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Recent overweighting to stem A-share plunge has made China Securities Finance Corp (CSF), central bank-backed refinancing institution, among top 10 shareholders of many listed-firms, reported Securities Times on Wednesday.

Among all investments, eight firms have been confirmed of the CSF’s stake, which include property developer Dulexe Family, Hualan Biological Engineering, resource purifying developer SJ Environment Protection, Yunnan Tin Company Group, Fujian Cosunter Pharmaceutical Co, Hunan Er-Kang Pharmaceutical Co, digital map provider NavInfo Co, and retailer Friendship&Apollo.

The CSF has been listed as the second-largest holder of tradable shares at Cosunter Pharmaceutical, third largest at SJ Environment Protection, and fifth-largest shareholders at Yunnan Tin Company, according to the Times citing disclosures to Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges.

There is more here, by ChinaDaily, via Patrick Chovanec.  I wonder how they are planning to unwind all of those share purchases?

Thursday assorted links

by on July 23, 2015 at 12:31 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Discourse on inequality.

2. Two months of Soylent.

3. The upside of bride prices?

4. Henry on the Very Serious People.

5. Imprisoned books.

6. “That’s why the saga of these two deworming trials should be regarded as a pivotal point in history.

7. Is the media becoming a wire service?  Also read the cited pieces at the end of the article.

8. The Krugman vs. Moore debate.

Wednesday assorted links

by on July 22, 2015 at 1:51 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Daniel Davies defends the 2010 bailout of Greece.

2. Indian markets in everything: Andhra Pradesh pays beggars to stay away from festival.  Many are trying to claim the benefit, but verification of beggar status is required.

3. What are the most popular picks on freshman reading lists?

4. The tiny islands where Canada and America are at war (puffin photo too).

5. “Sex likely developed as a cellular survival strategy, possibly due to oxidative stress caused by mitochondria.

6. Singapore arts festival, September in NYC, more here.  Be there or be square.

7. Uh-oh.

I mean that question quite um…seriously.

Paul Krugman, who I believe originated the concept, recently defined it as follows: “…someone distinguished by his faith in received orthodoxy no matter the evidence.”  I would rather have something less normative and also more specific.

I think of it this way: the People are Very Serious if they realize that common sense morality must, to a considerable extent, rule politics.  At least if voters are watching.

So what is common sense morality in this context?  It embodies a number of propositions, including, for instance (with cultural variants across nations):

1. Political decisions should be based on what people and institutions deserve, based on their prior conduct and also on their contributions to the general good.

2. Economic nationalism.

3. Traditional morality, based on respect for authority, repayment of debts, savings, and hard work.

4. Inflation is bad, in part because it violates #1 and #3, and in the case of the eurozone it often violates #2 as well.

5. “I don’t care what you all say, the government should be able to find some way of arranging things so that I don’t have to suffer too badly from this.”

Now here’s the thing: common sense morality very often is wrong, or when it is right that is often with qualifications.

Therefore at the margin there is almost always a way to improve on what the Very Serious People are pushing for.  The Very Serious People realize this themselves, though not usually to the full extent, because they have been cognitively captured by their situations.  They see themselves as “a wee bit off due to political constraints,” instead of “a fair amount off due to political constraints.”  So there is usually some quite justified criticism of the Very Serious People.  Common sense morality is needed at some level, but still at the margin we wish to deviate from it.

That said, it is a big mistake to try to throw the Very Serious People under the bus.  The Very Serious People understand pretty well how to deal with a public which believes in some version of 1-5, and furthermore they often know that such public beliefs, whatever their limitations, are useful too.  Anyone else trying to manage the situation may come up with some favorable breakthroughs, but also may make a total hash of it, as was the case with Syriza.  Syriza failed to realize the import of 1-5 for both domestic and foreign politics,and so they drove the Greek economy to the point of total desperation.  There is a nested game going on, where the public has a big say on the heavily publicized issues, and the politicians must in some way heed that.

If you want to try the “replace the Very Serious People” game, and assume the subsequent risks, that is a judgment which can be made.  The mistake is to think that the partial wrongness of the Very Serious People is necessarily a reason to take matters out of their hands.

Addendum: Via Tim, here is the entry on Very Serious People on RationalWiki, it seems Atrios first put forward the concept.  And here are the remarks of Tsipras.

Tuesday assorted links

by on July 21, 2015 at 12:58 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. The politics of Silicon Valley and the Democratic Party.

2. The end of rhino privacy.

3. Against the mobile web.  And Felix Salmon on related issues.

4. “There’s a joke: I’m not heterosexual, I’m not homosexual, I’m aerosexual.”

5. The worst poems of the last one hundred years?

6. Dani Rodrik’s new home page.

7. The French Scrabble champion does not speak French.

That is the new — well sort of new — Thomas Piketty book.  It was first published in France in 1997 and then updated several times through 2014, though we are told most of the book has kept its original structure.  It is a good, short read and will appeal to anyone with an interest in Piketty and “that sort of thing.”  The full-blown g > r model is not here, but you can see Piketty edging into being Piketty, with plenty of talk about capital-labor substitutability.

Monday assorted links

by on July 20, 2015 at 12:55 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Different kinds of states have different kinds of foul language, foul language at the link.

2. Brad DeLong on Trekonomics, and more here.

3. The evolution of Adam Sandler.

4. Is self-control bad for people with low status?  And Uber is better for the poor.

5. China plans new SuperCity of 130 million people, about the size of Kansas.

6. Why are invisible birds shrieking near the World Bank?

7. Interfluidity on price stickiness and coordination failures.  And Bryan Caplan on worker resentment.

Sunday assorted links

by on July 19, 2015 at 3:23 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Cass Sunstein on Gone With the Wind.

2. These people need the Pigou Club.  Or maybe this is the Pigou Club?  But no, it is the “Sea of Death tourist resort.”  Are you sure it’s not the Pigou Club?

3. Medical bill for a rattlesnake bite.

4. Is it possible to privatize marriage?

5. “She Loves You, yeah, yeah, yeah.

6. The most common and distinctive ingredients by cuisine.  For which cuisine is egg the most common element?  And profile of Daniel Kahneman.

7. The hitchhiking robot.

Saturday assorted links

by on July 18, 2015 at 1:01 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. A new tactile alphabet, and is Braille obsolete?

2. Will neuroscience help us with sports?

3. Weak currencies don’t cause persistent trade surpluses: “Is there any field outside of macroeconomics where the so-called experts make more elementary errors in opinion pieces?”

4. Arnold Kling on the Iran deal.

5. Why can’t you default on the IMF?, except when you can.  By the way, it’s the ECB who owes the IMF, ultimately, not Greece.  With complications.

6. A.O. Scott on Comic-Con, one of the best pieces I have read this year.

7. Are the standards for political science majors too low?

Friday assorted links

by on July 17, 2015 at 12:17 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. European identity and redistributive preferences.

2. More from Uwe Reinhardt on Korean drama and Kimchi (pdf).

3. Markets (hierarchies) in everything, IBM style.

4. Ian Bremmer on the Iran deal.  And Jeffrey Lewis.

5. China’s municipal debt problems (NB: boring link, pdf too).  And what is wrong with Chinese gdp and inflation measures?, by Christopher Balding, plus David Keohane on same here.  And more Keohane here, an overview, skip this stuff at your peril it is the most important economics in the world right now.  All are excellent pieces.

6. Stereotyping diners — “Southern dad is always a winner.”

Open borders for a year?

by on July 17, 2015 at 1:33 am in Economics, Law, Uncategorized | Permalink

There is debate over Open Borders vs. more restrictive immigration, but how about some combination of the two options?  Please note, I am not advocating this, I just would like to see the discussion become a little broader and also less emotional.

What about open borders for a solid year, followed by a more restrictive immigration policy?  This would encourage the arrival of those migrants who were decisive and could get their act together quickly.  Of course you can think of many variants on this idea.

I started thinking along these lines in response to the well-known claims that Puerto Rican immigrants under-perform in terms of income because they can so easily go back and forth.   So the goal with this proposal is to select for those people who are relatively sure they wish to come and stay.

Another variant therefore would have an exit fee for those migrants who sought to leave and return to their home countries.  Imagine a bond posting, with the bond forfeited if the immigrant does not stay say five years.

What about open borders for a month?  A week?  Who would show up if they had only twenty-four hours to slip in?

Thursday assorted links

by on July 16, 2015 at 11:45 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Governments mismanage their wealth.

2. Chinese applicants to the Pigou Club.

3. We are not a nation of freelancers.

4. Is productivity diffusing less well?

5. Should Americans work more?

6. Is this an AEA research blog, sort of?

Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, may run out of economically viable water supplies by 2017 as available groundwater is unable to keep pace with the needs of a fast-growing population, experts warn.

Per capita water consumption is right now about two hundred cubic meters per year, compared to a scarcity threshold of 1700 cubic meters per year.

The cost of water has tripled in the last year, and the population of the city is expected to double within the next ten years.

There has been talk of moving the capital, as well as desalinating seawater on the coast and pumping it 2,000 metres uphill to Sanaa. But there are no concrete plans.

It may be too late for the removal of various water subsidies to make a difference, even assuming that were to happen.  In the meantime, there have been few positive developments and of course the war is a huge negative.

It would be tragic, and in modern times unprecedented, if and when a major city simply runs out of water, and that could happen in about two years’ time.  Here is further coverage.

Wednesday assorted links

by on July 15, 2015 at 11:35 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Stephen Williamson on Canadian fiscal consolidation.

2. David Warsh on Friedman and Samuelson.

3. Solar geo-engineering.  And EITC is better than you think.

4. Retirement actually seems to make people happier.

5. One Arlington high school class has 117 valedictorians.

6. John Cochrane responds on interest rates.  Here Noah summarizes his view of the debate.

If I understand correctly, a biologic is “any medicinal product manufactured in, extracted from, or semisynthesized from biological sources,” and a biosimilar is a copy of a biologic.  Think of a biosimilar as harder to make than a generic drug and also requiring separate FDA approval.  Here is Wikipedia:

Unlike the more common small-molecule drugs, biologics generally exhibit high molecular complexity, and may be quite sensitive to changes in manufacturing processes. Follow-on manufacturers do not have access to the originator’s molecular clone and original cell bank, nor to the exact fermentation and purification process, nor to the active drug substance. They do have access to the commercialized innovator product.

Here is a Rand piece on the potential cost savings from biosimilars (pdf), but in percentage terms they do not become nearly as cheap as generic drugs, maybe 65-85% of the price of the original.

Zarxio was the first biosimilar approved by the United States, and the global biosimilars market could hit $55 billion by 2020.  Here is yesterday’s FT story about biosimilars draining away sales.

Here is a paper by Blackstone and Fuhr:

Various factors, such as safety, pricing, manufacturing, entry barriers, physician acceptance, and marketing, will make the biosimilar market develop different from the generic market. The high cost to enter the market and the size of the biologic drug market make entry attractive but risky.

Will cell therapies, which are relatively new and also hard to copy with biosimilars, save Big Pharma from the forthcoming patent cliff?

Biosimilars will become a bigger issue soon:

There are 11 biologic drugs that will face biosimilar competition in the next several years, according to data compiled by Evercore ISI. These drugs, which treat ailments from cancer to rheumatoid arthritis, raked in more than $50 billion combined in 2014.

The FDA is outlining biosimilar approval pathways, although the issue seems to be receiving almost zero attention from the outside world.