Blink, and you would’ve missed Yellow signal

A Macau Business op-ed mentions shortcomings in Hong Kong’s bad-weather warning system following the recent downpour. Raises some interesting questions. How come the Observatory raised the Yellow, Red and Black Rainstorm signals within just one and a half hours? Should the government issue an SMS alert when most of us are in bed (it didn’t)? And the general mess of Black Rainstorm/Typhoon 8/etc categories. As body found in New Territories watercourse.

Surely it would be better to have one all-purpose stay-at-home order rather than different Black/Number 8 signals. And, as David Webb points out, why was the Black signal still up hours after the rain has subsided?

Speaking of whom – a letter from Webb to the board of Allen International. Or why family-run businesses don’t always perform well and how such companies listed in Hong Kong can fail to protect the interests of minority shareholders…

With limited time left, I can no longer afford patience and would rather not leave the matter to potentially more activist successors who will manage my assets after my death.

Former White House Chief of Staff under Obama and now US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel annoyed Beijing’s media recently by eating Fukushima fish and Tweeting about China’s vanishing senior officials. My kind of diplomat! An excerpt from a recent interview on US-China relations in a WSJ podcast

….I’m for a dialogue, but I’m also not for being, as my father would say, a schmuck. And he said it with this term of endearment. I mean, what I mean by this is Xi stood in the rose garden and said, “We will never militarize the South China Sea.” The wheels of his plane were not up in the belly of the plane when they were doing exactly that. They’re part of the World Trade Organization, international economic structure. I can’t tell you how many times I had a CEO in my office when I was chief of staff, when I was a congressman, and would say that they’re stealing intellectual property, they’re stealing product, they’re making us give it to them for free, so they could basically underwrite and then also undermine your product and do nothing but replicate it. Not even a bolt or a screw is different. 

So at some point, you got to say, “Look…” Now you can sit there and say, “Well, we’d like to have a great relationship,” but if they’re going to keep the Communist Party, and specifically under XI, use lying and cheating as a modus operandi of the state and its legitimacy, then you would be a fool to go into that discussion negotiation not cognizant of what they’re doing. 

And my view is keep doing what you’re doing. You’re the one with 30% unemployment among youth, not us. You got 10 years of housing with nobody in it. You got people that are getting fleeced by the big developers and the banks. You got municipalities in China that makes Chicago look like a AAA-rated bond. Keep at it. There is nothing the United States is doing to you that measures what you’ve done to yourself. We didn’t do any of that. And so my point is I’m ready to have a conversation. I’m also ready not to get in the way of you to doing to yourself what we could never only hope on our best day could get done to you. And if you want to stay doing it and you want to walk away from the international system that you benefited from, well, therefore, the grace of God, go ahead. Why should I get in the way of that?

A good thread from Professor Michael Pettis on why China’s economy never could have overtaken that of the US. Reason: GDP measures inputs rather than just output. And China’s inputs include much capital wasted on pointless infrastructure in order to meet a set GDP target. Economies that don’t misallocate capital see more actual wealth creation…

This has been hard to explain to economists, although engineers, mathematicians, other others who think in terms of systems find it almost trivially obvious. Without hard budget constraints, there is no way to differentiate between value creation and value destruction.

A commenter rephrases it…

If economic activity is not productive, the GDP and employment it initially generates will be reversed once the debt that financed the expansion can no longer be rolled over.

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13 Responses to Blink, and you would’ve missed Yellow signal

  1. Casira says:

    I hope the best for Webb, listed companies corporate governance and transparency in HK would be utterly dismal without him. SFC is a joke and HKEX completely disregards its regulatory role

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    Rahm Emanuel…now THERE was a Chief of Staff!!

    While Trump was bragging about having “only the best people” on staff, he finished his days with fellow defendant….Mark Meadows as his.

  3. Afferbeck Lauder says:

    This reminds me of the joke:

    The first economist says to the other “Ill pay you $100 to eat that pile of shit.” The second economist takes the $100 and eats the pile of shit.

    They continue walking until they come across a second pile of shit. The second economist turns to the first and says “l pay you $100 to eat that pile of shit.” The first economist takes the $100 and eats a pile of shit.

    Walking a little more, the first economist looks at the second and says, “You know, I gave you $100 to eat shit, then you gave me back the same $100 to eat shit. can’t help but feel like we both just ate shit for nothing.”

    “That’s not true”, responded the second economist. “We increased the GDP by $200!”

  4. The Dog Ate My Alert System says:

    HKSARG explains why they didn’t warn people earlier about the extreme rainstorm caused by Typhoon Hakui:
    “In typhoon we can make early prediction. But for this heavy rain it was really really so big it was once in 500 years. So it was so big and so sudden and the predictability was so low. So that’s why.” — Chief Secretary Eric Chan

    HKSARG explains why they didn’t use the SMS system to warn people about the “once-in-500-years, so big and so sudden” low predictability rainstorm:
    “SMS is really to alert the public to very sudden emergencies, but in this present case, the onset of the black rainstorm is very clear. I think any members of the public who is still awakening would have noticed this heavy rainstorm situation. So it won’t be necessary to use that system to send SMS to individual citizens to really stating the obvious.” — Deputy Chief Secretary Warner Cheuk

  5. Mary Melville says:

    Whoa, not a word of compassion for those folk at Redhill whose illegal pools and basements that make Teresa and Hen look like cheap skaters slid down the slope?

  6. David Price says:

    Always thought the Webbmeister should have been co-opted into Government years ago. Ha!

    He could have done a cost/benefit analysis and tendering procedure for, say, Cyberport on the back of an envelope in minutes. Reorganising Hong Kong’s tax base might have taken him a bit longer. Perhaps an afternoon.

    Hong Kong was, maybe still is, bristling with expertise in engineering, finance, health and much else. Imagination abounds, in terms of reviving the tourism or movie biz for example.

    But the civil service just ploughs on, devising prohibitive regulations for food vans and proscribing their menus. The feet-draggery is flabbergasting.

    You are much admired, Mr Webb.

  7. A wailing and gnashing of teeth says:

    It’s all getting very biblical. We had the Shek O evacuation (“Let my people go!). Now there’s the situation at Redhill Peninsula, which reminds me of these verses from Matthew. My Sunday school years were not wasted after all.

    ‘Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.’ – Matthew 7 24-27

  8. Chris Maden says:

    Awesome quotelet from Rahm!

  9. Chinese Netizen says:

    @Dog Ate: The first excuse was offered by the Chief Secretary and the second by the Deputy CS. Are we to assume the CS was shitcanned because of ineptitude?

    It was a not so trick question. Of COURSE he WASN’T.

  10. Stanley Lieber says:

    @David Price

    You do a disservice to our fine civil servants by overlooking the magnificently comprehensive job they have done festooning every single imported food product with useless and annoying nutritional labels in unreadable miniature type that cover up and obscure important information that purchasers actually want.

  11. Cassowary says:

    Rahm Emanuel’s comment about the solvency of Chicago was hilarious given that he was mayor of Chicago for eight years.

  12. steve says:

    It would be a very pleasant surprise if Rahm Emanuel was able to provide useful service in Asia, as his public service career in the US consistently has shown him to be an incompetent, bloviating bully.

  13. Stanley Lieber says:

    “Mother’s Day is a tough holiday for Rahm Emanuel because he’s not used to saying the word ‘day’ after ‘mother’.”

    President Barack Obama at the 2009 White House Correspondents Dinner

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