Ged Carroll

Supply chain disruption + more news

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Supply chain disruption

Is there an end in sight to supply chain disruption? | Financial Times -There are major barriers to ending supply chain disruption by decoupling from China. Japan is trying to reduce supply chain disruption by replicating Chinese factories in other countries like Thailand and Indonesia. Here are some of things stopping multinational corporations from making that happen. In order to end supply chain disruption, I would imagine that a higher degree of automation is key, which will require corresponding improvements in automation technology. This doesn’t just mean software but also in mechanical engineering. The main issue for fine motor control in robots is the design and price of harmonic drives. This doesn’t operate on a Moore’s Law speed and scale of innovation. Increased automation also likely means major changes in approach to product design. Back in the golden era of consumer electronics just prior to the consumer adoption of the internet, circuit boards were less dense because they were designed for automated ‘pick-and-place’ machines. Nokia had a similar approach to its phones prior to the pivot to Windows and Qualcomm chips. The reason why Apple needs iPhones made in China is because a lot of the final assembly is closer to the work of a watchmaker servicing a mechanical watch than you would credit. So lots of cheap, (younger, smaller, delicate, usually female) hands are required. Our financial system’s obsessive, narrow focus on shareholder value will curtail these movements. Look at how Apple crows about how green they are and yet makes the virtually unrecyclable Air Pods by the million. Until that changes and the computers are assembled from modular boards, closer to their home market the supply chain won’t change despite the political, economic, national security and moral imperatives otherwise. Which is why Apple amongst others point out that they have an inability to move production out of China. This will get even harder as China moves up the semiconductor value chain. Once they are building memory modules and modern silicon fab processes, its game over for manufacturing elsewhere in the electronics sector. China is also the sole provider for many of the ingredients in multi-vitamins and pharmaceutical products. They process and mine just under 90 percent of the world’s rare earth metals – key for a large swathe of technologies from magnets to chips and batteries. They have a similar position in solar cell polysilicon and lithium ion battery ingredients. 

JAXPORT achieves strong cargo volumes through first three quarters of Fiscal Year 2021
JAXPORT promises less supply disruption

So ending supply chain disruption would mean replicating whole ingredient manufacturing chains and industry knowhow that multinationals had migrated to China decades ago. All of these actions to reduce supply chain disruption may not be received very well by China itself. China has bought key infrastructure around the world: power generation, ports, water supply, rail networks and more. All of which means that they get a greater say in how the world’s supply chain works. Xi Jingping has been straight forward in saying that he wants the world to rely on China more, and China to rely on the rest of the world less. Decoupling from Chinese supply chain disruption has taken on even more importance with the rise of Chinese secondary sanctions. More on nearshoring to avoid Chinese supply chain disruptions here: China’s economic woes: An opportunity for U.S. manufacturing? 

China

Scientists believed Covid leaked from Wuhan lab – but feared debate could hurt ‘international harmony’An email from Dr Ron Fouchier to Sir Jeremy said: “Further debate about such accusations would unnecessarily distract top researchers from their active duties and do unnecessary harm to science in general and science in China in particular.” Dr Collins, former director of the NIH, replied to Sir Jeremy stating: “I share your view that a swift convening of experts in a confidence-inspiring framework is needed or the voices of conspiracy will quickly dominate, doing great potential harm to science and international harmony.” Institutions which held the emails have repeatedly resisted efforts to publish their content. The University of Edinburgh recently turned down an Freedom of Information request from The Telegraph asking to see Prof Rambaut’s replies, claiming “disclosure would be likely to endanger the physical or mental health and safety of individuals”. – this is going to turn into a dumpster fire

Beijing’s South China Sea claims ‘gravely undermine’ rule of law | Al Jazeera 

Half of international students did not feel completely ready for courses – poll | Evening Standard – Nearly three in four (72%) international applicants wanted more information about what their year would look like.- and this is probably deliberate by the institutions

Dutch university gives up Chinese funding due to impartiality concerns | Netherlands | The GuardianAmsterdam’s Vrije Universiteit (VU), the fourth largest university in the Netherlands, has said it will accept no further money from the Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing and repay sums it recently received. The announcement came after an investigation by the Dutch public broadcaster NOS last week revealed VU’s Cross Cultural Human Rights Center (CCHRC) had received between €250,000 (£210,000) and €300,000 annually from Southwest over the past few years. According to NOS, the CCHRC used Southwest’s money to fund a regular newsletter, organise seminars and maintain its website – which has published several posts rejecting western criticism of China’s human rights policy

Economics

Buy Things, Not Experiences — harold lee – long term benefit

Did macroeconomics fail us on inflation? – by Noah Smith 

Ethics

The soft bigotry of America’s cultural left | Financial Times 

Why is it still considered OK to be ageist? | Financial TimesA study by academics at Yale found that people with a negative approach to ageing deal with it worse mentally and physically and die seven and a half years younger. To put this in context, mild obesity shortens life by three years, extreme obesity by 10. Hardly surprisingly, this has prompted a great deal of fuss at government level. Policymakers and health professionals obsess over obesity. But what about the damage done by poor attitudes to ageing? Until I read about the survey I had no idea it was even a thing: the fact that ageism can actually kill you is a well-kept secret. It is also a costly one. According to the WHO report, the resulting ill health places an additional annual burden on the US healthcare of $63bn. I realise that health policymakers have been busy since the report came out last March, but still there hasn’t been a peep out of them

FMCG

Short sellers tuck into Beyond Meat | Financial Times 

Spilling the Beans on Political Consumerism: Do Social Media Boycotts and Buycotts Translate to Real Sales Impact? by Jura Liaukonyte, Anna Tuchman, Xinrong Zhu :: SSRN – on the contrary, they create a short term sales bump and your customers stick with your brand, so long as you keep your advertising spend up

Hong Kong

Xinjiang anti-terror general to lead China’s Hong Kong garrison | Hong Kong | The Guardian – things are going only one way like a ratchet. This especially interesting as the Hong Kong government’s national security apparatus has been making steady progress despite high profile government failures in other areas such as COVID social distancing that further undermined trust with citizenry, more here Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam vows to bring in new security laws | The Guardian 

The Big Pigture: Life Lessons from the World of Mcdull | Sotheby’s – interesting that Sotheby’s is auctioning off McDull artwork.

Hong Kong democracy activist Edward Leung released from prison | Reuters – Edward Leung was involved in the ‘fishball revolution’ where police took action against food stalls, he was the person that made ‘Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time’ popular as a slogan

Britain’s newest immigrants are showing a flair for protest | The Economist 

Innovation

Why is the Nuclear Power Industry Stagnant? – Austin Vernon’s Blog – interesting discussion on the economics and need for innovation

America needs more basic research – by Noah Smith 

I love this 60 Minutes Australia film about an Australian inventor

Equations built giants like Google. Who’ll find the next billion-dollar bit of maths? | David Sumpter | The GuardianThe PageRank story is neither the first nor the most recent example of a little-known piece of mathematics transforming tech. In 2015, three engineers used the idea of gradient descent, dating back to the French mathematician Augustin-Louis Cauchy in the mid-19th century, to increase the time viewers spent watching YouTube by 2,000%. Their equation transformed the service from a place we went to for a few funny clips to a major consumer of our viewing time.

Japan

‘Society was volatile. That spirit was in our music’: how Japan created its own jazz | Jazz | The Guardian

Murata’s Thailand move heralds Japan tech shift from China | Financial Times“The most populous country today may be China, but in 2030 that will be India, and further down the road it will be Africa,” Nakajima said. “Will those economies be aligned with China or the US? We don’t know. We should be able to respond to both scenarios.”

Hong Kong: how colonial-era laws are being used to shut down independent journalismpolice recently told reporters that opinion articles aren’t the only ones that can be regarded as seditious. Media interviews with exiled activists and features on clashes between protesters and riot police can also be considered seditious if the content is deemed by the government to be “fake news” or inciting hatred towards the government and endangering national security

Hong Kong independence activist Edward Leung released from jail, told to stay silent — Radio Free AsiaHong Kong barrister and former lawmaker Siu Tsz-man said supervision orders are sometimes issued to released prisoners involved in violent crimes, including murder and manslaughter, and require the former prisoner to maintain contact with supervision officers and remain at a stable residence. But Siu said the order to stay away from the spotlight was unprecedented. “I have never heard of this happening before,” Siu said. “My staff have never heard of a supervision order under which the person isn’t allowed to give interviews to the media.” Siu declined to comment on whether the order was appropriate without knowing the details of the case. “The point of a supervision order isn’t to confine someone at a certain location and not let them leave,” he said. Some drew parallels between Leung’s release and the continuing controls on released political prisoners in mainland China – similar in nature to an ASBO but inherently political in nature

Korea

Young Koreans Lose Interest in Chinese Studies | Chosun – this Korean example shows a wider decline in Chinese soft power

Media

‘Industry Challenges’ Blamed For DriveTribe’s Demise 

Brand collaborations with TikTok content creators drive big results | TikTok For Business Blog – social media platform claims that marketing on their social media platform delivers business results, honest….

Facebook’s Vast Wasteland 

Retailing

Gen Z and Millennial Shoppers Are Less Likely to Return Unwanted Online Purchases

Shein adds US listing plans to its cart – that the founder is looking to change citizenship is very interesting and I am sure won’t go down well with the Chinese government

Security

Chinese Police Hunt Overseas Critics With Advanced Tech – The New York Times

Virginia burglaries work of ‘crime tourists,’ authorities say – The Washington Post  – Authorities call them “crime tourists.” Law enforcement experts say cells of professional South American burglars, particularly from Colombia and Chile, are entering the country illegally or exploiting a visa waiver program meant to expedite tourism from dozens of trusted foreign countries. Once here, they travel from state to state carrying out scores of burglaries, jewelry heists and other crimes, pilfering tens or hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of goods each year, the FBI estimates. Experts said the groups often operate with impunity because they have found a kind of criminal sweet spot. Bail for nonviolent property offenses is often low, so an arrested burglar often quickly gets bond and skips town for the next job, experts said. The crimes often don’t meet the threshold for the involvement of federal authorities. And they attract less attention at a time when U.S. authorities are contending with a rise in homicides. Dan Heath, a supervisory special agent with the FBI’s criminal investigations division, said “South American theft groups,” as the agency calls them, are a growing problem across the United States — and in countries including India, Britain and Australia, where they often employ similar tactics. “They represent an enormous threat right now in our country,” Heath said. “They are tending to thread the needle in avoiding both state and federal prosecution.”

Hacker Claims to Have Seized Control of Teslas Around the World

Dutch athletes warned to keep phones and laptops out of China -media | Reuters

Team GB athletes offered temporary phones over China spying fears | The Guardian

Video Appears to Show Drug Cartel Using Drone to Bomb Enemies | Futurism

FedEx Asks Permission to Install Anti-Missile Lasers on Its Cargo Jet | Futurism

Revealed: UK Gov’t Plans Publicity Blitz to Undermine Chat Privacy – Rolling Stone and more here: The United Kingdom authorities launch a new campaign against the social media apps encryption / Digital Information World 

WhatsApp ordered to help out U.S agencies to spy on Chinese phones / Digital Information World – tracking metadata, US agencies looking to carry out supply chain disruption of fentanyl

VW fired senior employee after they raised cyber security concerns | Financial TimesA senior Volkswagen employee was dismissed weeks after raising the alarm about alleged cyber security vulnerabilities at the carmakers’ payments arm, which is soon to be majority-owned by JPMorgan. The manager alerted bosses in September 2021 to concerns that VW’s system in the region was “open to fraud” following an attempted cyber attack, and maintained that $2.6m sitting in the company’s accounts could be stolen, according to documents seen by the Financial Times. The staff member, who also told superiors that VW could face regulatory action if the vulnerabilities were not addressed, was then fired in October. – not terribly surprising

Software

After ruining Android messaging, Google says iMessage is too powerful | Ars Technica“Google clearly views iMessage’s popularity as a problem, and the company is hoping this public-shaming campaign will get Apple to change its mind on RCS,” writes Amadeo in closing. “But Google giving other companies advice on a messaging strategy is a laughable idea since Google probably has the least credibility of any tech company when it comes to messaging services. If the company really wants to do something about iMessage, it should try competing with it.” – if this wasn’t an admission of failure by Google I don’t know what is. Google has a history of failed or closed communication services Google Talk (GTalk) (which was retired when Google decided to move away from an open messaging standard , Google Hangouts (which was spun out of Google+ messaging functionality), Google Allo and Google Wave

Once billed as a revolution, IBM’s Watson Health is sold off in parts 

Taiwan

Christine Lee and Foreign Interference: what the UK can learn from Taiwan | China DialoguesAs part of the transition from authoritarianism to democracy, Taiwan retooled its political commissar system (zheng wei 政委) – formerly responsible for policing political loyalty toward the regime – into an institution that safeguards democracy by working to identify Chinese influence at all levels of Taiwanese politics and society. Political commissars (PCs) not only receive extensive military training but also develop a deep understanding of the Chinese Communist Party’s political warfare tactics. Most major government departments and private sector organisations in Taiwan will have PCs operating within their ranks, monitoring and reporting evidence of foreign interference. As many democracies facing Chinese influence and interference do not have such well-established systems in place, Taiwan’s zheng wei system may provide a starting point for how anti-foreign influence institutions can work effectively within democratic societies

Technology

EETimes – Arm Predicts Stagnation if Nvidia Deal Failswithout investment from Nvidia, Arm would be seriously disadvantaged in its bid to grow in data center markets and compete against Intel Corp. and x86 incumbents. The filing also explains why an Arm stock offering is a non-starter while noting that Arm faces stiff competition from emerging RISC-V competitors – interesting that they don’t mention ARM China crisis at all. Nvidia have now walked away from it and Softbank is supposed to be preparing a public offering for ARM

Web of no web

How Shopify is moving closer to bricks-and-mortar retail – Latest Retail Technology News From Across The Globe – Charged – retail shop automation software a la China’s automated convenience stores

Connected Health Station | Body Scan – Withings