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2017
Asia Needs more Dialogue
Solutions to urban pollution may prove complex
Spread of ESGs could herald new global movement
Investing in quality education is imperative if India wants to reap demographic dividends
China needs to lead in new multi-stakeholder world
China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
Education is key - but long-term: Can we survive?
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
China needs to continue with its ‘heavy lifting’
Time is right for Chinese firms to invest in Europe
Robots to the rescue for China?
Asian Multinationals are Going Global, But to Where?
China ratchets forward with energy efforts
China’s calm necessary for globalization push
Bridging managerial gaps involves trust-building
China well-placed to power its future through green technology advances
China's new 'springtime' is here
2016
China’s moves show it’s banking on the future
Mindset for action at the G20 summit will be determined by Chinese presidency
Chinese head-hunting intensifies for rare managers that can steer overseas firms
US talk of isolation jars with growing links in Europe and Asia
Electoral rhetoric on global trade not in sync with reality
Is it time to be prudent and consider austerity policies again?
What will we do if we have no oil?
Unlock talent by finding the right fit for a person
The benefits are real and tangible
Trade along China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ won’t succeed without the currency of trust
Reasons for optimism about the long term
2015
Can big oil go green and win?
Poorer Nations Could Sway Climate Talks
Combating Idleness and Deprivation
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
Kyoto II – Is it a Done Deal?
A meeting of the two largest economic powers
Why China will experience a 'soft' landing
Beware of superstitions
The Elephant and Dragon move ahead
G-7 target on fossil fuels raises many questions
Why Battle for Net Neutrality in the US Matters Globally
China’s resurgence – the ‘normal new’
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
China's early education plan a smart investment in the future
The New Normal for China and India
2014
China's infrastructure push offers a sure track to better growth
US-China climate pact a good start, but not quite enough
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
China springs a carbon surprise
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
Dialogue vital for survival of Iraqi nation
China must nurture a new generation of beautiful minds
Great expectations in China and India
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
Weathering the Storm of Climate Change
Making a Big Decision? Beware of Your Biases
West Deserves Better Logistics Infrastructure
Digital Currencies do Represent the Future
From 'Printed' Houses to Wooden Skyscrapers
It’s time to bail out our schools, not our firms
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
And the most promising green technologies of 2014 are ...
Transport infrastructure key to domestic, export growth
Oil stopgaps: Not worth risking
2013
Why the US should grant Edward Snowden amnesty
May we be more optimistic!
China headed for another massive social experiment?
A dialogue that worked
Yes, politicians deserve vacations - because we benefit
NPOs, NGOs invaluable as creators of dialogue
Look closer and ask: Is America reinventing itself?
Boston bombings case underlines need for dialogue
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
As usual it's about balance - and timing - of course
Chinese strategists make right moves for growth
2012
Preparing for tomorrow
Austerity or growth?
Japan in danger of becoming 'just a place to fly over'
Beware of the business cycle?
An inconvenient truth
Limited offer sale: Buy a country
Where did our money go?
Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
Driving towards a green future
Waiting for springtime
Preserve or Perish
Startlingly similar Asia policy for Obama, Romney
Globalisation remains an irresistible trend
Google has the edge in smartphone war
U.S. Braces for China's Rise
Mankind’s General Scourge
The summer holidays are over and nothing has changed!
Put the hidden trillions to work
Making sense of India’s woes and wonders
Storm in a teacup!
Let’s give bad bankers a venue to admit their sins
News is about depth, not puff or velocity
Booming India, but too few toilets
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
We need media to reflect on data and offer public a balanced view
Big polluters can lead in forging common purpose
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
EU-India Relations - Facing similar challenges
Educating with a goal
The Judicial Malaise
We are growing out, but not growing up
EU´s retrenchment enigma
Urbulence in the Eurozone and the effect on SMEs
Skolkovo May Help Russia to Diversify
Make things more effective
Tapping into the Commonwealth connection
Innovative models for public finance
Facebook revolution but Indian style
The feel-good factor
Asian investors - a private equity opportunity
India needs to be taller and stronger
China´s low sales volume...
Nations playing leapfrog
Shafts of sunlight
What webs we weave
As performers go to Davos, the circus steals the show
Can we control the politicians?
 
2011
Europe’s reminiscence
China firms should go for win-win in overseas ventures
Of procrastination...
Making sense of profiteering
Truth about financial mess must be laid bare
Small is also beautiful
China can help Europe with debt crisis
Excising the cancer of global corruption
Education, a critical asset
Arab uprisings set in motion forces of creative destruction
A new era of change
We must ensure better education for all
Beijing wary of bankrolling a lost cause
Asean's re-emergence as a local and global leader
Why India's Role in the Global Economy is Still Work in Progress
Its the leadership, stupid!
Reverse globalisation: The new buzzword
Beware of superstitions
Business Times, 29 July 2015
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
 

We all understand we don’t walk down dark alleys unless we must; those who wear stiletto heels don’t walk on paving joints; and long ago the Trojans were happy to accept the wooden horse gifted from the Greeks. Oh yes, it’s all a learning experience!

The International Monetary Fund has warned Europe in a brief note that it must create what is essentially a fiscal union and forgive the Greek debt if the euro is to be saved.

This means taking one of three routes, but all amount to the same thing – all the rich European countries of the euro zone must contribute to support Greece who would have its debt written off.

The Greek government seems to be playing its part having just passed a series of reforms and last week debated and again passed further structural reforms. It is not going to be an easy ride.

This is a sad state of affairs for both sides. Germany, France and so on do not wish to ask their people to support Greece that ought to have managed its money – as the late former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher once said: “…any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country”. And it is humiliating for the Greeks to be indebted through no fault of themselves as individuals, but collectively as a nation.

Yet there is a deep issue facing the euro zone – of how to accept their cultural differences? Through the power of television we are used to seeing images from everywhere in the world. We see people who are obviously different to us, often with different skin colours and speaking their own languages requiring translation for the TV audience.

These are outward aspects of cultural differences, but the important differences are the mental processes that collectively define us as being from a national group, Germans for instance. Generally observers think that I will behave in certain ways and espouse certain views, like my national compatriots. Yet I am an individual and at least in Europe allowed to act and speak out as an individual; and individually I might engage in a personal work ethic that is too severe for some.

Cultural differences have long interested academics, and so have studies of management style and of leadership. In studies of “culture as…the software of the mind” we find across Europe a strong north/south difference and only a slight east/west difference, with France occupying an interesting middle ground and the UK being different, having a greater pragmatism or individuality. It is not surprising that the IMF’s suggestion that the eurozone peoples must“ pull together” angers European northerners while the Greeks cause angst.

We staunch believers in the concept of “Europe” have long known that there are great differences in European personal styles.

In part it is why we northerners go to Spain, Portugal or Greece for holidays. Not just for the sun and sea but also to experience their laidback lifestyle. So why should we complain when weare asked to be logical, hard-nosed and fiscally responsible and donate money to our southern friends? Well, perhaps one explanation lies with our superstitions “… don’t trust a Greek bearing gifts!” which are embedded in our subjectivity that Daniel Kahneman explained in his Nobel Prize-winning studies.

His empirical findings challenged the assumption of human rationality prevailing in modern economic theory. He proposed three heuristics – availability, representativeness, and anchoring and adjustment – that govern our intuitive decision making. Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner also understand these human biases that they use to illustrate the errors of our thinking in their blog Freakonomics, as well as in their book When to Rob a Bank (the answer is ‘in the morning’, though they don’t advocate such illegal behaviour).

RELEVANCE IN ASIA
Do these European antics have relevance in Asia? I think so. Presently Asian nations have a great need to borrow to develop their countries as the globe swings its economic emphasis to Asia as a future powerhouse of wealth creation. It is not that Europe or the US is bereft of ideas and commercialism but Asia is a region of the young, the entrepreneurial and thus the new global focus. Asia must increase its infrastructure capacity and undergo institutional reforms – which absorb a lot of money. For instance, it costs only a few pennies to add vitamin supplements to the diets of children to benefit their physical and cognitive development but in populous countries like China where 17 per cent are under 14 years old (200 million or so) it adds up to a large amount of cash ... and there are many other well-deserving infrastructures to bedeveloped. To aid developments China has become central to the instigation of two banks: one is the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the other, the New Development Bank (NDB), formerly known as the BRICS Bank.

The BRICS concept was launched with statistical fanfare by Goldman Sachs researchers in 2001 as four nations (then not including South Africa) that would dominate future economic growth. This has not yet occurred except for China who now helps bankroll the NDB set up in 2013.

The AIIB was launched in 2014 by China and any nation is free to join – it has now 49 or more nations from Oceania, Europe and Africa. It is to operate rather more freely than the Asia Development Bank which China says is too conservative (like the IMF or World Bank perhaps) and too slow to grant needed support.

I see these two new banks, especially the AIIB, occupying a central role in Asia akin to the European Central Bank. And I foresee the AIIB having as difficult a time as the ECB managing diverse clients with their different cultural expectations, historical memories and behavioural biases. The Chinese, Indonesians, Greeks, Germans or the Americans are all grouped by their cultural identities. If one poked one of these individuals in their ribs their response might be culturally predictable! And so might the problems that will face the AIIB and the NDB. Life is not a sinecure but it can be fun.

 

The writer is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global visions community.


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