SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Organizers barred journalists on Sunday from a publicly advertised event in Shanghai to attract Chinese investment in a US real estate project linked to the family of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law in exchange for immigrant visas.
The two-tower luxury apartment complex in New Jersey, One Journal Square, is being developed by KABR Group and the Kushner Companies, which until recently was headed by senior White House advisor Jared Kushner, the husband of Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
The 44,517 square meter museum offers visitors the opportunity to explore the natural world through the display of more than 10,000 artifacts from all seven continents.
The building includes exhibit spaces, a 4d theater, and an outdoor exhibit garden.
located on an urban site, the shape and internal organization of the building references the pure natural form of a mollusc shell.
a grass-covered plane rises out of the park and wraps around an oval pond – the focus of the exhibition route through the building – which begins at the upper level and spirals downwards.
the structural network and sunscreen that lines the curved inner face of the building is both an abstraction of patterns found in traditional pavilions, and a suggestion of human cell organization.
the north wall, which is the group-entry façade along the bus drop-off, references the movement of tectonic plates, while the south wall is a living wall plane composed of a metal trellis covered with vines.
the green wall brings the horizontal plane of the park onto the vertical surface of the structure forming an arcade that represents the vegetation of the earth’s surface.
The city is eating the countryside. People who have farmed all their lives don’t know what to do except keep working amid the construction.
Five years ago, the drive from the airport to downtown Chongqing—a city deep in the heart of China—passed fields of farmland. Now, it’s possible to drive half an hour seeing nothing but high-rises.
“Basically, the countryside is being eaten by the city,” says photographer Tim Franco, who started documenting the changes in Chongqing in 2009.
“I always wanted to capture urban development in China, but I was living in Shanghai, and I felt everybody already talks about Shanghai,” he says.
“I really wanted to see the whole process of a secondary city in China trying to become one of the biggest cities in China.”
The city is part of China’s larger plan to move around 250 million rural residents to cities over the next decade.
The changes in Chongqing have led to a new kind of urban farmer: people who don’t know what else to do in the city.
“Older farmers who have no idea what it is to live in a city, and basically have no education at all, are being moved to the city, and they have no idea what to do,” says Franco.
“They’re living in an apartment and given some basic money by the government, very little, and they have no way to adapt. The only thing they know how to do is to grow vegetables, so some of them just go back to doing that.”
For others, especially those who live in slums in the city, the changes are seen as positive—even when historic buildings are being bulldozed every day.
“It’s easy as a Westerner to be shocked seeing really beautiful old buildings being destroyed, and whole districts being removed,” Franco says. “But actually when you talk to people living there, it’s an incredible improvement of quality of life.”
People who might have lived in a stone house without windows suddenly have a modern apartment.
Since Franco began the project, the changes have made some areas almost unrecognizable.
“This year, two of my favorite old neighborhoods were completely flattened,” he says. “I was walking through small alleyways on my last visit, and then I went back and it’s disappeared, a giant pile of rocks.”
Franco has collected his photographs in a new book called Metamorpolis. Though the project is over, he plans to keep going back to see how the city continues to evolve.
“It’s an amazing, fast-forward urbanization of a city,” he says. “It’s interesting to see where it’s going to go, and how it’s going to change, and if it will be reorganized.”
How worried should we be by the massive financial power of huge managers of assets such as BlackRock and Pimco – with their trillions of dollars of our money under their management?
The central bankers’ central bank, the Bank of International Settlements, resonantly describes them in its latest annual report as “like an elephant in a paddling pool” – in the sense that they are enormous compared with many of the economies in which they put their (our) cash, such that when they decide to invest or disinvest, they “can amplify dislocations”.
Or to put it in plainer English, the decisions of just a few of them can cause boom or bust for entire economies.
The BIS points out that just a 5% reallocation of the $70 trillion dollars in assets under the sway of the larger asset management businesses from rich advanced economies to emerging markets would result in a flow of $3.5 trillion – which is equivalent to 13% of the value of all emerging market shares and bonds.
So just imagine what that would do to bond and share prices of a smaller economy, if the asset managers decided to pile in or stampede out in a herd – which, errr, you may know is how they typically tend to behave.
In those smaller economies, as and when the asset managers charge for the exit, businesses and governments can find themselves starved of vital funds.
And since the domestic currencies of these relevant economies would tend to collapse in those circumstances, the corporate borrowers would struggle to repay and refinance bond debts as they fell due.
We would be in the territory of serious financial and economic crisis.
How big a risk is there of such a crisis right now?
Well since the beginning of 2008, residents in emerging markets have borrowed over $2 trillion abroad – and the amount borrowed would be more than a third higher when the debt issued by offshore vehicles of these residents is included (a Korean business might borrow through an overseas affiliate, for example, and be liable for its debts).
Now far and away the lion’s share of this debt has been provided by fund managers and investors, who have bought bonds, rather than by banks lending directly.
The point is that as banks have become less willing and able to lend – both domestically in the West and everywhere across borders – asset managers have to an extent taken up the slack.
Here is the thing. There is still a colossal mind-blowing amount of cash or liquidity in the world.
In fact this cash has been amplified by all that market-distorting, money creation by central banks such as the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve (you remember Mr Quantitative-Easing and his marginally less profligate cousin Mr Credit-Easing).
But the big holders of all this cash typically lost confidence in banks, during the financial crisis of 2007-08.
So (as UK small businesses and households know only too well) the role of banks in credit creation has been reduced over the past few years – partly because they have become more cautious and partly because they have struggled to take in funds.
Instead giant fund managers have steadily become more important channels for financing businesses and entire economies – particularly in the developing world.
When interest rates collapsed in most of the low-growth rich West, asset managers looked for better opportunities to earn returns in – for example – the higher-yielding debts of emerging markets.
One consequence is that the average nominal long-term bond yield for emerging markets – the interest rate on this debt – has fallen from 8% in 2005 to around 5%. And adjusting for inflation, this gives a real interest rate of just 1%.
That interest rate looks low, probably too low, in view of the underlying risks of investing in these economies.
Squeezing a blancmange
What gives further pause for thought is that the BIS identifies Brazil, China and Asia in general as among the places most vulnerable to a banking crisis, based on three indicators: the rate at which credit is being created at the moment compared to historical norms, property price trends, and the ratio of debt service payments to income.
In a way, this is another version of the story I have been sharing with you for almost a year, which is the vulnerability of the world’s second biggest economy, China, to a financial shock.
And the other bigger point is this one.
It is all very well for governments and regulators to have concentrated their efforts on sanitising and strengthening the banking system since the great debacle of six years ago.
But global financial integration means that attempts to rein in one part of the credit-creation industry is like squeezing an enormous blancmange – it causes a great bulge elsewhere, in this case in asset management (and what is often described as shadow banking).
Banks do not have the unique privilege and power to foment devastating cycles of boom and bust in markets and economies.
The next crisis, which may be nearer than we think, may well be triggered by over-mighty asset managers.
At least 35 people were killed and 42 more injured during a New Year’s event on the Bund in Shanghai, according to CCTV News:
Sina News has reported that masses of crowds in Chen Yi Square on the Bund led to the stampede. Authorities are working now to rescue and aid wounded. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
The city’s annual New Year’s eve 3D laser display on the Bund was cancelled this year, after taking place for the last three years, according to Shanghai Daily.
One week before the New Year, Shanghai authorities cancelled the event which attracted nearly 300,000 people last year, reportedly due to crowd control issues.
A toned down version of the celebration was held at several locations in the city instead.
According to posts on Weibo and Twitter, injured people are being taken to Shanghai No. 1 People’s Hospital.We will update more as details come in.
UPDATE [7:42 a.m.]:According to posts on Weibo, people were seen throwing fake US dollars into the crowds from a nightclub at building No.18 on the Bund before the stampede, which occurred at 11:35 p.m. local time.
The city government has not confirmed the reports and is still investigating the cause. SCMP reported that many students were among the dead and injured. Their nationalities are not yet known.
The bilateral deal was signed in Wellington New Zealand, by China’s Cai Fuchao, minister at the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), and New Zealand’s Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Maggie Barry.
The new agreement is in addition to a feature film treaty signed in 2010 and is the first specifically relating to TV agreed by China.
To assist filmmakers to develop feature film projects with China the NZFC has established a dedicated NZ$1 million (US790,000) China Co-Production Production fund for investment in the production of one or more official feature film co-productions with China.
A delegation of senior New Zealand executives will travel to Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing at the end of the month.
China is developing a’supersonic’ submarine that could travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in less than two hours.
Researchers say their new craft uses a radical new technique to create a ‘bubble’ to surround itself, cutting down drag dramatically.
In theory, the researchers say, a supercavitating vessel could reach the speed of sound underwater, or about 5,800km/h.
The technology was developed by a team of scientists at Harbin Institute of Technology’s Complex Flow and Heat Transfer Lab.
Li Fengchen, professor of fluid machinery and engineering, told the South China Morning Post he was ‘very excited by its potential’.
The new sub is based on Soviet technology developed during the cold war.
Called supercavitation, it envelopes a submerged vessel inside an air bubble to avoid problems caused by water drag.
A Soviet supercavitation torpedo called Shakval was able to reach a speed of 370km/h or more – much faster than any other conventional torpedoes.
In theory, a supercavitating vessel could reach the speed of sound underwater, or about 5,800km/h, which would reduce the journey time for a transatlantic underwater cruise to less than an hour, and for a transpacific journey to about 100 minutes, according to a report by California Institute of Technology in 2001.
The Chinese system constantly ‘showers’ a special liquid membrane on its own surface.
Although this membrane would be worn off by water, in the meantime it could significantly reduce the water drag on the vessel at low speed.
After its speed had reached 75km/h or more the vessel would enter the supercavitation state, Li said.
However, Li admitted problems still needed to be solved before supersonic submarine travel became feasible.
A powerful underwater rocket engine still needs to be developed.
The technique could even be used to aid awimmers, he believes.
‘If a swimsuit can create and hold many tiny bubbles in water, it can significantly reduce the water drag; swimming in water could be as effortless as flying in the sky,’ he said.
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My observations as an artistic, writer, blogger, computer geek, humanist, mental health activist, lifelong learning and researcher of life living with lifelong severe depression, anxiety, social anxiety with agoraphobia, PTSD, A Nervous Breakdown, as well as a Survivor of Sexual Abuse and Rape.