Economist 3/1/16

  1. In recent weeks, the China’s football clubs have been on their biggest ever spending spree, signing up foreign talent for sums which, by Asian standards, have been jaw-dropping.By the time China’s two-month-long winter transfer-period ends on February 26th, its top-division clubs will have spent a net amount of around $300m.That is more than the combined net outlay of all the clubs in Europe’s top five leagues during the winter period. The net spending of clubs in the English Premier League was the second highest ($220m).A year ago a committee charged with overseeing wide-ranging economic and social reforms turned its attention to an area of great concern in the football-loving nation: its dismal performance in the game. The committee, headed by Mr Xi, endorsed the Communist Party’s first ever plan for “football reforms”.The plan says the number of football academies should increase tenfold to 50,000 by 2025. It decrees that football be made compulsory at school.
  2. Four companies have taken over a first-division Chinese football club in the past two years. In October China Media Capital (CMC), a venture-capital firm, agreed to pay $1.3 billion for five years of television rights to the Chinese Super League (CSL), more than 25 times the amount paid by state television for the football season in 2015.Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man, recently snapped up a 20% stake in Atlético Madrid.As well as signing up expensive foreign players, CSL clubs have been recruiting former managers of the English and Brazilian national teams. Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao employs dozens of coaches from Real Madrid to train the 3,000-odd youngsters enrolled at its academy. The drawback of working for a little-known team can be offset by a big pay-packet.
  3. IN 1970, under the alias of “Jane Roe”, a 22-year-old woman named Norma McCorvey sued the state of Texas for violating what she regarded as her constitutional right to end her pregnancy. By a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that the “right of privacy…founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action” embraces “a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy”. On the morning of March 2nd, the question will be not whether the Constitution protects abortion choice but how far states may go in making that choice more difficult to exercise.During the first 13 or so weeks of pregnancy, Justice Harry Blackmun wrote, states must wholly respect a woman’s decision to abort. For the second trimester, up to about week 27, the states may choose to regulate the procedure, but only in ways that are “reasonably related to maternal health”. And during the final 13 weeks of pregnancy, when most fetuses are “viable” (that is, can survive outside the womb), states have a “compelling” interest in the unborn and may ban abortion outright (with the caveat it must always be permitted if the pregnancy threatens the woman’s “life or health”).Nineteen years later, in Planned Parenthood v Casey, a divided court kept the “essential holding” inRoe chugging but abandoned the trimester guidelines in favour of a viability threshold.
  4. The justices found that requiring women to inform their spouses before ending their pregnancies amounted to an “undue burden” on their constitutional right, but other provisions of a Pennsylvania law were not such “substantial obstacles”. Requiring young women to get the consent of their parents before having an abortion, for example, was upheld, as was “informed consent”: providing information on the details of the procedure coupled with a 24-hour waiting period to think things over.Today, 43 states prohibit late-term abortions except those that are necessary to protect the life or health of the woman. Thirty-eight require minors to notify their parents or get their consent. More than half impose a 1-3 day waiting period, requiring women to make at least two visits to an abortion clinic.Due to pressure from anti-abortion activists and Republican-held legislatures and governorships, most states are substantially less friendly to abortion rights than they were in the first two decades following Roe v Wade.
  5. This surge pricing that Disney is implementing  not actually surge pricing. First, because there is no clear mechanism for supply to increase in response to price. More taxi drivers can flood on to the streets in response to a price rise, but Disney will struggle to offer more park. Second, because the price changes will be nowhere near as dynamic. Prices will be higher at certain times of the year, but parents will not arrive at the gates of Animal Kingdom to find that a glimpse of the massive artificial tree has doubled in price since they left the house.Instead, what Disney world is doing is old-fashioned price discrimination. In summertime, when the living is easy and children need entertaining, demand is high, and relatively insensitive to price.Discouraging the crowds in peak hours should improve the visitor experience, by smoothing visitor numbers.

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