Economist 4/27/14

  1. The struggle for access to public services in South Africa is far from over—at least for middle-class drivers.Late last year Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg, mounted gantries above highways to collect tolls. Motorists are meant to install an electronic wallet on their dashboards. The proceeds are supposed to help pay for new roads that are easily the best in Africa.Unpaid tolls already amount to more than $50m, says the transport ministry.
  2. THE Pearl river delta ( China) in the southern province of Guangdong is no stranger to strikes, most of them small and quickly resolved.But a walk-out by workers at factories owned by a Taiwanese company, Yue Yuen, the world’s largest maker of branded sports shoes, including big names such as Nike and Reebok.Angry workers watched by riot police rage about an issue few cared much about until recently: their pensions. The workers accuse Yue Yuen of failing for years to make due contributions to their pensions, which are administered by the local government. Lax application of social-security laws is common.
  3. Ms Liu was a forerunner of a new wave of Chinese immigrants to Australia’s oldest and biggest city. Hong Kong once supplied most of Australia’s Chinese settlers, but over the past few years the pattern has shifted. Now it is the rising middle classes from mainland China who go there, looking for a cleaner, more relaxed lifestyle. About 4% of Sydney’s 4.6m people were born in China. Hurstville’s China-born population is about a third of its total and almost half its residents claim Chinese ancestry.But China’s emergence as Australia’s biggest trading partner, and its largest source of foreign university students, has revolutionised the relationship. In the fiscal year 2011-12, more than 25,000 Chinese people obtained permanent residence in Australia.Then in late 2012 Australia launched a “significant investor” visa, aimed at China’s super-rich. To get one, people need A$5m ($4.6m) to sink in “qualifying” investments.More than 90% of 702 applicants so far have been Chinese.
  4. Chinese emigrants are leaving good jobs, cashing out their high-priced homes (or investment properties) and leaving China’s rat race behind. In the past decade 1m Chinese have obtained permanent-resident status in Canada or America, placing Chinese migrants first in Canada and second in America behind Mexicans. And the pace has quickened (see chart). About 80,000 Chinese every year are gaining permanent residency in America, almost five times the rate of the 1980s. Chinese also made up the largest group of immigrants in Australia with 80,000 arriving in the three years to 2012.. The number of Chinese long-term residents in Italy almost doubled in two years, to nearly 120,000 by the end of 2012. Chinese migrants also ranked first in new residencies in New Zealand last year, at about 6,000. Canada recently suspended its investor-visa programme with an estimated 45,000 Chinese nationals on the waiting list, 70% of the entire backlog. Officials may feel that they set the bar too low. A qualifying property investment is C$800,000 ($725,000)—a two-bedroom flat in Beijing sells for that much. For a bit less money than Canada’s cancelled programme, you can buy residency in Portugal or residency for two in Italy or Greece—and you don’t even need to live there. In America the number of investment projects that can accept immigration-investor cash has doubled in two years on the strength of Chinese demand—to 440 as of February 1st. Claire Gao, a stylish 26-year-old who works for an investment firm in Shanghai, just bought a flat in suburban Milan for €200,000 ($276,000), the minimum for an investor-visa there, after her second brief visit to Italy in January. 
  5. Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) revolutionised share-trading in the European Union, by allowing new competitors to take on dear and dozy national stock exchanges. Earlier this month the European Parliament approved MiFID 2, an even more ambitious law, which aims to change how trillions of euros-worth of stocks and bonds, derivatives and commodities are traded, cleared and reported.Its main thrust will be to force trading across all asset classes into open and transparent markets—not just equities, the focus of MiFID 1, or derivatives, the focus of EMIR’s clearing rules.nder MiFID 2, if trading in a particular share in dark pools exceeds certain caps, the pools will be barred from handling it for six months (although the darkness makes it hard to know when caps are hit).Automated trading, too, has provoked heated debate, especially the high-frequency sort which ESMA thinks accounts for over a fifth of European share-trading by value. A proposal for a mandatory half-second freeze on orders was dropped. 

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