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The Roar of the China Bear

January 15th, 2016


Today’s brutal attack on the equity markets is made in China.  The over-hyped Chinese economy is wobbling badly and therefore all commodity sellers are suffering horrendous losses.  The Federal Reserve Board adds to the stress by warning of a series of interest rate hikes.  Back in November I suggested the Fed take a different tack and nudge rates as a technical move rather than a bold, premature commentary on GDP and inflation. To lighten the long weekend, I suggest this amusing piece I wrote for the Huffington Post on how a tut-tut driver in Beijing tried to cheat.. || Continue Reading →

Pandas and Power in Asia

January 5th, 2016


China’s crumbling economy is stirring (or sinking) financial markets. We should not be surprised — much of the world economy has been leveraged to the alleged miracle orchestrated by Beijing. I just returned from two weeks in Southeast Asia. Here are three key findings:   China’s neighbors stay up late at night worried that China’s navy will declare sovereignty over every sea, stream and waterway in sight. Vietnam looks most nervous and its leaders worry that President Obama is too weak to face up to China’s aggressive military maneuvers. Two years ago, China.. || Continue Reading →

Beakers and Bytes: Low Taxes Attract Inventors

December 7th, 2015


Popular culture does not know how to handle scientists and inventors. Some books and movies portray them as “mad scientists,” for example, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs. Others trumpet their clever tricks, for example, Revenge of the Nerds, Mr. Robot, and a dozen television shows depicting code-breaking kids in hoodies. In my book New Ideas from Dead CEOs I portray wily tech leaders like David Sarnoff (RCA), Akio Morita (Sony), and Thomas Watson (IBM). Morita was especially tricky. In the early 1950s, he promised the world a “pocketable”.. || Continue Reading →

Fed Should Follow “Brave Coward Strategy”

November 3rd, 2015


The drama over “When will the Fed raise interest rates?” has dragged on almost as long as that perennial question, “When will the Beatles get back together?”  December would be a good time for the Fed to act, but as I argue in this recent appearance on Bloomberg television, Janet Yellen and her gang should explain that the Fed is nudging rates (1/8 to 1/4 of a point) for technical money-market reasons, rather than as a specific commentary on stronger GDP growth or inflation.  The U.S. economy is meandering in the 1.5% range and inflation remains.. || Continue Reading →

Stop “Drug Regulation Abuse”

October 19th, 2015


“What would you do if you got X disease?” I asked my friend who runs a medical division for one of the world’s largest companies. “I’d move to Germany, where you can get the right medicine,” he replied. Back in the 1970s and ‘80s Japanese regulators used to block American imports, often giving preposterous reasons: “Japanese intestines can’t digest apples from Seattle.” Or, “Japanese skiers would fall off skis made in Colorado.” These were silly, annoying excuses that prevented American exporters from earning extra money. But no one died because of those.. || Continue Reading →

Our Billionaire is Richer Than Yours! Bloomberg vs Trump ’16

October 8th, 2015


Mario Cuomo once said anyone is electable as long as he’s not carrying a body bag over his shoulder. Could Michael Bloomberg mount a successful campaign for president? He certainly has the money, the ideas, and a record (not a criminal record, like some other Northeastern politicians). Is he electable? While earlier rumors focused on a third party run, Bloomberg would have a fair shot at deposing Hillary Clinton, et al in the Democratic primary. Though he won New York’s crown as a Republican, he lines up closely with Democrats on social issues: pro-choice; pro-gay marriage;.. || Continue Reading →

Do Revolving Doors Kill?

September 16th, 2015


United Airlines fired CEO Jeff Smisek because he launched a money-losing route from Newark to South Carolina. Why fly a money-losing plane? Because the route was a gift to the head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, making it easier for him to reach his vacation home in Columbia. I’m appalled for a few reasons. First, I grew up vacationing on the Jersey Shore. Why did the NY/NJ Port Authority chief need South Carolina? What’s wrong with hopping the train down the coast to Bay Head, as my father did on so many evenings? But the scandal raises a bigger issue... || Continue Reading →

South Korea: From Paper Umbrellas to Prosperity

September 9th, 2015


The Korean Broadcasting System invited me to Seoul to give a nationally televised speech on how South Korea can re-charge its economy.  Just forty years ago, South Korea was as poor as Haiti.  Now companies like Samsung lead the world.  They call it the “Miracle on the Han River.”  But can it continue?  Here’a quick clip of the speech, on an American Idol-like stage.  During my visit, the North was threatening nuclear war, so there was tension in the air.  It’s not easy living miles from a dictator who will threaten to attack simply because he’s.. || Continue Reading →

The Russians Aren’t Coming!

July 27th, 2015


Nine o’clock in the evening. A rap at the hotel door, which I’d double-bolted (because in NYC they tell you to do so, even though the crime rate has dropped to Pawnee, Indiana levels). I muttered, “Come back later,” through my toothbrush, but the knuckle rap got louder. “Yes?” I cracked open the door and peeked through. “Pringles.” “No, Buchholz.” “I have Pringles for you.” “I didn’t ask for–” “–but I have to take away the vodka.” This was getting too weird to enjoy through a crack. I wrapped the belt around my Palace Hotel.. || Continue Reading →

A Fake Farm Crisis?

June 10th, 2015


“Just about everyone agrees that we need more farmers.”  Really?  That was the first sentence of a New York Times oped by Mark Bittman.  I love farmers, and I get teary at Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer.”  I recently gave a speech to the Soybean Expo in Fargo.  Farmers have done an extraordinary job driving down the price of food.  Back in 1950, the average American family spent almost one-third of its income on food.  By 1985 it fell to 17%.  Today just 11%.  American families spend far less on food than any other country —.. || Continue Reading →