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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
We are growing out, but not growing up
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
Nikkei Weekly, May 14, 2012
 

"Panflation has dangerously deflated the world's potential for progress" - By Frank-Jürgen Richter

A recent article in The Economist brought up a very serious issue for our time: panflation. According to the article, a size 10 dress in 1975 was for women with 24-inch waists. Today, a size 10 accomodates 28 inches of girth. The 'same' standardized size has suffered inflation.

In fact, all sizes for men and women have changed. People who are roughly the same build today as they were in the 1970s can wear sizes that are 'smaller' than they were decades ago.

This 'size inflation' flatters those who are putting on weight, even if is a natural consequence of becoming older. A surgeon once told me that older men naturally add about 3kg every decade. This is not because of obesity, but because of the natural tendency of people to lead a more sedentary lifestyle as they get older.

Size inflation can work as a marketing tool. It can help to sell clothes. Buying items in the same size for a number of years makes us feel better, and so we spend more.

But people do seem to be getting bigger, and at a younger age. We have all seen the stories of obese men having to buy two airline seats or to be winched out of their bedroom windows because they are too big to take the stairs, for example.

Media does not help. While some stories offer sound health advice, others scream at us to buy snake-all cures - dubious products that it is claimed are guaranteed to help us to slim.

The Economis article, titled 'The perils of panflation' noted numerous other effects of size inflation. Food portion sizes have increased, and wine as well be served in buckets. Hotels offer deluxe, rather than standard rooms. Airlines no longer have economy seats, they are now described in less honest terms.

Sadly, as The Economist piece released April 7 notes, panflation has even reached our education systems. While levels of intelligence have remained fairly constant, more students are achieving the highest grades. This is good for the students we are told. Yet when the new graduates enter the workplace, employers are aghast at their low abilities. And then there are the many youngsters who never get jobs, who just sit around getting fatter, literally, on the state.

We cannot affort to let his state of affairs continue, we are letting our young pour from schools without a real chance. This is becoming a burden. While youth may be pleased to fit into small jeans, they will not have the ability to question why their clothes sizes do not go up along with their weight. Poor education leads to poor analytical skills.

Light on truth Society's increasing lack of analytical nous is reflected in the electioneering practices around the world. This phenomenon is easy to see in recent French and U.S. elections. The two nations are very different, but the populations of both countries look to their elected leaders to lead.

Under such circumstances, politicians try to probe to us they are the best people for the job. In the U.S., this led to cast sums of cash being spent on the primary elections as Republican candidates fought for the nomination to run for the presidency.

Trying to prove their worth, candidates spent millions of dollars on advertisements that focus on the qualities of themselves and the weaknesses of other hopefuls. Meanwhile, many nations are clamoring for financial aid.

Adding to the evidence that the campaigns may be wasting money, often election advertisements are salacious. But we fail to pass judgement, it seems. Perhaps today's electorate measures a politician's worth on public exposure alone.

The situation in France is also worth considering. There, campaigns were calm, but the population massaged by inconsequential stories.

There are risks around the corner, however. France's leader-in-waiting, François Hollande, appears to disagree with European Central Bank on fiscal policy. Those disagreements could hurt the French economy. But there has ben little debate about the very messy financial situation that France could face within weeks.

There are hints of the simmering unrest that political change has brought about on financial markets. It is not just the crisis in Europe behind market instability thought. It is rather financial markets' tendency to rush to move money at the slightest hint of new data. Some of these rushes are caused by automated mechanisms on software written by Wall Street programmers.

The software used on Wall Street lacks the ability to critically assess the economic situation. The people writing the software have top scores from top universities and have worked for top investment houses. But do they know much about the real world?

The same can be said of voters in the U.S. primaries and in France. Do they have the critical ability to cut through the subterfudge to ask the questions that will highlight who can lead abd who can only bluster? Probably not.

As we can see, panflation devalues everything it touches. Unfortunately, it also inflates our perceptions of our own prowess. This in turn conflates into our leader's belief in the electorate's abilities to chose politicians carefully.

But with a large portion of the electorate ill-educated and unemployable, unable to survive without state handouts, how long with this system survive?

Worryingly, financial markets sniff out signals about the direction of economies, and they are unemotional. They will shift their alleciances faster than voters, perhaps to the detriment of all.

There is no easy fix. Politicians are stuck in systems where voters cannot be told the truth. The electorate seems to want to live in a world of fantasy.

 

Frank-Jürgen Richter is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global business community. Horasis hosts annual meetings for senior executives.


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