Why is Disney the Biggest Studio in Hollywood?

Why is Disney the Biggest Studio in Hollywood?

Yutai Han

11/21/17

 

This post will examine the source of Disney’s success. After the Q4 earnings report came out, commentators said that Disney could still be a stronghold for years to come. That is because Disney’s unique advantage lies in its ability to create iconic animated stories that bring warmth and joy to children and their family throughout the world and the ability to turn the stories into a profitable package, a utopian wonderland of magical calling to children with rich imagination.

 

Disney’s Q4 earnings report show that their profit from studio entertainment dropped 21%, and other revenues such as media networks dropped as well.

The reasons are twofold. First, audiences are abandoning their cable TV subscription. Disney’s affiliate company, ESPN, is going through a turbulent transformation to launch ESPN Plus, part of a $1.2 billion investment of streaming services to compete with Netflix. Second, this year is a relatively small year for Disney’s film business. Last year, Zootopia and Finding Nemo 2 hit the worldwide theater with a craze, but this year Cars 3 wasn’t too successful. On the other hand, big productions such as Thor 3 and Star Wars: The Last Jedi are released in the end of the year and they are not counted in Q4’s earnings report.

 

For a lot of these films, the profit brought by selling merchandise can sometimes trump the box office itself. For example, Frozen has sold 3 million princess dresses, profiting $450 million. Since last year, Shanghai Disneyland has sold over 1 million fluffy animals and among them, the bestseller is the magic wand and the Minnie Mouse hairband.

 

The only increase of revenue came from theme parks by 6%, quarter to quarter. According to the earnings report, this year marks the 25th anniversary for the Disneyland at Paris and revenue from the Disney hotels saw some increase.

 

Therefore, in turbulent times, Disney’s theme parks are still their main stronghold. Although the domestic revenue was impacted by the hurricane season, but overseas revenue saved it. I haven’t been to the Shanghai Disneyland myself but through several positive accounts that I’ve read online, I’m convinced that it’s comparable to any top theme park experiences. It’s somewhere that you can immerse yourself fully into the beautiful fairytales created by Disney and Pixar, and the exciting worlds of Superhero movies created by Marvel Studios. No wonder that the newly-opened Shanghai Disneyland is the top destination for families with kids. The Disneyland at Shanghai opened its door to Chinese about a year and a half ago, and in a recent report (in Chinese) conducted by the Shanghai Information Center, Disneyland has welcomed over 11 million people, bringing a growth of 0.44% GDP to Shanghai as a city, and creating some 62 thousand jobs. In the same time, the opening of Disneyland helped the city boost its overall tourism industry by a growth of 6.9%, as $25 billion. The report concluded in praising Disneyland as a leader of the tourism industry that brings significant economic improvements.

 

I read that Disney’s attention to detail was surprising to Chinese contractors, but at the same time, Chinese contractors wanted to cooperate with Disney because they’re hoping to learn from Disney’s high standards. For example, before the construction of the Disneyland, Disney formed an academy of sculptors and evaluated them on their work. Disney hired them only after they’ve qualified for the examination. This is part of the effort of Disney to recreate the world from their movies that the visitors can immediately immerse themselves into.

 

It’s Complicated: on U.S.-China Film Industry Relationship

It’s Complicated: on U.S.-China Film Industry Relationship

Yutai Han

(Image: ChinaFilmInsider.com)

With dazzling lights and glamour, the annual U.S.-China Film Summit kicked off yesterday in Los Angeles. Among the attendees are several leaders of the industry and Chinese directors, all working to achieve the same end: how to tap into the Chinese film market.

Admittedly, film is of the highest prestige of our society at large. It is the equivalent of Shakespeare in Victorian England, except that now the movie business is globalized and glamourized, serving human vanity and desires, and in turn the quality of films varies significantly. But generally speaking, the best films of the industry, produced by the highest caliber of crews and casts, and distributed by the savviest companies, attract audiences and money in a highly profitable way. A lot of them originates from Hollywood, a heavily industrialized dreamland of capital and talent from the very start, exporting formalized stories of dreams to the whole world. As a major trade surplus, cultural exports made up for 4 percent of the U.S. GDP.

Similar to every economic story, the cards reshuffle when China becomes a player.

It was 1994 when mainland China opened its market to Hollywood with a quota of 10 films annually, which in effect led to a mass of people going to Hollywood blockbuster productions and a domestic revitalization. By 2020, the Chinese film market might surpass North America to be the world’s largest. It’s fair to say that now, the two biggest players in the film industry are the U.S. and China. Under the current deal set in 2012, China exhibits 34 overseas films per year. Some successful candidates are: Warcraft, a $47 million domestic box office and $213 million in China; A Dog’s Purpose, a $64 million domestic box office and $88 million in China. Note that these two productions had Chinese partners, and guess who—it’s Tencent and Alibaba! The promotion of Warcraft was wild. With the attention-grabbing subway poster and targeted mobile advertisement, and paid promotions among review channels, one literally cannot escape. This age of wide-spread and shameless marketing lays ground for propaganda films, such as the $848 million grossing Wolf Warrior 2, the biggest mega-blockbuster yet with a murky net of more than 20 producers and distributors that doesn’t fall short from CDOs.

The more alarming phenomenon is the nationalist and propagandist element of the film was able to fully manifest through the film medium and utilized by the film’s promotion people. The film was not necessarily propaganda but it was a chant of populist heroism, which could be utilized as propaganda. One outspoken critic received death threats. Films, as Slovenian Marxist philosopher Slavoj Zizek puts it, are “ideology at its purest”. It seems to me that it’s unlikely that Hollywood can march further into the Chinese film market, because under the obvious clash of interests, there exists an ideological tension. Even domestically produced Film or TV shows can be called off at the last minute, as one film, Feng Xiaogang’s Youth, was unfortunately delayed due to sensitive topics of Vietnam veterans being depicted as homeless. Other than that, the film is a personal project for the director to recount his most glamorous days as a young artist embedded within the military. Inside sources say that the market is not regulated by the Administration alone, but by some senior members who have the power to shut down speech. From now on, the future is downward. After Wolf Warrier 2, Chinese production companies convinced themselves that the most profitable way to make films is to make such films that “coincidentally” go along with the party’s authoritarian control. The stagnating Chinese film market can be partly attributed to this mentality. But on the other hand, films can also not be about promoting any ideology, but about love, loneliness, memories, the future and the universal human condition. Think Hong Kong cinema master of romance, Wong Kar-wai. His films sold good enough and especially among the Pan-Asian market to receive a Cannes. It is therefore not fair to regard the Chinese film market as impenetrable, and Chinese companies as corporate minions. If Hollywood and the liberal politicians try hard enough to look at China’s issues, that is. We need to restore cinema as “art manifest”. The road is long and bumpy, but we shall soldier on.

Revised-Observation on Wechat Marketing: The Next Monopoly of the Chinese Advertising Market

Observation on Wechat Marketing:

The Next Monopoly of the Chinese Advertising Market

 

Yutai Han

Midterm Project for JOUR469

Professor Kahn

Oct/08/2017

 

It’s amazing how much information an app can tell us about Chinese culture. Wechat, a social networking app developed by Tencent and first unveiled in 2011, is arguably, one of the most well known social media products in China. A TV commercial articulates the idea of Wechat as the only app you’ll need over the course of a typical day in your life: wake up and check up on the social feed, use Wechat Pay to buy breakfast, read articles published on Wechat channels (where ads will show up in the form of video commercials, banners, and integrated promotions), work on Wechat while texting friends simultaneously, shop and pay with Wechat, play games with friends on Wechat, etc.

This is the modern Chinese life—a life fully realized online, and integrated seamlessly with the virtual structure of mobile social networking. In this dimension created by Wechat, the user’s attention is attracted by new ways of integrated social advertising. Ads are placed using precise algorithms of user metadata so that the ad fits the needs of the user. Would it be the case that, because WeChat and Facebook are inherently social networking platforms that generate profit from their user data, and Facebook makes as much as six times profit from advertising than Tencent does through WeChat, does Wechat have the potential to outrun Baidu and Alibaba, and become the most powerful unicorn in the Chinese ad market?

One argument for that speculation is that Wechat has an enormous user base. With close to a billion monthly active users spending an average of 66 minutes everyday on the mobile App, Wechat has taken over both the work and social scene, replacing traditional communication methods such as email and messaging service in China. Tencent, its parent company, along with Baidu and Alibaba, together occupy over 60 percent of the total domestic advertising market in China, and are forecast to attract 15.5 percent of the global market in 2017, becoming the world’s second largest market of its kind. Looking at Tencent specifically, its online advertising revenue increased 55 percent to roughly 10 billion yuan for the second quarter of 2017, while social advertising, which derives mainly from WeChat, grew by 61 percent to about 6 billion Yuan. Online advertising accounts for 18 percent of Tencent’s total revenue. In comparison, Facebook has two billion monthly active users, and a profit of $9 billion. About 98 percent of Facebook’s total revenue comes from advertising, according to Facebook’s earnings report in the same quarter. It’s fair to say, then, that Tencent still has potential for market growth in social advertising. Tencent’s main source of revenue now comes from add-on services from video and mobile games, making 65 percent of its total revenue, which is not a surprising fact because one will see that a mobile game in the style of League of Legends, has gained popularity among the youth like a tropical storm. It was so popular that the official newspaper, People’s Daily, criticized it for bewitching the youth and called for formal regulation.

 

 

One can think of Tencent as a behemoth of products: Tencent videos is Netflix; WeChat is Facebook plus a prevalent and advanced mobile payment system, and there’s Tencent games; VR/AR firm acquisitions, etc. However, despite numerous branches of organizations, WeChat is arguably the most important for Tencent. According to a behavioral study conducted by a Tencent think tank, 92 percent of the interviewees choose to pay with their phone. Convenience stores, e-commerce websites and restaurants are the primary scenes for mobile payments. Artificial Intelligence comes in to play to dig out the valuable data for more precise targeting. On the other hand, because Wechat is a behemoth of products, user tend to rely heavily on them for their daily activities. The users expect a reliable experience when they are using Wechat, to the extent that even a minor bug of the social feed could cause everyone to panic. To add to that panic is when there are too many ads appearing on the user’s screen. This is perhaps why people think that WeChat has been unusually prudent in its advertising placement: too many ads appearing on a user’s social media feed could degrade a user’s experience. Wechat is only allowing one advertisement per day to appear on a user’s social feed. Facebook’s Instagram, has so many ads that I would lost count on the amount I see when scrolling down the screen. In addition, Instagram is rolling out methods that would me harder to discern whether the post is an advertisement recently. The ads on Instagram appear to be less professionally produced, and resembles the form of a totally innocent product you would see on your friend’s feed. However, on Wechat, one can easily spot the difference between the ad and other posts. But sometimes because it’s professionally tailored to attract attention, the audience might just click on it to see what happens. A friend could comment under the ad, or even talk to the company. This is part of an effort to establish the image of the brand.

(image source: https://blog.tacticrealtime.com/how-to-advertise-to-chinese-tourists)

The next reason is Wechat’s self-claimed efficiency of targeting consumers through use of data generated from Tencent’s other popular lines of internet products, such as Wechat Pay. One illuminative case happened recently when Wechat targets Chinese tourists traveling to foreign countries. According to the U.S. Travel Agency, Chinese residents took three million trips to the U.S. and spend $7,200 per trip, more than those of any other country. Travel exports to China were values at $35 billion, or 1.8 percent of U.S. GDP. $11 billion is related to education spending.

According to the South China Morning Post, Grace Yin, director of WeChat Pay’s international operations, told the Rise technology conference, “We will first make WeChat Pay available for Chinese customers when they travel outside [China],” Yin said. “We want Chinese customers to enjoy the same services when they go abroad, so the surge in outbound travelers will be the first market WeChat Pay targets.”

The National Holiday in China has just ended. According to an official report, the U.S. ranked number sixth in countries that have the most transaction using WeChat Pay. The marketing plan for WeChat looks like something like this: before a tourist even board the plane, WeChat can employ data to recognize that the user has searched for plane tickets inside WeChat and place ads by American brands to develop potential customer relationship. Partnering with Citcon, WeChat has also been promoting and installing mobile payment methods in the U.S. and starting in December, two of the Luxe Hotels in Los Angeles will be accepting payments via WeChat and Alipay, according to the LA Times.

“For the first time, we are making it possible for US brands to directly reach this audience through sophisticated targeting,” Poshu Yeung, the company’s vice-president of international business, said in a statement.

(image source: ChinaTechInsights.com)

What does he mean by “sophisticated targeting”? During its panel Advertising Week 2017, Steven Chang, Vice President of Tencent, introduced the “ONE Tencent” marketing philosophy, in which the key marketing insight is Tencent’s integration of its services through bid data computation, AI, and cashless payment to help clients develop their brand.

“Collectively, Tencent’s products form a ‘connector’ which is not just changing the way people live and think, but redefining the way brand communicates with consumers, ” said Chang.

Here, WeChat functions as the bridge between the virtual experience at the core of advertising and the specific advertising appearing in a user’s social media feed. WeChat is able to target different subgroups of users, using complicated algorithms that take into account a user’s marital status, age group, and even the cellphone model that the user owns. Furthermore, the algorithm computes the influence factor between a possible consumer and their friends on WeChat and places the ad based on the possibility of clicking an ad, which in turn maximizes ROI (Return On Investment, a measurement of the efficiency of advertising budget).

This is very similar to Facebook’s method of mining user data from “likes” on brand pages and posts. However, the fundamental difference is that WeChat was conceived for a consistently user-friendly mobile experience, and therefore has less ad space compared with that of Facebook. The advantage of this mobile-first design is that Tencent can successfully gain tons of users’ data generated by their Wechat payment records. And because Wechat Pay is actually convenient and anyone with a smartphone could learn it in matter of a few seconds, it grows loyal customers that uses Wechat Pay on a daily basis. The data will then be used for ad targeting purposes, of course, which some may consider to be ethically problematic. But what if targeting methods can serve a good purpose to society? Isn’t it the case that technology companies start with the intention to serve to some kind of common need? Then, what might the purpose be?

Adam Smith provides an important vision. “The great secret of education is to direct vanity to proper objects,” wrote Adam Smith in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. In this sense, if used properly, sophisticated marketing methods could direct human vanity toward higher ideals in a consumerist culture. One possible way that would make big companies such as Tencent and Facebook look less evil is the understanding that it’s the appetite of the consumer that they’re merely serving. Advertising producers would often borrow elements from popular culture for inspiration, because popular culture is an indication of what most people would turn to after a day’s work. Thus, the cycle of appetite and advertising is reflexive. Advertising is based on appetite, but the appetite is constructed by advertising in the first place and reinforced by unobtrusive and tailored advertisement.

We are seeing clever marketing examples on WeChat, such as Jo Malone London, which resulted in a 35 percent higher click rate and more than five times Return over Investment (ROI). The idea of the influencer is that people want to follow the hip. The fashion trend will be crafted by some carefully crafted identity, perfect in every way on social media. Instagram adopts more or less the same method to promote consumption. Now, through the use of data and influencers, the Jo Malone Valentine campaign did two things. First, it’s able to target loyal customers to buy a more expensive fragrance box sets because it’s Valentine’s Day. Second, people who are likely interested will be directed to a basic unit of fragrance when they click on the link. The ad itself feels romantic and good to look at, especially if one has a date. Thus, the customer will first be lured to click on the link, and then they will check out the product, and read reviews. If an influencer endorses the product and gives it a good review, the customer will more likely to buy the product.

(source: https://ad.weixin.qq.com/case)

To sum up, WeChat has a strong potential to become the next monopoly of digital advertising in China, and further drawing the global advertising spending into China, as more tourists and the Westernized youngsters prove themselves to be the bread and butter of luxury consumption. What’s more, as China’s economy gradually shifts from industrial production and cheap labor, it will need another backbone to rely on, and that backbone will be the domestic consumers. As a result of this shift in national economic direction, more research money will be funded in search of better advertising returns and marketing methods. As a behemoth of products all serving the purpose of social networking, Tencent already has a foot forward in data-gathering and a golden weapon to use.

Observation on Wechat Marketing: The Next Monopoly of the Chinese Advertising Market

Observation on Wechat Marketing:

The Next Monopoly of the Chinese Advertising Market

 

Yutai Han

Midterm Project for JOUR469

Professor Kahn

Oct/08/2017

 

It’s amazing how much information an app can tell us about Chinese culture. Wechat, a social networking app developed by Tencent and first unveiled in 2011, is arguably, one of the most well known social media products in China. A TV commercial articulates the idea of Wechat as the only app you’ll need over the course of a typical day in your life: wake up and check up on the social feed, use Wechat Pay to buy breakfast, read articles published on Wechat channels (where ads will show up in the form of video commercials, banners, and integrated promotions), work on Wechat while texting friends simultaneously, shop and pay with Wechat, play games with friends on Wechat, etc.

This is the modern Chinese life—a life fully realized online, and integrated seamlessly with the virtual structure of mobile social networking. In this dimension created by Wechat, the user’s attention is attracted by new ways of integrated social advertising. Ads are placed using precise algorithms of user metadata so that the ad fits the needs of the user. Would it be the case that, because WeChat and Facebook are inherently social networking platforms that generate profit from their user data, and Facebook makes as much as six times profit from advertising than Tencent does through WeChat, does Wechat have the potential to outrun Baidu and Alibaba, and become the most powerful unicorn in the Chinese ad market?

One argument for that speculation is that Wechat has an enormous user base. With close to a billion monthly active users spending an average of 66 minutes everyday on the mobile App, Wechat has taken over both the work and social scene, replacing traditional communication methods such as email and messaging service in China. Tencent, its parent company, along with Baidu and Alibaba, together occupy over 60 percent of the total domestic advertising market in China, and are forecast to attract 15.5 percent of the global market in 2017, becoming the world’s second largest market of its kind. Looking at Tencent specifically, its online advertising revenue increased 55 percent to roughly 10 billion yuan for the second quarter of 2017, while social advertising, which derives mainly from WeChat, grew by 61 percent to about 6 billion Yuan. Online advertising accounts for 18 percent of Tencent’s total revenue. In comparison, Facebook has two billion monthly active users, and a profit of $9 billion. About 98 percent of Facebook’s total revenue comes from advertising, according to Facebook’s earnings report in the same quarter. It’s fair to say, then, that Tencent still has potential for market growth in social advertising. Tencent’s main source of revenue now comes from add-on services from video and mobile games, making 65 percent of its total revenue, which is not a surprising fact because one will see that a mobile game in the style of League of Legends, has gained popularity among the youth like a tropical storm. It was so popular that the official newspaper, People’s Daily, criticized it for bewitching the youth and called for formal regulation.

 

 

One can think of Tencent as a behemoth of products: Tencent videos is Netflix; WeChat is Facebook plus a prevalent and advanced mobile payment system, and there’s Tencent games; VR/AR firm acquisitions, etc. However, despite numerous branches of organizations, WeChat is arguably the most important for Tencent. According to a behavioral study conducted by a Tencent think tank, 92 percent of the interviewees choose to pay with their phone. Convenience stores, e-commerce websites and restaurants are the primary scenes for mobile payments. Artificial Intelligence comes in to play to dig out the valuable data for more precise targeting. On the other hand, because Wechat is a behemoth of products, user tend to rely heavily on them for their daily activities. The users expect a reliable experience when they are using Wechat, to the extent that even a minor bug of the social feed could cause everyone to panic. To add to that panic is when there are too many ads appearing on the user’s screen. This is perhaps why people think that WeChat has been unusually prudent in its advertising placement: too many ads appearing on a user’s social media feed could degrade a user’s experience. Wechat is only allowing one advertisement per day to appear on a user’s social feed. Facebook’s Instagram, has so many ads that I would lost count on the amount I see when scrolling down the screen. In addition, Instagram is rolling out methods that would me harder to discern whether the post is an advertisement recently. The ads on Instagram appear to be less professionally produced, and resembles the form of a totally innocent product you would see on your friend’s feed. However, on Wechat, one can easily spot the difference between the ad and other posts. But sometimes because it’s professionally tailored to attract attention, the audience might just click on it to see what happens. A friend could comment under the ad, or even talk to the company. This is part of an effort to establish the image of the brand.

(image source: https://blog.tacticrealtime.com/how-to-advertise-to-chinese-tourists)

The next reason is Wechat’s self-claimed efficiency of targeting consumers through use of data generated from Tencent’s other popular lines of internet products, such as Wechat Pay. One illuminative case happened recently when Wechat targets Chinese tourists traveling to foreign countries. According to the U.S. Travel Agency, Chinese residents took three million trips to the U.S. and spend $7,200 per trip, more than those of any other country. Travel exports to China were values at $35 billion, or 1.8 percent of U.S. GDP. $11 billion is related to education spending.

According to the South China Morning Post, Grace Yin, director of WeChat Pay’s international operations, told the Rise technology conference, “We will first make WeChat Pay available for Chinese customers when they travel outside [China],” Yin said. “We want Chinese customers to enjoy the same services when they go abroad, so the surge in outbound travelers will be the first market WeChat Pay targets.”

The National Holiday in China has just ended. According to an official report, the U.S. ranked number sixth in countries that have the most transaction using WeChat Pay. The marketing plan for WeChat looks like something like this: before a tourist even board the plane, WeChat can employ data to recognize that the user has searched for plane tickets inside WeChat and place ads by American brands to develop potential customer relationship. Partnering with Citcon, WeChat has also been promoting and installing mobile payment methods in the U.S. and starting in December, two of the Luxe Hotels in Los Angeles will be accepting payments via WeChat and Alipay, according to the LA Times.

“For the first time, we are making it possible for US brands to directly reach this audience through sophisticated targeting,” Poshu Yeung, the company’s vice-president of international business, said in a statement.

(image source: ChinaTechInsights.com)

What does he mean by “sophisticated targeting”? During its panel Advertising Week 2017, Steven Chang, Vice President of Tencent, introduced the “ONE Tencent” marketing philosophy, in which the key marketing insight is Tencent’s integration of its services through bid data computation, AI, and cashless payment to help clients develop their brand.

“Collectively, Tencent’s products form a ‘connector’ which is not just changing the way people live and think, but redefining the way brand communicates with consumers, ” said Chang.

Here, WeChat functions as the bridge between the virtual experience at the core of advertising and the specific advertising appearing in a user’s social media feed. WeChat is able to target different subgroups of users, using complicated algorithms that take into account a user’s marital status, age group, and even the cellphone model that the user owns. Furthermore, the algorithm computes the influence factor between a possible consumer and their friends on WeChat and places the ad based on the possibility of clicking an ad, which in turn maximizes ROI (Return On Investment, a measurement of the efficiency of advertising budget).

This is very similar to Facebook’s method of mining user data from “likes” on brand pages and posts. However, the fundamental difference is that WeChat was conceived for a consistently user-friendly mobile experience, and therefore has less ad space compared with that of Facebook. The advantage of this mobile-first design is that Tencent can successfully gain tons of users’ data generated by their Wechat payment records. And because Wechat Pay is actually convenient and anyone with a smartphone could learn it in matter of a few seconds, it grows loyal customers that uses Wechat Pay on a daily basis. The data will then be used for ad targeting purposes, of course, which some may consider to be ethically problematic. But what if targeting methods can serve a good purpose to society? Isn’t it the case that technology companies start with the intention to serve to some kind of common need? Then, what might the purpose be?

Adam Smith provides an important vision. “The great secret of education is to direct vanity to proper objects,” wrote Adam Smith in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. In this sense, if used properly, sophisticated marketing methods could direct human vanity toward higher ideals in a consumerist culture. One possible way that would make big companies such as Tencent and Facebook look less evil is the understanding that it’s the appetite of the consumer that they’re merely serving. Advertising producers would often borrow elements from popular culture for inspiration, because popular culture is an indication of what most people would turn to after a day’s work. Thus, the cycle of appetite and advertising is reflexive. Advertising is based on appetite, but the appetite is constructed by advertising in the first place and reinforced by unobtrusive and tailored advertisement.

We are seeing clever marketing examples on WeChat, such as Jo Malone London, which resulted in a 35 percent higher click rate and more than five times Return over Investment (ROI). The idea of the influencer is that people want to follow the hip. The fashion trend will be crafted by some carefully crafted identity, perfect in every way on social media. Instagram adopts more or less the same method to promote consumption. Now, through the use of data and influencers, the Jo Malone Valentine campaign did two things. First, it’s able to target loyal customers to buy a more expensive fragrance box sets because it’s Valentine’s Day. Second, people who are likely interested will be directed to a basic unit of fragrance when they click on the link. The ad itself feels romantic and good to look at, especially if one has a date. Thus, the customer will first be lured to click on the link, and then they will check out the product, and read reviews. If an influencer endorses the product and gives it a good review, the customer will more likely to buy the product.

(source: https://ad.weixin.qq.com/case)

To sum up, WeChat has a strong potential to become the next monopoly of digital advertising in China, and further drawing the global advertising spending into China, as more tourists and the Westernized youngsters prove themselves to be the bread and butter of luxury consumption. What’s more, as China’s economy gradually shifts from industrial production and cheap labor, it will need another backbone to rely on, and that backbone will be the domestic consumers. As a result of this shift in national economic direction, more research money will be funded in search of better advertising returns and marketing methods. As a behemoth of products all serving the purpose of social networking, Tencent already has a foot forward in data-gathering and a golden weapon to use.

The Case of the Fed

The Case of the Fed

The U.S. Federal Reserve is set to announce a multi-year plan tomorrow to shrink its balance sheet of $4.5-trillion of assets, which are amassed from series of Quantitative Easing following the 2008 financial crisis. The process will start gradually, depending on housing arrangement and refinance, according to The Economist.

In the latest issue of The Economist, an article titled “Dangerously Vacant” suggests that Trump should reappoint Janet Yellen to be the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Yellen’s term as Chair will end in February, which means that four of the 12 seats of the FOMC, the Fed’s committee that sets interest rates, will be vacant. The article argued for the reappointment of Yellen because it would provide efficiency for future directions and make the vacant posts easier to fill. The Fed’s future tasks will be tricky, according to the article. The Fed will focus on reversing the effects of quantitative easing and to solve the puzzle of why low unemployment has not juiced up inflation.

 

In the classic Keynesian structure of macroeconomics, monetary policy is the wheel that pushes the economy forward in times of recession. In a Global economy, Keynesian policies seem problematic. The Fed’s policy will send a signal to Central Banks worldwide, leading to simultaneous shrinking.

 

What exactly does this new cycle mean to the Global Economy? To understand this, we must start by looking into the effects of QE. One hypothesis is that QE can bring down long term interest rates, and thus increasing investment. But skeptics argue that it’s a game of managing trader’s expectations for short-term rates and the extension of which produces money, i.e, money producing money. If this scenario is true, then there will be no guarantee of a bright economical future due to the fact that what moves money around is not products but blind optimism. Claudio Borio, an economist in Bank of International Settlements, said on Financial Times that bonds and equity prices are beyond their fundamental values, and thus they could struggle to repay when rates rise. Moreover, amid this huge bubble of pure guesswork and hyperbole of values, companies are less likely to increase investment because of a small margin of error. Thus, Central Banks will have to decide to get rid of QEs, and the time for the Fed is now.

Exactly what is “faith in the economy” triggers my curiosity. It seems that the economy right now is “the blind led by the blind”—no one knows what’s going on so why not just follow the trend. The cause is that all previous economic models have failed to articulate an efficient model for a global economy, perhaps it’s because no central banks want their respective countries to give way to other country. We don’t even know what does a global economy mean, because there are too many secret deals between different forces and there seem to be no higher authority to regulate people’s greed when one can simply refuse to acknowledge one’s greed and irrationality. The mentality is that in the modern Capitalist society, for one to be successful, one must possess a certain kind of “animal spirit” that can transcend our mortality and justify our dimmed past. This explains why sales of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged increased dramatically during 2009, once climbing to the top of Amazon’s fiction bestsellers in April, 2009. Alan Greenspan admired the book and even defended the book as “celebration of life and happiness”; popular TV shows such as Mad Men also has significant resemblances to Randian ideals. However, despite its seemingly irresistible attractiveness among all social classes, Randian ideals is never successful when applied to monetary policies. Maybe it’s useful in a modern individualist society for one to build an indifferent and strong attitude to “create”, but I would argue against it. If one recalls the classical Greek way of thinking, it would be easy to dissolve the doubt. Aristotle put it nicely in Politics, “as man is the best animals when perfected, so he is the worst when separated from law and justice. For injustice is most dangerous when it is armed; and man, armed by nature with good sense and virtue, may use them for entirely opposite ends. Therefore, when he is without virtue, man is the most unscrupulous and savage of the animals.”

 

More on the issue: http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/USA-FED/010050VD1YM/index.html, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/11/who-responsible-us-shutdown-2008-meltdown-slavoj-zizek, https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL08C0992430469B34, https://youtu.be/9FrHGAd_yto?list=PL023BCE5134243987&t=759

 

U.S. GDP Grew 3%, Fastest Growth since 2012

The U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday that the U.S. economy had expanded by 3% in the second quarter (April-June) of the year. It’s not only better than the previous estimate, 2.6%, but also a substantial boost from the first quarter’s 1.2%.

 

“The acceleration in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected upturns in private inventory investment and federal government spending and an acceleration in PCE that were partly offset by downturns in residential fixed investment and state and local government spending and a deceleration in exports,” according to the report. To sum up, consumer spending is basically the backbone of the second quarter GDP growth.

President Trump commented on the growth that he thinks the economy will “go much higher than 3 percent.” Economists and the media, however, are not too optimistic about future growth. In an analysis, the New York Times straight-out called it a “Sisyphean challenge”:

“There are several reasons that his goal is probably far-fetched, namely the country’s aging work force and slower population growth than in the past. Combine that with low productivity growth, and hitting Mr. Trump’s target begins to look like a Sisyphean challenge.”

The impact of Hurricane Harvey is minor, according to a CNBC analysis.

President Trump said on Wednesday, “on a yearly basis, as you know, the last administration during an eight-year period never hit 3%. So we’re really on our way.”

However, he is incorrectly comparing a quarterly growth to an annual growth. In this handy chart by Fortune, we can see clearly that quarterly growth during Obama exceeded 3% eight times.