Sunday, January 09, 2011

Sunday Short Shorts

My heart goes out to Gabby Gifford and the families of the slain in Arizona today. I hope she lives; the bullet went through her brain. The doc says about 5% live. Her survival would put Sean Lien's in a new light, too.

The Taiwan Central has let the NT dollar rise below thirty, closing at 29 and change the other day against the US dollar, which is climbing against most major currencies as the US economy appears to be on a growth track. The Taipei Times speculates...
Some argue that the central bank is willing to tolerate a stronger NT dollar because Taiwanese exporters have learned how to hedge foreign exchange losses. Others suggest this is essentially an effort by the central bank to pre-empt inflation driven by rising import material prices.
There are many possibilities...as prices of imports fall, people feel like they have more money in their pockets. Letting the NT appreciate is one way to make people like they have more money ahead of the upcoming legislative and presidential elections. Or it could simply be that the Central Bank can't afford to keep offsetting all the hot money flowing in and pushing the NT dollar up.

Amy Chua's piece in WSJ on authoritarian nutter parenting among affluent, status crazy Chinese has generated lots of tawk-tawk on the internets. I hope WSJ publishes a deconstruction of the kind of status games Chua is playing (Chua has collected all the status tokens, Ivy league job, upper class income, and white --never non-white -- husband and she's won the game. Go Amy!). Someone should also point out her glaring omission of the simple fact that in Chinese families all over the world, authoritarian parental control is backed by violence, just like authoritarian governments in the larger world (this kind of reality denial is also symptomatic of authoritarianism). But in a world where Chinese moms love to brag about the performance of their kids in order to exhibit what awesome Chinese moms they are, kudos to Chua for scoring the ultimate one-upping coup: she gets to engage in ostentatious display of mom-ness in the WSJ. By the way, American parents also behave this way -- in fundie Christian whackjob families. Just go through her piece and replace "piano" with "Bible" and "straight A" with "prayer" and you'll realize she's a perfectly recognizable cultural profile.[UPDATE: Amy Chua did not chose the headline, according to someone who said they got a letter from her. Also, Asian American females 15-24 have highest suicide rates.]

The Taipei Times discussed the implications of some of the possible staff changes in the Obama Administration. Overall will be positive for Taiwan, but until we end that stupid war in Afghanistan and our ever expanding war on Islam, and shift those resources into fixing the US and rebuilding our military for the coming struggle in Asia, warm fuzzies for Taiwan won't translate into quite enough (though they will be very welcome after the disastrous Bush years). The future is here, in Asia, folks. The Middle Eastern wars are a ball and chain the dead past has hung on our future. Time to move on.

The 2nd generation NHI has been passed.
“The revised act sets health premiums for individuals at 4.91 percent of their monthly salaries, down from the current 5.17 percent,” said Minister of Health Yaung Chih-liang. Any additional income over NT$2,000 (US$69), including interest, professional practice income, rent, stock dividends and bonuses exceeding four months’ salary, will incur supplementary charges of 2 percent.
It won't be enough, unfortunately.

Taiwan's birth rates hit a record low this year. This alarmed President Ma. Pig potty training cuts farm run-off by 80% in Taiwan. A Taiwan-US draft extradition treaty is proposed. Commonwealth interviews the CEPD Chief on 2011 and changes in Taiwan's industrial policy.
Liu foresees 2011 as a key year for Taiwan, because for the first time all industries will compete on a level playing field, taking off from the same starting line. The corporate income tax rate has been cut to 17 percent, easing the burdens of industries that rely on domestic demand, while tax incentives for the high-tech industry have been phased out. The old tax incentive policy had come under fire for what many saw as the government's unfair favoritism toward the high-tech industry at the expense of conventional industries. "The winners will be decided by the market," Liu contended, stressing that in the future the government will no longer have a hand in picking the winning industries.
Jens Kastner discusses some of the recent developments in Taiwan politics, ending with this cute tidbit:
According to Chen Yaw-shyang, an assistant professor of public policy at National Taipei University, this was Chen Yunlin's real objective in his recent visit. Professor Chen says that officially, Chen Yunlin came to sign a few agreements, but his actual purpose was to bring some information regarding last-minute support Ma can expect from Beijing before the legislative and presidential elections. "Chen Yunlin was in reality the disguised Santa Claus from Beijing, carrying secret gifts for the Ma government", the professor said.
Cute, but they can communicate by telephone. It should be obvious that Beijing will do what it can to keep its boy Ma in power, but its range of action may be constrained by the fact that China is universally detested in Taiwan, and that too open support for Ma may be the kiss of death for the President, whose approval ratings remain in the dumps.
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18 comments:

MJ Klein said...

"Some argue that the central bank is willing to tolerate a stronger NT dollar because Taiwanese exporters have learned how to hedge foreign exchange losses."

we certainly haven't learned how to hedge foreign exchange losses. we were losing US$6,000 on every US$100,000 of stuff we sold. we had to raise our prices to our customers, all the while explaining that it's "not really a price increase."

Michael Turton said...

Haha. Sure you learned. Pass on losses to the customers.... :)

Feiren said...

Apple Daily's headline story today about a high school drop out in Hsinchu County who brutally murdered his father with a hammer and stabbed his sister with a pair of scissors is a compelling counter example to Chua's over-achieving math whizzes and musical prodigies. The attacked was apparently provoked his father's nagging him about not having a job. He is addicted to internet gaming like so many kids in Taiwan. I guess he didn't have a Chinese mother. lol

Also, while Chua is apparently from the Philippines, I think an important reason for why Taiwanese immigrant parents push their kids so hard is that they are importing Taiwan's examination system mentality where passing the university entrance and civil services were the keys to a secure middle class life.

Many but probably not most Taiwanese parents are turning away from that mentality, but migrant communities tend to be very conservative. Add to that the hard time Asian immigrants without professional skills have in the US, it becomes possible to have a reasonable sociological rather than cultural explanation of the over-achieving Asian stereotype.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that the US should pull out of the Middle East, what is this coming struggle in Asia you speak of? Maybe the Korean peninsula but don't most experts think that is unlikely to escalate into anything? There's not really anything else that's likely to kick off in the region. With cross-strait relations improving making a Taiwan-China war less likely, the most likely flashpoint would be India / Pakistan, and they have enough level-headed people in positions of power to limit the likelihood of all out war there.

FWIW, the Middle East is a part of Asia.

Don said...

"By the way, American parents also behave this way -- in fundie Christian whackjob families. Just go through her piece and replace "piano" with "Bible" and "straight A" with "prayer" and you'll realize she's a perfectly recognizable cultural profile."

I'm not so much offended as I am disappointed, Michael. You're painting with a very broad brush there.

Regards,

Don
"Whackjob" Christian (apparently) and longtime reader

Anonymous said...

There is a good Andy Xie article on Chinese inflation and real estate that is worth a read here.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Don. The phenomenon of parents spending lots of money and time and energy on their children and getting all kinds of coaches and instructors and tutors extends way beyond fundy Christians, Taiwanese Americans, or whackjob smug self-satisfied Chinese Mothers. I would say the only difference is that Taiwanese and Chinese Americans have a predisposition towards classical music while whites are more likely to put the pressure on their kids on things like baseball and dance.

Anonymous said...

"There are many possibilities...as prices of imports fall, people feel like they have more money in their pockets. Letting the NT appreciate is one way to make people like they have more money ahead of the upcoming legislative and presidential elections."

Come on Michael. This cynicism is completely unwarranted. Peng Huai-nan has shown himself to be non-partisan, and very importantly, one of the top central bankers in the world. He's been ranked number 1 several times.

But anyways, I'll bite on your bit of trolling. People don't just feel they have more money in their pocket when the NT appreciates. For the vast majority of Taiwanese that do not own exporting concerns that depend on an artificially cheap NT, they actually do have more money when the NT appreciates. The fact is, people don't easily roll back wages when the NT gets stronger, but they sure as hell freeze wages when inflation is rising and business is bad.

If anything the conventional wisdom says that a rising NT is bad for business and thus bad for the economy. But though not as well known, the rising NT, even if it took a bit of wind out of the sails of the good economy, is actually good for the common man in Taiwan.

Michael Turton said...


Come on Michael. This cynicism is completely unwarranted. Peng Huai-nan has shown himself to be non-partisan, and very importantly, one of the top central bankers in the world. He's been ranked number 1 several times.


Sure.... but central banks are swayed by political concerns, just like everyone else.

Of course they have more money when the NT appreciates -- relative to some other currency. It's the relative-ness of the judgment which caused me to use "feel" instead of "actually have". Perceptions count for a lot in politics.

Michael Turton said...

The phenomenon of parents spending lots of money and time and energy on their children and getting all kinds of coaches and instructors and tutors extends way beyond fundy Christians, Taiwanese Americans, or whackjob smug self-satisfied Chinese Mothers.

It's one thing to get coaches and tutors. It's quite another to assume total control over a child's life in pursuit of socialization into some status game, such as getting into Yale or Heaven. That is only the province of a few fundy identities -- Chinese-ness, crank Christianity, etc. Most evangelicals I know don't forbid their children to socialize normally, etc. They weren't the people I was discussing.

Michael Turton said...

Anon, I should add that I think it more likely that the Central Bank cannot entirely compensate for the hot money inflows and is simply trying to keep the rise as stable as possible.

Red A said...

"Some argue that the central bank is willing to tolerate a stronger NT dollar because Taiwanese exporters have learned how to hedge foreign exchange losses."

That only works for the short period where you hedged...you cannot hedge forever.

Anonymous said...

"Also, Asian American females 15-24 have highest suicide rates."

While the topic the article you cite is trying to address is very important (Asian American stereotypes, racism, suicide), the article is a total mess, and I don't know why you bothered citing it.

1) It's the highest among ethnicities 15-24, but is it significantly higher? How about the Asian American men 15-24? Why was that ignored?

2) The article states that Asian men have higher suicide rates, whether in Japan or the US. How do you reconcile that with your point, if you even had one?

3) Suicide rates for APAs compared with other minorities was the same. What? So what's the issue again?

Look, by all means, lower the suicide rate, but is there a problem worse than in the rest of society?

Michael Turton said...

My point was implied rather than stated, LOL. I got distracted and never put in the original link I was going to put in, which I think was at Quora.com.

The point is that the awful pressure to achieve that A-As feel has serious results. And that pressure comes from the way they are raised.

Of course, it is impossible to disentangle that from the effects of being a minority in a "white" society, even a model minority. they are all reinforcing.

SoCalExpat said...

It's a good thing Amy Chua doesn't have Taiwanese in-laws because she would be despised by them for failing to produce any sons.

Anonymous said...

"The point is that the awful pressure to achieve that A-As feel has serious results. And that pressure comes from the way they are raised."

Citation please. And not another bullshit article. Or were you just stating an opinion based on what? All those Asian Americans you meet living in Taiwan?

The idea of a model minority is a racist stereotype constructed by the right wing to passive-aggressively hurl insults at blacks and Latinos. It also obfuscates the very real racism and lack of success faced by Asian Americans who face glass ceilings in every industry, including the ones that they supposedly dominate, like medicine and the tech industry. Let's not even get started with finance...

Michael Turton said...

Anon, don't be a dork. I know as well as you do that "model minority" is a load of tripe.

Steven Crook said...

Amy Chua is now yesterday's news, but people might like to check out this article:

"My Mom Was A Tiger Mom -- And That's Why I Became A Porn Star"

at:
http://www.businessinsider.com/porn-star-tiger-mom-victim-advice-2011-2