Monthly Archives: February 2013

By Mthuli Ncube and Michael Fairbanks

Which is more probable: Africa becomes a virtual international province of China, the main source of its sub-soil assets, and the major component of China’s strategy for its own domestic stability; or China becomes a way African nations upgrade their economies and integrate into the global value chain for manufacturing. The answer lies in the demographics of China, and what African nations decide to do next.

The greatest challenges facing China are an ageing population, gender disparity, migration to cities, rural health care and income inequality. Poverty declined from more than 60 per cent to less than 7 per cent since 1978, eradicating more poverty than in the rest of human history. That happened because of China’s “going out” into the world strategy and Africa is, arguably, the most important part of that strategy. 

By Catharine B. Hill

The recession continues to create challenges for higher education in the US. Appropriate responses depend on expectations for the economy in the future, and whether the shocks we have experienced are short- or longer-term trends. Moody’s US Higher Education Outlook Negative in 2013 report does little to address these issues.

The optimal response to a cyclical change is to not allow significant changes to the structure of the colleges and universities. But if a change is permanent, adjustments are warranted. Of course, it is difficult to know whether shocks are permanent or temporary – there is a tendency to assume positive shocks are permanent and negative ones temporary, leading to inappropriate policy responses when wrong. This explains some of the problems facing many colleges and universities. 

By Dr Miles Livingston

The legendary John Bogle, founder and former chief executive of The Vanguard Group, recently met with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to urge it to propose a rule that would require anyone providing retail investment advice to act as a fiduciary.

Mr Bogle and two other representatives of The Institute for the Fiduciary Standard argued that investment advisers at large mutual fund companies and other financial institutions often operate with conflicts of interest and do what is best for themselves rather than their shareholders. The Investment Company Act of 1940 requires that mutual funds be organised and managed in the interest of shareholders, rather than their managers or directors, but Mr Bogle pointed out that in practice, the spirit of the law is violated. 

By Professor Simon Deakin

Under the government’s current proposals for employment law reform, employees will be able to give up rights concerning unfair dismissal, redundancy pay, flexible working and time off for training in return for receiving shares in the company that employs them, gains on which will be exempt from capital gains tax.

It is right for the government to be encouraging worker ownership in companies; there is abundant evidence suggesting this improves labour productivity. What is completely unnecessary and counterproductive is to link this to the loss of employment protection rights.