Data points

Published December 12, 2022
A general view of a train waiting for passengers to board at the old Franco-Ethiopian train station in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. - Over a century after the French laid a railroad in eastern Ethiopia, the old track remains indispensable for trade and transport, even with the recent arrival of a modern, Chinese-built line. Twice a week, passengers and cargo pile into carriages dating from 1955 to make the 12-hour, 200-kilometre journey by a diesel locomotive from Dire Dawa to Dewele on the border of Djibouti.—AFP
A general view of a train waiting for passengers to board at the old Franco-Ethiopian train station in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. - Over a century after the French laid a railroad in eastern Ethiopia, the old track remains indispensable for trade and transport, even with the recent arrival of a modern, Chinese-built line. Twice a week, passengers and cargo pile into carriages dating from 1955 to make the 12-hour, 200-kilometre journey by a diesel locomotive from Dire Dawa to Dewele on the border of Djibouti.—AFP

Aiming for a work-life balance

To maintain boundaries at work, you can do a few things. Have a candid conversation with your manager to determine what value you can add and where. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and ask for clarity to ensure you understand their expectations. Make it clear that you recognise how important it is to support your team and be available for colleagues when the need arises. Let your manager know that you understand those things are not up for compromise. Stay focused on the impact. Schedule regular one-to-ones and progress updates with them and your team members. It’s a good opportunity to show you’re on — or even ahead of — schedule. When you meet with your manager, you may ask, “Is the work I’m doing helping to move the dial?” While it’s essential for your manager to be aware of the high quality of your work, don’t underestimate the importance of winning approval from your peers and team members as well.

(Adapted from “Ask an Expert: My Company Promotes People Who Work Overtime, But I Want Work-Life Balance. How Can I Ever Succeed?” by Star Chen, published by HBR Ascend)

Not quite an EV revolution

One of the biggest roadblocks to the mass adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is the troubled business model for the commercial chargers that power them.⁠ The government is pouring billions of dollars into developing a national highway charging network. But businesses aren’t sure how they will make money, and the nascent industry looks messy.⁠ Utility companies and gas stations are at war over who will own and operate EV chargers. Rural states say some charging stations could operate at a loss for a decade or more. New companies that provide charging gear and services are contending with the equipment’s spotty reliability.⁠ The network’s build-out has a chicken-or-egg quality: EV advocates say many drivers will only be comfortable purchasing vehicles if rapid charging is as easy as using a pump at a gas station. Yet businesses interested in offering charging say they can’t make money until more EVs are on the road. Around 1pc of US drivers own EVs but wait lists are growing.

(Adapted from “Why America Doesn’t Have Enough EV Charging Stations,” by Jennifer Hiller, published on November 29, 2022, by The Wall Street Journal)

A question of $65tr in hidden debt

Sixty-five trillion dollars is not a big number: it is a huge, barely comprehensible number. It’s more than 2.5 times the size of the entire US Treasury market, the world’s biggest. It’s 14pc of the value of all financial assets globally, according to a tally from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). It’s also the value of hidden dollar debt unrecorded on the balance sheets of non-US banks and shadow banks as of June this year, also according to the BIS, the central bankers’ central bank. It has been growing rapidly, having nearly doubled since 2008. The fact that most of this hidden debt is owed to banks is another reminder of the ever-growing and opaque interconnections between the traditional financial system and the shadow banking sector. Accounting conventions have hidden immense amounts of foreign-exchange liabilities. We might not know where they are until the next crisis.

(Adapted from “It’s the $65 Trillion in Debt You Can’t Find That’ll Get You,” by Paul J. Davies, published on December 5, 2022, by Bloomberg)

China’s gambling riches

About 80pc Chinese travelling abroad for the first time visit a casino. In a society that loves to gamble, the Chinese Communist Party has for decades bottled up demand by banning the practice, with the paltry exception of China’s state lottery. But as more Chinese have become rich enough to travel, pent-up demand has burst across Asia and beyond. Most of the 340 or so casinos in South-East Asia were set up with the explicit aim of luring Chinese gamblers. And many have enjoyed a bonanza: an estimated 1trn yuan ($144bn) in gambling money leaves the Chinese economy every year. But the Chinese money tree looks increasingly imperilledimperilled, not only because with the country’s borders still sealed, far fewer Chinese are travelling abroad. Under Xi Jinping, China is trying with increasing vigour to extend its cuts on gambling.

(Adapted from “China’s Ban On Gambling Is A Cash Gift To The Rest Of Asia,” published on December 5, 2022, by The Economist)

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, December 12th, 2022

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