World Excellence - International Edition July - September

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PREPEX Andreas Lutz

BUSINESS & FINANCE

Is productivity growth becoming irrelevant? Some economists see low business investments, low skills or excessive regulations holding back potential growth...

A new day for HIV/AIDS prevention

NORTH KOREA




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North Korea’s real strategy

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How would health-care reform affect patient health? Why tax cuts for the rich solve nothing

Page 20 The secret to earn the clients’ trust

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28

The Sandinista shell game

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Is productivity growth becoming irrelevant?

PROTAGONIST

A China card for the Middle East

PROTAGONIST

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BUSINESS & FINANCE

WORLD AFFAIRS

ECONOMICS

CONTENTS

World Excellence - International Edition

Page 24 Progressively improving Asian real estate


ECONOMICS

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY 36

Europe’s suprising tech success

40

Managing big data’s big risks

42

A new day for HIV/AIDS prevention

FOOD

18

Why do cities become unaffordable?

46

Marini’s Premium Caviar Selection

48

Shake Shack opens test kitchen

50 Publisher/Director Guido Giommi Editors, America: Imani Nicole Jones Scarlett Williams Editor, Asia: Eric Davide Editors: Chiara Alessandra Piscitelli Alice Trevisan Simona Vantaggiato Alessia Rosa Alessia Liparoti Claudia Chiari

International Subscription Kate Rios Art Director Nick Lowen Graphic Design Giulia Andreoli Mary Thompson Editorial Offices: London, Milan, New York, Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong

© Project Syndicate 2017 WorldExcellence Volume 25 Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without prior written permission of World Excellence. Information is based solely on sources

JOBS & CAREERS

believed to be reliable, though the accuracy has not been verified by World Excellence. Neither the information in World Excellence nor the opinions expressed should be taken as a solicitation for investment. World Excellence accepts no liability for actions based on the information herein.

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WORLD AFFAIRS

MEDIATOR

A CHINA CARD for the Middle East

When the region needs the steady hand of international leadership most, none of the usual actors is strong enough to engage effectively. There’s the need of a new mediator in the Middle East scenary. Dominique Moisi

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ARIS- The list of crises plaguing the Middle East is growing. In Yemen, a civil war rages amid an uncontrollable cholera epidemic. In Jerusalem, religious violence is intensifying, while in parts of Iraq and Syria, sectarian warfare shows no signs of abating. Most ominously, a new level of antagonism between Saudi Arabia and Iran suggests that a direct confrontation between the leading powers of Sunni and Shia Islam is no longer out of the question. Just when the region needs the steady hand of international leadership most, none of the usual actors is strong enough, or commit-

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ted enough, to engage effectively. What the region requires is a new framework for diplomacy – one with the strong backing of a new mediator: China. By exporting terrorism and religiously inspired extremism, the Middle East has become “global” in the most negative sense. But while much attention has been focused on addressing what France’s former finance minister, Michel Sapin, once called the “unhappy” side of globalization – such as unemployment and income inequality – too little has been done to contain the spread of extremist violence or address its causes. Many diplomatic formulas have been

World Excellence - International Edition

tried, but progress remains elusive. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Europe endured horrific religious wars, but Christendom was mostly united when it began to confront the threat posed by an expanding Ottoman Empire. In the nineteenth century, the delicate balance of power between European powers and the crumbling Ottoman fringe gave rise to the “Eastern Question.” Ultimately, the Ottoman Empire’s demise fueled conflict in the Balkans and sowed rivalries that led to World War I. Today, too, mainly European, or Western, approaches to ensuring stability in the Middle East no longer work. As a top Europe-


an diplomat told me recently, the Middle East crisis is in desperate need of fresh thinking and new leadership. One idea he offered was a “Helsinki”-inspired solution, drawing on a diverse collection of countries to address a common, if regionally focused, problem. My interlocutor’s suggestion was original, and potentially game-changing. In 1975, in Helsinki, Finland, a mechanism was created to reduce tensions and enable dialogue between the United States and the Soviet Union, the two Cold War superpowers. The resulting Helsinki Accords, which placed an emphasis on sovereignty and territorial integrity, represented

a significant step toward strategic de-escalation. For some analysts, the accords, which received broad European and Western support, initiated the end of the Cold War (which the Soviet Union, of course, survived with neither its sovereignty nor its territorial integrity). The geopolitical map has changed significantly since 1975, but the underlying premise of the Helsinki process – mutual respect built on global consensus – is no less relevant today. Unfortunately, neither the US nor Europe appears to be in a position to implement such an approach for the Middle East. That, in my view, leaves an opening for China, the world’s most im-

portant rising power, to engage in a formal and meaningful way. China’s engagement would be a significant departure from its past policy. During much of China’s reform period, the country’s leadership emphasized domestic priorities and kept a low profile internationally. But in recent years, China has been more willing to play a larger global role, reflected in its leadership on climate change and its efforts to mediate between Sudan and South Sudan. In 2015, when France launched an ultimately unsuccessful bid to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, China was among the initiative’s most enthusiastic supporter. ■

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WORLD AFFAIRS

KOREA AND USA

NORTH KOREA’s real strategy

North Korea’s search for nuclear weapons is often depicted as a “rational” response to it’s strategic needs of national security. Christopher R. Hill

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ENVER- the US out of the way. Against this background, efforts to bring the Kim regime back to the negotiating table – spearheaded largely by China – are misguided. Such efforts aim to persuade North Koreans to freeze all missile and nuclear tests, in exchange for a scale-down and delay of annual joint exercises by US and South Korean forces. Advocates of this socalled “freeze for freeze” approach say that such a tradeoff is only fair: the North cannot be expected to suspend its efforts to strengthen its defensive capabilities if the US and South Korea are pursuing supposedly hostile military cooperation in its near-abroad. But this argument has it backward. In fact, it is the North whose activities are inherently hostile, and the South, along with the US, that is focused on defense. Indeed, planning for the annual US-South Korea spring exercises is always based on the premise that North Korea has invaded the South, not vice versa. North Korea knows this well. But North Korea also knows that, without joint exercises, a military alliance becomes weak and hollow. In 1939, for example, when Germany invaded Poland, the British and French, per their treaty with Poland, declared war on Germany. But, in reality, they did little to protect Poland, which Germany subjugated rather quickly. If the US suspends

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joint military exercises with South Korea, its willingness or ability to respond to North Korean aggression in the South may become similarly weak. This scenario is all the more dangerous, given the possibility that the suspension of missile and nuclear tests may not actually lead to

a concomitant weakening of North Korea’s nuclear program. Testing is only a small element of a weapons program – and not necessarily an essential one. There is no sign that the North Koreans would actually end research and development of nuclear weapons. In fact, the idea that North Korea

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will abandon its weapons programs in exchange for the promise of security and regime survival has been tested has failed whenever it has been tested. In September 2005, five world powers, including the US, offered North Korea an unimpeded civilian nuclear program, energy assistance, economic aid, and diplomatic recognition, as well as a promise to establish a regional mechanism for maintaining peace and security in Northeast Asia. A US commitment not to attack North Korea with conventional or nuclear weapons was also included in the deal. All North Korea had to do to secure these benefits was abandon its nuclear-weapons programs and accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. But the North was not willing to allow for a credible verification protocol. Instead, it attempted to limit verification to that which was already known. In the end, it walked away from the agreement, rather than work to find an acceptable way forward. A stronger and more purposeful US-China dialogue on North Korea is essential to resolving what is emerging as the world’s most urgent security problem. But the discussion should focus on direct measures to impede and undermine the country’s inherently aggressive nuclear program – not to offer more concessions that will only strengthen a rogue regime’s hand. ■



ECONOMICS

HEALTH INSURANCE

How would

HEALTH-CARE REFORM

affect patient health? A federally financed research team of physicians and health-care economists examined hospital records and other clinical information. Martin Feldstein

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SA - Health-care reform is the major policy issue commanding attention in the United States. A crucial feature of the debate is the official estimate of the number of individuals who would lose their health insurance under the various plans that have been proposed to repeal and replace the existing Affordable Care Act (better known as “Obamacare”). The prospect that repealing Obamacare would cause more than 20 million people to lose their formal insurance coverage, as the Congressional Budget Office has estimated, is understandably a serious barrier to legislative progress. It is important, therefore, to understand just what that would mean in practice, and

how much it would actually affect the health of those who lose their formal insurance. The primary reason for the loss of insurance in the proposals to repeal and replace Obamacare is the projected decline in Medicaid coverage. Medicaid is the joint federal-state health-care program in which the federal government defines who is eligible, stipulates which benefits must be provided, and finances those benefits based on a formula whereby states with low average incomes receive a larger share of federal funding. People who qualify for Medicaid do receive substantially more care than those without formal insurance – more doctor visits, prescriptions,

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hospital admissions, etc. They also have substantially lower out-of-pocket medical costs than the uninsured, including the elimination of “catastrophic” out-of-pocket costs. As a result, they are also much less likely to skip paying other bills because of medical debts or to have nonmedical bills sent to collection. If reform legislation reduces Medicaid benefits, the individuals who lose benefits would continue to receive free care in outpatient departments, emergency rooms, and as hospital in-patients. In general, this is paid for by the states through their “free care” programs. And individuals who are billed for services understand that providers generally do not attempt to collect from low-income


patients. Moreover, those who are no longer in the Medicaid program do not lose care from the many doctors who now refuse to serve Medicaid patients because of the low fees allowed in the program. The most important fact to bear in mind is that enrollees in Medicaid show no significant improvement in clinical physical health outcomes. This was the main finding of a large “natural experiment” supported by the federal government. The experiment occurred when the state of Oregon opened enrollment to Medicaid in 2008, after the opportunity had been closed for many years. Because the state did not have enough funds to accept all 90,000 individuals who wanted to enroll, it

conducted a lottery to select about 30,000 individuals who were given the opportunity to apply for Medicaid. A federally financed research team of physicians and health-care economists examined hospital records and other clinical information and also spoke with the enrollees and with those not admitted. The researchers concluded that self-reported overall health and depression improved among those who enrolled in Medicaid, and that there was an increase in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes for this group. But there was no significant improvement in clinical physical outcomes for conditions including hypertension, high cholesterol, or diabetes.

Although the evidence indicates that the proposed cutbacks in federal dollars for Medicaid would not harm the physical health of those who lost their coverage, the reduction would force states to increase spending on their free-care programs. The cuts would also increase the costs to hospitals that provide care that is not reimbursed. It is not surprising that the prospect of adding these costs for tens of millions of patients to states’ budgets and to hospital costs causes state governors and hospital administrators to protest when Congress proposes cutting back on the Medicaid program. But it is important for the public and members of Congress to understand the real reason for their opposition. ■

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ECONOMICS

TAX REFORM

Why TAX CUTS for the rich solve nothing America’s current tax structure is still inefficient and unfair. Joseph E. Stiglitz

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EW YORK - Although America’s right-wing plutocrats may disagree about how to rank the country’s major problems – for example, inequality, slow growth, low productivity, opioid addiction, poor schools, and deteriorating infrastructure – the solution is always the same: lower taxes and deregulation, to “incentivize” investors and “free up” the economy. President Donald Trump is counting on this package to make America great again. It won’t, because it never has. When President Ronald Reagan tried it in the 1980s, he claimed that tax revenues would rise. Instead, growth slowed, tax revenues fell, and workers suffered. The big winners in relative terms were corporations and the rich, who benefited from dramatically reduced tax rates. Trump has yet to advance a specific tax proposal. But, unlike his administration’s approach to health-care

legislation, lack of transparency will not help him. While many of the 32 million people projected to lose health insurance under the current proposal don’t yet know what’s coming, that is not true of the companies that will get the short end of the stick from Trump’s tax reform. Here’s Trump’s dilemma. His tax reform must be revenue neutral. That’s a political imperative: with corporations sitting on trillions of dollars in cash while ordinary Americans are suffering, lowering the average amount of corporate taxation would be unconscionable – and more so if taxes were lowered for the financial sector, which brought on the 2008 crisis and never paid for the economic damage. Moreover, Senate procedures dictate that to enact tax reform with a simple majority, rather than the three-fifths supermajority required to defeat an almost-certain filibuster by opposition Democrats, the

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reform must be budget-neutral for ten years. This requirement means that average corporate-tax revenue must remain the same, which implies that there will be winners and losers: some will pay less than they do now, and others will pay more. One might get away with this in the case of personal income tax, because even if the losers notice, they are not sufficiently organized. By contrast, even small businesses in the United States lobby Congress. Most economists would agree that America’s current tax structure is inefficient and unfair. Some firms pay a far higher rate than others. Perhaps innovative firms that create jobs should be rewarded, in part, by a tax break. But the only rhyme or reason to who gets tax breaks appears to be the effectiveness of supplicants’ lobbyists. One of the most significant problems concerns taxation of US cor-


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porations’ foreign-earned income. Democrats believe that, because US corporations, wherever they operate, benefit from America’s rule of law and power to ensure that they are not mistreated (often guaranteed by treaty), they ought to pay for these and other advantages. But a sense of fairness and reciprocity, much less national loy-

long as US net imports are as high as they are now, the tax would raise enormous revenues. But there’s the rub: the money must come from someone’s pocket. Import prices will go up. Consumers of cheap clothing from China will be worse off. To Trump’s team, this is collateral damage, the inevitable price that must be paid to give

NEWS

PAUL RYAN HAS PROPOSED ADDING A TAX ON NET IMPORTS alty, is not deeply ingrained in many US companies, which respond by threatening to move their headquarters abroad. Republicans, partly out of sensitivity to this threat, advocate a territorial tax system, like that used in most countries: taxes should be imposed on economic activity only in the country where it occurs. The concern is that, after imposing a one-off levy on the untaxed profits that US firms hold abroad, introducing a territorial system would generate a tax loss. To offset this, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, has proposed adding a tax on net imports (imports minus exports). Because net imports lead to job destruction, they should be discouraged. At the same time, so

America’s plutocrats more money. But retailers such as Walmart, not just its customers, are part of the collateral damage, too. Walmart knows this – and won’t let it happen. Other corporate tax reforms might make sense; but they, too, imply winners and losers. And so long as the losers are numerous and organized enough, they are likely to have the power to stop the reform. A politically astute president who understood deeply the economics and politics of corporate tax reform could conceivably muscle Congress toward a reform package that made sense. Trump is not that leader. If corporate tax reform happens at all, it will be a hodge-podge brokered behind closed doors. More likely is a token across-the-board tax cut: the losers will be future generations,

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out-lobbied by today’s avaricious moguls, the greediest of whom include those who owe their fortunes to scummy activities, like gambling. The sordidness of all of this will be sugarcoated with the hoary claim that lower tax rates will spur growth. There is simply no theoretical or empirical basis for this, especially in countries like the US, where most investment (at the margin) is financed by debt and interest is tax deductible. The marginal return and marginal cost are reduced proportionately, leaving investment largely unchanged. In fact, a closer look, taking into account accelerated depreciation and the effects on risk sharing, shows that lowering the tax rate likely reduces investment. Small countries are the sole exception, because they can pursue beggar-thy-neighbor policies aimed at poaching corporations from their neighbors. But global growth is largely unchanged – the distributive effects actually impede it slightly – as one gains at the expense of the other. (And this assumes that the other does not respond and fuel a race to the bottom.) In a country with so many problems – especially inequality – tax cuts for rich corporations will not solve any of them. This is a lesson for all countries contemplating corporate tax breaks – even those without the misfortune of being led by a callow, craven plutocrat. ■



ECONOMICS

CULTURE & SOCIETY

Why do CITIES become unaffordable? Homes across the cities are becoming prohibitively expensive, people may be forced out of the cities where they have spent their entire lives. Robert J. Shiller

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EW HAVEN- Inequality is usually measured by comparing incomes across households within a country. But there is also a different kind of inequality: in the affordability of homes across cities. The impact of this form of inequality is no less worrying. In many of the world’s urban centers, homes are becoming prohibitively expensive for people with moderate incomes. As a city’s real-estate prices rise, some inhabitants may feel compelled to leave. Of course, if that inhabitant already owned a house there that they can sell, they may regard the price increase as a windfall that they can claim by departing. If not, however, they may be forced out with no compensation. The consequences are not just economic. People may be forced out of cities where they have spent their entire lives. Leaving amounts to losing lifelong connections, and therefore can be traumatic. If too many lifelong inhabitants are driven out by rising housing prices, the city itself suffers from a loss of

identity and even culture. As such people depart, an expensive city gradually becomes an enclave of high-income households, and begins to take on their values. With people of various income levels increasingly divided by geography, income inequality can worsen and the risk of social polarization – and even serious conflict – can grow. As this year’s Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey shows, there are already massive disparities across major global cities (measured by the ratio of median home prices to median household income). A high ratio correlates with high pressure for people to leave. This year’s survey, which covered 92 cities in nine countries, showed that, as of late 2016, Hong Kong had the least affordable housing, with a priceto-income ratio of 18.1. That means that paying off a 30-year mortgage on a median-price home would cost a median-income buyer more than half of their income – and that is without interest. Mortgage rates are low in Hong

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Kong, but not zero, suggesting it is just about impossible for a median-income household to purchase a home there without access to additional funds from, say, a parent, or, if the buyer is an immigrant, from abroad. After Hong Kong, the list continues with Sydney (12.2), Vancouver (11.8), Auckland (10), San Jose/Silicon Valley (9.6), Melbourne (9.5), and Los Angeles (9.3). Next come London and Toronto – at 8.5 and 7.7, respectively – where housing is extremely expensive, but incomes are also high. Meanwhile, some attractive world cities are quite affordable, relative to incomes. In New York City, the median home price stands at 5.7 times median household income. In Montreal and Singapore, that ratio is 4.8; in Tokyo and Yokohama, it is 4.7; and in Chicago, it is 3.8. Maybe the figures for these outlier cities aren’t precise. They are hard to check, and there must be inconsistencies across cities, countries, and continents. For example, the geographical boundaries of the areas used to com-


pute median price and median rent may vary. In some cities, higher-priced homes may tend to turn over more rapidly than in others. And some cities may be inhabited by larger families, implying bigger houses than in other cities. But it seems unlikely that the errors could be so significant that they would change the basic conclusion: home affordability around the world is highly variable. The question, then, is why residents of some cities face extremely – even prohibitively – high prices. In many cases, the answer appears to be related to barriers to housing construction. Using satellite data for major US cities, the economist Albert Saiz of MIT confirmed that tighter physical constraints – such as surrounding bodies of water or land gradients that make properties unsuitable for extensive building – tend to correlate with higher home prices. But the barriers may also be political. A huge dose of moderate-income housing construction would have a major impact on affordability. But the existing

owners of high-priced homes have little incentive to support such construction, which would diminish the value of their own investment. Indeed, their resistance may be as intractable as a lake’s edge. As a result, municipal governments may be unwilling to grant permits to expand supply. Insufficient options for construction can be the driving force behind a rising price-to-income ratio, with home prices increasing over the long term even if the city has acquired no new industry, cachet, or talent. Once the city has run out of available building sites, its continued growth must be accommodated by the departure of lower-income people. The rise in housing prices, relative to income, is unlikely to be sudden, not least because speculators, anticipating the change, may bid up prices in advance. They may even overshoot, temporarily pushing the ratios even higher than necessary, creating a bubble and causing unnecessary angst among residents. But this tendency can be mitigated, if civil society recognizes

the importance of preserving lower-income housing. Many of the calls to resist further construction, residents must understand, are being made by special interests; indeed, they amount to a kind of rent seeking by homeowners seeking to boost their own homes’ resale value. In his recent book The New Urban Crisis, the University of Toronto’s Richard Florida decries this phenomenon, comparing opponents of housing construction to the early-nineteenth-century Luddites, who smashed the mechanical looms that were taking their weaving jobs. In some cases, a city may be on its way to becoming a “great city,” and market forces should be allowed to drive out lower-income people who can’t participate fully in this greatness to make way for those who can. But, more often, a city with a high housing-priceto-income ratio is less a “great city” than a supply-constrained one lacking in empathy, humanitarian impulse, and, increasingly, diversity. And that creates fertile ground for dangerous animosities. ■


PROTAGONIST

THE STRATEGY

The secret to earn the

CLIENTS’ TRUST

How Fides makes it easier and more secure for clients to execute transactions. Chiara Alessandra Piscitelli and Alice Trevisan

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Z

URICH - “Our solutions are built on the objectives of simplicity and centralization of the multibank experience. Fides makes it easier and secure for clients to execute transactions safely”, says indeed Andreas Lutz, CEO of Fides, the industry that has been leader for more than a century for trustworthy service. Andreas Lutz provides Fides with his more than 20 years of executive expertise in sales, risk management, and strategy execution, after he has earned an Executive MBA degree from the University of Bern and a Master in Business Administration from the University of Rochester, New York. He was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Fides in January 2017 and he has been with Fides Treasury Services since March 2014, representing a key contributor to the company’s ongoing success. In his role, he enjoys the challenge of inspiring teams and clients with a can-do, pioneering mindset and looks forward to guiding Fides Treasury Services to a very bright future. You have been appointed as CEO of Fides, what kind of goals would you like to achieve as a leader? As CEO, it is my vision to transform

the payment and bank connectivity experience for corporate treasurers. When it comes to bank connectivity and transaction communication, treasury teams have been conditioned to accept the challenges traditionally associated with these functions. Their experience has been to expect to be limited in their geographic reach due to the specific local nuances of their banks. Sometimes it is difficult to communicate with the banks because of the very proprietary, institutionally imposed formatting requirements. Clients want to take an extraordinarily long time establish actual connectivity with their banks. Fides is the known leader in multi-bank “connectivity-as-a-service” – globally, through our ease of integration with the industry’s leading TMS and ERP providers. In essence, we have been the “best-kept-secret” of multibanking because our solutions remove all of the legacy expectations and challenges mentioned. As the CEO of Fides, it is my mission to continue to bring to market – every market, solutions that are a unique blend of modern technology and purposeful, hands-on services that allow companies to connect to their banks and counterparts easily and quickly. The experience we provide our clients allows them to easily do business in any geographic market

around the globe regardless of the size and location of the banks they are working with. What are the main issues of the multi-bank sector? From a corporate practitioner perspective, ease of connectivity and time-to-market are key challenges. These are the issues that corporates face initially before they can even become efficiently operational with their banks. Once they are communicating and connecting, the issues become more sophisticated for corporates: How can I scale and ensure the security and control of my transactions? How can I keep up with changing regulatory and formatting requirements? How can I scale and optimize my banking network and transactions? And furthermore, how can I do all of this quickly? According to my experience, all of those requirements result into one overall challenge and opportunity: combination of Real-time and Secure transaction workflows. The pace at which transactions are happening and business is occurring has never been greater so the main challenge for both practitioners and providers is to do business quickly while keeping transactions secure. As globalization and cyber-

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crime increase, how does your company change the job of managing multi-bank relationships? Our solutions are built on the objectives of simplicity and centralization of the multibank experience. By reducing the number of touchpoints between the corporation and the bank, Fides makes it easier and more secure for clients to execute transactions safely. Our controls provide clients with a base process that enables users to predict and prevent cybercrime. When you have an established and vetted process in place, any deviations are transparent and fraud attempts can be easily detected and prevented. Using our solution gives clients a multibanking blueprint so that they don’t have to spend time playing detective in their daily processes nor do they need to allocate exorbitant amounts of time trying to plug perceived areas of penetration. We do it all for them. Fides’s clients can see all their bank transaction data at the touch of a button so they can take the most effective action on their payment process. The user experience we provide our clients by being a single resource for all their transactions and payments inherently, supports greater security and fraud protection. We are constantly implementing new features that further reduce fraud. Recently, we released an advanced sanction fil-

tering feature. This allows treasurers to identify and comply with any global sanction filter policy, such as OFAC checks etc. in advance of their payments. Furthermore, Fides can provide additional sanction lists upon request to support additional prevention needs a client may have. This creates an added level of security and it also economizes the treasurer’s time because we are helping them to avoid sanction blocking by the bank before the payment is ever executed.

back; the continuous loop of learning and listening keeps our solutions relevant for everyone. What challenges should be faced by Fides in the next years? I believe there is great opportunity for Fides in the trend towards technology simplification and the convergence to consumer and business IT experiences. The operating world is becoming smaller and smaller and companies are expected to do business in real time regardless of geog-

TREASURY SERVICES

WE ARE CONSTANTLY IMPLEMENTING NEW FEATURES THAT FURTHER REDUCE FRAUD What do you think is the best way to act in order to earn the trust of your clients? Clients trust Fides. We have a 98% client retention rate and we have been in business for over a century. The best way for us to continue to earn and maintain our clients’ trust is to do what we have always done and that is to listen and act upon their needs and challenges. We have taken a “lifecycle” approach to product strategy that puts the client at the center of development. We plan, develop, and deliver solutions based on direct client feed-

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raphy, time zone, or regulation. Our new solutions and services focus on providing a user experience that eliminates friction from the bank connectivity and payment process. Our latest innovations are focused on addressing the increased need for real-time data transparency and high-speed performance. Every solution we bring to market is designed to make easier for corporate treasurers connecting with and execute on transaction information. It is a very exciting time for the market and Fides. ■



PROTAGONIST

PROPERTY

Progressively Improving Asian Real Estate:

SONKIM LAND

Le Fonti Awards winner SonKim Land shares its latest new partnership and fundraising efforts. Imani Nicole Jones

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IETNAM - As a previous Le Fonti Awards for “Company of the Year for Leadership Property & Real Estate Vietnam”, it’s no wonder that Son Kim Land is continuously a leader amongst the movers and shakers in Asia. Since it’s last award in 2017, the company has raised over 100 million in new capital and partnered with EXS Capital, an independent investment firm dedicated to Asia Pacific, and ACA Investments, a leading Japanese fund management firm based in Singapore with an historic track record of investments across the Asia-Pacific region. Though the group in its own right has an immense amount of experience in the Vietnam-

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ese markets, the two groups display in this explanatory interview just how they plan to take over the continent. Read on to discover the fascinating details. We are excited to share the news of your most recent gain of US 100 million in fundraising. Can you tell us more about it? We (SonKim Land), EXS Capital and ACA Investments have raised successfully US $ 100 million from the international market, of which US $ 46 million in first the first trenches were made by the end of last year. One of the factors that helps SonKim Land to successfully mobilize capital is its leading position in Vietnam’s real estate market with products of unique design and premium that bring outstanding quality of living for the Vietnamese people. From the operational side, SonKim Land also has a solid foundation and is transparent in its accounting, so investors can quickly and easily understand why they should trust that SonKim Land will strongly achieve its goals. Another favorable factor that supports us is that Vietnam has become a preferred destination of many Japanese investors. According to official statistics, Japan has clinched the biggest foreign investor in Vietnam’s real estate market in 2016. What led to your most recent partnership with ACA Investments Pte Ltd ? ACA Investments (ACA) is a Singa-

pore-based fund management, founded in 2008 under the auspices of Sumitomo Corporation. Since its foundation, ACA has become one of the best fund management firms in Japan, bringing profits to investors with more than USD $ 900 million in its management assets. ACA Investments also has extensive investment experience in Vietnam including investments in local companies such as “Bibo Mart” and “Cung Mua”. ACA Investments has explored over 100 investment opportunities and concluded that SonKim Land was one of the few companies that owns a professional team and long-term strategic vision with transparent operations. Therefore, ACA Investments decide to cooperate with SonKim Land, to develop the real estate market in Vietnam together. How do the two groups strengthen each other’s endeavors? ACA expects to work with SonKim Land to exploit the potential demand of Japanese businesses who wish to expand their operations in Vietnam. And SonKim Land expects ACA Investment to be a financial backer for SonKim Land to further develop its high-end residential, hotel and premium office projects in Vietnam, so that two groups could contribute to the development of the Vietnam real estate industry, improve the quality of life of Vietnamese people. What are some issues in the Vietnamese real estate market in

2017 and how is your company tackling them? The real estate market in 2017 is forecasted to develop positively and vibrantly, as the macroeconomic context continues to develop steadily, demand for housing is also on the way of sustainable growth, credit for the real estate market is well regulated. Besides the advantages, there are some challenges to overcome which are continuously affecting the real estate market such as issues of land use fees, land clearance, administrative procedures, project transfer, credit policy, lack of transparency in market information, and turbulence. SonKim Land is always ready to assist the Vietnam Real Estate Association, the Ministry of Construction by contributing ideas to improve institutions and policies in developing Vietnam real estate towards the right direction. What are SonKim Land’s future expansion plans outside of Vietnam? We do have expansion plans outside of Vietnam to capture the increasing demand of Vietnamese high net worth families to invest into their children’s education in countries like U.S., U.K., and Australia as well as buying properties for their children during their studies. As Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos are becoming more attractive, we also have plans to expand into those Indochina countries to diversify our income producing asset portfolio. Read more about this exciting new partnership at www.sonkimland.vn. ■

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NEW YORK

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April 2018


BUSINESS & FINANCE

PUBLIC AFFAIRS

The Sandinista SHELL GAME

An economic slowdown in Nicaragua is likely sooner rather than later. Local business leaders will feel less proud of their relationship with an authoritarian government. Andrés Velasco

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ANTIAGO -. On every other block in downtown Managua, massive billboards proclaim that, owing to God’s grace, “Years of Victory” are here. Aside from the Almighty, the purveyors of such victories are the larger-than-life President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, both duly portrayed with gaze fixed heavenward. Their creed, one reads, is “Christianity, Socialism, and Solidarity.” That a socialist revolutionary – who first came to power after violently ousting the dictator Anastasio Somoza – should seek legitimacy in a Christian god is odd. Even odder is the relationship Ortega has forged with the local business community. Influential tycoons proudly report that the government consults with them on all economic legislation. Critics accuse business of “co-legislating” with the regime. When the United States government

recently caused a stir by claiming that foreign investors were being driven away from Nicaragua by influence peddling and arbitrary legal enforcement, José Adán Aguerri, the head of the leading business organization, Cosep, came to the government’s defense. If the US Embassy provided him with a list of foreign companies facing obstacles, Aguerri claimed, he would ensure that their problems were solved. Downtown Managua has a park named after Salvador Allende, the Chilean socialist president ousted in a 1973 military coup, and a garish statue of the late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez, portrayed in a yellowish hue that makes him look like Bart Simpson. To say that property rights are not fully secure in Nicaragua is an understatement. The judiciary does not stray far from Ortega’s wishes, and public administration is widely viewed as corrupt. In 2015, Nicaragua ranked in the 28th

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The statue of Salvador Allende in Downtown Managuas’ park

percentile in the World Bank’s Rule of Law index, meaning that 72% of countries did better. On control of corruption, Nicaragua ranked even lower, in the 19th percentile. Yet, with inflation under control and the economy growing at a steady 4-5% pace in recent years, the private sector looks and acts happy. An abundance of cranes in Managua suggests a boom in office construction. Since Ortega reclaimed the presidency in 2007 (he had left office in 1990 after

losing an election to Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, and lost presidential elections in 1996 and 2001), his regime has steadily slid toward authoritarianism. In 2009, a Supreme Court he had packed with allies allowed him to circumvent term limits and run for president again. Since then, the National Assembly, which Ortega dominates, has granted him the right to seek an indefinite number of terms. Before the national election last November, the Supreme Court did him

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another favor, barring Eduardo Montealegre, the main opposition leader, from participating. Ortega was reelected with 72% of the vote. No one is sure of turnout (official numbers are unreliable), but independent observers estimate that as many as two thirds of voters stayed home. The regime’s authoritarian tendencies have not gone unnoticed internationally. A bill currently progressing through the US Congress would impose sanctions on Nicaragua if Ortega does not


move to restore democratic freedoms and stem corruption. If enacted, US representatives would be instructed to vote against loans to Nicaragua from all multilateral lenders, and the US government would have to compile and publicize a list of corrupt Nicaraguan officials. The combination of socialist rhetoric and business-friendly corporatism is mostly new to Latin America. There was some in Ecuador under President Rafael Correa, who recently stepped

down after three terms in office. But one has to turn to Asia – Vietnam and China come to mind – to find a similar combination. Yet Ortega’s model looks much less sustainable than that of Asia’s putative socialists. Vietnam has based its growth on rapid industrialization, enabled by integration into a regional value chain centered in China. Nothing of the sort has happened in Nicaragua. The country remains dependent on natural-resource-based exports: beef, sugar, coffee, and a bit of mining. The Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement has provided only a weak boost for new exports. Unlike neighboring Costa Rica, Nicaragua has no high-tech industry. And maquila (assembly and re-export) activities are much sparser than in El Salvador or the Dominican Republic, let alone Mexico. In the Atlas of Economic Complexity compiled by Harvard Kennedy School researchers, Nicaragua ranks 106th out of 124 countries. That is one reason to be skeptical about the sustainability of Nicaragua’s recent economic growth. Another is the disappearance of Venezuelan aid. No one is sure how much money the Venezuelan regime pumped into Nicaragua, but one hears estimates from reputable sources of around $500 million a year for nearly a decade. That is a lot of money in a country with a GDP of barely $13 billion. It allowed Ortega to stimulate the economy while buying support from key constituen-

cies. But with Venezuela’s economy in free fall and the country sliding into political chaos, such largesse has ended. Nicaragua’s recent economic growth plausibly owes much to a phenomenon that would be familiar to the Vietnamese: low-income countries that achieve a modicum of macroeconomic stability often experience a growth spurt. In relatively backward economies, where “everything remains to be done,” it is easy, early on, to spot profitable investment opportunities. But the law of diminishing returns eventually kicks in. Once the basics of a consumer economy are in place, sustaining high returns requires developing new products, building new sectors, and penetrating new markets. That has proven hard to do even in Latin American countries like Chile, endowed with strong institutions and an established rule of law. It will prove even harder in a country like Nicaragua, which is relatively short of human capital and governed by what the University of Chicago’s James Robinson and MIT’s Daron Acemoglu call extractive (as opposed to inclusive) political and economic institutions. So, an economic slowdown is likely sooner rather than later. At that point, local business leaders will feel rather less proud of their cozy relationship with an authoritarian government. And the government will find it much harder to secure a restive population’s quiescence. At that point, further political victories for Ortega and his wife will surely require God’s grace. ■

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BUSINESS & FINANCE

GREAT BRITAIN

Is PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH becoming irrelevant? Some economists see low business investment, poor skills or excessive regulations holding back potential growth. Adair Turner

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ONDON - As the Nobel laureate economist Robert Solow noted in 1987, computers are “everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” Since then, the so-called productivity paradox has become ever more striking. Automation has eliminated many jobs. Robots and artificial intelligence now seem to promise (or threaten) yet more radical change. Yet productivity growth has slowed across the advanced economies; in Britain, labor is no more productive today than it was in 2007. Some economists see low business investment, poor skills, outdated infrastructure, or excessive regulation holding back potential growth. Others note wide disparities in productivity between leaders and laggards among industrial manufacturers. Still others

question whether information technology is really so distinctively powerful. But the explanation may lie deeper still. As we get richer, measured productivity may inevitably slow, and measured GDP per capita may tell us ever less about trends in human welfare. Our standard mental model of productivity growth reflects the transition from agriculture to industry. We start with 100 farmers producing 100 units of food: technological progress enables 50 to produce the same amount, and the other 50 to move to factories that produce washing machines or cars or whatever. Overall productivity doubles, and can double again, as both agriculture and manufacturing become still more productive, with some workers then shifting to restau-

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rants or health-care services. We assume an endlessly repeatable process. But two other developments are possible. Suppose the more productive farmers have no desire for washing machines or cars, but instead employ the 50 surplus workers either as lowpaid domestic servants or higher-paid artists, providing face-to-face and difficult-to-automate services. Then, as the late William Baumol, a professor at Princeton University, argued in 1966, overall productivity growth will slowly decline to zero, even if productivity growth within agriculture never slows. Or suppose that 25 of the surplus farmers become criminals, and the other 25 police. Then the benefit to human welfare is nil, even though measured productivity rises if public services are valued, as per standard convention, at input cost. The growth of difficult-to-automate service activities may explain some of the productivity slowdown. Britain’s flat productivity reflects a combination of rapid automation in some sectors and rapid growth of low-productivity, low-wage jobs – such as Deliveroo drivers riding around on plain old-fashioned bicycles. In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that eight of the ten fastest-growing job categories are lowwage services such as personal care and home health aides. The growth of “zero-sum” activities may, however, be even more important. Look around the economy, and it’s striking how much high-talent

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manpower is devoted to activities that cannot possibly increase human welfare, but entail competition for the available economic pie. Such activities have become ubiquitous: legal services, policing, and prisons; cybercrime and the army of experts defending organizations against it; financial regulators trying to stop mis-selling and the growing ranks of compliance officers employed in response; the huge resources devoted to US election campaigns; real-estate services that facilitate the exchange of already-existing assets; and much financial trading. Much design, branding, and advertising activity is also essentially zero-sum. It is certainly good that new fashions can continually compete for our attention; choice and human creativity are valuable per se. But we have no reason to believe that 2050’s designs and brands will make us any happier than those of 2017. Such zero-sum activities have always been significant. But they grow in importance as we approach satiation in many basic goods and services. In the US, “financial and business services” now account for 18% of employment, up from 13.2% in 1992. The impact on measured GDP and productivity reflects national accounting conventions. If people devote more of their income to competing for scarce housing, driving up property prices and rents, GDP and “productivity” increase, because housing rent is included in GDP, even if the aggregate supply of housing services

is unchanged. Since 1985, the share of rents in the UK economy has doubled, from 6% of GDP to 12%. Likewise, more and better-paid divorce lawyers increase GDP, because end consumers pay them. But more and better-paid commercial lawyers don’t raise output, because companies’ legal expenditures are an intermediate cost. Measured productivity slows as intermediate zero-sum activities proliferate, while other zero-sum activities swell GDP but deliver no welfare benefit. Potentially offsetting this effect, in-

freely arising “consumer surplus.” But the essential insight is still important: much that delivers human welfare benefits is not reflected in GDP. Indeed, measured GDP and gains in human welfare eventually may become entirely divorced. Imagine in 2100 a world in which solar-powered robots, manufactured by robots and controlled by artificial intelligence systems, deliver most of the goods and services that support human welfare. All that activity would account for a trivial proportion of measured GDP, simply because

PRODUCTIVITY

THE IMPACT ON MEASURED GDP AND PRODUCTIVITY REFLECTS NATIONAL ACCOUNTING CONVENTIONS formation technology may improve human welfare in ways not captured in measured output. Billions of hours of consumer time previously spent filling in forms, making telephone calls, and queuing are eliminated by Internet-based shopping and search services. Valuable information and entertainment services are provided for free. Contrary to what some right-wing economists argue, such free services cannot make increasing income inequality irrelevant. If rents and commuting costs are driven up by intense competition for attractively located property, you can’t pay for them out of

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it would be so cheap. Conversely, almost all measured GDP would reflect zero-sum and/or impossible-to-automate activities – housing rents, sports prizes, artistic performance fees, brand royalties, and administrative, legal, and political system costs. Measured productivity growth would be close to nil, but also irrelevant to improvement in human welfare. We are far from there yet. But the trend in that direction may well help explain the recent productivity slowdown. The computers are not in the productivity statistics precisely because they are so powerful. ■


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INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Europe’s surprising TECH SUCCESS

Europe is stepping up as an innovative and forward-looking economic force. William Echikson

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RUSSELS- Europe is often viewed as a digital laggard, running far behind the frontier-pushing United States and Asia. But appearances are deceiving. In fact, according to a new report by the London venture capital firm Atomico, European startups are now taking the lead in artificial intelligence, building new tech hubs, and drawing investment from traditional industrial stalwarts. Last year, a record-setting $13.6 billion was invested in Europe’s tech sector, compared with $2.8 billion in 2011. Gone are the days when Europe’s “tech” sector largely comprised consumer-oriented e-commerce businesses – often blatant knockoffs of successful US companies. Today, Europe is the home of real pioneering innovation, led by what Atomico calls “deep tech” – the kind of artificial intelligence developed by Google’s DeepMind. Deep tech accounted for $1.3 billion of European venture investments in 2015, delivered in 82 rounds, up from $289 million, delivered in 55 rounds, in 2011. Europe’s new tech hubs are emerging in unexpected places, far beyond the early hotspots of London, Berlin, and Stockholm. Atomico pinpoints Paris, Munich, Zurich, and Copenhagen as the cities to watch over the coming years. The French capital, Atomico points out, is already starting

to challenge London and Berlin in terms of the number and volume of venture-capital-financed deals. Europe’s traditional industries are now awakening to tech. Two-thirds of Europe’s largest corporates by market capitalization have made a direct investment in a tech company. One-third of those companies have acquired a tech company since the beginning of 2015. Foreign firms are also rushing to take advantage of Europe’s tech talent. Google, Facebook, and Amazon have all announced major expansions of their European tech hubs. Transactions worth more than $88 billion took place last year – compared to just $3.3 billion in 2014 – including SoftBank’s purchase of the British semiconductor-design firm ARM and Qualcomm’s $47 billion purchase of NXP Semiconductors. Another study, by the Boston Consulting Group, points out that many small export-oriented European Union member countries – namely, the Benelux, Baltic, and Nordic countries – rank well above the US in so-called “e-intensity,” which covers IT infrastructure, Internet access, as well as businesses, consumer, and government engagement in Internet-related activities. These “digital frontrunners” generate about 8% of their GDP from the Internet, compared to 5% in Europe’s Big Five (Germa-

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ny, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom). Digitization is expected to generate between 1.6 million and 2.3 million more jobs than it eliminates in these countries between 2015 and 2020. Of course, Europe’s tech sector still has its weaknesses, reflected in its failure so far to produce a tech giant to rival the behemoths of Silicon Valley. While European tech entrepreneurs find it as easy as their American counterparts to raise startup funds, US firms enjoy 14 times more later-stage capital. That funding gap would disappear, if European pension funds allocated just 0.6% more of their capital under management to venture investments. A related weakness is the lack of a true European single digital market. In the US or China, tech entrepreneurs gain immediate access to a massive market. In Europe, they still must navigate 28 different consumer markets and regula-

tory regimes. To be sure, the European Commission promised to create a single digital market two years ago, estimating that it could boost the EU economy by €415 billion ($448.5 billion) annually. But Hosuk Lee-Makiyama and Philippe Legrain of the Open Political Economy Network recently delivered a scathing assessment of the results. Europe’s “single digital market,” they argue, currently amounts “to a jumble of outdated, corporatist, counterproductive industrial policies that favor producers over consumers, big companies over small, traditional incumbents over digital startups, and EU firms over foreign ones.” Instead of liberalizing, the EU wants to regulate. For example, it is working to ban companies from refusing online sales (except for copyright reasons) or setting different prices on the basis of a customer’s home country. Other

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dangerous possibilities – such as an effort to regulate data ownership, access, and usability – lie on the horizon. Despite these risks, the overall trend in Europe’s tech sector is a positive one. A new appetite for risk seems to be sweeping the continent; Atomico reports that more than 85% of founders say it is “culturally acceptable” to start one’s own company. Add to that deep research talent – five of the top ten global computer science faculties are within the EU – and Europe’s start-up boom looks sustainable. At a time when the US is pursuing protectionist, insular, and backward-looking policies, Europe is stepping up as an innovative and forward-looking economic force. Wouldn’t it be ironic if, as now seems likely, it is the supposedly backward EU that ended up leading the way in unlocking the Internet’s true economic potential?. ■


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INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTIONS

Managing BIG DATA’s big risks In recent years, enormous collections of confidential data have been stolen from commercial and government sites. Ernest Davis

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EW YORK - In the last 15 years, we have witnessed an explosion in the amount of digital data available – from the Internet, social media, scientific equipment, smart phones, surveillance cameras, and many other sources – and in the computer technologies used to process it. “Big Data,” as it is known, will undoubtedly deliver important scientific, technological, and medical advances. But Big Data also poses serious risks if it is misused or abused. Already, major innovations such as Internet search engines, machine translation, and image labeling have relied on applying machine-learning techniques to vast data sets. And, in the near-future, Big Data could significantly improve government policymaking, social-welfare programs, and scholarship. But having more data is no substitute for having high-quality data. For example, a recent article in Nature reports that election pollsters in the United States are struggling to obtain representative samples of the population, because they are legally permitted to call only landline telephones, whereas Americans increasingly rely on cellphones. And while one can find countless political opinions on social media, these aren’t reliably representative of voters, either. In fact, a substantial share of tweets and Facebook posts about politics are computer-generated. In recent years, automated programs based on biased data sets have caused numerous scandals. For example, last April, when a college student searched


Google images for “unprofessional hairstyles for work,” the results showed mostly pictures of black people; when the student changed the first search term to “professional,” Google returned mostly pictures of white people. But this was not the result of bias on the part of Google’s programmers; rather, it reflected how people had labeled pictures on the Internet. A Big Data program that used this search result to evaluate hiring and promotion decisions might penalize black candidates who resembled the pictures in the results for “unprofessional hairstyles,” thereby perpetuating traditional social biases. And this isn’t just a hypothetical possibility. Last year, a ProPublica investigation of “recidivism risk models” demonstrated that a widely used methodology to determine sentences for convicted criminals systematically overestimates the likelihood that black defendants will commit crimes in the future, and underestimates the risk that white defendants will do so. Another hazard of Big Data is that it can be gamed. When people know that a data set is being used to make important decisions that will affect them, they have an incentive to tip the scales in their favor. For example, teachers who are judged according to their students’ test scores may be more likely to “teach to the test,” or even to cheat. Similarly, college administrators who want to move their institutions up in the US News and World Reports rankings have made unwise decisions, such as investing in extravagant gyms at the expense of academics. Worse, they

have made grotesquely unethical decisions, such as the effort by Mount Saint Mary’s University to boost its “retention rate” by identifying and expelling weaker students in the first few weeks of school. Even Google’s search engine is not immune. Despite being driven by an enormous amount of data overseen by some of the world’s top data scientists, its results are susceptible to “search-engine optimization” and manipulation. A third hazard is privacy violations, because so much of the data now availa-

sults cannot be interpreted, or because the people who have written the algorithm refuse to provide details about how it works. And while governments or corporations might intimidate anyone who objects by describing their algorithms as “mathematical” or “scientific,” they, too, are often awed by their creations’ behavior. The European Union recently adopted a measure guaranteeing people affected by algorithms a “right to an explanation”; but only time will tell how this will work in practice.

THE GOOD NEWS

THE EUROPEAN UNION RECENTLY ADOPTED A MEASURE GUARANTEEING PEOPLE AFFECTED BY ALGORITHMS A “RIGHT TO AN EXPLANATION” ble contains personal information. In recent years, enormous collections of confidential data have been stolen from commercial and government sites; and researchers have shown how people’s political opinions or even sexual preferences can be accurately gleaned from seemingly innocuous online postings, such as movie reviews – even when they are published pseudonymously. Finally, Big Data poses a challenge for accountability. Someone who feels that he or she has been treated unfairly by an algorithm’s decision often has no way to appeal it, either because specific re-

When people who are harmed by Big Data have no avenues for recourse, the results can be toxic and far-reaching, as data scientist Cathy O’Neil demonstrates in her recent book Weapons of Math Destruction. The good news is that the hazards of Big Data can be largely avoided. But they won’t be unless we zealously protect people’s privacy, detect and correct unfairness, use algorithmic recommendations prudently, and maintain a rigorous understanding of algorithms’ inner workings and the data that informs their decisions. ■

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INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

HEALTHCARE SOLUTIONS

A New Day for HIV/AIDS Prevention Introducing Prepex, the innovative solution stemming from the Middle East. Imani Nicole Jones

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SRAEL - Behold a new innovative phenomenon improving the lives of humans around the world: Prepex. A game-changing HIV/AIDS prevention solution, this device has introduced a system scientifically approved by the FDA to improve the spread of mankind’s most vicious and dangerous disease. Circ MedTech Ltd, a company founded in 2009 in Israel, speaks on how they have transformed the future of sexual health in this informative fresh interview. Read more to discover the story behind the initiative. We are very inspired by your firm’s introduction of Prepex. Can you tell us a little bit about your invention? PrePex is the world’s only non-surgical male circumcision device; a PrePex procedure is safe, simple to perform in an urban or rural setting, and requires no costly sur-

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gical infrastructure (personnel or equipment). The economic and social benefits to healthcare systems and most importantly to the males themselves - are manifold. PrePex is available in different sizes fitting newborns to adults and its advantage lies in its simplicity; it facilitates circumcision by creating uniform radial pressure that stops blood flow to the foreskin, inducing a controlled, closed-ischemic process. After 7 days, the device and the necrotic foreskin are easily removed. Since the foreskin tissue is no longer viable, it is painlessly cut off using blunt-edge scissors, similar to cutting off nails or getting a haircut. The procedure can be conducted by minimally trained healthcare professionals, after only 3-days training. Thus, PrePex enables task-shifting from physicians to nurses, minimizing the burden on the existing health care system, which is already strained handling other life-saving procedures. In addition, PrePex is the only device designed especially to fit men’s needs thanks to less pain than surgery, no loss of workdays, minimal discomfort and aesthetic cosmetic outcome. What was the inspiration behind its creation? Circ MedTech Ltd. is a global social enterprise, offering innovative, affordable and scalable public health-

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circumcisions and to train local surgeons who are typically unfamiliar with the practice. They realized that there was a need for a better solution to the challenge of scaling up MC in these low-resource settings.

care solutions. Our Mission is to contribute to the global efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and to improve the male circumcision experience for men worldwide. We are a small team with a vision of using the latest research and innovative thinking, to help bring lowtech solutions to parts of the world where high-tech answers are often out of reach. It has been scientifically validated that circumcised men reduce their risk of HIV infection by up to 73%. Based on this definitive evidence, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/ AIDS (UNAIDS) recommended in 2007 that voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) be offered as part of a comprehensive HIV

prevention strategy in geographic areas with high prevalence of heterosexually transmitted HIV and low prevalence of male circumcision (MC). As a result, UNAIDS, in partnership with The United States President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO and the World Bank, announced an accelerated plan to scale up VMMC to a total of 37 million men in 14 priority countries in Sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2021, saving millions of lives and billions of USD due to averted treatment and care. The founders of our company heard about this global initiative during a campaign to bring experienced surgeons to Africa that will be able to conduct the necessary

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How has it been scientifically tested? PrePex has been extensively reviewed by the World Health Organization (WHO), with its safety and efficacy validated in a series of comprehensive, rigorous studies. PrePex is Class II CE certified and a sterile version for adults has been cleared by the FDA. In addition, Circ MedTech Ltd. holds ISO 13485 certification. Clinical studies of the PrePex device for non-surgical male circumcision (MC) were planned using the WHO official Evaluation Framework of Adult Male Circumcision Devices. All studies were executed according to GCP guidelines. Clinical reports on all studies have been submitted to WHO, CDC, PEPFAR, UNAIDS and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Three Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT) conducted in collaboration with Rwanda Ministry of Health and Rwanda Military Hospital validated the PrePex device as a literally bloodless procedure that does not necessitate injected anesthesia nor sutures, and can be conducted by nurses in a clean, non-sterile setting. In a WHO audited and peer


reviewed randomized controlled comparison study, the device was validated as up to five times faster than the current standard surgical method. PrePex’s simple technology, combined with its adaptability to resource-limited settings, makes it critical to scale up Male Circumcision across sub-Saharan Africa. Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania have completed studies validating the safety, efficacy, acceptability and superiority of PrePex, over the surgical dorsal slit method for male circumcision. The Rwandan Ministry of Health approved the device for use in Rwanda and initiated a national scale-up of PrePex in 2013. In addition, the PrePex Center of Excellence was established in the Rwanda Military Hospital in Kigali, and it now serves as an international training center for PrePex providers from around the world. In addition, throughout the years more studies were held in collaboration with Rwanda military hospital in order to approve the PrePex technic and introduce the device for younger adolescents and boys. What type of impact have you had on the affected community thus far? To date, more than 1 million PrePex devices have been delivered. That means that according to mathemat-

ical models, approximately 150,000 HIV cases have been averted. Every case averted means funds can be shifted from treatment of HIV patients to other life-saving causes, for education, development, gender equality and more. Therefore, PrePex is helping to prevent the spread of HIV and save public healthcare funds. In addition, PrePex helps to increase

health awareness and strengthen communities. PrePex has shown to bring men to clinics who otherwise would never opt for circumcision — nor would they come for an HIV test or other life-saving checks. As more men undergo circumcision using the PrePex device, the less chance they contract STDs or viruses that can lead to cancer. And for their partners, less likeli-

hood for cervical cancer – the leading cause of death among women in Sub-Saharan Africa. What issues have you encountered in delivering Prepex to critical need patients? We are constantly dealing with challenges that slow down the programs such as lack of funding or national health issues. These require us to come up with creative solutions that fit low-resource settings, such as mobile clinics that expend the outreach of services to men in rural areas and collaboration with other organizations that increase awareness and promote health services within the community. What are the future goals of the company? Our goal is to continue supporting the scale-up of male circumcision for HIV/AIDS prevention in Africa and to improve the male circumcision experience for males around the world. Each year, there are 30 million male circumcisions taking place worldwide. Whether practiced for medical, traditional or religious reasons, PrePex can replace the conventional surgical male circumcision technique, saving lives and preventing surgical complications for infants, children and adults around the world. Read more about this fascinating company on their website, www. prepex.com . ■

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FOOD

RUSSIAN METHOD

Marini’s introduces

PREMIUM CAVIAR SELECTION for those caviar cravings

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UALA LUMPUR, 09 September 2017 - Premium caviar is a culinary treasure coveted by chefs all over the world, where these little spheres of delicate flavour add a whole new dimension to the foods they are paired with. The Marini’s Group recently introduced its own house label, Marini’s Premium Caviar Selection, which comes with two offerings – Beluga Siberian and Osietra. These delicate pearls have been sourced from renowned Italian brand, Caviar Giaveri which produces sustainable caviar on its own fish farms. There are several varieties of caviar, with the Beluga being one of the most sought after because of its size and unique flavour. The Marini’s Beluga Siberian has a buttery texture and has been minimally salted to bring out the characteristic flavour of Beluga Caviar. The very fine Osietra, on the oth-

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About The Marini’s Group Founded by restaurateur and entrepreneur Cav. Modesto Marini in 2012, The Marini’s Group prides itself on its luxury F&B and entertainment brands – Marini’s on 57, Marble 8 and M Marini Caffè. Each prestigious establishment offers a unique dining and sensory

experience. Multi-award winning Marini’s on 57 is Malaysia’s most iconic rooftop destination, and sits 876ft (267m) above sea level in the heart of Kuala Lumpur City. A beacon for international celebrities, tourists, and socialites since its opening in June 2012 due to their unparalleled level of service, exceptional contemporary Italian cuisine, and views of the city. Housing the most extensive cigar and whisky collection in Malaysia, the venue comprises of three distinct spaces [the restaurant, the lounge, the bar], each designed to encapsulate and project different moods and energy to enthral all five senses. It is also the only luxury F&B venue in Malaysia to have release their own Sunset Hours compilation albums with music greats Jose Padilla, Chris Coco, Afterlife, and Simon Mills. Marble 8 is the city’s premier steakhouse specialising in dry-aged beef where their signature cuts are treated in their own custom-built dry-aging cellar. ■

er hand, has been produced using the Russian method “malassol”, and each grain is an intense golden brown colour with lasting taste. Guests can now enjoy the fine flavours of Marini’s Premium Caviar Selection at Marini’s on 57 and Marble 8. Each order comes with a assortment of crispy bread, blinis and assorted condiments as well as two glasses of champage or Beluga vodka shots. Both dining establishments also offer pasta dishes that are served with caviar, priced from RM228 onwards. Take your pick of Cold Angel Hair Pasta with truffle butter; Housemade Tagliolini Pasta with Norwegian salmon, vodka and cream; or house-made Pappardelle Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms, truffle butter and cream. Alternatively, guests can opt to bring a jar or more of this decadent delicacy home. The Osietra caviar is sold in 30g and 50g jars while the Beluga Siberian is available in 30g, 50g, 100g and 250g jars. Prices range from RM900 to RM10,000. ■ For reservations at Marini’s on 57 or Marble 8, contact +603 2386 6030 or email reservations@marinisgroup.com. Marini’s on 57 (www. marinis57.com) is located at Level 57, Menara 3 Petronas while Marble 8 (www.marble-8.com/) is located at Level 56, Menara 3 Petronas.. For information on The Marini’s Group, visit http://marinisgroup.com/.

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FOOD

ECO-FRIENDLY SOLUTION

SHAKE SHACK opens test

kitchen in New York’s West Village A new space where every piece of the interior, from tables to the wall décor, will be made by recycled or sustainable materials. Alessia Rosa

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ANHATTAN - Another Shake Shack is coming to Manhattan, moving into a cozy corner of the city’s West Village, designed to match the neighborhood aesthetic, according to the chain restaurant. The Shake Shack, which will take up residence on the corner of Clarkson and Varick streets, will open next summer. The three-level space will include a restaurant—complete with outdoor seating on the sidewalks— offices upstairs, and, for the first time ever, a Shake Shack test kitchen closed to the public. The restaurant will be “built to reflect its neighborhood,” featuring “detailed

greenery and a local artist collaboration.” Every piece inside the space—from the tables to the wall décor—will be made from either recycled or sustainable materials. That means booths will be built from lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and table tops will be crafted from reclaimed bowling alley lanes. So far, mum’s the word on the state-of-the-art test kitchen, the design of which is still being finalized. But we do know the new space will be the hub for all future menu development. “We’re always looking for ways to reimagine our menu and push the culinary boundaries for our guests,” Mark Rosati, culinary di-

48 World Excellence - International Edition

rector of Shake Shack, said in a written statement. “The new test kitchen gives us the opportunity to get even more creative, dig deeper into our fine dining roots and explore new opportunities as we continue to scale.” This announcement is just one in a string of recent innovations by Shake Shack. Earlier this month, the restaurant chain announced it would add an eel burger to its menu for a weekend, as well as a hot chick’n sandwich. What’s more, this week Will & Grace milkshakes hit Shake Shack restaurants to celebrate, of course, the iconic sitcom’s return to television. ■


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JOBS & CAREERS

EFA NAMES NEXT CEO

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uropean Fund Administration (EFA) has appointed Noel Fessey (pictured), to replace Thomas Seale as CEO, following the latter’s retirement at the end of 2017. After two decades of leadership, EFA has become an industry reference in the Luxembourg fund industry. ■

Noel Fessey

UNIGESTION APPOINTS HEAD OF MARKETING

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outique asset manager Unigestion has appointed Frank Maret as Head of Marketing. He will lead the firm’s marketing efforts focusing on delivering a strategic agenda that showcases digital initiatives as a means to further serve and engage the firm’s clients. ■ Frank Maret

TORSTONE TECHNOLOGY EXPANDS LEADERSHIP TEAM

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orstone Technology, a provider of post-trade securities and derivatives processing, has appointed Mack Gill as Chief Operating Officer (COO) and member of the Board of Directors. From 2014-2017, he was identified by Institutional Investor magazine in its annual list of top “Trading Technology 40” industry leaders. ■ Mack Gill

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