North Korean won and economic calculation

North Korean wonA friend of mine recently sent me this Reuters article by Daniel Tudor and James Pearson about the illegal but tolerated market economy behind North Korea’s own “iron curtain.” Among a few of the topics covered in the article (and the book by the same authors) they reveal several of the North Korean government’s attempts to restrict voluntary trade in North Korea via manipulations of the won (KPW) currency. What I found interesting was the discrepancy between the official government-set exchange rate (only 96 KPW per 1 USD as of the time the article was published) and the market exchange rate (closer to 8,000 KPW per USD, again, as of the date the article was published).

Another case, according to the authors, involved the government canceling the last two zeros of every bank note. The government did this by requiring citizens to trade their 1,000 won notes, for example, for 10 won notes. North Koreans were allowed only one week to make the trade. One of the catches was that the government would only exchange a maximum of 100,000 won (about $30-40 at the time). The result? The savings of North Korean people were destroyed instantaneously. Remaining monetary notes stored away in savings became worthless because by law, no merchants would be allowed to accept them. For a North Korean to demand that the government trade in more than the 100,000 won maximum would likely result in that individual being subjected to intense questioning about any black market activities he or she may be involved in. “Where did you get this extra money?! You must be doing something illegal! Off to the labor camps for you!”

Obviously, making any rational economic calculation with these money prices is difficult to say the least. And in an oppressive regime that does everything it can to discourage market activity, that almost seems to be the government’s intention. Under these conditions, if there is any rational economic calculation at all it is only thanks to the black market! If people cannot rely on money to not lose its value drastically overnight, they will try to sell it as soon as possible for other currencies, consumer goods, etc. It is for this reason, that North Korean people (illegally) trade US dollars and Chinese yuan on the black market. Similarly, when people notice the discrepancy between government-set exchange rates (which are only government attempts to conceal just how bad inflation is) and market exchange rates, they will choose to buy and sell at market rates — not government-set rates.

Related note: Inflation also has a strong tendency to encourage spending and consumption over saving. During hyperinflation in Brazil in the 1980s and early 1990s, Brazilians frequently ran to the markets to sell their money (by buying goods and services) as soon as they received their paychecks. Holding onto their money for even an extra day often meant that their money’s buying power decreased dramatically. The increase in demand and seller expectations that demand would continue pushed prices up even further.

The Reuters article gives an example of a basketball for sale at a shop in Pyongyang for 46,000 won. At 96 KPW to 1 USD, the price of the basketball is US$479.17. Obviously, nobody pays this amount of money for basketballs under normal circumstances in any country. Now, by contrast, if the market rate is about 8,000 KPW for 1 USD, we are only talking about US$5.75. But even at this price, one would imagine that most poverty-stricken North Koreans without political connections would prefer instead to use their money to purchase goods and services that are more essential to maintaining human life. To switch from economics to psychology for a moment, I’m referring to goods and services that are able to serve functions further to the bottom of the triangle in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (i.e. physiological needs such as water and food).

My curiosity led me to check XE.com to check the exchange rate between KPW and USD. Here below was the rate shown on 16 April, 2015. I updated the page 2 hours later, and the rate was still exactly the same. For any other currency (belonging to nation states with more formalized market economies), XE.com is able to provide updated rates as they fluctuate throughout the day. This is the relevant portion of the screenshot I took from the page on that date:

XE.com's exchange rate for North Korean wan (KPW) on 16 April, 2015

 

 

 

Today, two weeks after getting the above exchange rate, XE.com reports it to be 124.753 KPW for 1 USD. (That’s “one hundred twenty-four point seven five three” for my friends from countries that have the opposite usage for commas and periods than that of the United States — not “one hundred twenty-four thousand seven hundred fifty-three”). My guess is that XE.com is reporting North Korean government-announced exchange rates since 124 to 1 USD doesn’t seem too high relative to exchange rates with many other countries.

I also checked the rate using “Currency Converter HD” iPhone app, which is the app I rely on for all other currencies as I travel, and found this very different exchange rate. Today again, two weeks after I first checked and finally got around to writing this blog post, the app still says that 1 USD is valued at 900 KPW. I also find it difficult to believe that the going exchange rate is perfectly divisible by 100!

Currency Converter HD for iPhone's exchange rate for North Korean wan (KPW) on 16 April, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of 1 May, 2015, Google reports the same exchange rate as my iPhone app:

Google's exchange rate for North Korean wan (KPW) on 1 May, 2015

So what is the truth? Is the going market rate in North Korea for 1 USD closer to 96 KPW? 900 KPW? 8,000 KPW? It’s not easy to know.

 

More on economic calculation:

See also:

Common word choice differences between English of the US and Malaysia

I’ve been traveling to Malaysia frequently for the past few years and have compiled a short list of some of the most common differences in words and phrases between that of non-native speakers of English (mostly ethnic Chinese) and native speakers of the United States. I recently read the list off to a Malaysian friend of mine. He and I had a good laugh about it, and he seemed to think they were accurate.

I will point out that I have noticed many (or all) of these differences in other countries of the ASEAN community (Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, for example) – also predominantly from ethnic Chinese. However, as I have spent more time in Malaysia than the others, I will say that I can’t confirm if the differences in the list below are true for all countries outside Malaysia (even among ethnic Chinese).

Lastly, the reason I mention that I’ve noticed these word differences among primarily ethnic Chinese is that had I spent the majority of my time with the ethnic Malays instead, for example, I would likely be hearing different word choices in their spoken English. In other words, the Bahasa Malaysia language is structured one way, and Chinese dialects are structured in their own respective ways. This affects how foreign languages (English, in this case) are spoken and the common mistakes that are made.

I asked Nick Cogan of The Chirco Group to provide some insight on the various Chinese dialects and how this affects how English is spoken as a foreign language. Nick is an old friend of mine. He holds an MA in linguistics, is fluent in Mandarin and has spent more than 6 years in China. This was his reply:

Some [Chinese] dialects are actually different languages; some are just dialects but different enough that each group can, in fact, have different difficulties in English language pronunciation. For example, F and H sounds are understood as interchangeable in one dialect and L and N are interchangeable in another.

Now I will explain how the first language affects which mistakes are made in foreign languages by using Spanish and Portuguese. When native speakers of Spanish are speaking English, they often say things like, “Would you like to take a coffee?”. By contrast, native speakers of English say “have” or “drink” in lieu of “take.” The reason for this common mistake is that for drinking coffee and alcohol, Spanish uses the verb “tomar” (to take) instead of “beber” (to drink). So the verb “take” is often used since the Spanish speaker is doing a literal interpretation from Spanish to English. To throw in yet another twist, Brazilian Portuguese uses tomar and beber more loosely than Spanish does. So a Brazilian would likely ask someone in Portuguese “Você bebe?” (instead of “Você toma?”) to ask someone if they drink alcohol. So when a Brazilian is speaking English and asks someone the same question, s/he might correctly say “Do you drink?” (instead of “Do you take?”) since the literal interpretation from Brazilian Portuguese is closer to English than Spanish.

Much of Peninsular Malaysia was a part of British Malaya so it can only be expected that many of the words would be closer to British than to American English. I showed the table below to Dr. Richard Rhodes, a University of California, Berkeley professor of linguistics, and he confirmed this. He pointed out that

some of these usages are straight British, like petrol, lift, car park, holiday, and, of course, napkin means something quite different, too. The rest are the kinds of things that arise in language contact situations.

I hope you enjoy the list. I enjoyed compiling them through my many conversations in Malaysia.

Malaysia United States
Petrol Gas
I need to put petrol in the car. I need to put gas in the car.
Lift Elevator
Take the lift to the second floor. Take the elevator to the second floor.
(In American English, the word “lift” is perfectly acceptable in place of elevator. The point I intend to stress here is that “elevator” doesn’t appear to be used at all, but everyone understands it).
Car park Parking lot
The car is in the car park. The car is in the parking lot.
Take Eat/drink
Did you take your breakfast?
Did you take your coffee?
Did you eat your breakfast?
Did you drink your coffee?
Is it? Oh yeah? / Really? 
(This is usually used to confirm that something that the other speaker has said is true).
Can. Yes / No problem / It’s OK. / [I/you/we, etc.] can/may. 
[In response to a request for permission, for example…]
Can.
[In response to a request for permission, for example…]
Yes, we can. No problem.
…for holiday …on/for vacation
Did you go to Japan for holiday? Did you go to Japan on/for vacation?
 Meat Beef 
(Meat in this sense refers specifically to beef. In American English, chicken can be meat; pork can be meat, etc. I have also noticed that native speakers of various languages of the Middle East refer to beef as “meat”).
Last time Before
Last time I sell you these goods, I need your signature. Before I sell you these goods, I need your signature.
Tissue Napkin 
(Even at the dinner table in Malaysia, napkins are referred to as “tissues”). (In American English, “tissues” usually refer to something you blow your nose with).
Never mind It’s alright / It’s OK / That’s OK, etc.
[In response to a “thank you,” for example…] Never mind. You’re welcome! [In response to a “thank you,” for example..] It’s alright. You’re welcome!
Name card Business card
Here is my name card. Here is my business card.
Intercom  Phone
I called you on the intercom. I called you on the phone.
Aircon Air conditioning
We can turn on the aircon if you are hot. We can turn on the air conditioning if you are hot.
Specs Glasses
You need specs to help you see.
(This borrows from the word “spectacles.”)
You need glasses to help you see.
Because why… Because… / And that’s why…
We decided not to buy because why the price is too high.
The price is too high because why we decided not to buy.
We decided not to buy because the price is too high.
The price is too high, and that’s why we decided not to buy.
I don’t think so… I don’t think…
I don’t think so the mailman came today I don’t think the mailman came today.

 

See also:

Essential iPhone apps for international road warriors

“Work smarter, not harder.”
-Author unkown

For the very fortunate breed of travelers that finds him or herself in one country after another on a regular basis, it is essential to make the best use of technology in order to maximize efficiency. I have spent the past couple of years exploring the best iPhone apps to automate my life. For me, the apps listed here below are the bare minimum to keep my life as an international traveler moving smoothly.

 

Priority Pass

This app is only useful for paying customers of Priority Pass. Priority Pass is a company that allows its customers to use airport lounges around the world – no matter which airline they are flying on. If you fly to the same places all the time using the same airline, you might be better off paying the airline for access to its own lounges. However, if you find yourself flying on a multitude of airlines around the world and do not wish to spend your 8-hour layovers waiting at the gate or in a food court somewhere, you will want Priority Pass. Trust me; it’s beautiful.

With the Priority Pass app, you can push the “Find Nearest Lounge” button, and the app uses your iPhone’s GPS to find the lounges that you have access to at the particular airport that you are at. I’ve been in situations in which I found myself at smaller regional airports in countries like Brazil and China. It didn’t matter! Priority Pass still had lounges for me to use in those airports!

Here is a link to 10% off your first year of Priority Pass – no matter which membership plan you choose.

 

CultureGPS Professional

If you are among the rare breed of culture warriors out there, you should already be aware of Professor Geert Hofstede’s work on the dimensions of national cultures. For international businessmen and businesswomen, the Hofstede index is an indispensable resource. It breaks down cultures of many countries around the world into the following dimensions: Power Distance Index (PDI), Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV), Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS), Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) and Long-Term Avoidance (LTO). Newer dimensions added to the Hofstede index (not in this app, unfortunately) are: Pragmatic versus Normative (PRA) and Indulgence versus Restraint (IND).

Let’s say, for example, that you are an account manager for the company your work for and will be meeting with a new buyer of your company’s product in Country-X for the first time. The purpose of the meeting is to negotiate future terms between both companies. If Country-X happens to score high on Hofstede’s Power Distance Index (PDI) dimension, you can expect that it is less likely that you will have access to the owner or other high-level decision-makers of the foreign company (since you are an account manager – a lower position than an owner in corporate hierarchy). This is cultural intelligence at its finest. If you frequently travel to a diverse range of countries (geographically, linguistically, ethnically, religiously) I highly recommend this app!

There are many books that I could also recommend here that have been instrumental in my personal development in cultural intelligence, but if I had to recommend only three they would be the three below. In some ways they overlap with information, however, the countries they cover vary. So if you travel just about everywhere you will find it beneficial to keep all three in your library. The first two books below dedicate each individual chapter to the cultural and business practices of specific countries (every chapter is a different country). The latter concentrates more on cultural and business practices of geographical clusters (Middle East and North Africa, for example) as well as provides specific information for a few key countries.

  1. Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands by Terri Morrison
  2. Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands, Sales and Marketing: The Essential Cultural Guide—From Presentations and Promotions to Communicating and Closing by Terri Morrison
  3. How to Negotiate Anything with Anyone Anywhere Around the World by Frank Acuff

 

The World Clock

I tried at least three of the world clock apps before falling in love with this one by Orlin Kolev. The World Clock is able to not only track the time zones in the individual cities of your choosing, but it even works with your Google Calendar.

Let’s say that on a particular date and time you have scheduled a conference call with a customer in Ghana, but on that date you will be in Bangkok, Thailand. With The World Clock you can enter the date and time that you told your customer in Ghana you would call him, and the app shows you what date and time the appointment will be in Bangkok. You can then choose to setup a Google Calendar event right from the app along with alert reminders so you don’t forget to actually make the call!

Note: While gathering the necessary links and information to produce this blog post I ran into a competing app that looks quite good called World Clock Pro.

 

Documents

Documents can open all of your Microsoft Word and Excel documents and allows you to edit them, organize them in folders, send them as email attachments, back them up on Dropbox and more. It can also open other major file formats, such as PDF. It’s simple. Without it, an iPhone is limited to the Notes app, which is as plain as Microsoft Notepad.

With this app I am able to work on the go.

 

 

 

Currency Converter HD

I experimented with two or three competing apps before choosing this one. The first one I tried was by XE, only because XE is popular in FOREX. Unfortunately, the XE app bombards the user with ads and does not have some of the other options I appreciate from Currency Converter HD.

Currency Converter HD’s nifty calculator also saves you from having to open the iPhone’s Calculator app in order to do a calculation after converting the currency. Like other competing currency exchange apps, this one updates the latest conversions frequently and automatically as long as your phone is connected to the internet and the app is running.

 

American Airlines

When I am flying with American Airlines or other member airlines of the oneworld alliance, I often open this app as soon as the plane lands to see if my next flight’s departing time or gate number has changed. (The app can notify you if there are flight changes!)

Using airline apps like this one saves you the time and hassle of having to locate the monitors in the airport with all the flight schedules listed.

 

 

 

Delta Airlines

When I am flying with Delta Airlines or other member airlines of the SkyTeam alliance, I sometimes open this app as soon as the plane lands to see if my next flight’s departing time or gate number has changed. (The app can notify you if there are flight changes!)

Using airline apps like this one saves you the time and hassle of having to locate the monitors in the airport with all the flight schedules listed.

 

 

 

United Airlines

When I am flying with United Airlines or other member airlines of StarAlliance, I sometimes open this app as soon as the plane lands to see if my next flight’s departing time or gate number has changed. (The app can notify you if there are flight changes!)

Using airline apps like this one saves you the time and hassle of having to locate the monitors in the airport with all the flight schedules listed.

 

 

 

Frequent Flyer Miles Tracker

This is the app I use to store my frequent flyer mileage numbers for each airline that I have an account with. If you are at the check-in counter at the airport and for whatever reason do not have your airline priority membership card readily available, just open this app so that the airline official can check you in with your frequent flyer mileage number.

 

 

 

National Geographic World Atlas

I discovered this app while researching for this blog post and was looking for a better app to recommend than the world factbook that I had been using. I am impressed with this one.

When connected to the internet the apps can zoom in even closer. Other than maps, it has information on each country such as: languages spoken, economic and government data, major holidays, religions practiced, information on major cities within each country and more. It even has a currency converter tool (but no calculator built in). I’m sold!

 

 

Audiobooks from Audible

If I had to choose only one app it would be this one. How else am I supposed to pass the time?

Read more here for my thoughts on audiobooks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Athan Pro – Prayer Timings and Tracking

If you do business in the Muslim World, you’ll want this app. It is always helpful to know when the prayer times are in each country so that you can setup appointments without interruption. I once had an international guest from Morocco visit me in the USA. He told me that on Friday of that week he wanted to go to the local mosque and pray. I opened the Athan Pro app, typed in the local zip code, and I instantly had all the prayer times at my fingertips. Later I called the mosque to verify that the time was correct. It was spot on.

 

 

Skype WiFi

Sometimes you’re in an international airport, and all the available WIFI signals are either blocked, or to use them, you would have to go through the annoying hassle of entering your credit card number and personal information. Skype WiFi bypasses all of that. If you have a Skype account (which you should!) you can simply use your Skype credit to connect to connect to the WIFI networks that require payment. Connection times are in 30-minute intervals.

 

 

 

Google Translate

If you’re an international road warrior or at least speak a foreign language you are probably already aware of this one. Google Translate is able to translate from any one language to another with more than sixty to choose from. The app requires a connection to the internet.

 

 

 

 

Michaelis Moderno Dicionário de Português e Inglês

I realize that not everyone speaks a combination of Portuguese and English. This dictionary app represents whatever advanced dictionary app you would need. If you find yourself often conversing between German and Japanese and you do not speak both at a native level, then I suggest keeping an advanced dictionary around such as this one.

I recommend the Michaelis Moderno dictionary apps. They are very complete and even come with other features, such as being able to see a full breakdown of conjugations for any verb. For that reason, this particular app is sold for $29.99. It was well worth what I paid. Michaelis Moderno dictionary apps require no connection to the internet and give all possible alternative translations for each word; Google Translate, by contrast, only gives a single, best guess translation.

 

Skype

This is the #1 app that you should have for all communication while abroad. You can call anywhere in the world for free (if the person you’re calling has a Skype account) and can call telephones for only a few cents per minute.

But you’ve probably been using Skype for years already, so keep reading…

 

 

 

 

Viber

To me, Viber is just another app for chatting since it has all the same major features as Skype and WhatsApp. But if you have business partners and customers around the world, at least some of them will be using it, so it is very useful to have.

 

 

 

 

 

WhatsApp Messenger

WhatsApp is just like Viber. If you’ve got a wide range of friends and business contacts, you should probably have this app too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SoundHound

No doubt you’ll hear music while abroad, and you’ll want to identify the artist and song title. SoundHound is a free app that can listen to the music in the background wherever you are and then look up the artist and song title for you. If you have no connection to the internet where you are, no worries… SoundHound can temporarily store the recorded audio clip and try to locate the song for you later once you’ve reestablished an internet connection.

Full disclosure: Although SoundHound has access to a giant database of all sorts of music, I’ve noticed the app is better at identifying more mainstream music. Don’t be surprised if it cannot recognize, let’s say, a Turkish song that hasn’t yet made it to international radio stations.

 

I also refer frequently to the following resources:

  1. Airline alliance Wiki page – Since I generally purchase flights from budget travel websites, I fly a wide range of airlines from all three major alliances and some others that do not belong to any alliance. When purchasing my flights, it is important to enter in the frequent flyer number of the airline that 1) is a common member airline of the same alliance of the particular flight in question, and 2) is the airline that I track my frequent flyer miles with for that alliance. To maximize your frequent flyer miles (assuming you want free upgrades, flights, etc.) you are going to want to try to make sure that as many of your flights as possible are on member airlines of one of the three major alliances: Star Alliance, SkyTeam, and oneworld. This Wiki article is the only single place on the WWW that I’ve found that keeps them so well-organized. I’ve noticed that the article also gets updated often when airlines move from one alliance to another.
  2. Air Miles Calculator – Enter in just about any two or more airports, and this website will tell you how many frequent flyer miles you should accrue. The website does not account for multipliers, so if you have elite status on a particular airline, you might earn something like 1.25 or 1.5 frequent flyer miles per actual “butt in seat” mile that the Air Miles Calculator website tries to calculate for.

 

*If you know of an app that deserves to be on this list you may leave a comment below or email me at emileaphaneuf (at) gmail.com. I am also looking to produce an equivalent post to this one for Android and Blackberry. If you have international travel experience and a number of favorite apps for smooth travel for either the Android or Blackberry platforms you may also contact me. 

 

See also:

Internet monitoring in Chinese (& Swiss?) airports

I have traveled to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) a few of times. On this particular occasion I had no plans to go China. I was on the way to Southeast Asia, and my itinerary was changed by the airline, so I found myself having to be rerouted through Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK). Once at the airport I headed to one of the VIP lounges. At the check-in desk I asked the lady for the WIFI password, as I always do. Most airport lounges give the WIFI password on a small piece of paper, but the lady instead directed me to a kiosk where I was expected to register my passport for Internet usage. Immediately upon seeing the kiosk I knew exactly what I was looking at.

It is unfortunate that Internet monitoring and censorship is so normal in the PRC that the government does not even try to maintain a façade of online privacy. Both citizens and international passengers must censor their own online activities in fear of what political affiliations or otherwise they may be accused of having. It is interesting that the government law requiring individual registration comes from the Ministry of Public Order. No doubt, if “public order” means ensuring that no one speaks out against the Chinese Communist Party, then closely monitoring and censoring the free exchange of ideas and information is an effective way to do it. I wonder how many foreign diplomats have been ignorant enough to check their email after registering with one of these kiosks.

Never a dull moment in China — not even in its international airports.

 

Passport registration kiosk required for Internet access at airport lounge in Beijing. Big Brother is watching.

Passport registration kiosk required for Internet access at airport lounge in Beijing. Big Brother is watching.

Receipt issued by kiosk declares Internet monitoring as required by the Ministry of Public Order No. 82

Receipt issued by kiosk declares Internet monitoring as required by the Chinese Ministry of Public Order No. 82

 

Update (August, 2014): Is Zurich Airport in Switzerland following suit?

In July, 2014 I passed through Switzerland’s Zurich Airport (ZRH). At the lounge I visited I was required to scan my boarding pass (which contains personal information, of course) before I was given a special code to allow me to connect to the internet. The lounge already had my personal information upon entering. Maybe this is an airport-wide rule; maybe it is a Swiss law. I have no idea. But the fact that Zurich Airport at least appears to be monitoring internet traffic on an individual basis – as airports in the People’s Republic of China do – does not say good things about it.

Boarding pass scanner and instructions at VIP lounge in Zurich Airport, Switzerland – required for internet access

Boarding pass scanner and instructions at VIP lounge in Zurich Airport, Switzerland – required for internet access. Machine on the right prints a receipt with special code – unique to each individual.

Receipt printed from boarding pass scanner. The code allows access to the internet at this VIP lounge in Zurich Airport.

Receipt printed after scanning boarding pass. The code allows access to the internet at this VIP lounge in Zurich Airport.

 

See also:

Minor Publications

I have very seldom submitted articles to newspapers, etc. for publication. Nonetheless, here are a few articles I have written, some with abstracts and some without:

On Human Rationality and Government Control – by Emile Phaneuf and Carmelo Ferlito
October, 2014, Vol. XI nº2 2014 – «Procesos de Mercado: Revista Europea de Economía Política»
In this paper we first address a long-standing criticism of human rationality and what that means for the role of government. We review and compare much of the literature on rationality and demonstrate that various authors within various fields often mean very different things by the word «rational.» While we make no claims as to whether or not humans always behave rationally, we point out the flawed logic for what is suggested for the role of government as a way of addressing the human irrationality problem. Building on the Mises-Rothbard-Huerta de Soto tradition, we argue that what is more important than perfect rationality is purposeful action. We explain the dynamic nature of the market in which time plays an important role, and humans act with expectations to accomplish goals, learn from past mistakes, discover new information and modify their plans accordingly. Using Hayek’s approach, we discuss the knowledge problem in which data is dispersed among millions of individuals (unknown in its entirety to any central authority) as well as the problems with applying the scientific method exactly as it is used in the natural sciences to the human behavioral sciences. These problems combined, we argue, make for a much more disastrous system than would be a system in which often irrational individuals would be free to make mistakes for themselves, discover new information and take actions for their own betterment.

International Relations Glossary in Portuguese and Spanish
July 2, 2013 – «MyPoliSciLab.com» (paid website) and «InternationalRelations.com»
For IR scholars and students who also happen to be “latinoamericanistas,” this list of translations of IR terms in all three languages (English, Portuguese and Spanish) serves as a great resource.

Sowell’s Visions
December 5, 2013 – «Foundation for Economic Education»
In this article I summarize Thomas Sowell’s book A Conflict of Visions and Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate and explain the importance of understanding the concepts of opposing world visions when discussing often controversial topics such as economics and politics.

Developments in Brazil Energy Sector
January 25, 2011 – «The Rio Times»
This article discusses new developments in the Brazilian energy sector, including the buying of Brazilian utility company (Elektro) by Iberdrola – Spain’s largest electric company – and plans to revive construction of Angra 3, the country’s third nuclear power reactor.

Slow Start to PAC Development
January 18, 2011 – «The Rio Times»
Brazil’s Growth Acceleration Program (“the PAC”) began in 2007 with a budget of roughly US$300 billion with plans for public housing provisions, improvements in sanitation, transportation, infrastructure and more. But four years later, only about five percent of the projects have been completed, and the second PAC (PAC2) is already underway with even more ambitious goals than the first.

Rio Real Estate Shielded from Burst
January 4, 2011 – «The Rio Times»
Real estate prices have risen significantly in Rio de Janeiro since it was announced that Brazil would host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. Prices are also driven by an emerging middle class in Brazil with access to credit for the very first time. Some spectators have rumored that a real estate boom and bust cycle is near. In this article, I explain why the boom and bust is unlikely.

UA Community Voices Opinion of Tibet-China conflict
March 31, 2008 – «The Arkansas Traveler»

Protests in the Streets of Sao Paulo (text only); Award-winning photography for this coverage (along with videos)
March 12, 2007 – «The Arkansas Traveler»

Resources for Brazilianists

Organizations Dedicated to Individual Liberties and Free Markets in Brazil:

International Trade & Business:

Economics and Development:

International Relations and Politics:

Head of State:

Educational Resources:

Other:

See also:

Official websites for heads of state

While role playing with geopolitics I often ask myself what a head of state’s next political move will be. As with any competitive game, it is imperative to know your opponent. I’ve recently come across a few official websites (and even blogs) of heads of state for various countries. These websites contain everything from photos of political leaders, to information on their upbringing, to (in the case of Ahmadinejad) blog posts containing their individual thoughts and aspirations. This is not an ongoing project but rather a compilation of resources for those like me who enjoy political psychology. If you find links below that seem interesting but are now obsolete, then just search for cached versions by entering the full URL in the search box at the Wayback Machine website.

Lonely Planet “Thank You’s”

For those who enjoy using Lonely Planet travel guides from time to time when traveling internationally, you may enjoy this like I did. When I’m abroad and realize that bus routes, for example, have changed from the last print of the book I always email Lonely Planet the updates. Lonely Planet nicely mentions names of people who help in this fashion in a “Thank you” section at the end of the guidebooks. For fun, I’ve randomly shown off my name to friends while in bookstores a couple of times in the past.

So far my name has been mentioned in the following books:

I guess I’ll say a “Thank you” to Google for letting me know that my name has been mentioned in these publications.