Politicians, economists and Mao’s Great Sparrow Campaign

maozedongThe Great Sparrow Campaign is a grotesque episode of the China’s Great Leap Forward campaign. It explains, in part, the Great Chinese Famine, in the late fifties and early sixties of the last century.

The Great Sparrow Campaign is responsible for many millions of deaths and was driven by immediate economic goals.

Surely the biggest responsible, the man behind the campaign, the ultimate mastermind of this grotesque episode, was Mao Zedong (1893-1976), the powerful leader of the communist revolution. The Great Leap Forward hasn’t been inspired by the economists of the regime, or by the inner workings of some specific economic school. It was mostly a political campaign. But it has an economic background, and a lack of economic sense that should be stressed.

But what was exactly the Great Sparrow Campaign?

The campaign was designed to kill billions of sparrows – literally. And it attained it. The reasoning behind it was very simple: sparrows eat grains; they are a cause of food scarcity, then should be killed.

Chinese citizens were mobilized to kill the birds. They were invited to scare them, by banging pots and pans or by beating drums. Sparrows were forced to fly until they fell from exhaustion. Their nests were torn down, nestlings were killed. Rewards and recognition were offered to kids and schools, and to worker organizations and government agencies in accordance with the number of birds they had killed.

When two years later the Chinese politicians realized that sparrows also ate a huge amount of insects, and that with the killing of birds the rice and other agricultural production had decreased sharply, it was too late.

In a country largely cut off from the rest of the world, the sharp decrease in food production, associated with swarms of locusts and other insects, had a dramatic impact. The decimation of the birds, compounded by the ecological problems caused by deforestation and industrialization campaigns, or the misuse of pesticides, were at the heart of the great starvation crisis known as the Great Chinese Famine, and the death of dozens of millions of people.
This grotesque episode, and all the lack of sensitivity, awareness and perspective that it reveals, is masterly documented in a few books:

Tombstone, the great Chinese famine
Mao’s Great Famine

There is also a small YouTube video, documenting the episode: Great sparrow campaign 1957.

But however grotesque and foolish the Great Sparrow Campaign was, we should not forget that there are many other foolish episodes happening before our eyes, and that they will affect the future of our children in a much more powerful and irreversible way. Climate change is happening all around us, fueled by our insensibility and awareness. It’s not just our industry and agriculture, and our transportation sector, and the fossil fuels we burn in them. It’s also the consumption of energy in our homes and buildings: responsible for about 40% of CO2 emissions.

European employment & Solving the Greek crisis

greece Overcoming the Greek crisis (and the crisis in other south European countries) depends heavily on the economic growth and job creation in Europe as a whole. Without strong partners, able to provide financial support but also investment and commercial activity, Greece will be doomed in the long run.

Hence the question: Is the European economy getting it right?


That’s the answer of the unsuspected Ben S. Bernanke, the former chairman of the American Federal Reserve. The Euro zone is not delivering the broad-based economic growth that is needed to give depressed economies like Greece a reasonable rate of growth and employment.

And Mr. Bernanke illustrates it with the highly asymmetric outcomes among countries within the Euro area and its poor overall performance, illustrated by the figure below, showing the evolution of the unemployment rate since 2007 in the Eurozone and the U.S.

Unexployment Rates

More: Greece and Europe: Is Europe holding up its end of the bargain?

EURES: 1,852,639 job vacancies in Europe

europe jobsEuropean job seekers – especially those of countries with high levels of unemployment: Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy…. – have now an important tool to look for jobs all over Europe: the new EURES network.

The EURES is a co-operation network between the EU Commission and key job institutions and organizations in the member states (and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). Its ultimate goal: «to provide information, advice and job-matching»

EURES connects 958 EURES key advisers, in daily contact with job-seekers and companies across Europe.

The network is currently listing 1,852,639 job vacancies, 177,856 CVs, 4,502 employers.


German job creation formula

germany jobs Germany’s unemployment rate is now at 5% (2014 est.), down from 6.9% in 2010 and 8.6% in 2007.

What’s even more interesting is that German is the developed country with the highest manufacturing labor force: 24.6% of the population, compared to 20.7% in the USA.

And this raises a question:

Is there a German formula to maintain manufacturing jobs in Germany? Is there a German way of preventing manufacturing jobs from going to China, India or even to other European countries?

The brief answer is YES.

There is a number of key factors explaining why Germany is having much more success than the United States or other European countries in keeping jobs at home.

In very broad terms Germany is succeeding because of…

  • Its specialization in high-quality and innovative industrial products;
  • The keep-factories-at-home policy of many German family-owned companies;
  • State job-protection schemes in times of crisis.

All this within the framework of an export-oriented economic policy.

We will deal with these issues in future posts.

They have a significant impact on what’s happening in Europe (where other countries are not taking advantage of German investment and job creation; and it is interesting to compare the German way of creating and maintain jobs in German with the economics of job creation and destruction in the US, the UK or China.

Data: CIA Factbook

Getting out of the financial crisis: Greece vs. Ireland

Greece IrelandThis article’s main thesis: Ireland is a tax haven, with thousands of big corporations based in Dublin. And that explains much of its success in getting out of the crisis, while Greece is failing.

Ireland is still struggling with a huge fiscal burden, due to the 2007 bursting of a housing bubble and subsequent bank failures.

But Ireland’s GDP, exports and jobs are now growing. And the unemployment rate is decreasing (15.1% in 2012; 13.1% in 2013; 11.3% in 2004…)

It’s very different what’s happening in Greece, where the current unemployment rate remains around 26% (March 2015), and the GDP and exports are not increasing (recent events have worsened the problems, but the previous situation was already dramatic).

Obviously there are many reasons and explanations for such a disparate evolution.

But there is one that outstands from the rest, and is rarely mentioned. That reason involves the corporate taxes of the two countries and the role of the foreign companies in Ireland and Greece.

See what’s happening in Ireland: there are thousands of big international corporations based in the country. They have flocked to Ireland (before the crisis) to benefit from its especially low Corporate Tax (12.5%). And they are again flocking to Ireland, attracted by its low tax. And these foreign companies are creating jobs and exports.

Yes. Ireland is a tax haven, and that’s a great trump card to fight the crisis.

In a small country like Ireland, the presence of thousands of foreign companies is extremely important. It’s not so much the recent policy of the Irish government, or a significantly better economic structure relative to Greece.

Greece can be accused of profligacy, and bad management; and it has a very weak export sector. But above all Greece hasn’t attracted the thousands of big corporations that Ireland has. Greece has a high corporation tax (33% for big companies). And that makes all the difference.

Obviously, with the current situation and the future prospects, things would not change much if Greece also became a tax haven.

And would the other European countries allow it?

Of course not.

Ireland is an exception. Not all countries can be tax havens. Not all countries can implement a “beggar my neighbor” job policy. The Irish corporate tax has a long history, and only a small country like Ireland could have it (though there are a number of European countries increasingly close to the Irish fiscal policy, including the UK).

Can’t Greece print the Euros that it needs to avoid financial chaos in its banks?

greeceflagWhat if Greece print the Euros that it needs?

The common answer to this question is that Greece can’t do it. But that’s not so straightforward.

Greece can create euros under the cover of the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) program.  And the Bank of Greece, through the Mint of Greece (IETA), can print euro banknotes.

The IETA need to have authorization from the European Central Bank to print Euros, but if the situation becomes chaotic, to avoid more chaos, Greece politicians can be tempted to do it illegally (or to do it with some sort of agreement from the European politicians).

See also:
Billions of Millionaires: making everyone rich by printing money
Greece after the default: creating jobs and economic growth

What if Greece just printed the Euros it needs?
Bank of Greece, IETA

UK beggar my neighbor jobs policy

cameron jobs ukA beggar my neighbor policy is a policy by which one country attempts to solve an economic problem (high unemployment rate, for instance) by means that have a very negative impact in other countries (the employment in other neighboring countries).

And in a way that’s what’s happening today in the UK (it’s also happening in Ireland, Finland or Cyprus… but we are going to limit our analysis to the UK).

During the last few years, the UK – especially the London region – has created hundreds of thousands of jobs. And we may ask: What’s the formula (or a key part of it)?

Fiscal policy, or more exactly, the lowering of UK corporate tax (CT).

That tax was 28% when Mr. Cameron came to power – and the unemployment rate 2.7 million at the end of 2011. Now the unemployment is close to 1.86 million, according to the latest ONS figures – and the corporate tax is 20% – “the lowest CT rate of any of the G7 member states and the joint lowest rate in the G20” (1)

We can look into other few reasons to explain these figures, but the UK Corporation Tax is a key one. Big corporations are flocking to London and other UK cities, to profit from the low UK Corporation Tax. And this brings jobs and generates economic activity, which creates other jobs, growth and more activity in other sectors, and so on.

Compared to the corporate tax of France (33.3%), Italy (27.5%) or Germany (30%), the UK tax makes a big difference. And to paraphrase a Wall Street Journal article about Ireland, and applying it to the UK/EU situation, we may ask: “If the UK isn’t a tax haven, what is it?”

Or in other terms: the UK is using a beggar my neighbor fiscal policy with a strong impact on the European market job. With a corporate tax of 20% in the UK, there will not be many big corporations basing their businesses in other continental European countries. That’s the UK beggar my neighbor jobs policy.

But this poses another question – a provocative question following two premises and two suppositions:

  • 1st Premise: most of the foreign companies establishing bases in the UK are not limiting their activity to the UK; the UK is mostly a business-friendly place from which they conduct their transnational operations in many other European countries.
  • 2nd Premise: There will be in 2017 a referendum about the UK’s membership of the EU – a referendum that Mr. Cameron has enthusiastically supported for a long time.
  • 1st Supposition: a UK EU exit, following the referendum.
  • 2nd Supposition: the EU strikes back with restrictions to capital movements of UK-located companies (it is not expected trade barriers, but financial activities can be significantly affected).

And the question is: In such circumstances, what will happen to job creation, foreign investment and economic dynamics in London and other British cities?

Biotechnology, medical, pharmaceutical and health care job opportunities in Silicon Valley

silicon valleyThere are many job opportunities in the health care sector or in the biotech and pharmaceutical clusters of Silicon Valley.

Boston has become a fierce competitor of Silicon Valley in the biotech sector, but a large part of the world’s startups, labs and know-how is still in Silicon Valley. The San Francisco region remains in the world’s top, with thousands of pharmaceutical startups and companies looking for drug discovery.

Pharmaceutical giants continue to flock to Silicon Valley to set up research centers, and to benefit from the University labs and the know-how of dozens of thousands of professionals associated with biotechnology.

A large part of this activity is closely related to some local universities – Stanford; University of California; DeVry University; California State University – and key hospitals in the region.

If you are looking for jobs in Silicon Valley’s biotech startups and pharmaceutical companies, or for medical and nursing jobs, or for jobs related to these sectors, consider the institutions and companies listed below (and the links to their current job openings).

JobSearchJob opportunities in leading Universities

Stanford, the University of California, DeVry and the California State University are key world players in biotechnology. For careers in these Universities, see:
Stanford job openings
University of California careers
University of California San Diego
University of California Ervine
University of California Davis
University of California Los Angeles
DeVry University
California State University
California State University Fullerton
California State University at San Marcos
California State Polytechnic University Pomona

Silicon Valley largest medical groups and job opportunities

California has about 440 hospitals.
Silicon Valley’s largest medical groups are big employers. Here are the largest ones:

Stanford Health Care (about 2,300 employers).
For jobs go to: Stanford Careers
The Permanente Medical Group (about 1,800)
For jobs go to: Permanente Careers
Palo Alto Medical Foundation   (about 1,300)
For jobs go to: Palo Alto Medical Careers
Physicians Medical Group of San Jose Inc. (about 900)
For jobs go to: PMG of San Jose Careers
Santa Clara County Individual Practice Association (about 800)
For jobs go to: Santa Clara Careers
Smaller Hospitals at the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose):
Kaiser Permanente (Careers)
El Camino Hospitals (Careers)
O’Connor Hospitals (Careers)

Main biotech companies in Silicon Valley: current job opportunities

There are thousands of startups and other biotech companies in the Silicon Valley region. Here a small list of the most important, and where you can look for current job openings:

Genentech Inc: Careers
Gilead Sciences: Careers
LabCorp: Careers
Life Technologies, Thermo-Fisher Scientific: Careers
Agilent Technologies: Careers
Pharmacyclics, of Sunnyvale: Careers

Other articles on job opportunities in U. S. biotech and medical clusters:

Fort Worth, Texas: Health Care and Medical job opportunities
San Diego technical jobs
Detroit Health Care and Medical opportunities

The number of jobs created by Apple

apple number of jobsApple is NOT a very large employer in the US.

Its workforce is estimated at about 100.000 people – a significant part of which is high-paid software engineers and other high-tech workers.

However, since these workers have very high salaries and consume a large part of them on local services, they end up being an important source of local job creation (the annual compensation of the average employee – including secretaries, janitors… – at software companies is above $200,000).

 It has been estimated that each high paid tech worker supports at least two jobs in local services – hair-stylists, waiters, cab drivers, nurses and doctors, therapists, carpenters, dog walkers, lawyers and so on. High-paid professionals spend a lot on housing, taxes and non-local services, but about half of their salaries is typically spent in local services (much more than what happens with other employees with lower salaries).

 In addition to this, Apple operation requires many local business services, from marketers and consultants to security guards and designers – which means more jobs in the local services sector.

Hence the paradox: indirectly, Apple is creating more service jobs in the US, than manufacturing jobs.

Obviously, Apple also creates millions of jobs in the manufacturing sector, but not in Cupertino, where Apple is headquartered, or in any other location in the U.S.

These other millions of jobs are created in Singapore and Taiwan where the electronic parts of the iPhones and iPads are manufactured, or in Shenzhen, China, where they are assembled.


Military and civilian job opportunities in Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville AlabamaIn Huntsville (the “Rocket City”), Alabama, 7 of every 100 jobs are in technology-related sectors – mostly in the aerospace and military technology.

Aerospace and military technology are the main economic drivers of regional growth and careers in Huntsville.


Anyway, where there is high tech jobs, there is also an even larger number of “unskilled” jobs: hairstylists, waiters, drivers and so on. And that’s what’s happening in Huntsville. The creation of a high number of military and civilian jobs in high tech sectors is indirectly creating thousands of jobs in the services sector.


Average salaries aren’t among the highest in the country, but the average rent is cheap – about $700 a month.


The main technological hubs in Huntsville are the US Army Redstone Arsenal, the CRP: Cummings Research Park (the second largest research park in the US), the Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA) – and, of course, the UAH – University of Alabama, in Huntsville.

About 60 Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters or some sort of operation in Huntsville.


According to a 2015 report from the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, the Redstone Arsenal is by far the largest employer in the region (about 31,500 people), followed by the NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (6,500), the Huntsville Hospital (6,340), the Huntsville City Schools (3,000), Boeing (2,600), the Madison County Schools (2,389), SAIC (2,277) and the City of Huntsville (2,206).


The U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal is the biggest employer in Huntsville: about 31.500 people.

And since there is a large number of companies and institutions with a close relationship with the Redstone Arsenal (Intergraph, Northrop Grumman, Wyle, Dynetic, Teledyne, Science and engineering services, PPG Aerospace and many other) the role of the US Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville as a job creator is far greater.

For careers in the US Army Redstone Arsenal (including civilian categories such as medical, dental and public health, psychologists, quality assurance, inspection, services, and so on) see this USAjobs government page,


There is an especially important Aviation & Aerospace cluster in Huntsville.

The biggest employers in this sector are NASA – Marshall Space Flight Center (6,500 jobs), Boeing (2,600), Northrop Grumman Corporation (1000+), PPG Aerospace (750) and Lockheed Martin Corporation (1000+)

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is one of the best places to work in the federal government; Marshall Center is regularly recruiting scientists, computer programmers, engineers, accountants, writers, maintenance workers and many other professionals in many varied disciplines. To search for them, go to the NASA Marshall Careers

Job openings in Boeing Huntsville vary from time to time, and you have to check back often. Just go to their Boeing careers Huntsville

Northrop Grumman Corporation
Products: aircraft, logistics, cyber-security…
For Northrop job opportunities see their careers page.

PPG Aerospace
PPG produces coatings, removers and cleaner for aircrafts. They are regularly recruiting. Go to the PPG careers page for job openings.

Lockheed Martin Corporation, Huntsville, Alabama
Lockheed is regularly recruiting graduate students and experienced professionals, in diverse areas. See the Lockheed Martin career page


NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is a great place to work in the federal government, as mentioned earlier, but the City of Huntsville is also a major employer. To search for their career opportunities, go to City of Huntsville job page.

And go also to the Madison County Commission job openings page.


The Huntsville Hospital (+6000 employers) is a major employer in the region. Go to their careers/openings page to search for open positions.

Other major employers in the region and their career pages:
Crestwood Medical Center (800+ employees)
Qualitest Pharmaceuticals (1300+)


University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH): workforce: about 1,700. Employment opportunities here
Huntsville City Schools (about 3,000): Employment opportunities
Madison City Schools (about  1000): Job Opportunities
Madison County Schools (about 2,400): Employment
Alabama A&M University (1,200): Search employment opportunities


Avocent (Emerson)
Avocent (data center design, centralized infrastructure, network monitoring, management tools) is present in Huntsville (and in 70 countries) and is regularly recruiting graduate  students and MBAs, as well as experienced professionals.
For careers in Avocent/Emerson group, go to their careers page here 

Telecommunications provider

Adtran develops and manufactures transmission products for high-speed digital communications used by corporations and telephone companies.

Packaging, distribution, retail and media development solutions.

Intergraph is a global provider of engineering and geospatial software.

Verizon Alabama
Wireless telecommunications.

Wyle is a provider of specialized engineering, professional, scientific and technical services to the federal government.

Dynetics offers a variety of services and solutions in the government and commercial space.
College, Professional and Military job opportunities

Technical services, manufactured products, engineered systems for marine, aviation, space, missile defense, energy, and environment companies.

Science and Engineering Services Inc.
Manufacturing, Integration, Training, and Maintenance Support for Aviation, Ground Systems and International Government Customers. Science & Engineering Services. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, but with sites in Huntsville, Alabama and Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Redstone Federal Credit Union
Banking, Insurance, Financial products and services

Recruiting areas: Engineering & Technology, Customer Care, Revenue & Marketing, In-Home Services & Installation, Content & Programming, Root Sports, DirecTV Latin America.
Careers page