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November 30, 2010

Comments

Alex

he only country with the available capital to divert to that is China. Or at any rate, it's the only country that has demonstrated a real willingness to divert it.

Well, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. None of them are what you'd call poor, and they're all sitting on huge Bretton Woods II official forex reserves, and all have fairly clear interests in investing there.

Cian

There's probably also a lot of private money in the region that would also be very interested in setting up factories there. Compliant work force, low expectations, well located. For a poor country they probably have reasonable educational levels as well.

jamie

Yeah, but it goes beyond factories: pretty much everything would have to be rebuilt before the labour could be utilised effectively.

Korean chaebol were encouraged to set up operations there under the sunshine policy and a lot did, but not with conspicuous enthusiasm. Also, when Lee Yung Bak recently proposed a solidarity tax against the eventual costs of reunification, his ratings fell away quite considerably. A general rebuilding effort in NK would have to be state led, which means that the states concerned would have to have backing from their respective publics to push businesses beyond cherry picking, and I don't see that level of enthusiasm.

On the other hand China has got a very large state sector which it can force to act for reasons of state, as well as large amounts of money and greater local knowledge (not that this seems to be doing Beijing much good now). And of course, electorates are not a factor.

I think if China could present a scenario where it can plausibly take the NK problem off everybody's hands while setting up a structure that welcomes foreign capital then that would be a more than acceptable solution. So the question then becomes how you help them get there.

North Korean music education is supposed to be excellent, I read somewhere. They've also got this knack of getting hungry children to successfully perform bizarre gymnastics.

ajay

North Korean music education is supposed to be excellent, I read somewhere. They've also got this knack of getting hungry children to successfully perform bizarre gymnastics.

After regime change, North Korea would own the West End and Broadway.

The problem with getting in capital from Japan and Taiwan would be that it would be coming from Japan and Taiwan. China and South Korea might be the only foreign sources that wouldn't be regarded with fear and hatred by the (apparently incredibly xenophobic) NK population.

But the question for China is: does the maths make sense? If you're a Chinese planner, what has to happen for you to put $200 million into building a new assembly line in North Korea rather than in, say, the Far West?

ajay

...the link between West End musicals and authoritarian regimes just keeps coming up, doesn't it?

Richard J

And modern operas too:- Nixon in China, the ADF Ghadaffi one, the list could go on. Perhaps.

ajay

Well, the difference is that people (often quite liberal people) write modern operas about authoritarian regimes. (Actually, they always did write operas about authoritarian regimes. Tosca, Turandot, The Magic Flute, The Abduction from the Seraglio, Fidelio, Nabucco, Aida, and so on.)
But the sort of people who produce West End musicals are actually sympathetic with authoritarian regimes. See previous discussion about the role of Evita! in the British coup plot of the 1960s.

ajay

My rant on the deep links between the couture industry and the Fascist movement may follow soon, if you're unlucky.

jamie

Also perfumes and associated frippery; also champagne. I've always been fascinated by the way the whole French luxury goods industry seemed to go over to the far right in the interwar years.

skidmarx

"it’s supposed leverage"
Superfluous apostrophe alert.

Richard J

I can't honestly think what the attraction of fascist politics is to an explicitly exclusionary and elitist sect of people with a cult of bodily perfection.

ajay

I've always been fascinated by the way the whole French luxury goods industry seemed to go over to the far right in the interwar years.

There have now been two Coco Chanel biopics, and both have AFAIK completely managed to avoid the whole "worked as a Nazi spy while shacked up with an SS officer, and had her close friend and colleague Vera Lombardi arrested by the Gestapo" issue. Which you'd have thought would have come up.

ejh

Actually, they always did write operas about authoritarian regimes. Tosca, Turandot, The Magic Flute, The Abduction from the Seraglio, Fidelio, Nabucco, Aida, and so on.)

They might have been a litle pushed for alternative kinds of regime to write about, at the time.

dsquared

"The Barber of Iceland".

ajay

ejh: true, of course. Though I think you could have written about a monarchy that wasn't very authoritarian, or at least not very oppressive: there's no authoritarianism in, say, "The Barber of Seville" or "The Marriage of Figaro" or "Lucia di Lammermoor" or "Otello" or "La fanciulla del West" or "Madame Butterfly" or "Don Giovanni". And at least when they wrote about authoritarianism they were against it, vide all the examples I listed, and contra Evita!.

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