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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
Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
Nikkei Weekly, October 29, 2012
 

This has been an unusually busy electoral year across the globe. And still two important power changes are yet to take place. In China, we think we know what leadership change will occur at the Communist Party's 18th National Congress, which is expected to take place Nov. 9. In the U.S., pollsters think they know who will win on that country's election day, Nov. 6.

In both instances we, the public, will not see the outcomes until after the event. The Chinese process is opaque, though rumors abound, while the U.S. approach sees the characteristics of each key candidate splashed across the media landscape at a cost of at least $1 billion. It is just that the two systems are so noticeably different that it opens up speculation about their methods.

What is clear, in all nations, is that the permanent staffs of government continue through all elections or leadership changes.

These are the obscure people who are rarely exposed to the media but whose daily task it is to advise the front-office guys - the elected leaders who represent their people nationally and internationally. In many developed nations the working population is about 50-60% of the total, and of this, between one-10th to a half percent work for the government as advisers in various capacities. The latter percentage varies considerably as the definition of civil servant varies, even across nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Herein Germany might have as many government workers as China, though in proportion to population.

What I am trying to say is that relatively few people act as a constraint against statements by politicians who may be fresh to their job. The officials are supposed to analyze data without political bias then inform their ministers. Often an objective report is analyzed by "close advisers" who create an appropriate political statement for ministerial consumption. It seems that it does not matter whether the government is formed by a democratic process, a hidden process or a military putsch; leaders will surround themselves by a bevy of unelected advisers - conveniently called "spin doctors" by the media. Generally I think that Machiavellian skill can achieve change far more easily than straight discourse.

It is particularly important for each community to uncover the secret advisers and make them accountable. Political tension across the globe is too high with real conflict taking place in many areas, and standoffs are also achieving media prominence. Spin doctors suggest, and their mouthpieces speak; the media respond and people become misinformed and inflamed. This heated state is worsened by politicians becoming enticed to join the social-media revolution. I have no issue with their tweeting, but as analysts say, "There is meaning in every word uttered and in those left unsaid." Once incautious words are circulated and probably distorted (who can express complexity in less than 140 letters?) it becomes impossible for an official to instantly clean up the mess.

We must therefore be thankful for our hidden government servants.

Presently several European nations hope to govern austerely by reducing their civil servant numbers. This is dangerous; reduced staffing will not be able to complete effective data and policy analyses. In China, two million or so government officials strive to keep up with two sides of their task - to collect reliable data and to understand the nature of new policies received from the top tier of government. Perhaps it is advantageous everywhere to be a little slow in promoting change.

However, too slow an acceptance of change by the lower levels of officialdom will lead to conflict within the sophisticated modern globalized society. As always, balance is needed.

Therefore, we expect change to be slow in the U.S. and China. It will take several weeks for both nations to appoint their new official hierarchies, and then there is the holiday season of Christmas and Chinese New Year's to be absorbed. My guess is that it will be some six months before significant policy change is seen. Meanwhile, we must rely on the permanent government officials to maintain the systems.

 

Frank-Jürgen Richter is founder and chairman of Horasis, which hosts annual meetings for entrepreneurs from emerging economies.


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