Housing bubble 2.0 will end badly; Solving India’s food wastage; Are we taking too many photos of our kids?





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1 Housing bubble 2.0 will end badly (Nouriel Roubini in The Guardian) It is widely agreed that a series of collapsing housing market bubbles triggered the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, along with the severe recession that followed. Now, five years later, signs of frothiness, if not outright bubbles, are reappearing in housing markets in Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and, back for an encore, the UK (well, London). In emerging markets, bubbles are appearing in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, and Israel, and in major urban centers in Turkey, India, Indonesia, and Brazil.

Signs that home prices are entering bubble territory in these economies include fast-rising home prices, high and rising price-to-income ratios, and high levels of mortgage debt as a share of household debt. In China and India, savings are going into home purchases, because financial repression leaves households with few other assets that provide a good hedge against inflation. Macro-prudential restrictions are certainly called for; but they have been inadequate to control housing bubbles.

But the global economy’s new housing bubbles may not be about to burst just yet, because the forces feeding them – especially easy money and the need to hedge against inflation – are still fully operative. But the higher home prices rise, the further they will fall – and the greater the collateral economic and financial damage will be – when the bubble deflates. What we are witnessing in many countries looks like a slow-motion replay of the last housing-market train wreck. And, like last time, the bigger the bubbles become, the nastier the collision with reality will be.


2 Solving India’s food wastage (Biman Mukherji in The Wall Street Journal) India is one of the world’s  largest producers of fruits and vegetables, but a third of its produce rots because of poor storage, transport and distribution. The country’s inability to preserve what it produces, or transport it at speed also means India is also not a significant player when it comes to exporting fruit and vegetables.

Rick Blasgen, president and chief executive of the Illionois-based Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, the world’s largest body of supply chain professionals, opines what India could do about these problems. The congestion in infrastructure makes it very challenging. It is much better when you have large-scale modern infrastructure. Cold chain is the most important. Then you have to have a transportation outlet. Western Europe may be a very good example for India, where the highway system and railway system are very efficient. When you have that many people as in India, it represents a challenge and an opportunity.”

Blasgen feels companies have refrained from investing in India because of taxation issues and difficulties in understanding the government procedures. “Different states have different levels of taxation on things such as transportation. A uniform taxation policy should help. Many of the roads are not paved and it takes time to cross from the north to south, east to west. You need super highways connecting cities and also a robust railway system. India can learn a lot from Singapore on how goods come and go out of the country.”


3 Are we taking too many photos of our kids? (Amy Graff in San Francisco Chronicle) My husband and I have a collection of tens of thousands of digital images. Most of these chronicle the lives of our three children. The first step. The first day of kindergarten. A summer weekend in Tahoe. an Easter egg hunt, actually many egg hunts. Of course, we took more photos of our first child and we’ve been less camera happy with our third, but nonetheless, like most modern-day parents, we have an unwieldy number of image files.

We keep on snapping, asking our kids to pose, smile, stop whatever they’re doing to take a look into the camera. Or sometimes we go for the candid. Is all of this posing and capturing a good thing? Some experts are saying that our kids are spending too much time in front of the camera and, to put it bluntly, parents are leading our kids to be insecure and narcissistic.

Overblown photo shoots can make kids feel more important than they really are, Alain Morin, an associate psychology professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, said ,“The use of self-focusing stimuli, a mirror, a picture, a camera, anything that induces awareness for others [makes] you start thinking about who you are. And, you think about your shortcomings. When people are exceedingly self-focused, they self-critique a lot and feel bad a lot.”



About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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