7 minutes estimated reading time
While everyone from from organised criminals to Chinese government hackers were robbing governments blind during the COVID crisis, in the UK the scandal surrounding PPE Medpro seems particularly egregious. The tale of PPE Medpro goes back to the VIP programme that the UK government used to secure PPE through politically connected companies. PPE Medpro was one of the companies who benefited from £10 billion squandered on these PPE purchases.
PPE Medpro got contracts through the VIP programme after a Michelle Mone, a member of the House of Lords lobbied on their behalf. Mone had previously set up a successful clothing brand with her first husband, then moved into diet pills, fake tanning products and even an aborted cryptocurrency launch.
In return PPE Medpro is alleged to have paid Mone £29 million, the subsequent investigation led HSBC to freeze her bank accounts.
China risks 1mn Covid deaths in ‘winter wave’, modelling shows | Financial Times – China is easing restrictions after the Chinese COVID protests. 1 million is on the low end of numbers I have heard quoted. However, it is also politically evocative. The Chinese people have been constantly reminded that 1 million people lost their lives to COVID in the United States and the communist party ensured that just 5,000 people have died in their country.
Hackers linked to Chinese government stole millions in Covid benefits, Secret Service says – The theft of state unemployment funds is the first pandemic fraud tied to foreign, state-sponsored cybercriminals that the U.S. government has acknowledged publicly.
A combination of realpolitik, economics and supply chain resilience: Apple Makes Plans to Move Production Out of China – WSJ
Exclusive: China’s top banks to issue offshore loans to help developers repay debt | Reuters – reduces foreign influence on the weakest sector in the Chinese economy, which should aid the government in assuring economic stability
The Cold Wind of Historical Nihilism – by Jon Sine – ideological purity a la George Orwell
Picking Winners? Government Subsidies and Firm Productivity in China | NBER – picking champions in China doesn’t seem to have been as successful as it was in boom time Japan or Korea
Why lab-grown meat may never be on the menu | Financial Times – good news for soy and Quorn based products
China says some parts of German government prescribing ‘wrong medicine’ by politicising trade issues | Reuters – Germany warned against trying to become less dependent on China and Axios World: How EU sees China | Axios – bad news for China
Germany confronts a broken business model | Financial Times – Chief executive Martin Brudermüller announced that BASF would downsize in Europe “as quickly as possible, and also permanently”. Most of the cuts are expected to be made at the Ludwigshafen site. BASF is not alone. Since the summer, companies across Germany have been scrambling to adjust to the near disappearance of Russian gas. They have dimmed the lights, switched to oil — and, as a last resort cut production. Some are even thinking about moving operations to countries where energy is cheaper. That is triggering deep concern about the future of German industry and the sustainability of the country’s business model, which has long been predicated on the cheap energy guaranteed by a plentiful supply of Russian gas. Constanze Stelzenmüller, director of the Center on the US and Europe at the Brookings Institution, has said Germany is a case study of a western state that made a “strategic bet” on globalisation and interdependence – based on this experience why would you want to ‘bet’ on China or any other authoritarian country? Once the basic industries like BASF go, the higher end industries will follow
More on EU – China relations
Auction sales slide in Hong Kong | Financial Times – Six-monthly auction sales in Hong Kong have had their worst results since 2018, with this season marking the third consecutive drop, according to ArtTactic. Its analysis finds that the October-to-December evening sales made a total of HK$1.7bn ($220mn, before fees), a fall of 34 per cent since the equivalent sales last year and more than 50 per cent down from their peak in spring 2021 – this is interesting given how much has been invested in the past couple of years by the major auction houses into Hong Kong
The very different model of computing hardware required for AI
Interesting video on Lockheed Martin, I suspect that the similarities with Vought International was intentional
What the UK Census really says about the Irish in Britain | RTÉ – interesting analysis on what it means to be Irish in Britain
How Do Korea’s 1% Get Rich? – The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition) – The wealthy prefer deposit and savings accounts as the best short-term investments over the next year now that interest rates are high. But they pointed to real estate, both to let and for use as their own homes, as the best investment over the longer term. Their hopes for gold and jewelry or bonds also increased.
David Rodolitz, Founder and CEO of VCR Group and Flyfish Club – more on how crypto ‘will’ disrupt hospitality
Being a creator and relying on YouTube ad revenue sounds like rather like being a musician and relying on Spotify. For reference £1 is worth about ₩1611 at the time of writing, which means they make less than £50/month. This anecdotal evidence fits right in with an analysis piece in the FT – The Lex Newsletter: the cratering creator economy | Financial Times
Inside Amazon Air’s Quest to Seize the Skies | WIRED – vertical integration in logistics. Contrast with As Amazon shrinks, some workers’ last day comes 2 days before Christmas | The Seattle Times
Slack CEO Butterfield to depart next month | Reuters – what’s next for Slack and Stewart Butterfield?