[SCMP Column] World Human Hair Trade

March 09, 2019
Recent heart-rending BBC reports of young – and not so young - Venezuelan women selling their hair to keep starvation at bay as they trecked overland towards Colombia and the US border reminded me of one of the world’s least understood export industries – the global trade in human hair. [ Read More ]

[SCMP Column] Challenge of Stagnation

August 28, 2017

Much more important is that sense of stagnation and relentless struggle in a setting where evidence of wealth lies in plain sight all around. McKinsey reported a couple of months ago that up to two thirds of families in many high-income countries have suffered flat or falling real incomes since 2005. In the US, over 80 per cent of households report flat or falling real incomes from wages and capital. In Italy, an astonishing 95 per cent of families report such stagnation.

[ Read More ]

[SCMP Column] Against All Odds

May 13, 2017

The Symposium was launched with some explosive numbers: according to a 2011 study by the World Health Organisation and the World Bank, around 15 per cent of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. That is over a billion people. The price we pay for failing to ensure people with disability can contribute in the workforce amounts to something between US$1.37 trillion and US$1.94 trillion. As for the Asia-pacific region, we have around 650m people living in hardship or poverty because of their exclusion from the workforce because of disability of one form or another. Around 85 million of these are in China.

[ Read More ]

[SCMP Column] Honour Female Geniuses

April 29, 2017

The discriminations that keep women out of the workforce, or suppress their capacity to contribute to their full potential, inflict an even higher cost. McKinsey last year shockingly calculated that if women’s participation in the workforce rose worldwide to the participation rate for men – up from the present 50 per cent to 77 per cent – an awesome US$28 trillion would be added to global GDP. China alone would add US$2.5 trillion to its GDP, and the US would add US$3.1 trillion.

[ Read More ]

[SCMP Column] Economic role of women

August 22, 2016

Worldwide, the labour force participation rate for men is around 77%, says McKinsey. This compares with 50% for women. Eliminate the gap, and you get the US$28 trillion boost to the world economy.

[ Read More ]

[SCMP Column] The Way to Equality

July 04, 2016

Hong Kong’s 10 richest men earn the equivalent of one third of Hong Kong’s GDP (compared with 3% in the US and the UK, and less than 2% in China). Hong Kong has historically been tolerant of such wealth disparities, but that tolerance has been sapped since the Asian Financial Crash in 1998. During this long and challenging two decades, a large part of Hong Kong’s families have felt nothing but uncertain employment prospects, sagging incomes, and no prospect of improvement in sight. The eccentric QE policies worldwide, which have brought interest rates to historic lows, have aggravated resentments by lifting asset markets – in particular property prices – into the unreachable stratosphere.

[ Read More ]