных и современных установок по переработке старых автомобилей. Эта установка является частью перерабатывающего предприятия, располагающегося неподалеку от портового терминала в Ньюпорте, Уэльс, Великобритания. Согласно данным компании Sims Group UK, которая владеет данным предприятием, установка LYNXS, находящаяся в эксплуатации с 2006 года, является крупнейшей подобной установкой на земном шаре.Установка LYNXS работает так же, как и обычный шредер для бумаги, только ее размеры намного больше. Старые автомобили сначала спрессовываются для уменьшения их объема и подаются в недра установки. Специальное устройство, называемое Twin Roll Compression Feeder, следит за подачей и препятствует том, что бы слишком много материала было подано в камеру измельчения. В этой камере множество 40-тонных молотков, приводимых в действие электрическими двигателями высокого напряжения мощностью по 9200 лошадиных сил, разбивают автомобили на части, размером с кулак.Приводом дробилки LYNXS служит высоковольтный 14-ти полюсный электродвигатель WEG весом в 40 тонн. Разработанный вместе с Sims Metal, двигатель индукции ротора 11 кВ приводит в действие молотки, раздавливающие непригодные для пользования машины и другой металлолом. Двигатель WEG, который непосредственно связан с национальной электросетью, охлаждается посредством воды и имеет специально усиленную структуру для противостояния осевых, исключительно тяжелых нагрузок, которые могут достигать 116 тонн в крайнемподшипнике передачи двигателя.Мощностей установки LYNXS достаточно для того, что бы переработать 450 автомобилей или 350 тонн материала в час. При этом, мощность, потребляемая установкой настолько велика, что установка требует непосредственного включения в основную национальную энергосистему, только которая способна обеспечить подачу требуемой мощности.Полученное размельченное вторсырье представляет собой смесь металла, цветных металлов, пластмассы и стекла. Эта смесь подается на участок сортировки, где с помощью различных способов одни виды материалов отделяются от других. Металл, алюминий, медь и отходы других цветных металлов идут на экспорт, приблизительно 60 процентов поставляется в страны Юго-Восточной Азии, где спрос на такие отходы невероятно высок.

Выбор редакции
Выбор редакции
18 марта 2013, 20:49

Chávez's Death, Like His Life, Shows the World's Divisions

Mark WeisbrotAl Jazeera English, March 17, 2013Em Português See article on original website The unprecedented worldwide response to the death of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and especially in the Western Hemisphere, has brought into stark relief the “multi-polar” world that Chávez fought for. Fifty-five countries were represented at his funeral on March 7th, 33 (including all of Latin America) by heads of state. Fourteen Latin American countries decreed official days of mourning – including the right-wing government of Chile. In contrast to the emotional outpourings, and the honor and respect that came from Latin American heads of state, the White House put out a cold and unfriendly statement that – to the horror of many Latin Americans – didn’t even offer condolences. It seems that the most demonized democratically elected president in world history had a lot of friends and admirers – and not just the “enemy states” like Iran or Syria that get first mention in U.S. news reports. Now we are told that the outpouring of sympathy is all about Venezuela’s oil, but no Saudi Arabian royal ever got this kind of love, while alive or dead. Readers of the New York Times were probably surprised to learn from an op-ed last week by Lula da Silva, Brazil’s popular former president, that he and Chávez were quite close and shared the same vision for Latin America. It was always true: in 2006, after Lula was re-elected, the first trip he took was to Venezuela to help Chávez campaign for his own re-election. Let’s face it: what Chávez said about Washington’s role in the world was what all the left presidents – now the vast majority of South America – were thinking. And Chávez didn’t just talk the talk: as Lula noted, he played a crucial role in the formation of UNASUR (the Union of South American Nations), CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations), and other efforts at regional integration. “Perhaps his ideas will come to inspire young people in the future, much as the life of Simón Bolívar, the great liberator of Latin America, inspired Mr. Chávez himself,” wrote Lula. Chávez was the first of what became a long line of democratically-elected left presidents that have transformed Latin America, and especially South America over the last 15 years, including Nestor and Cristina Kirchner in Argentina, Lula da Silva and then Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay , José “Pepe” Mujica in Uruguay, and Mauricio Funes in El Salvador. Before Chávez, democratically elected leftist presidents tended to end up like Salvador Allende of Chile – overthrown in a CIA-backed coup in 1973. Much of the Latin American left, including Chávez himself, was still skeptical of the electoral route to social change more than 20 years later, since the local elites, backed by Washington, had an extra-legal veto when they needed it. Chávez was able to play a vital role in the “second independence” of South America because he was different from other heads of state in a number of important ways. I noticed this when I met him for the first time in April of 2003. He seemed to treat everyone the same – from the people who served him lunch at the presidential palace to visitors whom he respected and admired. He talked a lot, but he was also a good listener. I remember a dinner a few years later with more than 100 representatives of civil society groups throughout the Americas – activists working on debt cancellation, land reform, and other struggles. Chavez sat and listened patiently, taking notes for an hour as the guests took turns describing their efforts. Then he went through his notes, and said: “OK, here’s where I think we might be able to help you.” I couldn’t imagine any other president doing that. It wasn’t fake – there wasn’t anything fake about the man. He said what he was thinking, and of course that wasn’t always appropriate for a head of state. But most Venezuelans loved his sincerity because it made him more real than other politicians, and therefore someone they could trust. His attitude towards other governments was similar. Although he had big public fights with some governments, he almost never criticized another head of state unless they attacked him first. He successfully pursued good relations even with the right-wing Álvaro Uribe of Colombia for several years, until Uribe turned on him, which he saw (probably correctly) as Uribe acting on behalf of the United States. When Manuel Santos, who had been Uribe’s defense minister, became president of Colombia in August 2010 and decided to pursue good relations with Chávez, he was pushing on an open door [PDF]. Relations were repaired immediately. Chávez was friendly to anyone who was friendly to him. But it was more than his personality or search for alliances – which he needed in order to survive, after the Bush administration made clear its intention to overthrow him in 2002. (Although it was almost never reported in the U.S. media, the documentary evidence of Washington’s involvement in the 2002 military coup against Chávez is quite strong.) Chávez had a very solidaristic view of the world. He and his government had many policies that were not driven by the principle that “nations don’t have friends, but only interests.” He saw the injustices in the international economic and political order the same way he saw the social injustices within Venezuela – as a social evil and something that could be successfully fought against. Why should the United States and a handful of rich allies control the IMF and the World Bank? Or write the rules of commerce in the WTO, or in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (which Chavez helped defeat)? Venezuela didn’t have any national interest in these struggles, since it is an oil exporter. But Chávez thought they were important, and his ideas happened to coincide with what was happening in the world: it was rapidly become more multi-polar economically. For example, China is now, by the best economic estimates of its (purchasing power parity) exchange rate, already the largest economy in the world, yet it has very little voice in these most important multilateral institutions. Other developing countries have even less. Chávez’ ideas therefore resonated increasingly in much of the world, and especially in Latin America. On the other hand, his tenure also shows the enormous power of the media in shaping public opinion. Most governments are quite familiar with his accomplishments, but because the Latin American and U.S. media reported almost exclusively negative news on Venezuela for 14 years – sometimes grossly exaggerated as well -- most people in the Western Hemisphere never learned even the basic facts about Venezuela or what Chávez was doing. They do not know that, once Chávez got control over the oil industry, Venezuela’s economy grew very well and poverty was reduced by half and extreme poverty by 70 percent. They don’t know that most of these gains came from increased employment in the private sector, not “government handouts.” They don’t know that millions of Venezuelans got access to basic health care for the first time, and that education increased at all levels, with college enrollment doubling; or that public pensions rose from 500,000 to over two million. The western media has mostly reported Venezuela as an economic and political failure. And most people don’t know that Venezuela bears no resemblance to an “authoritarian state,” and that most of the Venezuelan media is still opposed to the government. They don’t know what Chávez did for the hemisphere – not only the billions of dollars of aid distributed through Venezuela’s Petrocaribe program and other foreign aid, but also – as Lula explained – the role that he played in bringing about the unity and second independence of Latin America. This independence is much more than a matter of national or regional pride, or one of the biggest geopolitical changes so far in the 21st century. It has had huge consequences for the people of Latin America, where the poverty rate fell from 42 percent at the beginning of the decade to 27 percent by 2009. It is difficult to imagine this kind of social and economic progress while the region was still under IMF/Washington tutelage; indeed the region as a whole barely had any per capita GDP growth at all from 1980-2000. Most people in the Western Hemisphere have gotten a “Tea Party” view of Venezuela, with little difference between the liberal and right-wing media depiction of the country and its government. It is practically as one-sided as the view of the United States that Soviet citizens got on state TV in the 1980s – people in unemployment lines and soup kitchens, poverty and police brutality. They had to find external news sources to know that most Americans still had a middle-class existence and a job, and among the highest living standards in the world. So now there is a battle over defining Chávez’s legacy – and there are many people trying to protect the hard-won gains that they made in demonizing Chávez. For them the outpouring of sympathy and respect for Chávez is a real problem. It is fitting that the aftermath of Chávez’s death should reflect not only the battles that he fought but also the relations that he helped change. During his 14 years in office, the United States lost most of its influence in Latin America, and especially South America. So it can be said with some certainty that in his battle with Washington, Chávez won. And with him, so did the region and the world. For that he will be forever remembered, honored, and respected – as he was on March 7th by most of the world.

Выбор редакции
18 марта 2013, 20:39

Chávez's Death, Like His Life, Shows the World's Divisions

Mark WeisbrotAl Jazeera English, March 17, 2013 See article on original website The unprecedented worldwide response to the death of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and especially in the Western Hemisphere, has brought into stark relief the “multi-polar” world that Chávez fought for. Fifty-five countries were represented at his funeral on March 7th, 33 (including all of Latin America) by heads of state. Fourteen Latin American countries decreed official days of mourning – including the right-wing government of Chile. In contrast to the emotional outpourings, and the honor and respect that came from Latin American heads of state, the White House put out a cold and unfriendly statement that – to the horror of many Latin Americans – didn’t even offer condolences. It seems that the most demonized democratically elected president in world history had a lot of friends and admirers – and not just the “enemy states” like Iran or Syria that get first mention in U.S. news reports. Now we are told that the outpouring of sympathy is all about Venezuela’s oil, but no Saudi Arabian royal ever got this kind of love, while alive or dead. Readers of the New York Times were probably surprised to learn from an op-ed last week by Lula da Silva, Brazil’s popular former president, that he and Chávez were quite close and shared the same vision for Latin America. It was always true: in 2006, after Lula was re-elected, the first trip he took was to Venezuela to help Chávez campaign for his own re-election. Let’s face it: what Chávez said about Washington’s role in the world was what all the left presidents – now the vast majority of South America – were thinking. And Chávez didn’t just talk the talk: as Lula noted, he played a crucial role in the formation of UNASUR (the Union of South American Nations), CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations), and other efforts at regional integration. “Perhaps his ideas will come to inspire young people in the future, much as the life of Simón Bolívar, the great liberator of Latin America, inspired Mr. Chávez himself,” wrote Lula. Chávez was the first of what became a long line of democratically-elected left presidents that have transformed Latin America, and especially South America over the last 15 years, including Nestor and Cristina Kirchner in Argentina, Lula da Silva and then Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay , José “Pepe” Mujica in Uruguay, and Mauricio Funes in El Salvador. Before Chávez, democratically elected leftist presidents tended to end up like Salvador Allende of Chile – overthrown in a CIA-backed coup in 1973. Much of the Latin American left, including Chávez himself, was still skeptical of the electoral route to social change more than 20 years later, since the local elites, backed by Washington, had an extra-legal veto when they needed it. Chávez was able to play a vital role in the “second independence” of South America because he was different from other heads of state in a number of important ways. I noticed this when I met him for the first time in April of 2003. He seemed to treat everyone the same – from the people who served him lunch at the presidential palace to visitors whom he respected and admired. He talked a lot, but he was also a good listener. I remember a dinner a few years later with more than 100 representatives of civil society groups throughout the Americas – activists working on debt cancellation, land reform, and other struggles. Chavez sat and listened patiently, taking notes for an hour as the guests took turns describing their efforts. Then he went through his notes, and said: “OK, here’s where I think we might be able to help you.” I couldn’t imagine any other president doing that. It wasn’t fake – there wasn’t anything fake about the man. He said what he was thinking, and of course that wasn’t always appropriate for a head of state. But most Venezuelans loved his sincerity because it made him more real than other politicians, and therefore someone they could trust. His attitude towards other governments was similar. Although he had big public fights with some governments, he almost never criticized another head of state unless they attacked him first. He successfully pursued good relations even with the right-wing Álvaro Uribe of Colombia for several years, until Uribe turned on him, which he saw (probably correctly) as Uribe acting on behalf of the United States. When Manuel Santos, who had been Uribe’s defense minister, became president of Colombia in August 2010 and decided to pursue good relations with Chávez, he was pushing on an open door [PDF]. Relations were repaired immediately. Chávez was friendly to anyone who was friendly to him. But it was more than his personality or search for alliances – which he needed in order to survive, after the Bush administration made clear its intention to overthrow him in 2002. (Although it was almost never reported in the U.S. media, the documentary evidence of Washington’s involvement in the 2002 military coup against Chávez is quite strong.) Chávez had a very solidaristic view of the world. He and his government had many policies that were not driven by the principle that “nations don’t have friends, but only interests.” He saw the injustices in the international economic and political order the same way he saw the social injustices within Venezuela – as a social evil and something that could be successfully fought against. Why should the United States and a handful of rich allies control the IMF and the World Bank? Or write the rules of commerce in the WTO, or in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (which Chavez helped defeat)? Venezuela didn’t have any national interest in these struggles, since it is an oil exporter. But Chávez thought they were important, and his ideas happened to coincide with what was happening in the world: it was rapidly become more multi-polar economically. For example, China is now, by the best economic estimates of its (purchasing power parity) exchange rate, already the largest economy in the world, yet it has very little voice in these most important multilateral institutions. Other developing countries have even less. Chávez’ ideas therefore resonated increasingly in much of the world, and especially in Latin America. On the other hand, his tenure also shows the enormous power of the media in shaping public opinion. Most governments are quite familiar with his accomplishments, but because the Latin American and U.S. media reported almost exclusively negative news on Venezuela for 14 years – sometimes grossly exaggerated as well -- most people in the Western Hemisphere never learned even the basic facts about Venezuela or what Chávez was doing. They do not know that, once Chávez got control over the oil industry, Venezuela’s economy grew very well and poverty was reduced by half and extreme poverty by 70 percent. They don’t know that most of these gains came from increased employment in the private sector, not “government handouts.” They don’t know that millions of Venezuelans got access to basic health care for the first time, and that education increased at all levels, with college enrollment doubling; or that public pensions rose from 500,000 to over two million. The western media has mostly reported Venezuela as an economic and political failure. And most people don’t know that Venezuela bears no resemblance to an “authoritarian state,” and that most of the Venezuelan media is still opposed to the government. They don’t know what Chávez did for the hemisphere – not only the billions of dollars of aid distributed through Venezuela’s Petrocaribe program and other foreign aid, but also – as Lula explained – the role that he played in bringing about the unity and second independence of Latin America. This independence is much more than a matter of national or regional pride, or one of the biggest geopolitical changes so far in the 21st century. It has had huge consequences for the people of Latin America, where the poverty rate fell from 42 percent at the beginning of the decade to 27 percent by 2009. It is difficult to imagine this kind of social and economic progress while the region was still under IMF/Washington tutelage; indeed the region as a whole barely had any per capita GDP growth at all from 1980-2000. Most people in the Western Hemisphere have gotten a “Tea Party” view of Venezuela, with little difference between the liberal and right-wing media depiction of the country and its government. It is practically as one-sided as the view of the United States that Soviet citizens got on state TV in the 1980s – people in unemployment lines and soup kitchens, poverty and policy brutality. They had to find external news sources to know that most Americans still had a middle-class existence and a job, and among the highest living standards in the world. So now there is a battle over defining Chávez’s legacy – and there are many people trying to protect the hard-won gains that they made in demonizing Chávez. For them the outpouring of sympathy and respect for Chávez is a real problem. It is fitting that the aftermath of Chávez’s death should reflect not only the battles that he fought but also the relations that he helped change. During his 14 years in office, the United States lost most of its influence in Latin America, and especially South America. So it can be said with some certainty that in his battle with Washington, Chávez won. And with him, so did the region and the world. For that he will be forever remembered, honored, and respected – as he was on March 7th by most of the world.

Выбор редакции
18 марта 2013, 19:25

Chávez’s Death, Like His Life, Shows the World’s Divisions

Mark WeisbrotAl Jazeera English, March 17, 2013 See article on original website The unprecedented worldwide response to the death of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and especially in the Western Hemisphere, has brought into stark relief the “multi-polar” world that Chávez fought for. Fifty-five countries were represented at his funeral on March 7th, 33 (including all of Latin America) by heads of state. Fourteen Latin American countries decreed official days of mourning – including the right-wing government of Chile. In contrast to the emotional outpourings, and the honor and respect that came from Latin American heads of state, the White House put out a cold and unfriendly statement that – to the horror of many Latin Americans – didn’t even offer condolences. It seems that the most demonized democratically elected president in world history had a lot of friends and admirers – and not just the “enemy states” like Iran or Syria that get first mention in U.S. news reports. Now we are told that the outpouring of sympathy is all about Venezuela’s oil, but no Saudi Arabian royal ever got this kind of love, while alive or dead. Readers of the New York Times were probably surprised to learn from an op-ed last week by Lula da Silva, Brazil’s popular former president, that he and Chávez were quite close and shared the same vision for Latin America. It was always true: in 2006, after Lula was re-elected, the first trip he took was to Venezuela to help Chávez campaign for his own re-election. Let’s face it: what Chávez said about Washington’s role in the world was what all the left presidents – now the vast majority of South America – were thinking. And Chávez didn’t just talk the talk: as Lula noted, he played a crucial role in the formation of UNASUR (the Union of South American Nations), CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations), and other efforts at regional integration. “Perhaps his ideas will come to inspire young people in the future, much as the life of Simón Bolívar, the great liberator of Latin America, inspired Mr. Chávez himself,” wrote Lula. Chávez was the first of what became a long line of democratically-elected left presidents that have transformed Latin America, and especially South America over the last 15 years, including Nestor and Cristina Kirchner in Argentina, Lula da Silva and then Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay , José “Pepe” Mujica in Uruguay, and Mauricio Funes in El Salvador. Before Chávez, democratically elected leftist presidents tended to end up like Salvador Allende of Chile – overthrown in a CIA-backed coup in 1973. Much of the Latin American left, including Chávez himself, was still skeptical of the electoral route to social change more than 20 years later, since the local elites, backed by Washington, had an extra-legal veto when they needed it. Chávez was able to play a vital role in the “second independence” of South America because he was different from other heads of state in a number of important ways. I noticed this when I met him for the first time in April of 2003. He seemed to treat everyone the same – from the people who served him lunch at the presidential palace to visitors whom he respected and admired. He talked a lot, but he was also a good listener. I remember a dinner a few years later with more than 100 representatives of civil society groups throughout the Americas – activists working on debt cancellation, land reform, and other struggles. Chavez sat and listened patiently, taking notes for an hour as the guests took turns describing their efforts. Then he went through his notes, and said: “OK, here’s where I think we might be able to help you.” I couldn’t imagine any other president doing that. It wasn’t fake – there wasn’t anything fake about the man. He said what he was thinking, and of course that wasn’t always appropriate for a head of state. But most Venezuelans loved his sincerity because it made him more real than other politicians, and therefore someone they could trust. His attitude towards other governments was similar. Although he had big public fights with some governments, he almost never criticized another head of state unless they attacked him first. He successfully pursued good relations even with the right-wing Álvaro Uribe of Colombia for several years, until Uribe turned on him, which he saw (probably correctly) as Uribe acting on behalf of the United States. When Manuel Santos, who had been Uribe’s defense minister, became president of Colombia in August 2010 and decided to pursue good relations with Chávez, he was pushing on an open door [PDF]. Relations were repaired immediately. Chávez was friendly to anyone who was friendly to him. But it was more than his personality or search for alliances – which he needed in order to survive, after the Bush administration made clear its intention to overthrow him in 2002. (Although it was almost never reported in the U.S. media, the documentary evidence of Washington’s involvement in the 2002 military coup against Chávez is quite strong.) Chávez had a very solidaristic view of the world. He and his government had many policies that were not driven by the principle that “nations don’t have friends, but only interests.” He saw the injustices in the international economic and political order the same way he saw the social injustices within Venezuela – as a social evil and something that could be successfully fought against. Why should the United States and a handful of rich allies control the IMF and the World Bank? Or write the rules of commerce in the WTO, or in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (which Chavez helped defeat)? Venezuela didn’t have any national interest in these struggles, since it is an oil exporter. But Chávez thought they were important, and his ideas happened to coincide with what was happening in the world: it was rapidly become more multi-polar economically. For example, China is now, by the best economic estimates of its (purchasing power parity) exchange rate, already the largest economy in the world, yet it has very little voice in these most important multilateral institutions. Other developing countries have even less. Chávez’ ideas therefore resonated increasingly in much of the world, and especially in Latin America. On the other hand, his tenure also shows the enormous power of the media in shaping public opinion. Most governments are quite familiar with his accomplishments, but because the Latin American and U.S. media reported almost exclusively negative news on Venezuela for 14 years – sometimes grossly exaggerated as well -- most people in the Western Hemisphere never learned even the basic facts about Venezuela or what Chávez was doing. They do not know that, once Chávez got control over the oil industry, Venezuela’s economy grew very well and poverty was reduced by half and extreme poverty by 70 percent. They don’t know that most of these gains came from increased employment in the private sector, not “government handouts.” They don’t know that millions of Venezuelans got access to basic health care for the first time, and that education increased at all levels, with college enrollment doubling; or that public pensions rose from 500,000 to over two million. The western media has mostly reported Venezuela as an economic and political failure. And most people don’t know that Venezuela bears no resemblance to an “authoritarian state,” and that most of the Venezuelan media is still opposed to the government. They don’t know what Chávez did for the hemisphere – not only the billions of dollars of aid distributed through Venezuela’s Petrocaribe program and other foreign aid, but also – as Lula explained – the role that he played in bringing about the unity and second independence of Latin America. This independence is much more than a matter of national or regional pride, or one of the biggest geopolitical changes so far in the 21st century. It has had huge consequences for the people of Latin America, where the poverty rate fell from 42 percent at the beginning of the decade to 27 percent by 2009. It is difficult to imagine this kind of social and economic progress while the region was still under IMF/Washington tutelage; indeed the region as a whole barely had any per capita GDP growth at all from 1980-2000. Most people in the Western Hemisphere have gotten a “Tea Party” view of Venezuela, with little difference between the liberal and right-wing media depiction of the country and its government. It is practically as one-sided as the view of the United States that Soviet citizens got on state TV in the 1980s – people in unemployment lines and soup kitchens, poverty and policy brutality. They had to find external news sources to know that most Americans still had a middle-class existence and a job, and among the highest living standards in the world. So now there is a battle over defining Chávez’s legacy – and there are many people trying to protect the hard-won gains that they made in demonizing Chávez. For them the outpouring of sympathy and respect for Chávez is a real problem. It is fitting that the aftermath of Chávez’s death should reflect not only the battles that he fought but also the relations that he helped change. During his 14 years in office, the United States lost most of its influence in Latin America, and especially South America. So it can be said with some certainty that in his battle with Washington, Chávez won. And with him, so did the region and the world. For that he will be forever remembered, honored, and respected – as he was on March 7th by most of the world.

10 марта 2013, 04:06

After Chavez: there are many flavours to the left in Latin America

To speak of 'the left' in Latin America, post-Chávez, makes no sense. It displays the same complexity and nuances as the continent itself, says celebrated Colombian writer Héctor Abad By virtue of being the most diverse and hybrid area on the planet, Latin America is a kind of potpourri that is difficult to understand due to the number of ingredients it contains. Are we the poor suburbs of the west, as some see it, or are we by now, after two centuries of independence, something new and different?The old white elite, with something of an inferiority complex, used to aspire to be Spanish, English, French or, at worst, the United States: they went to bullfights, played golf, drank French wine and did their shopping in Miami. What we really are is a complex jumble of things, not a homogenous continent that can be summed up in sensationalist slogans that make little sense such as "Homeland or death" or "Ever onward until victory."The Latin American left has itself many different ingredients. All of these lefts (and a few centres and rights) were at Hugo Chávez's funeral, some with genuine tears in their eyes, some concerned with making gestures for their domestic gallery, or to ensure the free oil keeps on coming, or perhaps with the secret satisfaction of seeing the corpse of an old enemy go by.Let's start with the main oil widow: Cuba. The island is the last American bastion of the old Soviet Union and the cold war. As in North Korea, in Cuba they have opted for a family succession that will end only when the Castro brothers die. Chávez used to call Fidel "father"; it was to his father that he turned when he fell ill; and now we are witnessing the trauma of a father having to bury his own son, despite the so-called miracles of Cuban medicine.Cuba is a dogmatic extreme for which, after 10 years of penury due to the fall of the Soviet bloc, Chávez's arrival in power in 1999 meant manna from heaven. Cuba receives so much free oil from Venezuela that it can resell some to other Caribbean islands.Let's just say that Chávez's influence was in Cuba's interest. Venezuela is, without doubt, freer than Cuba. In Venezuela they have the internet, they have newspapers and an opposition TV channel. Twitter is unrestricted, and there are parties other than the PSUV (the United Socialist party of Venezuela), Chávez's party. While it continues under the single-party regime, with zero press freedom, Cuba has opened up a little, influenced by the fact that Chávez was clearly able to remain in power without restricting a few fundamental liberties.In this mixture across the continent there is one bad ingredient: the hideous left of Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua. Ortega the man went to Chávez's funeral on international women's day. Will anyone have reminded him of his stepdaughter's allegations – 15 years on – that he repeatedly raped her over 20 years? Or that he bought the support of the Catholic church by banning abortion? Or that he has co-opted all branches of power? There is perhaps no one more of a disgrace to the Latin American left than he.Oddly enough, the freshest ingredient in the Latin American left is the oldest. Of the faces of the left, perhaps the most likeable is that of the Uruguayan president and anti-consumerist hippy José "Pepe" Mujica, an ex-member of the leftwing Argentinian guerrilla group known as the Montoneros. What's more, he does not oppose any fundamental liberty. Uruguay is a free, just and sad country. Sad and dull: young Uruguayans grow bored and choose to go and live elsewhere. A president who gives away his salary, cooks his own lunch and turns up to the presidential palace in a clapped-out car inspires sympathy – even more when he attempts to legalise marijuana; he is a melancholic old man, practically the reflection of a country where there are more cows than people.Let us turn now to the pro-indigenous left, with its clear racial overtones, of Evo Morales in Bolivia. As Bolivia was for centuries ruled by an abusive white minority that oppressed and belittled the indigenous majority, it is natural to feel a sense of satisfaction when we see an Indian achieve power, at last. An Indian so proud of his race he even firmly believes that they never go bald because they don't eat fast food or genetically modified vegetables. He has nationalised many European and North American companies, as now the country can live off the gas it exports.Is Brazil socialist? Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his successor Vana Rousseff Dilma come from socialist movements, but they are first and foremost pragmatic presidents of a country as vast as a continent and the second case in the Americas of an ex-colony being more powerful and dynamic than the mother country.Brazil is the opposite to Uruguay: Brazil is joy. The black Africans freed from slavery blessed them with a powerful, erotic and wonderful literature and music. The Brazilian left of Lula and Rousseff does not suffer racial resentment; nor does it see businessmen as enemies. As a skilled and astute trade unionist, Lula learned how to deal with them: to get as much out of them possible, without going so far as to tip them into bankruptcy or send them into exile.What else? The oil-dealing left of Rafael Correa in Ecuador, which simultaneously shuts down local radio stations, threatens the press and offers asylum to Julian Assange ... Then there is Argentina's Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the double heiress: to the old caudillo Perón and to her husband. Her regime combines short-term public welfare solutions with endemic corruption. As the heiress to Perón and Evita she is a model for Venezuela: the Chávez movement aims to be a kind of new Peronism, without excluding its military, fascistic facet.And so we come to Chávez, to his secret illness in Cuba, or to the "cancer caused by the empire", as former vice-president Nicolás Maduro said, in a fit of paranoid fantasy. Well, there are precedents: Chávez also claimed that the earthquake in Haiti was the work of the US marines. Chávez dies with all the rites of a pope, and there are still doubts as to whether to bury him next to Simón Bolívar the liberator, in the National Pantheon, or instead to build a glass pyramid for him. Millions weep for him, in red mourning garb, in a kind of collective hysteria.During his long mandate of 14 years, Chávez gradually converted to the Taliban-like fundamentalism of the Castro brothers: class hatred, sometimes even racial hatred (he tried to have old portraits of Bolívar restored to make him look less white and more Afro), intimidation and threats to the opposition, verbal violence, the invitation to the middle classes to emigrate. Chávez polarised Venezuela and encouraged a deepening of the hatred between classes. Nine million people voted for him and six million for the opposition; but to the Chavists this opposition was made up of "scum, wannabe Yankees, weaklings".It's possible that the old, white, shamefully corrupt elite deserved a lesson from a traditionally marginalised sector. But does it make sense to expel the productive and corporate apparatus from the country? Nationalising industry, farms, taking land away from productive landowners, scaring off all those who are, indiscriminately and without nuances, called "the rich" (when they are people who have simply built up capital by dint of hard work and good ideas) – is this advisable for a country? Perhaps Marxist theory says yes, but as time goes by, does this work? Are the poor necessarily more good, more ethical, more deserving of all favours, and should the rich, the merchants, be expelled from the temple of the nation?It is very appealing – and in Europe this is celebrated – not to be ruled by the crass incompetence of the yuppies from the World Bank, ridiculous in their cynical call for austericide. But nor is the Chávez economic recipe very successful. Let's see: the official exchange rate is six bolivars to the dollar, but on the street a dollar costs 18. Eighty per cent of goods are imported, including food, and it's far easier to find whisky or caviar than eggs and milk. Oil production went from 3.5m barrels a year, with 32,000 workers, to 2.4m, with 105,000 state workers. After an unprecedented oil bonanza, revenue from oil rose – despite the decrease in production – from $14bn to $60bn a year.But despite these astronomical sums, Venezuela's external debt is 10 times bigger today than 10 years ago and the fiscal deficit exceeds 20%. During his years in government Chávez received, from oil alone, more than $500bn: this was enough for him to carry out projects in his country, and to finance like-minded candidates and movements abroad. To some, this was internationalist generosity; to others, populist squandering. Of course, he also reduced extreme poverty, inequality, child mortality and unemployment. The figures corroborate this. But it's one thing to reduce poverty by offering work and education, and another to do so by giving things away.Today Chávez is being deified by his supporters at home and abroad as a liberator of the Americas. In reality, there is a far grimmer side to his figure, and after the euphoric paradox of the mourning will come the backlash of reality. There will be new elections, which Maduro will probably win. But the model of an oil caudillo cannot be exported to the rest of Latin America. It's not possible; and if it were, it would not be advisable.Héctor Abad is a Colombian novelist and journalist. His award-winning 2006 book Oblivion: A Memoir recounts his father's fight for social justice and his subsequent death at the hands of paramilitaries in Medellín in 1987.FORTY YEARS OF STRUGGLE FOR LATIN AMERICA'S LEFTDeath of Allende (1973) Salvador Allende, president of Chile, died in the presidential palace on 11 September 1973 during a coup led by army chief Augusto Pinochet. Allende won the presidency in 1970 and became Latin America's first democratically elected leftwing leader. The CIA, which played an active part in Chilean politics in the 70s, sought Allende's overthrow before he took office in 1970, but the US disputes that it was involved in the military coup.Operation Condor (1970s-1980s)A campaign of political repression carried out by US-backed Latin American dictatorships in the 70s and 80s that was designed to eliminate tens of thousands of leftwing activists. It was the idea of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who enlisted Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil in a continent-wide campaign. Last week, in Buenos Aires, 25 people with links to Operation Condor went on trial on charges of torture, kidnapping and criminal association.The Sandinista Revolution (1979)The Sandinista National Liberation Front overthrew Anastasio Somoza's dictatorship in July 1979 and established a socialist coalition government. The Somoza family had ruled Nicaragua from 1936 to 1979. Somoza allegedly embezzled funds sent to help rebuild the capital, Managua, after an earthquake in 1972. Shortly thereafter the Catholic church became a vocal critic of Somoza.The Contras (1979-90)Rightwing rebel groups formed in opposition to the Sandinistas, the Contras received aid from the US government – for arms and training – until aid was outlawed by Congress. The administration of Ronald Reagan, left – which had come to power in 1981 committed to supporting rightwing regimes in Latin America – attempted to fund the groups covertly. The Contras-Sandinista conflict was seen by many as a proxy for the cold war that reached renewed heights during the Reagan administration.The killing of Archbishop Romero/El Salvador civil war (1980-92)The archbishop of San Salvador, Óscar Romero had been an outspoken critic of the junta attempting to quell a popular insurrection whose leaders were advocating social and economic reforms. Romero alleged that the junta was guilty of massacres and torture. The archbishop was assassinated on 24 March 1980. Rallies in support of Romero turned bloody when police opened fire on the crowds. This was the spark for the 12-year El Salvador civil war. The military, supported by the US, targeted union officials, clergy, academics and others; thousands died. A peace agreement was reached between the two groups in 1992.Guatemalan civil war (1960-96)The Central American state endured a long and bloody conflict between government and leftwing rebels. Its roots date back to the mid-40s when the US helped overthrow the October Revolutionaries – leftwing students and professionals advancing radical social and economic reforms. The CIA-backed coup in 1954 put an end to this reforming zeal. In the 80s, the junta aimed to systematically eliminate leftwing activists throughout civil society – the universities, politics, law, peasants, etc. More than 200,000 died and many more disappeared. In December 1996, ex-rebel leader Rolando Morán and the president, Álvaro Arzú, signed peace accords.Fidel Castro (Cuban leader, 1959-2008)From 1976 until 2008, Castro was an inspiration for a generation of Latin Americans who warmed to his anti-imperialist, socialist agenda. By the mid 2000s, the continent had seen the rise of what became known as the "pink tide" (ie, something less than red-blooded socialism). Castro formed alliances and friendships with many leaders – Chávez in Venezuela, Lula in Brazil, Morales in Bolivia and Correa in Ecuador. A BBC report in 2005 estimated that, of 350 million Latin Americans, three out of four lived under leftwing administrations – a dramatic break with the era when the continent was governed by leaders sympathetic to, and supported by, the US.THE RISE OF THE DEMOCRATIC LEFT 1999-Hugo Chávez was among the first of the late 20th-century Latin American leaders who came to power with a leftwing agenda. Chávez looked to Simón Bolívar – godfather of South American independence – for inspiration for his Latin socialism. He was elected president of Venezuela in 1999 and served until his death last week.Elected president of Brazil in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, the former union leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva promised major social reforms and oversaw the emergence of Brazil as an economic powerhouse, which did much to raise millions of people in the country out of poverty. Tabaré Vázquez, an oncologist, was elected president of Uruguay in October 2004. A member of the Socialist party, he became the country's first president from a leftwing party. One of his first actions was to announce a $100m-a-year project to alleviate extreme poverty.Michelle Bachelet's election as president of Chile in 2006 was significant for a number of reasons. She was the first woman president, she was a social democrat, and her father, General Alberto Bachelet, who served under Allende, had been tortured by, and died during, the Pinochet dictatorship.Evo Morales, elected president of Bolivia in 2006, is a champion of indigenous rights and a vocal critic of US foreign policy. He has committed himself to widespread land reforms that would help the poorest peasant farmers and to ensuring that the wealth from the country's gas reserves is distributed more equally.Rafael Correa, elected in 2006 as president of Ecuador and re-elected last month for a second term. He is an economist who came to power on the back of his opposition to the International Monetary Fund's plans for remedying his country's economic ills. Instead, he rolled back the IMF plans and put an end to privatisation of national resources such as water, oil and gas.In Ecuador – as in Venezuela – many groups assert that the president is developing an authoritarian streak that endangers human rights and the freedom of the media.Hugo ChávezVenezuelaFidel CastroAmericasguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

22 января 2013, 03:19

A brief history of macro: How we got here

MAINSTREAM macroeconomics has a pretty poor reputation these days, both among the public at large and among economists in other fields. This is hardly surprising. There is little consensus on even the most basic questions in macro. Ask top academics why America’s post-crisis recovery has been so slow and you will get many different conflicting answers. But the most obvious reason for the widespread disdain is that the profession failed to predict that the biggest and most painful downturn since the Great Depression was even possible.Now, several groups of economists are trying to rebuild macro, often melding previously discarded ideas with sophisticated new mathematical and computational techniques. This week’s print edition gives an overview of some of the interesting new developments, but in this post, I want to look more at the history of the field. The following slideshow by Markus Brunnermeier and Delwin Olivan of Princeton is a good place to start:As the slideshow makes clear, macro has evolved in fits and starts. Existing models seem to work until something comes along that forces a rethink. Then academics tinker and fiddle until the next watershed. In response to the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes developed the revolutionary idea that individually beneficial actions could produce undesirable outcomes if everyone tried to do them at the same time. Irving ...

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22 января 2013, 03:19

How we got here

MAINSTREAM macroeconomics has a pretty poor reputation these days, both among the public at large and among economists in other fields. This is hardly surprising. There is little consensus on even the most basic questions in macro. Ask top academics why America’s post-crisis recovery has been so slow and you will get many different conflicting answers. But the most obvious reason for the widespread disdain is that the profession failed to predict that the biggest and most painful downturn since the Great Depression was even possible.Now, several groups of economists are trying to rebuild macro, often melding previously discarded ideas with sophisticated new mathematical and computational techniques. This week’s print edition gives an overview of some of the interesting new developments, but in this post, I want to look more at the history of the field. The following slideshow by Markus Brunnermeier and Delwin Olivan of Princeton is a good place to start:As the slideshow makes clear, macro has evolved in fits and starts. Existing models seem to work until something comes along that forces a rethink. Then academics tinker and fiddle until the next watershed. In response to the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes developed the revolutionary idea that individually beneficial actions could produce undesirable outcomes if everyone tried to do them at the same time. Irving Fisher explained that high levels of debt make economies vulnerable to downward spirals of deflation and default. Simon Kuznets did not develop any new theories but he played a key role in the creation of the national income and product accounts. Before him, policymakers, investors, and citizens had little way of knowing whether the economy was even shrinking or growing. FDR had to rely on indicators like the price of pig iron or the volume of freight car traffic, rather than gross domestic product.By the late 1940s, the Depression was over and Keynes was dead. Paul Samuelson was the man who set the agenda for the coming decades by taking some of the ideas from Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money and articulating them in mathematical models. (For those who are interested, Keynes’s entire book can be read for free online here.) Samuelson’s contributions were important but unfortunately he left many things out, particularly Keynes’s insights on the nature of the financial system. To Samuelson and his disciples, banks and other intermediaries were merely a “veil” between savers and borrowers in the nonfinancial sector, rather than profit-seeking firms that make loans opportunistically. While there were some early dissenters, notably John Gurley and Edward Shaw, the mainstream believed that finance was unimportant right up until the crisis.Many macroeconomists were comfortable ignoring finance because they exclusively studied the United States, a country that had not experienced a significant crisis since the 1930s. The government had responded by creating deposit insurance and breaking the last vestiges of the gold standard, which together, many economists concluded, would make future crises impossible in rich countries. For decades, the evidence appeared to support this thesis, although astute observers of events in the Nordics and Japan would have been more cautious.So the original postwar macro models left out the financial system. What did they include? The standard “empirical” models were based on the idea that the relationships observed in the past would generally continue into the future. This is not necessarily unwise. For example, changes in the number of people employed correspond pretty well to changes in the level of joblessness. Thousands of linear equations based on these sorts of relationships were combined into enormous systems. For several decades, these models actually did a pretty good job. Most famously, economists predicted in the early 1960s that John Kennedy’s proposed tax cuts would not add to the deficit because they would induce faster growth, which turned out to be true.Problems developed in the 1970s. “Stagflation,” the ugly portmanteau that describes an economy beset with rapid price increases and high levels of unemployment was not supposed to be possible—yet it was afflicting all of the world’s rich countries. The problem was that some relationships observed in the past can break down once policymakers deliberately try to take advantage of them. In this case, policymakers leaned too heavily on the Phillips Curve. A.W. Phillips had found that, historically, faster increases in nominal wages coincided with high rates of employment, while slower wage increases went alongside higher levels of joblessness. Before him, Irving Fisher (the same man who invented the concept of debt-deflation), had discovered a similar relationship between changes in nominal wages and changes in employment in America. While Phillips himself did not presume to suggest that the relationship he had discovered was an iron law of nature, other economists, including Paul Samuelson, did. They proposed that policymakers faced a simple tradeoff between unemployment and inflation, represented by Phillips’s curve. Policymakers could choose any point on the curve they desired.The problem with this sort of modelling exercise is that it ignored the human element. Unexpected changes in the price level or nominal wages alter real interest rates, real debt burdens, and real labour costs. That means that a sudden spurt of inflation can cause the economy to temporarily boom, which, among other things, would temporarily suppress the jobless rate. Similarly, unanticipated disinflation could cause a great deal of damage. Both Fisher and Phillips were looking at data from the era of the gold standard, when people generally expected prices to be stable. Any sustained change would have been a deviation from expectations, which is why the relationships they discovered appeared to be so robust. But if people came to expect the unexpected and adapted to the new, faster rate of inflation, the observed historical relationship would no longer hold. That is what happened in the 1970s. By then, people had come to realise that any economic slowdown would encourage policymakers to goose activity by demanding faster and faster inflation. No longer believing that rapid price increases were a “temporary” phenomenon, they pulled money out of the regulated banking system, which was unable to pay competitive rates on deposits compared to the new money market mutual funds. The cost of equity financing (roughly speaking, earnings yields) soared. It all added up to persistently higher levels of unemployment than most would have expected.A new generation of macroeconomists, including Ed Phelps, Robert Lucas, Thomas Sargent, Christopher Sims, and Robert Barro, responded to the challenge in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They replaced the mechanistic “empirical” models with ones that were simple and elegant—just a handful of equations in most cases. Instead of plugging in aggregate variables like the number of hours worked or the level of retail sales, these new “dynamic stochastic general equilibrium” (DSGE) models were based on individual households and businesses that tried to do the best they could in a challenging world. It is easy to mock the techniques used by these revolutionaries. No one actually makes day-to-day decisions while thinking about how to maximise the net present value of their future income. (This is what people mean when they talk about “rational expectations.”) Even if they did, no one has perfect knowledge of the world in which they live, much less perfect knowledge of the future. Moreover, this being the 1970s, there was not enough computing power to represent more than one household or business at a time. The founders of DSGE also chose to ignore the banking system for the same reasons as their “Keynesian” forebears.Despite these many drawbacks, DSGE models got one big thing right: they could explain “stagflation” by pointing to people’s changing expectations. At first, a sudden unanticipated spurt of inflation could lead to rapid economic growth. Over time, however, people would come to believe that this rate of inflation would be the new normal. Real interest rates, wages, and debt burdens would eventually adjust to their old levels. The gains in employment would be temporary—eventually it would settle at its “natural rate.” Moreover, savers and investors would become increasingly wary of the government’s willingness to induce inflation and increase the risk premium they demand on long-duration assets. The government could try to make prices increase faster and faster, hoping that policy would outrun people’s rapidly-adjusting expectations, but the consequences would likely be dire.Mathematically, DSGE models represent the economy as a ball that rests at the bottom of a rounded valley. This state is equivalent to steady growth. When the expectations of households and businesses are hit by a “shock,” the ball rolls up and down either side until it eventually returns to its resting place. This reflects the economy’s tendency to recover rapidly after recessions, as well as the fact that booms are rarely sustainable. Economists improve the realism of DSGE models by adding in “frictions” and “accelerators” that affect the motion of the ball after it is struck. The most common are based on the observation that it is easier to raise wages and prices than it is to lower them, which makes it hard for an economy to respond to “shocks” without faster inflation or higher unemployment. DSGE models with this (significant) tweak are known as “New Keynesian” or NK models. The original versions without the tweak are known as “Real Business Cycle” or RBC models.Financial “frictions” and “accelerators” for DSGE models were not developed until relatively recently, although those at the forefront of the new macro derisively refer to it as “tinkering.” After all, it still assumes that banks and other intermediaries are just a “veil” between savers and borrowers, rather than profit-seeking firms that make loans opportunistically. This is not to say that macroeconomists completely ignored the financial system. A few, including Ben Bernanke, the current chairman of the Federal Reserve, were studying financial crises using data from the Great Depression back in the early 1980s. But the knowledge gained from these efforts was not  incorporated into more generalised macroeconomic models. For example, Mr Bernanke co-wrote a well-known model in 1999 where the existence of debt makes downturns deeper and longer. While an improvement over what had existed before, the model fails to explain why most recessions do not go hand-in-hand with severe crises; the “frictions” and “accelerators” produced by the existence of debt are always proportional to the size of the “shocks” endured by the real economy. For economists like Gary Gorton, this completely misses the point that financial crises are distinct events with distinct causes. The shortcoming can be at least partially attributed to the fact that Mr Bernanke and his co-authors (Mark Gertler and Simon Gilchrist) left banks out of their model.As this week’s article makes clear, however, a new generation of reformers and revolutionaries are figuring out how to realistically depict the financial system. Subsequent posts will discuss these and other worthwhile ideas that may reshape the field.

19 января 2013, 18:25

Not Being Asleep at the Switch: DeLong Self-Smackdown Watch

Paul Krugman: What Did I Know, And When Did I Know It?: People have been poring over the just-released 2007 Fed transcripts, and the main surprise seems to be how complacent the institution was. Some members of the open market committee, including Janet Yellen and, let’s give credit where due, Tim Geithner, seem to have had a sense of dread; but the overall consensus was that nothing really bad would happen…. It seems to me that the really big determinant of whether you were intellectually ready for this crisis was how much attention you paid to events in the late 1990s — the crisis in emerging Asia, LTCM here, and the Japanese liquidity trap. I paid a lot of attention back then (as did Nouriel Roubini)…. And the result is that I’ve had a pretty good stretch; the only big thing I got wrong, I think, was in underestimating the stickiness of wages, and hence inflation, and therefore overestimating the risks of actual deflation… I, by contrast, got it more-or-less completely wrong in that I drew the wrong lessons from the 1990s and before: That is my abstract from: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston: October 18-20, 1999: Monetary Policy in a Low-Inflation Environment: A Conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston, New York, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Minneapolis, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System A diverse group of economists and policymakers gathered in Woodstock, Vermont, in October of 1999 to discuss the conduct of monetary policy in a low-inflation environment. The conference was held at a time when many countries had successfully reduced their inflation rates to the low single digits, an outcome without recent historical precedent that raises important questions about the conduct of monetary policy. Papers from this conference were published in Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Vol. 32, No. 4 (November 2000). Monetary Policy in a Low-Inflation Environment: A Conference Sponsored by the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Minneapolis, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, October 18-20, 1999 Jeffrey C. Fuhrer and Mark Sniderman, Conference Summary, pp. 845-869 Bennett T. McCallum, "Theoretical Analysis Regarding a Zero Lower Bound on Nominal Interest Rates, " pp. 870-904. Comment by Lawrence J. Christiano, 905-930. Comment by Neil Wallace, 931-935 David Reifschneider and John C. Williams, "Three Lessons for Monetary Policy in a Low-Inflation Era," pp. 936-966. Comment by Christopher, A. Sims pp. 967-972. Comment by Neil Wallace, pp. 973-978 J. Bradford DeLong, "America's Historical Experience with Low Inflation," pp. 979-993. Comment by Ben S. Barnake, pp. 994-997. Comment by William B. English 998 Marvin Goodfriend, "Overcoming the Zero Bound on Interest Rate Policy," pp. 1007-1035. Comment by Ralph C. Bryant, pp. 1036-1050. Comment by Charles Freedman, pp. 1051-1057 Anthony Saunders, "Low Inflation: The Behavior of Financial Markets and Institutions," pp. 1058-1087. Comment by John Y. Campbell, pp. 1088-1092 Policy Panel: Alan S. Blinder, "Monetary Policy at the Zero Lower Bound: Balancing the Risks," pp. 1093-1099. Michael Mussa, "Reflections on Monetary Policy of Low Inflation," pp. 1100-1106. Kazuo Ueda, "Japan's Experience with Zero Interest Rates," pp. 1107-1109

15 января 2013, 02:51

Biden's Video Game Conference Went Well For Gaming Industry, Participants Say

Researchers who participated in Vice President Joe Biden's conference on video games on Friday say that Biden declared himself an "agnostic" when it comes to the belief that video games lead to violence, while suggesting that the country could nonetheless benefit from more research into the subject. Cheryl Olson, a public health researcher and co-author of "Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do," said that Biden sought to put the members of the video game industry at ease with his opening remarks. "He acknowledged that he saw no evidence of a link between video games and real violence," she said. "However, he made the point that a large segment of the public believes there's a link, and that belief is a real force that needs to be reckoned with." As the head of a White House committee tasked with recommending solutions to the problem of gun violence, Biden has met with lawmakers, mental health experts and leaders of the firearms industry. On Friday he sat down with leaders of the video game industry, as well as with industry lobbyists and independent researchers. He and President Barack Obama are scheduled to unveil their proposals this week. Christopher Ferguson, an associate professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A&M International University and one of the researchers at the meeting, said Biden was "really trying to be as neutral as possible." "His message, to a large degree, was, 'Whether or not there are any kinds of evidence linking video games to aggression, what are things the industry could do to improve its image?' I understand that there were probably some people in the video game community thinking that this was a witch hunt or something, but I didn't come away with that impression." The Newtown shooting last month has reignited concerns over violence in video games, an issue that has often flared up in the wake of mass shootings. The gunman who shot 20 children and seven adults last month was reportedly an avid player of violent video games, and investigators discovered a stash of violent games worth thousands of dollars in his house. But many researchers, including those who attended the White House conference, say there's no evidence that video games contribute to violent behavior. At the same time, said Olson, there's also no proof that video games don't cause violence, as some in the industry have claimed. "One of things that I said at the meeting was that the work that I did was based on healthy kids attending public school," said Olson, who has surveyed 7th and 8th graders in three states on their gaming habits and experiences. "If kids are playing all the time, I'd worry about them," she added. If they are suffering from a serious mental illness, she said, "they could be using games to self-medicate and that might be fine in the short term, but could start a negative cycle." She also noted that there's no research on video game use by juvenile offenders. Olson, who in 2004 began surveying children's perceptions of violent video games, said the children she studies were "clear on fantasy versus reality, and that's why they like video games: because they're fantasy." Asked whether they considered any video games inappropriate for children their age, the subjects often mentioned "The Sims," a game in which players guide characters through an array of docile everyday activities, from tending the garden to reading a book. Those activities also include kissing -- something that kids can do "in real life" but don't always feel ready to face, Olson pointed out. By contrast, killing seemed to strike most kids in the study as safely confined to the world of fantasy. In recent years, both the firearms industry and the video game industry have worked to make the portrayal of violence in video games a little less fantastical. The weapons in video games are often modeled after real guns, for example-- a form of product placement that Olson hopes to see eliminated. Mentioning the tobacco settlement of 1998, which outlawed the use of paid product placement in movies by the tobacco industry, she said, "I don't think we should have real gun brands in video games." Ferguson said that Biden encouraged the video game industry to consider ways of better educating the public on its voluntary age advisory system, which rates games for older children and adults as M (Mature) or, in rare cases, AO (Adult Only). Ferguson agreed that there's little evidence of a link between video games and violence. Like many video game supporters, he pointed to Japan, where violent video games are popular and real-life gun violence is rare. While there's a body of research that examines whether video games could lead to increased aggression in young people, "those studies are inconsistent, and it's hard to make any kind of declarative conclusion about them," Ferguson said. Many of these studies measure aggression using something called the "noise burst test": subjects are told that they can punish someone sitting in another room by pushing a button that will subject the victim to a loud, abrasive noise. But Malte Elson, a researcher from the University of Münster in Germany who conducted a review of studies using this method, found many variations on the test. He and his colleague could arrive at almost any conclusion about the results depending on how the data was analyzed. "The different outcomes we had would have allowed us to make any statement -- that violence in games increases violence, has no effect, or even decreases it," he said. Olson said that most of the game industry representatives at the conference seemed open to the possibility of further research, although she said that one executive argued that video games "are an art and that further research should not even be under discussion." According to Olson, Biden raised the possibility of the industry financing government-directed studies. In a statement, the Entertainment Software Association, a trade group, alluded to a 2011 Supreme Court decision overturning a California law that sought to regulate the sale of violent games to minors: "We expressed in the meeting that the United States Supreme Court recently affirmed that the independent, scientific research conducted to date has found no causal connection between video games and real-life violence." The statement described the conversations with Biden as "productive and candid." "We are saddened by the recent tragic events, and as an industry integral to the social and cultural fabric of America, we look forward to continuing our engagement with government officials and policymakers focused on meaningful solutions," the statement concluded.

15 января 2013, 02:51

Biden's Video Game Conference Went Well For Gaming Industry, Participants Say

Researchers who participated in Vice President Joe Biden's conference on video games on Friday say that Biden declared himself an "agnostic" when it comes to the belief that video games lead to violence, while suggesting that the country could nonetheless benefit from more research into the subject. Cheryl Olson, a public health researcher and co-author of "Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do," said that Biden sought to put the members of the video game industry at ease with his opening remarks. "He acknowledged that he saw no evidence of a link between video games and real violence," she said. "However, he made the point that a large segment of the public believes there's a link, and that belief is a real force that needs to be reckoned with." As the head of a White House committee tasked with recommending solutions to the problem of gun violence, Biden has met with lawmakers, mental health experts and leaders of the firearms industry. On Friday he sat down with leaders of the video game industry, as well as with industry lobbyists and independent researchers. He and President Barack Obama are scheduled to unveil their proposals this week. Christopher Ferguson, an associate professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A&M International University and one of the researchers at the meeting, said Biden was "really trying to be as neutral as possible." "His message, to a large degree, was, 'Whether or not there are any kinds of evidence linking video games to aggression, what are things the industry could do to improve its image?' I understand that there were probably some people in the video game community thinking that this was a witch hunt or something, but I didn't come away with that impression." The Newtown shooting last month has reignited concerns over violence in video games, an issue that has often flared up in the wake of mass shootings. The gunman who shot 20 children and seven adults last month was reportedly an avid player of violent video games, and investigators discovered a stash of violent games worth thousands of dollars in his house. But many researchers, including those who attended the White House conference, say there's no evidence that video games contribute to violent behavior. At the same time, said Olson, there's also no proof that video games don't cause violence, as some in the industry have claimed. "One of things that I said at the meeting was that the work that I did was based on healthy kids attending public school," said Olson, who has surveyed 7th and 8th graders in three states on their gaming habits and experiences. "If kids are playing all the time, I'd worry about them," she added. If they are suffering from a serious mental illness, she said, "they could be using games to self-medicate and that might be fine in the short term, but could start a negative cycle." She also noted that there's no research on video game use by juvenile offenders. Olson, who in 2004 began surveying children's perceptions of violent video games, said the children she studies were "clear on fantasy versus reality, and that's why they like video games: because they're fantasy." Asked whether they considered any video games inappropriate for children their age, the subjects often mentioned "The Sims," a game in which players guide characters through an array of docile everyday activities, from tending the garden to reading a book. Those activities also include kissing -- something that kids can do "in real life" but don't always feel ready to face, Olson pointed out. By contrast, killing seemed to strike most kids in the study as safely confined to the world of fantasy. In recent years, both the firearms industry and the video game industry have worked to make the portrayal of violence in video games a little less fantastical. The weapons in video games are often modeled after real guns, for example-- a form of product placement that Olson hopes to see eliminated. Mentioning the tobacco settlement of 1998, which outlawed the use of paid product placement in movies by the tobacco industry, she said, "I don't think we should have real gun brands in video games." Ferguson said that Biden encouraged the video game industry to consider ways of better educating the public on its voluntary age advisory system, which rates games for older children and adults as M (Mature) or, in rare cases, AO (Adult Only). Ferguson agreed that there's little evidence of a link between video games and violence. Like many video game supporters, he pointed to Japan, where violent video games are popular and real-life gun violence is rare. While there's a body of research that examines whether video games could lead to increased aggression in young people, "those studies are inconsistent, and it's hard to make any kind of declarative conclusion about them," Ferguson said. Many of these studies measure aggression using something called the "noise burst test": subjects are told that they can punish someone sitting in another room by pushing a button that will subject the victim to a loud, abrasive noise. But Malte Elson, a researcher from the University of Münster in Germany who conducted a review of studies using this method, found many variations on the test. He and his colleague could arrive at almost any conclusion about the results depending on how the data was analyzed. "The different outcomes we had would have allowed us to make any statement -- that violence in games increases violence, has no effect, or even decreases it," he said. Olson said that most of the game industry representatives at the conference seemed open to the possibility of further research, although she said that one executive argued that video games "are an art and that further research should not even be under discussion." According to Olson, Biden raised the possibility of the industry financing government-directed studies. In a statement, the Entertainment Software Association, a trade group, alluded to a 2011 Supreme Court decision overturning a California law that sought to regulate the sale of violent games to minors: "We expressed in the meeting that the United States Supreme Court recently affirmed that the independent, scientific research conducted to date has found no causal connection between video games and real-life violence." The statement described the conversations with Biden as "productive and candid." "We are saddened by the recent tragic events, and as an industry integral to the social and cultural fabric of America, we look forward to continuing our engagement with government officials and policymakers focused on meaningful solutions," the statement concluded.

08 января 2013, 04:25

Matt Stoller: Lazy Corporate Monopolies Are Why America Can't Have Nice Things

This blog originally appeared on NakedCapitalism.com Throughout much of the United States, cell phone service is terrible (so is broadband, as Susan Crawford shows). And not just in rural or sparsely populated areas, but cell phone calls routinely drop in major metropolitan areas. You can't use your phone underground in New York, and there are plenty of places on Capitol Hill you can't get service. I actually once had trouble getting service near the Federal Communications Commission. This is a result of a lack of competition and increasingly poor regulatory policies. In the late 1990s, 50 percent of wireless revenues were invested in wireless infrastructure. By 2009, that number dropped to a little over 10 percent. What is it today? We don't know, because the FCC no longer even collects the data. The result is that your cell phone drops calls. Cell phone service is also expensive, and the companies nickel and dime you -- America is one of two countries where the person receiving the call has to pay for the call. A rough calculation shows that up to 80 percent of the cost of your cell phone service comes from corruption. Our banking services are similarly terrible. We have an increasing amount of power in the hands of a few large consumer banks. In most of Europe and in the UK, consumers rarely use checks, they simply transfer money over the Internet. A paper check is somewhat absurd -- a check is a few bits of information, so there should be no reason to clear this through a paper-based system. But in the U.S., the backend is still rooted in a 1970s architecture called Automated Clearing House, which was itself layered onto a much older system. This system allows checks (and debit card transactions) to take up to five days to clear, and is remarkably insecure. The association that runs the ACH, known as the National Automated Clearinghouse Association (NACHA), refused to upgrade it after member banks voted to kill a measure to speed up our payments clearing system. In America, the largest banks -- JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo -- are only now introducing products to allow internet transfers between bank accounts. I tried Chase's Quickpay service a few weeks ago, and it's pretty confusing and limited. Mostly, the fat and happy credit card oligopoly of VISA and Mastercard enjoys absurd margins, a roughly 2 percent tax on every transaction in the country. These systems interrelate, and inefficiency in one impacts the other. This became very obvious to me when I went to Kenya last summer, and saw how a semi-competent telecom and banking system could work. Kenya has the world's most innovative mobile payments system, called M-Pesa. M-Pesa is a cell phone based cash remittance system based on text messages. Unlike Chase's Quickpay system, M-Pesa just works, and works well. You load your SIM card with money at any number of street stalls, telecom stores, beauty shops, or anywhere else someone has decided to set up a Safaricom outlet. Transfers happen via text message, and they cost 0.5 - 4 percent of the cost of the transaction, which is cost-effective for a country where so few people have access to banks. Withdrawals can happen at any Safaricom outlet. If your phone is stolen, that's ok, the cash is loaded onto your SIM card and you have a unique password. And everyone uses it. It's like Paypal, only it's not terrible. No one quite knows why Safaricom, which is essentially a monopoly, has been able to make this system work in Kenya, whereas large banks and telecoms haven't been able to make something similar work in the United States. There's a good case to be made that the lack of banking services in Kenya left open a large business opportunity. There was a ready-made culture for this service - workers in Kenya often send money they make in urban areas back home, and there are many small retail stalls run by shopkeepers which were quite willing to sell Safaricom services. M-Pesa first caught on among the unbanked. In the US, most people have access to banks, and remittances are only common among certain population sub-groups (the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is actually beginning to regulate the space). Credit cards are common. But still, this doesn't explain why I can easily transfer money from a checking account in Europe to a friend's checking account in Europe, but can't do it here. I spoke with representatives from Dwolla, which is a company attempting to build a similar system in the U.S., and they didn't really have an answer. The Federal Reserve, which overseas check-clearing in the United States, hasn't been able to force an upgrade to the clearinghouse that American banks use. The National Automated Clearinghouse Association (NACHA) hasn't wanted to, and didn't respond to my inquiry as to why they aren't trying to make it happen. And unlike Safaricom, American telecommunications companies haven't pushed into the banking space, largely resisting the ability to buy goods and services via text message or short codes. This isn't just a problem of monopolistic behavior or excessive market power. Safaricom is a very powerful company in Kenya, and there is basically no competition to what they do. Yet they have produced a terrific system that companies all over the world are trying to replicate. Cell service on volcanos where no one lives except zebras and lions is more reliable than cell service on Fifth Avenue in New York. What seems to have happened is that American corporate executives are now more focused on financial engineering, which is essentially the extraction of capital from their enterprises and from the public, than they are at selling improved goods and services. For example, GE just got a tax break extended which added $3 billion a year in annual profit in the latest fiscal cliff deal. That's a lot of money, and not one good or service was improved to drop that cash to the bottom line. As another example, the cable industry isprojecting an average monthly bill of $200 by 2020, versus $86 today. At 73 million subscribers, that's an additional $100 billion a year of revenue. Comcast alone has 22 million customers -- that's $30 billion a year for this one company alone. And let's be clear, this is not going to better products, Americans tend to get worse Internet and cable service than counterparts around the world. Investing in manipulative pricing schemes, lobbying for tax breaks and not investing in good infrastructure is a rational choice for American corporate executives, since their ethic is to extract as much capital as possible from the American economy. And yet, this is why America can't have nice things. Antitrust is the core problem here. Without restraint on behavior, corporate executives will work to grab as much market and political power as possible, because only market power and political power allows them to have pricing leverage without investment, risk, or innovation. Competition is the enemy of these businessmen. America has a long tradition of monopoly power and anti-monopoly sentiment and activism. From the progressive era of Teddy Roosevelt to the early 1980s, America had a strong tradition of antitrust regulation rooted in the understanding that too much market power led to inefficiency and price gouging. This tradition ended under Reagan. Since this dramatic shift in antitrust enforcement, corporate power in every industry from cable to railroads to rental cars to banking to health insurance to pipelines has skyrocketed. The result has been inefficiency and price gouging. American electric utilities have dramatically reduced the number of people they have that can repair power lines, which is why it took so long to restore power after Hurricane Sandy. Increasingly, services provided by American corporate oligopolies are terrible. That's why, if you want to see the future of banking services, you have to look to Kenya. We know how to fix this. It's called antitrust. And we have to do is dust off some old law books, decide that greed isn't the only core value we believe in, and get to work.

12 ноября 2012, 13:50

Прощание с мечтой RB.ru

В 2007 году в RB.ru строили собственное - первое в России - профессиональное сообщество. Сегодня RB.ru превратился в контентное приложение к международной профессиональной социальной сети Viadeo, а руководитель RB.ru Наталия Моисеенкова - теперь уже в условиях жесткой конкуренции - пытается развивать в России западную соцсеть. Сегодня у Viadeo в России 190 тыс пользователей: 40 тыс - старые пользователи Rb.ru, еще 150 тысяч было привлечено с февраля 2012 года средствами издательского дома Sanoma Independent Media, которому принадлежит RB.ru и половина Viadeo в России (для сравнения: российская аудитория LinkedIn к моменту запуска русскоязычной версии сайта в 2011-м оценивалась в 400 тыс человек).  О том, что происходит с RB.ru и Viadeo, Roem.ru рассказала Наталия Моисеенкова: - В чем преимущество Viadeo перед другими профессиональными соцсетями - Professionali.ru, MoiKrug.ru, LinkedIn.com? Наталья Моисеенкова: Качество платформы, сервисов. Большинство вещей, важных для профессионального общения у нас реализованы просто лучше: что адресная книга, что синхронизация контактов, что инструменты для рекрутеров. Это неудивительно, потому что ресурсы разработки у любой международной социальной сети намного больше. То есть это, прежде всего, технологическое преимущество.  Плюс доступ к международной аудитории, что интересно для делового общения, когда бизнес стал в полном смысле слова глобальным и, более того, специалисты мигрируют из одной страны в другую. Viadeo может предложить почти 50 млн контактов по всему миру, и это действительно возможность для коммуникации.  А перед другим международным игроком - LinkedIn – преимущество, прежде всего, в том, что Viadeo действительно меняется для российского рынка и предлагает специальные условия – все премиальные возможности для всех пользователей бесплатны, можно тестировать всем рекрутерские сервисы, в русскую версию встроена локальная информация – русские новости, информация о российских компаниях, ну и мы обязательно сделаем какие-то специальные российские features, пока спорим, что это может быть. И мы ближе – у нас есть локальная здешняя команда. - Имеет ли сейчас смысл говорить об RB.ru как о самостоятельном проекте или он теперь выступает только как контентное приложение к Viadeo? Н.М.: Сейчас RB.ru выступает в связке с Viadeo. Даже когда мы планируем запуск новых рубрик или новых сервисов на RB, это все идет по принципу дополнения к Viadeo. Так что это проект – важный для нас, но рассматривающийся именно в тандеме с Viadeo, как его контентное дополнение. - Изначально у RB.ru было большое желание самому стать профессиональной сетью. Почему решили отказаться от этой мечты в пользу раскрутки бренда Viadeo? Н.М.: RB.ru изначально был как бы между нескольких стульев: мы хотели сделать такой портал со всем, где будут и новости, и тематические разделы, и сообщество, которое привлечет пользовательский контент в дополнение к редакционному. Для развития именно той части, которую можно было бы отнести к социальной сети, это не было позитивным моментом, плюс в полной мере на RB.ru никогда не было базовых, важных для социальной сети вещей – например, построение сети контактов и прочее. Так что когда возникла возможность сотрудничества c Viadeo – выбор был однозначным. Тему социальной сети лучше продолжать развивать с социальной сетью. - На чем планирует зарабатывать Viadeo в России? Зарабатывает ли уже? Есть ли открытые планы по прибыли, по доходам? Какие бизнес-задачи стоят перед Viadeo? Есть ли отдельные бизнес-планы у RB.ru? Н.М.: На том же, что и в других странах: реклама (таргетированная по профилям), решения для подбора персонала, реклама бизнес-образования, пользовательская реклама. Еще в глобальном Viadeo есть, конечно, пользовательские платежи. Как с этим будет в России, пока не можем сказать, нет определенных планов. Сейчас из всего этого работает первое – реклама, то есть это мы продаем, и это покупают. Остальные три вещи будем тестировать в 2013. Цифры по доходам акционерами вовне не коммуницируются. Бизнес-план у двух проектов общий, есть разделение между рекламой на Viadeo и RB.ru, а все новые сервисы будущие – связаны с платформой Viadeo. - В декабре 2011 года Дэн Серфати, руководитель Viadeo, говорил, что российский рынок - основной драйвер роста для Viadeo. Он также отметил, что по его расчетам в 2012 году в сети будет 2 млн российских пользователей. Сейчас цифра меньше, чем в 200 тысяч, признается успешной. Почему так получилось? Н.М.: СП с Viadeo было создано в декабре 2011. И наш таргет – 150 000 пользователей к 1-11-2012 – был частью соглашения (договора) акционеров. Так что о нем мы и рапортуем. Да, я помню, что такая цифра (2 млн) где-то промелькнула в новостях про Viadeo в прошлом году, но и у нас она вызвала ужасное (в полном смысле слова) удивление, это либо ошибка, либо плохой перевод, либо недопонимание. Даже если мы бы очень хотели два миллиона - такая цифра, как минимум, нереалистична для первого года работы в России любой профессиональной сети, у нас не было нереалистичных желаний. Наш таргет был 150 000 участников, мы его перевыполнили и этим довольны. Другое дело – что наши цели в 2013 намного более амбициозны, и еще надо постараться их достичь. Для привлечения этих пользователей мы не использовали никаких платных каналов продвижения, только ресурсы издательского дома Sanoma Independent Media: пригласили пользователей "Ведомостей", пользователей наших life-style ресурсов. Прошла реклама в наших же оффлайн-изданиях, но тут, сами понимаете, реклама скорее имиджевая, для рекламодателей, а не для пользователей. - Как RB.ru интегрировался с Viadeo? Н.М.: Интеграция состояла из двух этапов: в феврале мы запустили русскоязычную версию Viadeo, а уже в июле произошла сама интеграция. С июля на RB.ru все социальные функции, в том числе связанные с регистрацией, комментированием, привязаны к аккаунту Viadeo. По сути, у RB.ru нет отдельных пользователей, они все привязаны к русской версии Viadeo. - А что со старыми пользователями? Н.М.: Старые пользователи автоматически интегрированы в Viadeo. Мы всех об этом предупредили, предложили - если что - отказаться, всех согласившихся - порядка 40 тысяч - автоматом перенесли в Viadeo. - Планируете запускать платные компании для привлечения пользователей? Н.М.: Простые рекламные компании в духе "Приходите на Viadeo" мы не планируем. У нас предполагается довольно большое количество специальных проектов, различных конкурсов. Сейчас, например, мы проводим конкурс с National Geographic Russia и Air France, который нацелен на то, чтобы люди приглашали в Viadeo своих коллег и получали за это призы. Через некоторое время у нас будет конкурс насчет стажировок: будут разыгрываться две стажировки - одна для маркетологов, одна для технических специалистов. Подобных конкурсов планируется порядка 5, и именно они будут поддерживаться рекламой на различных онлайн-ресурсах. - Настанет ли момент, когда бренд RB.ru уйдет, и останется только российский Viadeo? Н.М.: Самым главным брендом для продвижения сейчас является российское Viadeo.com. RB.ru сейчас представляет собой контентное приложение к нему. - Из Sanoma Independent Media ушла Елена Мясникова, материнская Sanoma Group объявила об оптимизации активов и бизнес-процессов. Коснулась ли эта история каким-нибудь образом RB.ru? Н.М.: Нет. На уровне проектов ни мы, ни какое другое издание SIM не может сказать, что что-то поменялось. Беседовала Анастасия Шматкова

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04 ноября 2012, 01:05

Early Voting Experience In N.C. Bodes Ill For Civility On Election Day

If Election Day goes anything like the past 17 days of early voting in North Carolina, here's what you can expect at your local precincts on Tuesday: Belligerent citizens demanding the right to personally inspect the voting process and yelling "shut up" at the top of their lungs when election officials tell them that only official poll observers can do that. Official poll observers who have been improperly trained by the groups they represent and think it's their job to interrogate voters rather than just watch.Long lines, which means that a lot of people end up waiting outside the designated no-electioneering zones, getting harangued by campaign workers.Shouting matches between Republican and Democratic campaign workers -- and sometimes voters standing in line -- that can involve name-calling, threatening gestures, and the summoning of law enforcement.A guy driving a tractor-trailer bed filled with effigies of Democratic officials, including President Barack Obama, with nooses around their neck. (Federal officials are looking into that one, which took place at an early voting center in Eastern North Carolina on Thursday.) The fact that all these incidents have occurred at a few, tightly supervised early voting centers is giving state officials reason to worry that things could be much worse when regular polling stations open for business. "I am hoping that people will have a return of good manners and civility by Tuesday," said Johnnie McLean, deputy director of the North Carolina election board. Then she quickly acknowledged it's not likely. "More this time than any election previously, we will remind the county boards of election that their officials have the authority and the responsibility to maintain peace and good order in the voting place -- and if the situation calls for it, they can call on local law enforcement to assist in that process," she said. "I fear that it may be necessary." The state board last week sent out a memo to county elections officials warning them to be on alert for party and campaign workers "using profanity and aggressive language to supporters of opposing candidates or political parties." It also warned of dirty tricks aimed at preventing people from voting. Aggressive electioneering has always been a problem, officials said. But never like this. "They're being rude, disrespectful and really just downright mean to each other," said Michael Perry, who heads the Durham County election board. "Someone's talking to someone, then someone else might stand behind them and talk louder, or step in front of them. It's gotten to the point of personal name calling." "We've had to call the police twice to one location," Perry said. At one center near a library, two people from rival campaigns "had gotten into such a loud verbal altercation that it became a disturbance for library patrons, so something had to be done about it." In Wake County, which includes Raleigh, an election official was injured when a campaign worker grabbed her by the wrist as she was trying to get him to respect the buffer line beyond which voters are supposed to be left alone. Officials say a new problem this year is people showing up at polling places and thinking they have the right to walk right in and inspect things. In some states, ordinary citizens do actually have that ability, but in most -- including North Carolina -- there are strict limits regarding observers and pre-approval is required. "People have a skewed idea about their rights at these polling locations," said McLean. "And even observers seem to have a misguided definition of what their role is. They think they are election police. That is not what they are there for." "Observer is a title for a reason. It says you can observe. It does not say you are in charge." North Carolina law allows each political party to place up to two observers at each polling place, as agreed to ahead of time. "Voters deserve the opportunity to cast their ballot in a calm atmosphere, in a dignified and respectful atmosphere," said McLean. But during early voting, at least initially, many observers "felt like it was their job to go up and tell a voter that they couldn't do a particular thing," McLean said. "They thought they had more authority." The would-be observers who show up unannounced and demand access are the biggest problem, said Wake County elections board deputy director Gary Sims. "Those are the ones who could fall into the category of: Have created issues," he said. "We had an incident the other day, a guy walked in and said 'As a citizen I have a right to be here. I want to go over and check your tabulators'," Sims said. "The site supervisor said: 'You cannot do that." And he started yelling at her: 'You need to just shut your mouth.'" Finally the supervisor was able to persuade the man to go back outside. But Sims said he kept on yelling, "You need to just shut up and shut your mouth" as he left. "The problem is that people are very passionate," Sims said, and they "sometimes have their own ideas about how elections should work."

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14 октября 2012, 22:11

Hugo Chávez accused of spying on rival in runup to presidential election

Venezuelan secret service agents tracked Henrique Capriles and family, leaked documents allegedly showHugo Chávez's government has been accused of spying on his defeated presidential rival in the runup to the Venezuelan elections, with leaked documents allegedly showing that secret service agents tracked the movements of Henrique Capriles and his family.Argentinian journalist Jorge Lanata, who said he was interrogated by secret service agents at Caracas airport last week as he left Venezuela, was due to release the files on television on Sunday night. The documents have not been authenticated but are said to come from secret service files.One report, dated 3 October, is titled Arrival of relatives of MUD presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, and tracks the arrival of the candidate's aunt, Andrea Radonski, and nine others at La Chinita airport.Another, marked Secret, states that "with regard to the monitoring under way of the main personalities from the national political arena passing through the International Airport Simón Bolívar de Maiquetía, it is observed that presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, has not made any trips since 6 August 2012, when he arrived from Maracaibo on board airship 215T".Others documents report on the infiltration of student groups and he movement of foreign journalists covering last Sunday's polls.Lanata said secret service agents questioned him for two hours in the basement of Caracas airport, and deleted data from his team's computers, cellphones and cameras before allowing them to leave the country. "They wanted to know where we had got the documents from," said Lanata, who was to reveal their contents on his news programme Periodismo Para Todos (Journalism for All).Last week, Lanata released documents apparently showing how he and his team were being tracked by the secret service during their stay in Venezuela."They kept on asking me for my email password because they wanted to see what other documents I had," said Nicolás Wiñazki, a journalist on Lanata's team. "They thought they had found it when they found my scribbled password for the WiFi at my hotel."Wiñazki refused to give the agents his password and after nearly two hours in the basement of Maiquetía international airport, he and the rest of Lanata's team were returned their passports, as well as their now emptied cellphones, cameras and computers, and allowed to board their plane to Buenos Aires.Lanata says he is convinced the documents are genuine because of the interrogation. "The SEBIN (secret service) agents kept asking how we got hold of the documents that we had already aired, so those were definitely authentic. These ones about Capriles came from the same source."Lanata, a critic of the Chávez government and his ally, Argentina's president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, expects a strong reaction to his broadcast. "They could charge me with violating Venezuelan secrecy laws. I suppose they could bar me from ever returning to Venezuela or ask for my extradition from Argentina, that would be a great story too."Hugo ChávezVenezuelaAmericasArgentinaUki Goniguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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20 сентября 2012, 14:02

Charlemagne: SimEurope

UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Could Asia really go to war over these? Fly Title:  Charlemagne Rubric:  Some fantasies for the future of Europe may cause more problems than they resolve Main image:  20120922_EUD000_0.jpg ANYBODY who has played (or watched their children play) life-simulation computer games, such as “SimCity” or “The Sims”, will know how engrossing they can be. Countless hours are spent creating an intricate synthetic world, be it a house or a whole city, inventing characters that speak a nonsense tongue known as Simlish, controlling their actions and sometimes visiting disaster upon them. A similar craze is gripping Brussels: call it SimEurope. Guido Westerwelle and Radek Sikorski, the foreign ministers of Germany and Poland, have spent much of this year locked away with nine colleagues (almost all boys) engaging in make-believe. This week they revealed the fruits of their “Future of Europe Group”. It is a world that includes an elected European ...

14 сентября 2012, 22:18

iPhone 5 в России может стоить 115 тысяч рублей

14 сентября, в США и странах Европы можно будет оформить предварительный заказ на покупку смартфона iPhone 5. Если за океаном цены на новинку были объявлены в ходе ее презентации, то европейская стоимость была озвучена только-только. В немецком и французском онлайн-магазине Apple телефон iPhone 5 стоит от 679 евро - без привязки SIM-карты к оператору сотовой связи. Подешевел предшественник iPhone 4S, стоящий теперь 579 евро в 16-гигабайтном исполнении. Начало продаж iPhone 5 в магазинах США, Великобритании, Канады, Франции, Германии, Австралии, Японии, Гонконга и Сингапура намечено на 21 сентября. Через неделю старт будет дан в Австрии, Бельгии, Чехии, Дании, Эстонии, Финляндии, Венгрии, Ирландии, Италии, Лихтенштейне, Литве, Люксембурге, Нидерландах, Новой Зеландии, Норвегии, Польше, Португалии, Словакии, Словении, Испании, Швеции и Швейцарии. В России "яблочный" гаджет появится ближе к концу 2012 года. Аналитик Mobile Research Group Эльдар Муртазин предполагает, что официально iPhone 5 в России будет стоить 40 тысяч рублей. Между тем, агентство Bloomberg со ссылкой на Владислава Завьялова, менеджера по маркетингу Re: Store Retail Group, официального продавца Apple в России и Европе, сообщает, что в первые дни с момента мировой премьеры iPhone 5 в России это устройство будет продаваться по цене около 115 тысяч рублей. (http://www.dailycomm.ru/m...)

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13 сентября 2012, 17:27

Digital Domain: что именно произошло со студией, победившей Uncanny Valley?

Компания Digital Domain Media Group на прошлой неделе неожиданно объявила о своём банкротстве и подала петицию о защите от требований кредиторов по статье 11 Кодекса о банкротстве США. Новость откровенно скандальная, как и обстоятельства этого финансового краха. Увольнение всех сотрудников без предупреждения и долг в 200 млн долларов — и это происходит с компанией, ассоциирующейся с производством визуальных эффектов для таких фильмов, как «Аватар», «Загадочная история Бенджамина Баттона», «Куда приводят мечты», «Я, Робот», «Пираты Карибского моря: на краю света», «Трон: Наследие» и «Трансформеры». Как? Почему?Читать дальше...Похожие статьиRIM объявляет «PR-конкурс» для разработчиков ПО для BlackBerryБолее 50% устройств на базе Android имеют уязвимостиYahoo и корпоративные смартфоны: iOS, Android, Windows — и никаких BlackBerryTelenor vs. Altimo: паритет обеспечивает спецназПроизводители новых компьютерных чипов смогут обойтись без кремния

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12 сентября 2012, 13:13

iPhone 5 появится в России только к Новому году

Россияне смогут официально приобрести пятую модель знаменитого смартфона iPhone только в декабре 2012 года, несмотря на то, что в США его продажи стартуют уже 21 сентября, сообщает РБК daily со ссылкой на источник в компании из «большой тройки». Причиной задержки источник газеты назвал то, что Apple заказала недостаточное количество телефонов у азиатских заводов. Напомним, что компания Apple представит iPhone 5 в среду, 12 сентября, в 21:00 по московскому времени. Вместе с телефоном компания может показать iPad mini, а также плееры iPod nano и iPod Touch. iPhone 5. Неофициальные фотографии Американский рынок смотрит на новинку с надеждой: по подсчетам аналитиков JP Morgan, компания Apple сможет продать за один квартал 8 млн устройств, что добавит 0,5% темпам роста ВВП США.   Интернет-магазины пользуются тем, что продажи в России нового смартфона стартуют позже на два месяца, чем в Европе, и уже сейчас обещают продать «серый» iPhone 5 в двадцатых числах сентября за 70—80 тысяч рублей, хотя его стоимость в США составит около 19 тысяч рублей, сообщает JP Morgan. В первые дни в Россию хлынут 35—40 тысяч «серых» устройств, стоимость на которые может превысить 100 тысяч рублей, заявил изданию ведущий аналитик Mobile Research Group Эльдар Муртазин. Напомним, что при запуске iPhone 4s 14 октября 2011 года Россия попала во вторую очередь продаж спустя два месяца с  момента официальной презентации. Компания Apple тщательно скрывала все детали нового смартфона от публики, однако в сеть все-таки просочились некоторые данные. Как и в предыдущих случаях, картина по поводу iPhone 5 практически ясна. Главным разочарованием станет тот факт, что к пятому айфону нужно будет покупать отдельные аксессуары из-за нового разъема. 19-ти пиновый коннектор сменит стандартный 30-пиновый. В качестве компенсации компания выпустит переходник. Дисплей и корпус iPhone 5. Кадр: vesti.ru Дисплей нового телефона станет более вытянутым, его диагональ составит 4 дюйма, что пропорционально увеличит корпус на 1,5-2 см. Технология дисплея in-cell позволит уменьшить вес и толщину телефона до 7,6 мм. Разрешение экрана составит 640 x 1136. Соотношение сторон 16 х 9 соответствует самым популярным видеоформатам. Увеличение экрана позволит добавить дополнительную линию иконок на экране меню. Корпус лишится металлической окантовки по бокам, а задняя панель будет исполняться в двух цветах. По данным The Washington Post, при изготовлении телефона будет использоваться материал под названием «жидкий металл», который на ощупь напоминает стекло. На задней панели разместится второй микрофон, который улучшит качество звука при видеосъемке. Разъем для наушников будет расположен в нижней части смартфона. Как и предыдущая версия, пятый айфон будет иметь две камеры, которые позволят снимать HD-видео с качествм 1080p. Процессор и память Новый айфон будет построен на базе четырехъядерного процессора А6 с тактовой частотой ядра 1 ГГц, который сможет поддерживать обновленную версию голосового помощника Siri. Он научится запускать любые приложения по просьбе владельца, а также технологию Near Field Communication, позволяющую обмениваться данными между двумя расположенными рядом телефонами и платить за покупки. Телефон получит мощный четырехъядерный графический сопроцессор GPU для поддержки игровых приложений и один гигабайт оперативной памяти. По предварительным данным, телефон поступит в продажу в двух модификациях. Клиенты Apple смогут выбрать версию с флеш-накопителем на 32 Гб или 64 Гб. Связь Новые аксессуары Главным отличием iPhone 5 будет поддержка сетей четвертого поколения 4G на базе LTE в России, которые на iPad 3 работали только в Северной Америке. Однако владельцев «серой» поставки тут ждет разочарование. Американский айфон не сможет работать в LTE-сетях российских операторов, которые используют другие частоты. В России LTE-услуги предоставляют три оператора: Yota, «Мегафон» и МТС. Причем последняя компания использует SIM-карты с поддержкой LTE c 2009 года. По данным РБК daile, для iPhone 5 МТС закупит 100 тысяч nano-SIM-карт. «ВымпелКом» и «МегаФон» также тестируют новые nano-SIM-карты. По стандартам смартфона, iPhone 5 будет поддерживать Bluetooth, а также модуль Wi-Fi на базе технологии Wi-Fi Direct, которая позволит еще проще подключаться к беспроводным сетям. Программы Шестое поколение аппаратов iPhone от компании Apple будет работать на новой операционной системе iOS 6 с поддержкой улучшенной многозадачности и виджетами, трехмерными географическими картами от Apple на движке TomTom с навигатором. Applе официально отказалась от службы картографии и навигации Google Maps, двигаясь в сторону замены известных программ на приложения собственного производства. По слухам, популярный видеопортал YouTube также будет заменен на аналог от Apple. Конкуренты Не успела компания Apple презентовать свой новый айфон, как ее главный конкурент — корейская компания Samsung — объявила о том, что подаст против нее в суд. Причиной стали те самые технологии мобильной передачи данных LTE, которые будет поддерживать iPhone 5. Причем у Samsung есть высокие шансы взять ревашн у Apple за прошлое поражение в патентной войне. Ранее тайваньская компания НТС выиграла иск, связанный с незаконным использованием Apple технологий LTE. Следует отметить, что Samsung является главным конкурентом Apple. Причем на мировом рынке корейцы явно выигрывают, продав уже 20 млн копий своего флагмана Galaxy S III. В конце августа Samsung представила Galaxy Note II, главным отличием которого стал огромный дисплей диагональю 5,5 дюймов, выполненный по технологии Super AMOLED.

01 августа 2012, 18:18

Anabel Perez: Digital Money, Mobile Wallets and Latin America

A recent wave of global and regional announcements regarding mobile wallets and payment systems has casual and close followers alike asking some the same questions. What exactly are they talking about? Whether the statements are promoting digital money, mobile payments, mobile banking, prepaid or a mobile wallet, one thing is certain: the lack of consistency in terminology and the vagueness typical of early product releases has made the task of distinguishing all the more difficult with each new announcement, confusing would-be industry participants and potential end-users. So, it would seem that some demystifying is in order: Simply put, mobile wallets aim to create a phone-based equivalent of a physical wallet -- a cloud and/or SIM-based collection of all the personal identification, financial and non-financial account information we might carry with us every day. The different money, payments and banking offerings refer mostly to the ability to purchase and perform other value-based transactions with a mobile handset -- almost always a smartphone. These may work in concert with or independent of a so-called mobile wallet and may or may not have an associated physical card or a traditional deposit account. In addition, some of these are open- or closed-loop, meaning they can be used almost anywhere or with individual or select parties, respectively. In our region, as in other emerging markets, these details are very important given the fact that more than 90% of mobile users are on prepaid plans -- many of them unbanked -- and use devices with varying features and capabilities to match their individual budgets and technical abilities. Who are the key players? As the late author and professor C.K. Prahalad informed us in his seminal book, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the affordability, accessibility and availability of each of these offerings depends on your income, where you live (or roam), and your device's capabilities. Present examples include Google Wallet (closed-loop, U.S. only), Facebook Credit (closed-loop, global, proprietary currency), Apple's Passbook (loyalty) and Safaricom's M-Pesa (stored value, money transfer via SMS, Kenya). In Latin America, to date we've seen the arrival of initiatives to improve mobile payment transactions and incorporate unbanked users such as Transfer in Mexico (Telmex with Citi/Banamex and Inbursa) and Wanda (MasterCard and Telefonica) in Argentina, LATODO and Plata (Servitebca with Interbank in Peru, and with Venezolano de Credito in Venezuela, respectively) Yellow Pepper in Haiti, and TPago in the Dominican Republic. In short, these are a series of different, early-stage ventures comprised of some combination of telcos, acceptance networks, prepaid program managers, banks, technology companies and operating systems. What business are they after? What each of them shares is a common motivation: to capture the favor of today's and tomorrow's increasingly mobile-device dependent user and hence their relationships, transactions, and related data. Given the way the mobile phone has gradually replaced or replicated nearly every item on our nightstands (alarm clock), desks (email, browser), briefcases, purses and pockets (agenda, reading material, games, camera), and even our televisions, it stands to reason that the wallet would be the next object of interest. And,with good reason. What a marvelous endeavor: to take the most indispensable and ubiquitous personal product of modern life and give it greater transactional capabilities, simplifying the collecting, spending and interchanging of various "currencies", from legal tender to loyalty points. Naturally, such a tool would be able to integrate with whatever financial tools you could afford, including entry-level products such as stored value and public assistance accounts, as well as savings, credit, loyalty and retail store accounts. Sounds convenient, right? Now, start integrating these accounts with some of your smartphone's other capabilities such as calendars and reminders ('A payment is due'), GPS ('Low balance. Reload location in 25 feet'), SMS ('New e-coupon credited to your account'), apps from your favorite services, merchants and games, and maybe new features like contactless near field communications (NFC), and you've got a pretty interesting set of value propositions. What does this world look like? Here's a fun exercise. Look inside a typical Latin American consumer's wallet today and imagine what their mobile wallet and future might look like... • More local apps: User-friendly apps are great for simplifying the delivery of information and services. They will also be ideal for creating entry-level voice recognition apps for technically unskilled or illiterate consumers who may be otherwise too expensive to serve in the physical world. • Better security: For the unbanked consumer, electronic money will continue to be more secure than carrying physical cash, verifying identity through passwords, PINs, and maybe biometrics in the future. For the banked, one can envision an instant "block all" feature to their accounts in the event a physical wallet is stolen or an identity compromised. • Job marketplace: From skilled entrepreneurs, to street vendors to selfemployed blue collar laborers with stored value accounts will list their services, and will be found, sent for and paid electronically by those that would employ their services. • Better top-up and bill payment (reduced account delinquency): Let's face it, those paper minutes, long lines and late bills aren't good for the payer or provider, so how about waiving the bill pay fee for paying electronically on time? The customer avoids the line in the street, the service stays on and the provider's cash flow improves. Win-win. • More upselling and maturing customer relationships: It's much easier to know when an individual customer is ready for an offer when you have data. In the future, companies will provide offers to products and services based on hard data and send them to the customer electronically and on a timely basis. Capturing, storing, structuring, selling, and accessing data become new revenue source and a key component in this new world. • More effective promotions: When a functional postage system is nonexistent and many people lack a recognized legal residence, companies have to spend more to promote. Not anymore. Send that discount and reward that act of loyalty electronically to the mobile. Companies will use data to decide whether it's better to offer individual customers a rebate or special interest rate for that new washer and dryer. • Electronic documentation: Who doesn't love the idea of less pieces of paper to put away and file? From transit passes to ID to receipts to proof of purchase and warranties, all will be provided electronically and immediately to the mobile. • Virtual goods: If companies like Zenya can sell billions of dollars in virtual goods on Facebook, then millions will surely want a virtual version of their favorite saint to replace the one in their physical wallet. But seriously, to be successful in this new world of 100%-plus mobile penetration, companies in our region will need to first think like their current and would-be customers. This means understanding lifestyles, habits and needs in order to figure out how to best bridge their physical and new virtual worlds to generate the value. What are the challenges? If our mobile payments and wallets environment were an organism today, it would have a lot of muscle (telcos, networks, banks) and few arteries and interconnecting tissue (interoperable platforms, developers, and smaller specialized players). A greater number of organizations will need to collaborate in order to create successful mobile services and distribution models for the region, re-inventing and repurposing existing examples and in the process nurturing the small breed of technical specialists and managers that are key to addressing the inherent issues. These issues can be broken down into five parts: • Commercial: Establishing the common goals, value propositions to participants and end-users, roles, developing different commercial strategies at the same time, and business models for sharing common assets and customers. • Technical: Interoperability. There are a lot of capable people with a great track record of building closed things. Opening and interconnecting them in meaningful ways is perhaps as much of a technical challenge as a cultural one. • Operational: Just because a group of organizations come together to share something of great interest and importance doesn't mean that it fits into their operations or core businesses. This is where the work of identifying responsibilities and different operating models becomes key. • Regulatory: The regulatory environment in our markets is poorly prepared for this new mobile world, mainly because of its lack of legal clarity on some key topics, and because, in fairness to the framers, no one could have imagined this world. It's time to understand the underlying technologies, new players, cash-in-cash-out models and safeguards, weigh the potential social and economic impact an revisit the rules. • Confidence: The first thing a new user does when he loads cash on a stored value account is walk around the corner and take the money back out of an ATM. I've seen it myself. Trust is everything. Consumers and industry participants alike need to know that these systems are guaranteed, transparent, well administered and that their information is secure. How do we move forward? Another buzzword these days is 'ecosystem' -- as in, payments ecosystem. This is the idea that once fairly open and accessible systems are set in motion, they will flourish by attracting a diversity of interconnected and interacting players large and small, spurring innovation and economic activity. It's a wonderful concept and every bit worth pursuing, but it will not happen until all of the recipe's other ingredients are present. These are leadership, drafting a road map, collaboration, education, passion and long-term commitment. It takes special skills to lead and collaborate, and it takes courage to embrace diversity. But it can be done. Thankfully, the wireless industry has given us some historic and concrete examples like GSM, Bluetooth and other consortium-led efforts. If we continue at the current pace, it could take our region 15 years and millions of dollars wasted in isolated iterations. However, if done properly, 15 years can be cut to five. 2018 sounds pretty good to me.