Saturday, April 12, 2008

Weekend Potpourri: Need A Job In Finance? Go East, Young Man

Needs Financial Job? Go East, Young Man
China Daily reported that China is facing a shortage of experienced financial staffers. What is ironic is that it is the foreign banks, who have expanded rapidly into China, are feeling the brunt of the shortage. As each foreign bank tries to capture a bigger piece of the market, or just trying to keep their toehold, they have resorted to poaching talent from each other. According to the article:

“In a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers last year, 40 overseas banks polled said that finding and retaining good personnel was the second-most difficult job in the Chinese banking industry. Of the 40 banks that polled, 35 percent recorded annual staff turnover rates between 15 and 20 percent. Only a small group of large international banks have been able to keep that rate below 5 percent.”

So, if you are an experienced bankers, China is beckoning for you, since the survey indicates that: “Today [May 2007] the banks together employ some 16,752 staff but this number is expected to grow to 35,685 by 2010, a whopping 113% increase.”

Here are the latest survey results from for Hong Kong and Shanghai (click here for Yahoo currency converter):

Hong Kong Salary (in HK Dollars)

Shanghai, China Salary (in Chinese Yuan Renminbi)


Taiwan EPA: Eat Less Meat To Save Earth
Prompted by Kuomintang Legislator Lin Hung-chih’s question, Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration Minister Winston Dang urged consumers to eat less meat as a way to help reduce global warming:

“If a person eats no meat for one day, it can help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 7 kilograms, Lin pointed out. The opposition legislator therefore asked Dang to openly pledge to promote effective measures to save the world. In response, Dang said his administration will move in that direction by adding the measure to the EPA's list to protect the planet from global warming in the future as requested by the KMT lawmaker.”

So, if this goes into Taiwan’s EPA list, then there are going to be millions of Taiwanese who are going to be upset at their government for going to far with their regulations.

However, there is a problem with Legislator Lin’s figure of 7 kilograms of carbon dioxide reduced per person a day. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report, 1,000 kg of animal biomass produces 4,522 kg of CO2 (see chart, below), or 4.5 kg of CO2 per 1 kg of biomass. So, in order to reduce CO2 emission by 7 kg per day, Legislator Lin Hung-chih is stating that an average Taiwanese consumes 1.55 kg (3.4 lbs) of meat a day. Now, according to the USDA Economic Research Service March 2008 report, a typical American ate 6.5 ounces of biomass equivalent (meat, eggs, and nuts) a day. So, if Legislator Lin’s figure is to be believed, then Taiwanese people must be the world’s biggest consumers of meat. And, they say we Americans eat too much.

China Unveils New 350 KPH Bullet Train
China Daily reported Friday that China has built their first bullet train, which can seat 557 passengers and is able to run at 350 kilometers per hour (218 MPH). This train will begin service on the newly built 120 kilometer (75 mile) Beijing-Tianjin route by August. Now, according to Railway Technology website, the Beijing-Tianjin route is only the first portion of the 17,000 kilometer (10,500 miles) of new railway. Once trains begin running on the Beijing-Tianjin route, it will cut the travel time to 30 minutes. This means that the trains will be running at an average of 240 kilometers per hour (150 MPH). Not top speed but much faster than what we have in the U.S.

So, what do we have in the U.S.? The fastest train that we have is the Acela train that runs along the Northeast corridor from Boston to Washington D.C. According to the Amtrak website, One can “Enjoy superior comfort, upscale amenities, and polished professional service — at speeds up to 150 mph — aboard Acela Express.” However, when I checked, the Amtrak schedule for Monday, April 14, for an Acela Express service from Boston to Washington, DC is estimated to take 6.5 hours. The distance is approximately 440 miles (704 km), so the average speed of the Acela on its route is 67.7 MPH (108 km). For a country that prides itself in innovation, when it comes to rail, the U.S. seems to be still talking about turn-of-the-century type of innovation.

Oh, by the way, the Chinese were able to build the 120-kilometer (75 mile) Beijing-Tianjin route in just two years. Just for comparison purposes, the AirTrain system, consisting of 8.3 miles (13.3 km) rail connection to JFK Airport took five years. Either we are very slow or the Chinese are super fast. (I think the smart money is on the Chinese.)

Have a Great Weekend!

Ed Kim
Practical Risk Management
P.S. I wasn’t intending on writing solely about the Far East, it just happened that way. EK

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