Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama Error & Circuit vs. Hilon

The bankruptcy of Circuit City, the second largest eletronics retailer in the U.S., is definitely shocking news in the context of a global financial crisis. That Circuit City, and Best Buy, are my anologies for Zhongguancun's electronics cities, the places where PC's, photocopiers, faxes, and printers are bought and sold in bulk in Beijing, makes cultural translation that much more difficult. In the past, I described Zhongguancun's electronics cities, and those in Shanghai, Shenzhen, and every city in China, as "Best Buy (Circuit City) broken into a thousand pieces". Now, there are only pieces.

I, like everyone, celebrated the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. In the past two days, I read about how Tim Geithner, representing the president's views, has stated that China is a "currency manipulator". My ideas of change, like the Circuit City analogy, is broken into 1,000 pieces.

The idea that China is a currency manipulator is NOT (apologies for emphasis) a new idea. The afterglow of the inauguration has lead to a anti-China bedfellow. Actually, despite China's surface hardness and designation as "center" of the world, it has many problems. The problems are far deeper, and more serious, than anything the U.S. faces. If there were a "hard choice" to make, it would not be to hold China to task for currency manipulation; it would be to take the union workers, especially in the auto industry, to task. The auto industry manipulates the economy far more than China does its currency -- and the people who would suffer or benefit (in absolute terms) are in China, not Detroit.

Anyhow, the world is changing. There is a crisis. There is change. But will change lead to efficiency, or to surface change and more of the same. Mr. Geithner seems to be the same old story -- and actually, a silly, pandering capitulation.

One hopes that change does come -- that Circuit City becomes more like Hilon (Zhongguancun's most famous electronics market), and that Obama rejects "common sense" of leftist economics. The former would lead to more efficient and effective markets in electronics; the latter would lead to more just and equitable markets in the world economy.

With only two days in the hole, this is definitely food for thought.

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