Wednesday, January 29, 2014

La Velocidad del Dinero...(BusinessWeek)

El efecto de la rotación monetaria se explica por la economía. No al revés...

Máxima velocidad de rotación del dinero: en los 90 y principios del milenio debida al auge económico.

Mínima velocidad de rotación del dinero: La caída de la economía de los últimos 5 años, acompañada de la emisión masiva de billetes como "estímulo".

Friday, January 24, 2014

La Seguridad, La Tecnología, La Política, la Economía...son una sola cosa?

The Inside Story of Tor, the Best Internet Anonymity Tool the Government Ever Built

The Inside Story of Tor, the Best Internet Anonymity Tool the Government Ever Built

Last year, Edward Snowden turned over to the Guardian, a British newspaper, some 58,000 classified U.S. government documents. Just a fraction of the files have been made public, but they outline the National Security Agency’s massive information-collection system. They’ve thrown light onto the methods of an arm of the government used to working in the shadows and started an intense debate over national security and personal liberty. One of the earliest and most explosive revelations was the existence of Prism, a top-secret program giving the NSA direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, and other U.S. Internet companies.
Snowden himself remains something of a mystery even as the U.S. government attempts to obtain his return from Russia, where he’s in hiding, and very possibly jail him for the rest of his life. As an infrastructure analyst for the NSA, he came to understand at a high level how information moves around the Internet. Snowden almost certainly relied on one very specific and powerful tool to cover his tracks. In photographs he’s often with his laptop, and on the cover of his computer, a sticker shows a purple and white onion: the “o” in the word “Tor.”
Tor, an acronym for “the onion router,” is software that provides the closest thing to anonymity on the Internet. Engineered by the Tor Project, a nonprofit group, and offered free of charge, Tor has been adopted by both agitators for liberty and criminals. It sends chat messages, Google (GOOG) searches, purchase orders, or e-mails on a winding path through multiple computers, concealing activities as the layers of an onion cover its core, encrypting the source at each step to hide where one is and where one wants to go. Some 5,000 computers around the world, volunteered by their owners, serve as potential hop points in the path, obscuring requests for a new page or chat. Tor Project calls these points relays.
Its users are global, from Iranian activists who eluded government censors to transmit images and news during the 2009 protests following that year’s presidential election, to Chinese citizens who regularly use it to get around the country’s Great Firewall and its blocks on everything from Facebook (FB) to theNew York Times. In addition to facilitating anonymous communication online, Tor is an access point to the “dark Web,” vast reaches of the Internet that are intentionally kept hidden and don’t show up in Google or other search engines, often because they harbor the illicit, from child porn to stolen credit card information.
It’s perhaps the most effective means of defeating the online surveillance efforts of intelligence agencies around the world, including the most sophisticated agency of them all, the NSA. That’s ironic, because Tor started as a project of the U.S. government. More than half of the Tor Project’s revenue in 2012, or $1.24 million, came from government grants, including an $876,099 award from the Department of Defense, according to financial statements available on the project’s website.
Yet because of Snowden, we now know that the NSA has been working to unpeel the protective layers built by the Tor system. Along with evidence of the NSA’s mass data collection, Snowden leaked an agency presentation that demonstrated just how surveillance-proof the software is. It was titled “Tor Stinks.” The spooks, according to the slide deck, were thwarted by the software at every turn. Gaining access to some Tor relays, for example, didn’t work, because they had to control all three computers in a circuit to defeat the encryption. “We will never be able to de-anonymize all Tor users all the time. With manual analysis we can de-anonymize a very small fraction of Tor users,” one slide reads. NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said in an e-mailed statement: “It should hardly be surprising that our intelligence agencies seek ways to counteract targets’ use of technologies to hide their communications. Throughout history, nations have used various methods to protect their secrets, and today terrorists, cybercriminals, human traffickers, and others use technology to hide their activities. Our intelligence community would not be doing its job if we did not try to counter that.”
Countering Tor is clearly frustrating for the NSA, and Internet users have taken note. Hits to Tor’s download page almost quadrupled last year, to 139 million. “Encryption works,” Bruce Schneier, a cybersecurity expert who helped theGuardian analyze the Snowden documents, said at a talk in New York in January. “That’s the lesson of Tor. The NSA can’t break Tor, and it pisses them off.”
Tor’s world headquarters occupies one room of a YWCA in Cambridge, Mass. Its neighbor is Transition House, which helps survivors of domestic abuse. Of 33 “core people” listed on Tor’s website, nine are full-time employees, and the majority work remotely. For the most part, the project is crowdsourced: Hundreds of volunteers around the world work on improving Tor’s software and solving technical challenges like staying ahead of censors in China, which has devoted enormous resources to shutting down anti-censorship tools, including Tor. A request to visit the office in person provoked some mild skepticism from Kelley Misata, who handles press for the group. “The Tor team is primarily virtual (and spread around the world),” she e-mailed, “so our office is made up of only a few members of the team working there on a regular basis.”

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How to build the future: London's Tech City (TechRepublic)

London's 'Tech City'

TechRepublic's Steve Ranger shot these photos during his in-depth feature of London's 'Tech City.' See some of the most interesting spots in this growing startup mecca.
A grimy neighbourhood to the east of London has become the unlikely home to the capital's dotcom renaissance. The district is making a few efforts to recognise and celebrate the tech entrepreneurs in the area, such as with this street name.
See our feature story: (How to create an ecosystem for the economics of the future)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Quiénes compran ObamaCare, en tres gráficos...(BusinessWeek)

Health Care

Who's Buying Obamacare, in Three Charts

More than 2.1 million Americans selected private health plans and state-run websites through Dec. 28, the Obama administration announced today. Another 1.6 million were judged eligible for Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor. Most of the new enrollees in private health plans—1.8 million—signed up in December, after the White House relaunched the Affordable Care Act’s stuttering website on Dec. 1.
People can still enroll in Obamacare plans through the end of March to get coverage this year. The White House is hoping for a mix of people that includes enough young and healthy folk to balance the medical costs of older enrollees who need more care. Here’s a snapshot of who signed up in the first three months. All data are from the Department of Health and Human Services, through Dec. 28.

About 30 percent of new enrollees are under 35. White House officials say that’s an acceptable mix, and they expect more young people to come on board closer to the March 31 deadline. “We think that more and more young people are going to sign up as time goes by, based on the experience in Massachusetts,” Gary Cohen, deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, said on a conference call with reporters. “We’re actually very pleased with the percentage that we have right now, and we expect that percentage to increase.”
Most of the people who bought coverage on the exchanges this fall got subsidies to help them afford the premiums. That’s in contrast to the first month of the program, when less than one-third of buyers were subsidized. People earning up to four times the poverty rate—as much as $96,000 a year for a family of four—can get help buying coverage.
The numbers released today don’t count people who bought health plans off the exchanges. Given the website’s technical problems, people buying insurance who earn too much for subsidies may have bypassed entirely and purchased plans from brokers or directly from insurance companies. The government doesn’t yet have data on how many people got coverage directly.
Under Obamacare, insurers can’t charge men and women different rates—or, as Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius put it, “Starting in 2014, being a woman is no longer a preexisting condition.” That generally resulted in lower prices for women compared with insurance markets where underwriting by gender is allowed, so it’s not surprising women signed up in greater numbers.
Tozzi is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Why Do Americans Move From Wealthy States to Poorer Ones? (BusinessWeek)

                                                                        January 09, 2014

A few months ago, journalist Timothy Noah observed that Americans are moving away from opportunity. “Migration is not only declining but also tends to be away from places where, according to recent studies, young adults have the best chances of moving up the income scale,” he wrote in an article for Washington Monthlytitled “Stay Put, Young Man.”
Noah was onto something big, and the paradox hasn’t disappeared. Earlier this month, Atlas Van Lines released its annual survey of migration patterns. It showed net migration away from some rich states and into some poorer ones. Connecticut, New Jersey, and Delaware, three of the wealthiest states, were among the migration losers. Meanwhile, Tennessee and North Carolina, which have below-average per capita incomes, were among the big winners. (Texas, another, has roughly average income.)
In 2013, Americans moved out of richer states and into poorer statesAtlas Van LinesIn 2013, Americans moved out of richer states and into poorer states
True, the District of Columbia and New Hampshire, which have high incomes, gained immigrants. And people flocked to North Dakota, which is only a bit above average in income but is experiencing an energy boom.

Overall, though, it appears that high state incomes weren’t much of a lure to Americans last year. In his article, Noah dismissed some of the likely explanations. It’s not because the magnet states have more jobs. “Most Americans moving across state lines are relocating to places where they’re no more likely to find employment,” he wrote.
Nor are people leaving to escape taxes. “A Reuters report in February cast doubt on this hypothesis, pointing out that the rich typically stay put when state income tax rates rise,” Noah wrote.
A “far more plausible factor,” he concludes, is the high cost of housing in rich states, which is made worse by exclusionary zoning regulations and underinvestment in transportation infrastructure—the buses and rail lines that would get people from home to work.
Coy is Bloomberg Businessweek's economics editor.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

El pescado más caro del mundo acaba de abaratarse (BusinessWeek)

Bluefin tuna at Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo
                                                                                                    Photograph by Akio Kon/Bloomberg
Bluefin tuna at Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo

Even as he tries to fight deflation in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may have just succeeded in driving down prices at one of the country’s most famous sales. On the first day of business at Tokyo’s Tsukiji market after the New Year’s holiday, the winning bid for the top fish, a 507-pound bluefin tuna, was just 7.36 million yen ($70,600). The auction’s winner was Kiyomura, a Tokyo-based sushi chain, which paid 95 percent less than the record price from a year ago.

Until recently, the price for the Opening Day bluefin had soared thanks largely to competition between Kiyomura and foreign chains such as Hong Kong-based rival Itamae Sushi. In 2011, Itamae won the big fish, making it three years in a row that a non-Japanese buyer upstaged locals at the country’s premier fish auction.

So when Kiyomura paid a then-record 56 million yen for a bluefin at the Tsukiji auction in 2012, a company spokesman explained the importance of a local company coming in first for a change. The win is “about the Japanese spirit,” he told Bloomberg News. A year later, to keep the foreigners from winning, Kiyomura went even higher, paying a record-breaking 155.4 million yen for the world’s most expensive fish.

With relations between Japan and its neighbors so sour, though, today it takes much less to top the foreigners. The 2014 auction took place less than two weeks after Abe’s controversial visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, the Shinto site in Tokyo that honors Japan’s war dead—including some war criminals from World War II. China and South Korea both criticized the move, the first visit by a Japanese premier since 2006. “Some Japanese politicians, on the one hand, pay lip service to freedom and peace, and on the other hand they are raising the banner to call upon the dead soul of militarism by beautifying aggression and colonial history,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters after Abe’s Dec. 26 visit to Yasukuni.

Abe’s move capped off a year of deteriorating ties between Japan and its neighbors, with Chinese and Koreans squabbling with the Japanese over territorial disputes and the legacy of Japan’s colonial policies from before the war. While Abe is now trying to reach out to China and Korea, he won’t have an easy time winning them over. And in the past, Japanese products have been shunned by Korean and Chinese consumers when such geopolitical tensions rise. “Holding talks with China and South Korea is extremely important for the peace and stability of the region,” Abe said at his first press conference of the year. “When there is a difficult problem, it is all the more necessary for leaders to open up and talk without preconditions.”

South Korean and Chinese leaders aren’t convinced. For instance, South Korean President Park Geun Hye responded today at a press conference, telling reporters “I feel sorry that the environment for cooperation repeatedly gets shattered at a time when the cooperation between the two countries should be expanding.”

The Chinese were even more direct in rejecting the Japanese prime minister’s overture. “We can see that although Abe paid lip service that he focuses on the relationship between China and Japan, actually he is a hypocrite,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters. “He himself has closed the door of dialogue between China and Japan. The Chinese people don’t welcome him.”

Which leads us back to Tsukiji. It’s possible there are other explanations for the plunge at the fish market’s auction. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reports on several, courtesy of the chairman of the Chinese city’s Chamber of Seafood Merchants, including the weak yen and the increase in bluefin supply from Japanese waters.

But the high prices in years past were about prestige, not supply and demand. Given the state of Japan’s relations with China and South Korea, foreign chains may have reasonably decided there is now little to be gained by getting into a bidding war for a Japanese fish.

Einhorn is Asia regional editor in Bloomberg Businessweek’s Hong Kong bureau. Follow him on Twitter @BruceEinhorn

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Waste and Corruption of Vladimir Putin's 2014 Winter Olympics (BusinessWeek)

The lights of the Olympic media center near the Black Sea coast illuminate a neighboring residential building
The lights of the Olympic media center near the Black Sea coast illuminate a neighboring residential building

The new road and railway to Krasnaya Polyana, the mountain resort that will host the ski and snowboard events of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, start in Adler, a beachfront town that has become a boisterous tangle of highway interchanges and construction sites. A newly opened, glass-fronted train station—the largest in Russia—sits like a sparkling prism between the green and brown peaks of the Caucasus Mountains and the lapping waves of the Black Sea.

Behind this week’s cover
The state agency that oversaw the infrastructure project is Russian Railways, or RZhD. The agency’s head is Vladimir Yakunin, a close associate of Vladimir Putin. It oversees 52,000 miles of rail track, the third-largest network in the world, and employs nearly a million people. The 31-mile Adler-to-Krasnaya Polyana project is among its most ambitious, reminiscent in its man-against-nature quality of the Baikal-Amur Mainline railway built by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and ’80s across the remote taiga forests of the Russian Far East. Now, as then, grandeur and showmanship are as important as the finished project. Putin sees the Sochi Games as a capstone to the economic and geopolitical revival of Russia, which he has effectively ruled for 14 years. The route connects the arenas and Olympic Village along the Black Sea with the mountains above. Andrey Dudnik, the deputy head of Sochi construction for RZhD, is proud of his company’s accomplishment, given the region’s difficult terrain and the rushed time frame for finishing construction. “Few people believed,” he says. “But we did it.”

On a cloudless, 70-degree day this fall, I boarded a train—newly built by Siemens (SI) and smelling of fresh upholstery—in Adler. The train dashed along the riverbank on a curving track supported by cement columns dotting the shore. We passed into a long tunnel, lit with soft yellow light. The engineering work was so challenging, Dudnik boasts, that in 2011 RZhD was named Major Tunnelling Project of the Year at an international awards ceremony in Hong Kong.

Among Russians, the project is famous for a different reason: its price tag. At $8.7 billion, it eclipses the total cost for preparations for the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. A report by opposition politicians Boris Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk calculated that the Russian state spent three times more on the road than NASA did for the delivery and operation of a new generation of Mars rovers. An article in Russian Esquire estimated that for the sum the government spent on the road, it could have been paved entirely with a centimeter-thick coating of beluga caviar.

The train glided to a stop at the Krasnaya Polyana station. The floors were buffed to the shimmery gloss of a desert mirage. The air up here was cooler; snow mottled the mountaintops ahead. Down the hillside stood a giant banner: “Sochi is preparing for Olympic records!”

At $51 billion, the Sochi Games are the costliest ever, surpassing the $40 billion spent by China on the 2008 Summer Olympics. The suicide bombings in the Russian city of Volgograd on Dec. 29 and 30 have heightened fears of terrorism and given a renewed focus to security concerns as well as questions of cost. How the Sochi Games grew so expensive is a tale of Putin-era Russia in microcosm: a story of ambition, hubris, and greed leading to fabulous extravagance on the shores of the Black Sea. And extravagances, in Russia especially, come at a price. 
Back in 2007, when Russia was bidding to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, the huge amounts it was willing to spend were a point of pride, an enticement meant to win over officials at the International Olympic Committee. Putin traveled to Guatemala City to give a rare speech in English, with even a touch of French, to the assembled IOC delegates, promising to turn Sochi into “a world-class resort” for a “new Russia” and the rest of the world. His pledge to spend $12 billion in Sochi dwarfed the bids of the other finalists from South Korea and Austria.

But since then, as costs have increased, Russian officials have grown less eager to boast about the size of the final bill. “In the beginning, money was a reason and argument for Russia to win the right to host the Olympics,” says Igor Nikolaev, director of strategic analysis at FBK, an audit and consulting firm in Moscow. “But it turned out we spent so much that everybody is trying not to talk about it anymore.” Dmitry Kozak, deputy prime minister in charge of Olympic preparations, has argued that the $51 billion number is misleading. Only $6 billion of that is directly Olympics-related, he says; the rest has gone to infrastructure and regional development the state would have carried out anyway. That may be true, though it’s hard to imagine the Russian government building an $8.7 billion road and railway up to the mountains without the Games.

Bent Flyvbjerg, an expert on what are called “megaprojects” at the Saïd Business School at Oxford University, says the costs for Olympic host nations have on average tripled from the initial bid to the opening ceremonies. In Sochi, costs rose nearly five times. That these Olympics should be the most expensive in history is all the more improbable, says Allison Stewart, a colleague of Flyvbjerg’s at Oxford, because compared with Summer Games, Winter Olympiads involve fewer athletes (2,500 vs. 11,000), fewer events (86 vs. 300), and fewer venues (15 vs. 40).