Lessons from Japan’s surviving buildings

As you drive west to east, close to the shoreline in what was the little beach town of Arahama, south of Sendai, Japan, you pass acre after acre of houses and stores and trees flattened by the otherworldly power of the tsunami that struck on March 11. These days, the massive clean-up job continues apace. Roads have been cleared and the cars and trucks and boats that were tossed like Tonka toys are finally being readied for the junkyards.

Global crises? Don’t panic

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when natural calamities or geopolitical shocks happen, markets go into a tizzy and everyone rushes for safe havens. Then braver souls pour scorn on the wusses who are heading for the exits and buy on the dip, insisting that historic events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina are barely noticeable in the grand progress of economic history.

Corruption: Biggest threat to developing economies

„We’re thinking of pulling out of Brazil,” the CEO of a large American corporation told me a week ago. The company has been operating there for a few years, doing several million dollars of business. The problem? A series of court judgments so inexplicable, and so crushingly expensive, that the CEO doubts his ability to manage the business. He doesn’t see how the rulings can be honest — even former President Luiz Lula da Silva called Brazil’s judiciary a „black box” that’s „untouchable” — and if the system doesn’t work, this CEO is bailing out.