Economist 5/3/16

  1. ANYONE who watches sport for long enough will see his share of upsets.But nothing could have prepared football fans for Leicester City’s remarkable run in the 2015-16 English Premier League. The Foxes were 5,000 to 1 to win the title on the season’s opening day.The Foxes clinched the title after Tottenham Hotspur failed to beat Chelsea on May 2nd.Only four clubs have won the league title in the past 20 years, each with enormous financial clout; the top four places have been traded between the same six teams in the past 10 seasons. Nobody foresaw Leicester’s rise and everybody predicted their demise even as they kept winning throughout the season.Nonetheless, hindsight offers three main reasons for the Foxes’ remarkable ascendency.The first is tactical guile.
  2. Leicester are toothless when building slow attacks—but ruthless on swift counter-attacks. Leicester’s staff identified that players such as Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Danny Drinkwater—all unremarkable in 2014-15—were suited to such guerrilla tactics.Only 18 Leicester players have started a league game (a league low) and eight have started at least 30 times (a league high). The team remained almost injury-free and rested while the bigger teams toiled in European competition. These other contenders have stumbled—a third cause of Leicester’s rise.This lack of challengers should not detract from Leicester’s achievement: there has never been a more improbable victory in any sport.
  3. Frustration is mounting in Nepal. Much of the $4.1 billion pledged by international donors in the earthquake’s aftermath has yet to be spent.The Red Cross says 4m people remain in temporary shelter.Some of this is the result of corruption; a lot is simply cock-ups. Funding schemes designed to spur rebuilding have in fact delayed it. Just a few hundred people have received even the first disbursement of a promised grant of 200,000 Nepali rupees ($2,000) to reconstruct their homes. Many worry that if they go ahead without first receiving the money, they may forfeit it.Nepal’s economy is deeply intertwined with that of its fast-growing Indian neighbour; much of the industrial base in the southern lowlands was hardly affected by the disaster.But growth is forecast to be 1.5% in this fiscal year. That is partly the result of constitutional amendments in September. In Kathmandu, petrol queues are often an hour long. Electricity is available only around half the time. Inflation is in double digits.
  4. The workplace is where AR equipment is taking hold, which is why Google is revamping Glass with business uses in mind.Engineers that work on and repair transformers that distribute electricity can spend up to half their time searching for technical data in assorted software, databases, activity logs and even old-fashioned filing cabinets.Schneider is doing this with headsets and tablet computers, both of which superimpose information onto an image of the object on either the lenses in the headset or the screen on a tablet.In America, ITAMCO, an Indiana-based engineering company, has found similar benefits. Some of its operators use an AR system with Google Glass headsets.The use of AR systems in Europe is proving more difficult to implement because some unions deem the technology to be a sneaky way for management to monitor workers.Headsets can also augment communications. Microsoft’s HoloLens, an AR headset that is being used on the International Space Station, sends video of the astronaut’s field of view to a tablet at mission control on Earth.
  5. CHINESE loans to Africa generate frenetic commentary.The findings of researchers at the China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) suggest that China lends much less to Africa than is commonly reported.They found that only 56% of the loans actually materialised. In 2011 Fitch, a rating agency, reported that over the previous decade the China Export-Import Bank had lent more than the World Bank to sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, say the CARI team, the World Bank has been the bigger lender every year in the past decade bar two, although Chinese lending is catching up.China-watchers sometimes talk of an “Angola model”: low-interest loans, using commodities as collateral. Oil-rich Angola has indeed received more Chinese loans than any other African country.The second-biggest borrower was resource-poor Ethiopia, which is apparently deemed a good investment thanks to its China-like approach to development.

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