Ged Carroll

Soviet steel + more things

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Soviet steel urban legend

I had heard a variant on the ‘Soviet steel’ story that was responsible for Italian cars being rust buckets when I was growing up. The version I heard was that high proportions of recycled scrap from rusted war wreckage and dismantled ships had been put in Italian steel to make it cheaper. (It was easy to believe this version. Libya had a strong historic connection to Italy and prior to oil being discovered Libya’s top export was scrap metal from abandoned military equipment of the second world war’s North African campaign.) Secondly, Russian cars that made it to the west were unreliable and suffered from rust, which supported beliefs about Soviet steel. The reality would have been that the quality related issues in Alfa Romeo’s factories likely would also occur with unmotivated Soviet workers during the economic stagnation from the late 1960s onwards.

Soviet goods had a rough and ready feel to them, it would be reasonable to assume that Soviet steel wasn’t great. The alternative explanation in this video seems to be reasonable. This viewpoint has changed in the belief of engineers like my Dad that Chinese steel of a particular grade has a quality discount like the Soviet steel of old.

China

The High Costs of Disengagement for China by George Magnus – Project Syndicate 

The next chapter – by Lillian Li – Chinese Characteristics – interesting move to investment by Lillian who will now be working at Baillie Gifford

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warns Nato of China’s rising assertiveness | South China Morning Post – New Zealand has in recent years tried not to antagonise China, its largest trading partner 
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged for the use of diplomacy and economic links to build ties in the Indo-Pacific region

Internet hospitals: A great idea that’s not working – SupChina – they’re basically just online pharmacy

Consumer behaviour

Older Adults Sacrificing Basic Needs Due to Healthcare Costs | GALLUP 

Culture

Celebrating the business of the Grateful Dead this July 4th: Morning Brief 

Economics

Disinflation begins – by Noah Smith – Noahpinion 

Finance

How Well Are European Sanctions Against Russia Working? – DER SPIEGEL 

Klarna valuation crashes to $6.5bn from $46bn | Financial Times – unsurprising when I see reports that about 30% of buy now, pay later loans will be struggling to pay them back. It reminds me of storecard debt during the 1991 recession. I was working during college holidays for MBNA a few years later and people were using the balance transfer function to get £20,000 to £30,000 of store card debt on to a card to play off at a lower interest rate. MBNA was then securitising their debt via bonds. There’s probably people who bought a suit at Burtons in the late 1980s that only cleared that debt by the time the millennium came around

FMCG

Kraft Heinz pulls products from Tesco in UK pricing row 

Gadgets

The invisible science of eyewear beats augmented reality | Financial Times 

Germany

The complex route to VW’s planned Porsche IPO | Financial Times – Porsche was bought because it was capital constrained, how will it do when farmed out on its own again?

Hong Kong

People are leaving Hong Kong and here’s where they’re going“Everyone’s going to Singapore,” said Pei, especially those working in finance, law and recruitment, she said. Kay Kutt, CEO of the Hong-Kong based relocation company Silk Relo, agreed, saying people are attracted to the ease of business, family friendliness, tax incentives and open borders of Singapore. In its 40-year existence, the past three years have been the busiest years on record for Silk Relo’s sister moving company, Asian Tigers, she said. “We cannot keep up with the capacity,” she said. “We don’t have enough people to serve what’s going on in the marketplace.”   Families are transferring to Singapore, she said, but small- and medium-sized businesses are also on the move. Whereas one company executive might have left in the past, now “they’re all going,” she said. Small companies are “taking the entire team and putting them into Singapore.” Large companies are also relocating to Singapore, said Cynthia Ang, an executive director at the recruitment firm Kerry Consulting. She cited L’Oreal, Moet Hennessy and VF Corporation — the latter which owns brands such as Timberland and North Face — as examples, while noting there are more who haven’t made their decisions public yet. – the volume going to Singapore is immense based on the amount of people that I am seeing coming to the UK

Hong Kong resistance will live on – SupChina – a few things here. I thought the parallels between Tibet’s annexation by China and Hong Kong was interesting. I don’t think that resistance will continue on. For the majority of people, its just easier to leave. People are going to Thailand, the UK, Australia, Canada and Singapore. They are connected through family networks to the world.

Hong Kong 25: Hong Kong’s blurring border with China a sign of things to come – Hong Kong Free Press HKFP 

Innovation

Do Academic Citations Measure the Impact of New Ideas? | Matt Clancy this could change the game completely When should U.S. research be stamped ‘top secret’? NSF asks for a new look at the issue | Science | AAAS 

Japan

EV supply chain: Japan, China vie for power in lithium standards – Nikkei Asia read this related article with a pinch of salt CATL’s new battery is a leap forward but also a precursor of something radical to come – SupChina 

Sega’s old arcades are making money again as new owners announce 3.175-billion yen profit | SoraNews24

Korea

South Korean workers resort to shop-bought snacks as ‘lunch-flation’ starts to bite | South China Morning Post 

Media

Trust in media: Times, Telegraph and BBC see record drops in trust 

Amazon’s Digital Returns Problem | Revue 

China bans over 30 live-streaming behaviours, demands qualifications to discuss law, finance, medicine | South China Morning Post – on the plus side this helps avoid Gwyneth Paltrow Goop style deceptive marketing, but it won’t be foolproof

Security

Glitch at KDDI disrupting smartphone calls, internet use | The Asahi Shimbun: Breaking News, Japan News and Analysis – best guess? Bad software update

Will Southeast Asia support Russia’s war with semiconductor exports? — Radio Free AsiaSoutheast Asian states, apart from Singapore, have eschewed sanctions and continue to trade with Russia. But as the war drags on, that will have consequences in terms of secondary sanctions and other penalties imposed by the west. Russian supply chains run through Southeast Asia, and the United States and other western governments are have made the targeting of Russian sanctions evasion operations a top priority. One area where Southeast Asian actors may be tempted into sanctions evasion – or where, conversely, they could help pressure Russia economically – is in the export of semiconductors. – there will be a point when they will be on the receiving end of either Chinese aggression or western sanctions. In either case, the west will just standby

Technology

Samsung Starts Mass Production of 3-Nanometer Chips – The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition)

Web of no web

Metaverse dating app popular with young people in China vies for HK listing | Financial Times 

Honda invites gamers to Hondaverse in Fortnite on Twitch | Marketing Dive – eerily similar to the Nissan brand space my former colleague Jim Olsen worked on in SecondLife

New York State Buys Robots for Lonely Elders | Futurism – mirrors the seniors robots that Japan has been experimenting with for years