Barry Ritholtz and his “China The Black Box”

April 1, 2015

In China The Black Box, Barry Ritholtz demonstrates a better understanding of China than most U.S. talking heads I’ve read—at least in this piece. If you are willing to sit for a long read, I suggest clicking on the link. He does a good job explaining how China’s economy works and why it might survive for some time without an economic collapse like we saw during the 2007-08 global financial meltdown that started in the United States.

In summary, Ritholtz mentions how several prominent hedge fund managers in the United States have said China is making mistakes economically. Ritholtz says there is no way these hedge fund managers know what’s going on in the Middle Kingdom since China is half capitalist and half socialist and doesn’t fit any Western economic norms.

In addition to what Ritholtz says, I don’t know why anyone who is sane and intelligent would listen to the opinions of hedge fund managers about China. For instance, investopedia.com reports that “Hedge funds have always had a significant failure rate.”

Ritholtz continues: China is a unique civilization state, which gives it a tremendous advantage at this stage of its economic development, because China’s citizens have a singular desire to work hard and improve their material lot. It helps that the Chinese prefer to pay cash for things instead of using credit cards as many do in the United States.

Chinese civilization has periods of order followed by periods of disorder and since China recently emerged from two centuries of disorder, China’s Communist Party has a long way to go before it is their turn to leave the leadership stage.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

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Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Gourmet dining at McDonald’s in Shanghai

March 25, 2015

Maybe China’s government doesn’t care for McDonald’s because of the increase in obesity among the Chinese, but many Chinese think of McDonald’s and Pizza Hut as gourmet restaurants or at least they act like they do.

For instance, a few years ago, my sister-in-law hired a young Shanghai ballerina to model for a photo shoot. Afterwards, the ballerina called her husband on a cell phone and told him to meet her at the two story McDonald’s in the middle of Shanghai to celebrate the extra cash she’d earned.

McDonald’s is even planning to increase the number of outlets in China, and to get ready, they have opened a leadership school that only accepts 1% of the applicants for training.

We also saw long waiting lines outside a fancy Pizza Hut on Shanghai’s Nanjing Road, a crowded pedestrian mall.

More Posts about Shanghai:
Shanghai
Shanghai Huxinting Teahouse
Shanghai Huangpu River Tour
Shanghai’s History & Culture
Chinese Pavilion, Shanghai World Expo

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010″ Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


In China, the men with the money say “I do!”

December 23, 2014

In the early 1980’s, I worked in what was known as a meat market – I was the maître d’ in a nightclub called the Red Onion in Southern California. The kind of meat I’m talking about is the two-legged kind where men are looking for women.

On that note, Danwei has an interesting post about a similar meat market in China without the dating scene created by a nightclub.

In China, marriage is often based on how much a man earns. China Has Too Many Bachelors reports that 41 million bachelors will not have women to marry. If nothing is done to change this trend, by 2020 there will be 55-million extra boys/men in China.

Since there is a growing shortage of women in China, men have to compete.  The winner is usually the one who earns the most. Danwei posted a letter from a university student in China, who is attracted to a beautiful girl in one of his classes, but he has nothing to offer and is ready to give up before asking her out for a first date.

This Video emphasizes that challenge for men who don’t earn much money.  A Chinese laborer who doesn’t earn much and doesn’t own a home wants a wife, but he can’t find one because men who earn more than him are getting all the available women.

Even if a girl likes a guy, the parents are going to get involved at some point to make sure the man earns enough to provide for their daughter. If the parents are against the marriage, the odds are it will not take place.

Don’t forget, the biggest reason for divorce in the US is due to money problems—something Chinese women might want to avoid.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Let’s take a close look at how many deadbeats there are in the United States living off welfare

October 13, 2014

If you live in China and you think the streets in America are paved in gold, take a close look at how many deadbeats there are in the United States living off welfare, and you might be surprised who the real welfare queens are.

First, a few numbers to get started: there are more than 316 million Americans and 150.8 million are between the ages of 18 to 65—the primary working years for adults. In 2013, 47.1 million Americans lived below the poverty level; 73.6 million were under the age of 18, and 44.6 million were age 65 or older.

Wow, and in September 2014, there were 146.6 million Americans who were working at paid jobs.

But, a few, far-right billionaire oligarchs—for instance, the Walton family and the Koch brothers, and the fools who swallow their propaganda—think that more people in the United States are on welfare and are deadbeats than those who are working and supporting them.

I think it is arguable and safe to say that it would be a misleading lie that the majority of the Americans who are not working are deadbeats on welfare. Only a fool could think that. Is it possible that there are only 4.2 million Americans—who could be deadbeats—between 18 and 65 who do not have a paying job—that’s only 1.328% of the total population? I bet most of those 4.2 million are probably disabled and can’t work or are a stay at home parent.

Did you know ABC reported that Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world—more than the English, the French, the Germans or Norwegians and even, recently, more than the Japanese?

In addition, according to the OECD, in the United States 67% [that is almost 70%] of people aged 15 to 64 [the working class years] have a paid job. … And having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In the United States, 89% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, higher than the OECD average of 75%—and yet some billionaires, including Bill Gates [worth almost $80 billion], the Koch brothers and the Walton family, would have you believe that the public education system in the United States is failing and must be reformed.

20 Something Finance even says “The U.S. is the Most Overworked Developed Nation in the World.” And Business Insider says the average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime—based on a 5 day 8 hour workweek with a two week vacation annually, that equals 45 years. I worked 45 years, starting at 15 and I retired at 60.  My retirement check comes from CalSTRS, and I paid 8% of my gross income into CalSTRS for the 30 years I was a classroom teacher.

But a Houston based billionaire, according to the Democratic Underground, is attacking public pensions with a goal to kill the guaranteed-benefit plans that are run by teacher retirement systems in every state. This billionaire’s name is John Arnold, who is worth $2.9 billion dollars. Arnold runs a Houston-based hedge fund, and before that he worked for Enron, and it is said that he earned $750 million for Enron the year it went out of business. Huh, how do you earn $750 million for a company that goes out of business the same year?

Contrary to the popular thinking of fools, Social Security is not a form of welfare because workers and employers pay into that program for their entire working life, and in 2013, there were 38 million retired workers—nine out of ten individuals age 65 or older—who collected an average monthly benefit of $1,294. There were 4.9 million dependents; 8.8 million disabled workers, who were paid an average of $1,145 a month, and 6.2 million survivors—survivors are young children and a surviving spouse who cares for the children.

What about food stamps—a real welfare program?

From Media Matters.org we learn that nearly half (47% or 23 million), who get food stamps, were under the age of 18, and another 8 percent (3.9 million) were 60 or older; 41% (more than 20 million) lived in a household with earnings from a job. These workers are known as the “working poor”, and the average household on food stamps received a monthly benefit of $287.

And, these so-called deadbeats—that a few billionaires and a lot of fools think outnumber working Americans—are allegedly robbing us blind while they sit around drinking beer, eating popcorn and watching TV or having sex 18-hours a day to make more babies so they can collect more food stamps. If you believe that, then you might want to look in a mirror to see a fool.

If these billionaires succeed, what will replace progressive era plans like CalSTRS, Social Security, Medicare, unemployment and food stamps?

If we look back at history, we might discover the answer to that question. In 1900, before Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, FDR, Kennedy and LBJ, ushered in the progressive era, 40-percent of Americans lived in poverty with only a 5% unemployment rate, and up until 1938, in some states, children could be sold as young as five to factories, coal mines and whorehouses. Imagine your five-year old child working as a prostitute, because boys and girls were sold into prostitution back then when the U.S. was ruled by capitalist Robber Barons.

Is this the America a few billionaires, with help from some fools, are fighting to get back?

By the way, did you watch the video that comes with this post? It really is an educational eye opener.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

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Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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Steel—NOT steal—from China

October 7, 2014

I read a post on So Far From Heaven.com (a blog) about U.S. dependence on China for steel.

As usual, when I read a claim and/or complaint about China, I often research the issue to see if the complaint is valid.

What I discovered in this case was another lie—the type often generated and spread by Sinophobes, who fear or dislike China, its people, or its culture. Then again, these critics could be McCarthyites, who will publicize accusations of political disloyalty or subversion with insufficient regard to evidence and/or the use of unfair investigatory or accusatory methods in order to suppress opposition.

So Far From Heaven’s post complained that the poor quality of tools in the United States was because of Chinese steel, which, I discovered, probably has nothing to do with steel produced in China, but more to do with capitalism/consumerism and planned obsolescence.

Britannica.com says of planned obsolescence that “This term was supposedly coined after World War II by American industrial designers and writers to indicate industry’s desire to produce consumer items that would be replaced.”

For example, if a U.S. company wants its tools to wear out within a specific time frame, the company’s designers and engineers are told to come up with products that will need to be replaced, which helps boosts profits when customers have to buy a replacement—that is called capitalism 101.

In addition, since most products manufactured in China for the U.S. market are ordered by American companies such as Wal-Mart, Apple, Home Depot and Lowe’s, the contracts often specify exactly how the product is to be manufactured, and the American side of the manufacturing equation decides the quality and life span of the product. If you want to learn more about this business practice, I suggest visiting the China Law Blog to discover how it works.

To discover if the U.S. depends on Chinese produced steel for manufacturing products sold to U.S. consumers, I spent some time Googling (another term is research) for facts—something Sinophobes and/or McCarthyites should do before spreading opinions that are false.

What I discovered about Chinese steel may surprise you.

From InfoPlease.com, I learned the U.S. produced about half of the world’s steel in 1945.

“After World War II,” InfoPlease.com said, “the U.S. steel industry faced increased competition from Japanese and European producers, who rebuilt and modernized their industries. Later, many Third World countries, such as Brazil, built their own steel industries, and large U.S. steelmakers faced increased competition from smaller, nonunion mills (“mini-mills”) that recycle scrap steel.” Did you notice that China or Communism wasn’t mentioned once in this paragraph?

CRS Report for the US Congress said, “China’s steel industry has grown significantly since the mid-1990s. China is now the world’s largest steelmaker and steel consumer. In 2009, China produced over 567 million tons of crude steel, nearly half of the world’s steel. That was 10 times the U.S. production.”

However, CRS reported, “The majority of Chinese steel has been used to meet domestic demand in China.”

Today, the United States is in third place for steel production while Japan is the second largest producer of steel. Source: Index Mundi.com

Here’s the surprise—the United States steel industry exports steel to China. For example, in 2004, the U.S. exported 8 million tons of steel to China up from 5 million tons in 2000 and by 2010, China was buying $34.5 billion in steel from countries such as the U.S., Australia, and Brazil to meet its domestic needs.

I wonder what the Chinese were doing with the U.S. steel being exported to China. Is it possible that products made in China to be sold in the U.S. were being produced using steel made in the U.S.?

In fact, John Surma, president and CEO of US Steel Corp, said, “China generally has been good for our industry.”

Meanwhile, we learn from Qingfeng Zhang writing for Perspectives that the United States produces approximately 80% of its domestic steel demand.

In addition, the US imports finished steel products from a large number of countries. The EU has been the biggest exporter with about five-million tons shipped to the United States in 2001. Canada is the second largest exporter shipping four-million tons, followed by South Korea (2 million tons), Japan (1.8 million tons) and Mexico (1.5 million tons).

China does import steel to the U.S.  The US Department of Commerce reported, “U.S. imports from China represent a total of 4.9 percent of all U.S. steel imports.” In 2010, steel imports to the U.S. totaled 23.9 million tons while America produced nearly 88.5 million tons of steel between January and December 2010. China’s share of steel imports to the U.S. would have been 1.17 million tons, or about 1 percent of that 112.4 million tons of domestic plus imported steel.

You tell me, does the U.S. depend on China for steel to meet domestic demand?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Spilling oil is something China may have in common with other countries, but who spills the most?

September 16, 2014

MSNBC reported on BP’s April 20, 2010 oil spill disaster. After an explosion that killed 11 workers and injured 17, more than 200 million gallons of crude oil flowed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Fishing industries and tourism was devastated while oil washed ashore turning beaches black with goo.

A few months later in July 2010, the BBC reported on China struggling to recover from their worst oil spill disaster ever—about 18 to 28 million gallons of crude oil spilled.

China was new to this type of disaster and yet, they quickly mobilized an army of volunteers and anglers to help clean the pollution from the area around the port of Dalian, one of China’s most important strategic oil reserves.

China’s oil spill came from an explosion in an oil pipeline. Witnesses report that China may have responded faster than the US did for the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline that exploded belonged to China National Petroleum Corporation.

Using this list published by Foreign Policy Magazine of the world’s largest oil spills, let’s see how China’s oil spill compares? I mean, who spilled more oil?

In January 1991, As Iraqi forces withdrew from their position in Kuwait, they sabotaged hundreds of wells, oil terminals, and tankers. Between 160 million and 410 million gallons poured into the Persian Gulf.

In June 1979, the IXTOC 1 Oil Well exploded spilling 138 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico.

In July 1979, 90 million gallons of oil spilled into the ocean 10 miles off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago.

In February 1983, 80 million gallons of oil spilled into the Persian Gulf during the height of the Iran-Iraq war when an oil tanker hit the Nowrux Field Platform causing a leak that couldn’t be capped for months because the platform was under constant attack by Iraqi planes.

In May of 1991, 80 million gallons spilled into the ocean 900 miles off the coast of Angola when a tanker holding 260,000 tons of crude exploded.

Foreign Policy Magazine didn’t list the Exxon Valdez oil spill of March 1989 where about 11 million U.S. gallons of oil spilled into Prince William Sound. For a more complete list of global oil spills, check this list on Wikipedia. Make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page so you don’t miss anything. You may notice that only 3 are listed for China versus the 62, I counted for the U.S.

Is this the price we must pay for a world that depends on oil/coal for electricity and transportation while the oil and coal industries all but ignore alternative sources of power, and people like the Koch brothers often succeed at pressuring the U.S. government to do little to nothing?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Walking the path of Ugg Boots from sheepskin to foot

May 21, 2014

I bought a pair of Ugg boots a few years back at Big 5 for less than $30 to keep my feet warm.

I didn’t consider where the boots were made, and I never intended wearing them to go shopping or outside. Since I work at home and save money by leaving the heat off on cold days, my feet get cold so it made sense to wear a pair.

Uggs don’t appear designed for outdoors, yet I see many young American women looking sharp shopping in Ugg boots. It seems to be a fad that isn’t going away, and I wanted to know where Ugg boots came from and what it cost to make a pair.

I discovered the previous video on YouTube of a factory in China where the material and labor come together to make Uggs. The conclusion of the description below the video says, “These boots are the most cheap and excellent quality boots in the world.”

The New York Times recently reported “The salaries of factory workers in China are still low compared to those in the United States and Europe: the hourly wage in southern China is only about $1.19 (15.2 RMB) per hour.” Chinese factory workers often work overtime as long as sixteen hours a day six days a week—and many Chinese are not complaining because they work long hours. Why? They want those extra hours to earn more.

For a comparison, the US federal minimum hourly wage is $7.25, which pays about $15,000 a year for a full time job not counting overtime or hidden benefits if there are any.

By the way, Numbeo.com reports that consumer prices in the United States are more than 46% higher than in China. In fact, restaurant prices in the US are more than 75% higher than in China.

In China, the Ugg factory workers in that video are probably earning less than $3,700 (US) annually and working twice the hours to keep those Ugg prices down so American women and men could buy a cheap pair to look stylish while shopping.


This is a video explaining how to detect fake Ugg boots

After I watched this video, I checked the Ugg boots I bought from Big 5, and discovered they were fake. Does that mean they weren’t made in China?

Who makes a profit from the real Ugg boots? Deckers Outdoor Corporation holds the Ugg trademark in more than 100 countries worldwide and reported sales of $689 million US dollars under the Ugg brand in 2008 and sales were up in 2009. Source: Source: Wiki.Ugg Boots

How many Americans would be willing to pay four or five times the price for a pair of Ugg boots so those low paying minimum wage jobs could come to the US?

Then, how many Americans are willing to work for the federal minimum wage without benefits? Not many since there are more than eleven million illegal aliens in the US working those jobs.

So, if you live in the US, next time you hear political ads or someone bashing China for stealing jobs from Americans, look in a mirror.

The Walking Company sent me an e-mail advertising “Zealand” slippers (another “Ugg” style product) on sale at 70% off.  Instead of paying almost $65 a pair (not counting the sales tax), I paid less than $20, bought four pair and discovered when the shipment arrived that the “Zealand” product line was made in China instead of New Zealand.  But that shouldn’t surprise anyone because even most Ugg shoes are produced in China.

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Lloyd Lofthouseis the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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