Fundamental Japanese retail market shift

March 13, 2010


The new Japanese consumer

The attitudes and behavior of Japanese consumers are shifting dramatically, presenting opportunities and challenges for companies in the world’s second-largest retail market.

After decades of behaving differently, Japanese consumers suddenly look a lot like their counterparts in Europe and the United States. Celebrated for their willingness to pay for quality and convenience and usually uninterested in cheaper products, Japanese consumers are now flocking to discount and online retailers. Sales of relatively affordable private-label foods have increased dramatically, and many consumers, despite small living spaces, are buying in bulk. Instead of eating out, people are entertaining at home. Workers are even packing their own lunches, sparking the nickname bento-danshi, or “box-lunch man.”

This fundamental shift in the attitudes and behavior of Japanese consumers seems likely to persist, irrespective of any economic recovery… Read more by Brian Salsberg, McKinsey

haplif – Frank Kalder  (Global Haplifnet)


U.S. & China prospected emission-reduction goals

November 20, 2009


The Obama administration is likely to offer emission-reduction targets at next month’s climate summit in Copenhagen, as long as the Chinese offer a proposal of their own.

U.S. reluctance to set a short-term emissions goal has been a sticking point in the U.N.-sponsored talks for nearly a year. Almost all industrialized nations, and many developing countries, have announced plans to curb their greenhouse-gas output by 2020. Neither the United States nor China — which is not obligated to do so under the U.N. framework, even though it ranks as the world’s biggest emitter — has done so, thereby hampering the prospects of an agreement… Read more at the Washington Post

Package of energy projects

During talks in Beijing, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao endorsed a package of energy projects, including deals on clean coal and electric vehicles. Environmental analysts say the talks offer new hope the two countries will soon offer targets on emissions reduction… Read more at American Voice

Supplementary: Previous coverage on Obama’s China visit

haplif – Frank Kalder (Global Haplifnet)

Barack Obama in China – Shanghai & Beijing

November 17, 2009


Handpicked audience in Shanghai

Barack Obama held a historic town hall with around 500 Chinese students in Shanghai yesterday in which he discussed how the free flow of information actually makes countries stronger. The town hall was a more subdued affair than similar events in the States; as the New York Times noted, “the audience seemed handpicked by the government and many were members of the Communist Youth League, which is closely affiliated with President Hu Jintao.”… More at HuffPost (PHOTOS)  

Obama and China’s Hu Jintao pledge stronger ties

The two presidents agree to cooperate on nuclear and climate issues. But differences over trade and human rights are also evident at the meeting in Beijing (Los Angeles Times)  

haplif – Frank Kalder (Global Haplifnet)

Triumph of Freedom – New Partnership in Europe

November 2, 2009


Germany’s Federal President Horst Koehler spoke in the presence of George Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl in Berlin on October 31.


Area of security, freedom and prosperity from

Vancouver to Vladivostok

Cultural exchange between Eastern and Western Europe is as vibrant and creative as it was in its heyday. You can sense this particularly here in Berlin, but by far not just here. The number of visits and joint economic projects is growing and growing. And there can be no doubt that West and East can achieve much to the advantage of both sides. If we manage to extend trans-European transport networks, to put energy supplies on a firm footing and strengthen the economic and social convergence and coherence of all European countries, then Europe has an almost unprecedented opportunity to thrive.

The European Union and Russia should commit to such cooperation. If we manage together to tap the natural riches of our continent – first and foremost the talents of its citizens – if we manage together to end the plundering of natural resources and advocate justice and freedom, then Europe will reap global respect and influence and be a key pillar of the new international order.

The new partnership in Europe will also open the way for honest dialogue on democracy and human rights. Frank discussion on these issues is part of a partnership between equals. We also engage in this discussion with all others, with the United States for example, with China and with the Arab world. Our insistence on this is not some kind of bothersome appendage to our economic exchange. It is at the very core of our self-understanding, it is an important part of what we are. We know democracy and the rule of law cannot be imposed from the outside, they have to grow from within. But we also know this is no comfort to those who are forcibly silenced, who are not given a fair hearing, who have no political rights. Those are the people we ask about, it is for them that we push for change, that is something we will never give up… Read the full speech   

haplif – Frank Kalder (Global Haplifnet)

Global Navigation Agreements at G20 Summit in Pittsburgh

September 26, 2009


The steering committee of the global financial system, i.e., the leaders of the 20 largest economies reached a series of agreements, yesterday, aimed at navigating the world out of recession and onto the path of recovery.

G-20 Grabs Bigger Role In Global Economy – excerpt  –

Nations to Collaborate To Ward Off Future Crises

The global economy has become stable enough, however, for the leaders to turn their attention to preventing future crises. The United States and European nations were able to settle differences over how best to stem irresponsible risk-taking by financial companies.

The United States had emphasized the need to raise the quality and quantity of capital that banks must hold to cover potential losses. The Europeans had stressed restrictions on bankers’ pay, including hard limits on compensation. In the end, the leaders agreed to those principles — minus the hard limits — along with provisions that better align executive compensation with long-term performance and promote more transparency for trading in complex securities known as derivatives.

Obama also got Europe and China to commit to avoid economic policies that could fuel the huge global imbalances blamed by economists for helping spark the current crisis. Under the agreement, countries with large deficits such as the United States would promise to borrow less and major exporters such as China and Germany would pledge to stimulate domestic consumption. The members agreed to use the International Monetary Fund to help review their economic policies to make sure they do not generate harmful imbalances… Read more by Annys Shin and Juliet Eilperin, Washinton Post  with embedded photo gallery 

haplif – Frank Kalder (Global Haplifnet)

Banker Bonuses to be curbed [preparing for G20]

September 3, 2009


EU urges curbs to top bankers’ bonuses

BRUSSELS – The European Union is calling for the United States and others to link top bankers’ bonuses to performance and curb “an excessively risky bonus culture’’ that endangers the entire financial system.

EU finance ministers agreed yesterday to push the Group of 20 world leading economies to join Europe in restricting huge bank bonuses, following French and German efforts to spread out executive payments over several years to make sure they truly reflect how well a bank is doing, not short-term profits.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said European nations were “firmly convinced that we need to change the rules’’… Read more by Aoife White. Boston Globe     

Addendum: G20 finance ministers’ meeting in London

In a communique issued after the meeting, ministers said they had agreed on the need for “global standards on pay structure” amid calls from some European countries for curbs on banking bonuses, saying that bonus payments should be “aligned with long-term value creation and financial stability”… CNN, Sep 5

Supplementary: The consolidation isn’t yet over

haplif – Frank Kalder (Global Haplifnet)