Too Much Money To Manage
March 15, 2021
The Good News
- ‘Cold-Stunned’ Endangered Sea Turtles Saved By Biggest Rescue In History (NPR)
- El Salvador certified as malaria-free by WHO (PAHO)
“Maybe part of our formal education should be training in empathy. Imagine how different the world would be if, in fact, that were ‘reading, writing, arithmetic, empathy.’ — Neil deGrasse Tyson
“There’s no such thing as neutral education. Education either functions as an instrument to bring about conformity or freedom.” — Paulo Freire
Too Much Money To Manage
(Dagmar Scherf via Getty Images)
The Republic of Singapore is among the smallest and richest countries in the world. The tiny island city-state in Southeast Asia is known for having a sophisticated financial sector and tax regime attractive to foreign investments and professional talent.
Billionaire tycoons and global hedge fund giants have been flooding into Singapore. Some firms opened amid recent turmoil in Hong Kong, while others are choosing it as their regional base. Family offices — private companies created by the ultra-rich to manage their affairs — have also poured in.
Assets under management by Singapore-based hedge funds have more than doubled since 2016. All this financial activity has created a quandary: what to do about an increasing shortage of qualified money management professionals.
Rather than importing talent from traditional hubs like Europe and the US, Singapore’s government and investors are pushing to cultivate the industry’s next generation — aiming to boost local hires instead of relying on expatriates. The government launched training subsidies to help pay for asset management courses and will cover up to $75,000 in costs when financial institutions send selected staff overseas to obtain global experience. Incentives being granted to some would-be investors may include a requirement to hire Singaporeans.
Many firms are retraining existing executives to solve talent shortages. Singapore’s Investment Management Association launched its iLearn platform in May to help workers upskill. The Wealth Management Institute (WMI) is using part of a $25 million donation to train policy-makers and investment professionals. Tax experts, private bankers, lawyers, and others are teaching the finer points on managing money, to educate the next group of certified specialists ready to move straight into family offices and hedge funds.
Still, other firms are offering internships, like Quantedge Capital, whose CEO said most of its new hires will likely come from internships. The firm recently winnowed 300 applications down to 30 sets of tests and interviews before giving five-week internships to the final 10. Ultimately just three were offered jobs.
Raffles Girls’ School places students in a range of financial institutions, and recently ran webinars on hedge funds and the future of banking with industry professionals. Last year a Raffles student, 16-year-old Yi Ke Cao, beat out 10 competitors to win an internship at Modular Asset Management. Cao spent two weeks crunching spreadsheet data, chatting with veterans, and watching nerve-wracking meetings where money managers defended their investment ideas from peers.
The youngest in a wave of Singaporeans being readied for the world of active asset management, Cao said the experience was valuable and gave her a boost of confidence. “I spoke to my supervisor about being a woman in finance and she did tell me it’s a lot more difficult, and my mum was in finance and she told me about it as well. It’s definitely more challenging but if I have the ability I’m pretty sure it’ll be fine.” (Bloomberg)
In Case You Forgot What “Normal” Looked Like
(An Rong Xu via Getty Images)
- Not far from Singapore, another Asian island is reveling in its successful game plan for handling the pandemic. Taiwan, home to 24 million people, has seen fewer than 1,000 cases of Covid-19 and just 10 coronavirus-related deaths. Prior to 2020, lots of Taiwanese and dual nationals moved abroad and only came back for a visit. After the pandemic hit, Taiwan closed its borders to almost all foreign visitors.
- Protocols put in place include temperature checks, hand-sanitizing, mask-wearing (except in schools), rigorous contact tracing, and strict quarantines for incoming travelers. Taiwanese nationals returned, and about 270,000 more stayed than left. As a result, the island is experiencing a real economic boom. Exports have been rising for eight months, fueled by shipments of electronics and surging demand for semiconductor chips. Domestic tourism is exploding.
- The economy grew more than 5% in the fourth quarter compared with the same time period in 2019. And every day restaurants, bars, and cafes are packed, office buildings hum, and schools are filled with laughing, unmasked children. “We just feel very lucky and definitely a little guilty,” said a product manager for a Bay Area tech company who returned to Taipei with his wife and young son last May. “We feel like we are the ones who benefited from the pandemic.” (NYT, $)
Vigil To Reclaim The Streets From Vigilance
- Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, disappeared on March 3 while walking home from a friend’s home in London’s southern neighborhood of Clapham. Her body was found inside a builder’s bag in a wooded area. A 48-year-old police officer has been charged with kidnapping and killing her.
- On Saturday, thousands of people gathered in Clapham Common to pay tribute to Everard despite planned nationwide vigils having been canceled due to pandemic restrictions. As darkness fell, police officers began grabbing women in the crowd and making arrests. Videos posted on social media showed officers violently dragging some female protesters away and throwing others to the ground and handcuffing them.
- Women’s rights activists in the UK are reeling from the Metropolitan Police’s heavy-handed approach. There’s also been political fallout, with a member of Parliament reading out the names of 118 women murdered last year. In a new poll, over 70% of UK women said they had been sexually harassed in public spaces. The figure rose to 97% among women aged 18-24. 45% said they didn’t believe reporting the incidents to officials would change anything. (Al Jazeera, CNN)
Additional World News
- China Says China-Made Vaccines Will Help Get You Into China (NYT, $)
- Sri Lanka to ban burqas, close Islamic schools (The Hill)
- Leaving US on read: N Korea ‘unresponsive to behind-the-scenes US outreach’ (Al Jazeera)
- Kosovo opens embassy in Jerusalem after Israel recognises its independence (Guardian)
- The Reality Of War For The Children Of Syria (NPR) & Fleeing Syrians lament the loss of their final refuge in Sudan (Guardian
- China Turns to Elon Musk as Technology Dreams Sour (NYT, $). Elon sells sour patch kits.
- Born in Soviet Exile, They Might Die in a Russian One (NYT, $)
- Good God, y’all, what is it good for? The monarchy: so what are they for? (Guardian)
- ‘When will we have peace?’ Grief and outrage at three Indigenous deaths in custody in a week (Guardian)
- 32,000km, 655 screens: Documenting India’s endangered cinemas (Al Jazeera)
- Politics be dammed: Can France’s Far Right Win Over the ‘Beavers’? One Mayor Shows How (NYT, $)
- Security experts warn Hafnium attacks are “highly reckless” and “dangerous” (Technology Review)
- There’s no accounting for false numbers: U.S. Has 1,000 More Troops in Afghanistan Than It Disclosed (NYT, $)
- COVID herd immunity may be unlikely—winter surges could “become the norm” (ArsTechnica)
- No bandwagoners here: They Escaped New York During the Pandemic. Make Them Pay. (NYT, $)
- We Did Not Suffer Equally (NYT, $)
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Nothing For Law Enforcement To Be Proud Of Here
- Two members of the violent white supremacist group, Proud Boys, face some of the most serious charges stemming from the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. Joseph Biggs, 37, and Ethan Nordean, 30, were on law enforcement’s radar screen much earlier, but the FBI and local police ignored them.
- In 2016 a protester was burning an American flag outside the Republican convention in Cleveland when Biggs jumped a police line and attacked him, ripped off his shirt, and beat him up. Local police charged the flag burner with assaulting Biggs. The city later paid $225,000 to settle accusations that the police had sympathized with Biggs and falsified their reports.
- Biggs went on to become a leader of the far-right domestic terrorist group. In 2018 in Portland, Oregon, Nordean was captured on video pushing his way through a crowd of counter-protesters, punching one of them, slamming him to the ground, and rendering him unconscious. Police charged the victim with swinging a baton at Nordean.
- Fast forward to this year and the two men are seen again, leading a crowd of about 100 Proud Boys to the Capitol Building. Career officials in federal law enforcement have complained that the Trump administration sought to divert investigative resources away from groups like the Proud Boys and toward more poorly defined threats from activists on the left, like antifa groups. (NYT, $)
The Czar Issues His Loyalty Tests
- New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo is grappling with an ongoing sexual harassment investigation and faces calls to resign by a majority of New York congressional Democrats. Meanwhile, one county executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said he filed a notice Friday with the state attorney general office’s public integrity unit over a potential ethics violation by the governor’s office.
- The complaint involves Larry Schwartz, a longtime Cuomo adviser and the current czar of New York’s vaccine rollout. Schwartz is in frequent contact with local officials to discuss vaccine planning and distribution. But it’s now being reported that Schwartz recently telephoned some country officials in an effort to rally their support for the governor.
- Those inquiries about loyalty to Cuomo sparked concerns among officials that their responses could interfere with the state’s vaccine operation, or result in vaccine decisions based on favoritism. Schwartz has denied he did anything wrong. (CNBC)
Additional USA News
- US immigration: Disaster agency Fema brought in to help with child migrant surge (BBC)
- IRS hits the gym: COVID-19 Relief Bill, Direct Payments Are ‘Heavy Lift’ For IRS (NPR)
- Why America Is Moving: Money, Space, Family, Lifestyle … (NPR)
- ‘Over-supplied’ US faces pressure to send Covid vaccine doses to less wealthy countries (Guardian)
- Some Senators Want Permanent Daylight Saving Time (NPR). Conservatives even want to conserve sunlight.
- The Senate’s F-Bomb (NYT, $)
- Spring Break Trip? Vaccinated Against COVID Or Not, Here’s How To Reduce Risks (NPR
- Blame it on the rain, blame it on the alcohol, or blame it on the diabetes: Announcer Caught on Open Mic Using Racial Slur at Basketball Game (NYT, $)
- Breonna Taylor rally demands justice on first anniversary of her death (Guardian)
- Terry Wright detained in Galveston, Texas bank after refusing to wear mask, body camera video shows (WaPo, $)
- #FreeHer Campaign Wants Clemency For 100 Women In Biden’s First 100 Days (NPR)
- 6 Questions Officials Still Haven’t Answered After Weeks of Hearings on the Capitol Attack (ProPublica)
- 99 problems, hopefully the economy isn’t one soon: Here Are 17 Reasons to Let The Economic Optimism Begin (NYT, $)
- Schumer and a Teachers’ Union Boss Secure Billions for Private Schools (NYT, $)
- Maggots, Rape and Yet Five Stars: How U.S. Ratings of Nursing Homes Mislead the Public (NYT, $)
- A $60 billion surprise in the Covid relief bill: Tax hikes (Politico). Cake not provided with this surprise party.
- Federal investigators blast Tesla, call for stricter safety standards (ArsTechnica)
- The megadrought parching 77 percent of the Western US, explained (Vox)
One Chip More
- First came addictive cigarettes. Then came addictive potato chips. Michael Moss has penned a revealing new book with a title nobody wants to think about. It’s called Hooked: Food, Free Will and How Food Giants Exploit Our Addictions.
- This book is somewhat of a sequel to the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist’s 2013 triumph: Salt Sugar Fat: How Food Giants Hooked Us. That book exposed how multinational food companies churn out processed foods that are both cheap and alluring; it won the James Beard Foundation Award for writing and literature.
- Here, Moss describes how flavor sensations — derived from a combination of sugar and fat and other smells and tastes — hit your brain, interact with memories, and release a flood of neurotransmitters that stimulate and perpetuate fundamental cravings.
- That’s a fancy way of simply explaining why we can’t eat just one, even if we wanted to.
- Hooked explores how food manufacturers manipulate foods like potato chips, French fries, pizza, cheeseburgers, and Oreos to make us their addicts, and help make 40% of Americans obese. Never mind that there’s no nutritional quality to these foods. Moss wants us to focus on the question of quantity and why we can’t help but overeat certain foods.
- Without going into too much neuroscientific detail, Moss describes how foods can be engineered to trigger the brain’s “on switch” (mostly the neurotransmitter dopamine) and inhibit the “off switch” (a region called the prefrontal cortex). The biology is complex and has deep evolutionary origins. Suffice it to say the hard-wired instincts to eat certain foods are powerful.
- Moss explains how Big Food innovates to manipulate and intensify these addition-inducing sensations, and lure us in with low prices, dazzling packaging, convenience, and fabricated varieties. Perhaps it will open eyes and convert some free market advocates.
- Because here’s the Bottom Line: the processed food industry is no different from tobacco companies like Philip Morris that for decades lied about the harmful and addictive nature of cigarettes. In this case, in fact, they were the same company. Until recently Philip Morris owned Kraft and General Foods. (NYT, $)
- Scientists want to store DNA of 6.7 million species on the moon, just in case (Live Science)
- How do tiny pieces of space junk cause incredible damage? (Live Science)
- 5 Ways To Make Ethical Fashion Choices (NPR)
- How T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T use your web browsing, app usage, and location data to serve you ads (Vox)
- A Bird-Feed Seller Beat a Chess Master Online. Then It Got Ugly (Wired). GothamChess wasn’t the hero they needed, or the one they deserved.
- Scientists solve another piece of the puzzling Antikythera mechanism (ArsTechnica)
- ‘Natural hair was a breakup from America’: the fashion story behind Judas and the Black Messiah (Guardian)
- Why Grammy Winners Might Never Sound the Same Again (NYT, $)
- 2021 Grammy Awards: The Full List Of Nominees And Winners (NPR)
- Write Simply (Paul Graham)
- Eight of Literature’s Most Powerful Inventions—and the Neuroscience Behind How They Work (Smithsonian Magazine)
- We Longed for Parties (NYT, $). Oh, how we longed.
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