Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Andrew Dougherty

Capital Research is a conglomerate of investment firms that manages assets for institutions around the world. This includes corporations, governments, retirement plans and nonprofit organizations such as endowments and foundations. The Capital Research organization has earned its success from making every decision with the investor in mind. Andrew Dougherty is a China Affairs specialist for the Capital Research firm. One of the most interesting careers I have ever heard of. Andrew's job is to inform investors of China’s political and economic environments. Gaining this understanding is performed by going out to the Chinese people and learning different aspects of industry through a plethora of meetings and site explorations. Once complete, Andrew writes evaluations and generates presentations on which he delivers to the Capital Research group's corporate office and other analysts whom are in demand of this information. Andrew is a huge asset for the Capital Research Corporation as company employees and other investors use his information to make big decisions such as investing millions of dollars in a firm. Furthermore, Andrew is a highly educated well rounded individual whom earned a masters from Cambridge University in London and speaks both Chinese and Russian fluently. I aspire to be more like him in many respects and will keep in touch with Andrew for future advice.

On behalf of Term in Asia 2010, we all wish Andrew Dougherty the best of luck on his future endeavors with the Capital Research corporation!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Olympic Memories

I decided to go to the complex that hosted the 2008 Olympics and see the various complexes that were used for the recent summer games.The architecture of the Beijing National Stadium was quite unique.The nickname of the Beijing National Stadium is the Bird's Nest because of it's outward appearance.There was not a sporting event occurring when I visited so I had the oppportunity to go inside.Some of the structures,banners,and decorations used for the Olympics were still up.I asked an employee at the Bird's Nest if the stadium has seen alot of events since the Olympics and he said that the Bird's Nest has barely gotten any use since the games.The Bird's Nest cost about US $423 million to construct so it's hard to believe that it has not been getting alot of use.After the Bird's Nest I was able to go see The Beijing National Aquatics Center,also known as the National Aquatics Center,and nicknamed the Water Cube.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ninh Binh Vietnam

On the16th July, after a very long and bumpy
bus ride we were arrived in The Ninh Binh Province, south from Hanoi and we took a
boat trip to visit The Tam Coc caves and a small Vietnamese fisherman’s village.
The limestone caves were very impressive and these are also known as “inland Halong Bay”. During our visit to the village we spend some time with the local people they were amazed by our appearances! They have never been out of town, so it was a special experience for both the people from the fisherman’s village as for us! After this we visited temples of Dinh & Le Dynasties, there we met fallow Dutch people, which was very interesting. The Netherlands is everywhere even though it is one of the smallest countries in the World ☺

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On our free day in Ho Chi Minh City, we went to a German bakery to have a coffee. Schneider’s finest is a really nice bakery and opened one year ago. We were very lucky to talk to the owner of Schneider`s finest and interviewed him about challenges and opportunities in the Asian market. The owner Hartmuth Langer came to Vietnam in 1968 to work for the American Express military bank. During that time he met his wife and traveled for the bank around Asia and Europe.

With 25 years work experience in Asia and four other investors, two Americans and a German couple, he started to open a German bakery. Starting the bakery was only possible because of the cultural know-how and Ms Langer, who was born and raised in Vietnam. According to Mr. Langer, finding a local reliable Vietnamese business partner is like winning the lottery. The investment for equipment was around 400.000 Euro which is a high amount to invest into a communist country with no predictability of legal decisions and political stability. Nevertheless, they build their production hall in Binh Duong, Vietnam and employed one German master baker and four local assistants. The owner told us that he had 50 German applicants for the position of the master baker, which is quite a lot. For the German bread they produce, they buy the brown-bread mixes from a German company, Abel and Schäfer. They also work as a wholesaler for Abel and Schäfer in South Vietnam and sell the mixes to restaurants and hotels. However the import is complicated and expensive due to the different taxation on different mixes.

Nevertheless, it is worth it because the local people like the taste of dark bread, which is 5 times more expensive as the normal white toast and healthier.

We wish Schneider’s finest all the best and thank Mr. Langer for all his valuable advice.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tonle Sap Lake

On the free day in Siem Reap, we visited the Tonle Sap Lake and the floating village, which is a
remarkable social site. In order to get to the city it is necessary to rent a boat and a guide for a
fee of 20.00$ per person. The 20$ are used by the government to maintain the canal and to increase its diameter in order to prevent boat-traffic jams. Since the government made the canal bigger the number of boats increased from 10 boats to over 200 boats for tourist. During the rainy season, there are more than 500 tourists coming to swim and to visit the floating village.

This is a very important site and gives a lot of Cambodians jobs. Additionally it is important for the village people.
The local school, where the children of the village people learn English for free, is funded by the tourists. They are also depended on the book donations the tourist can make.

Nevertheless the students have to swim to school and the classrooms are very crowded.

On the lake live 5000 residents. There are two different communities. On the one side live 3000 Vietnamese and on the other side 2000 Cambodians, but they live friendly together. The reason why these people live on the water is that the properties on land are too expensive for them and they don’t have to pay taxes on water.

The people on the lake make their living of tourism and fishing.

Visiting the floating village was a valuable experience and lets you appreciate what you have and where you come from.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Buddhist Temple in Penang

We are the World!

Islamic Banking

While we were visiting our fellow Northwood University at INTI college we had a session on Islamic Banking held by Faizal Abdul Rahim. He started out by telling us the history of Standard Chartered bank which started in 1875 and is the oldest bank in Malaysia. It was the first bank to offer Islamic products which they started doing in 1993. Islamic Banking refers to a system of banking which is consistent with Islamic law and guided by Islamic economies. Basically what Islamic banking is is banking with "no interest". I say that in quotations because one might view the system as interest but in the eyes of Islamic rules and regulations it is not interest. Faizal explained to us the differences between Hala (Permissible) and Haram (Prohibited). Prohibited are things like gambling, interest, drugs, and so on.

Many questions were asked during our session. One he answered before we could ask it was if you have no interest how to do make money? They don't have interest but once you put your money into the bank your money is then invested for you into another company that would for example be taking out a no interest loan. Both sides would agree on a percentage rate of return with the bank and then the money coming back to the "saver" would be a percentage of a percentage of the rate of return from the "loaner." It is a very interesting process that makes you think in a business mind while also dealing with the aspect of a bank. Many questions came about when Fazial told us that under Islamic law you may no borrow money with no interest. One might ask well then how do you facilitate a loan and still being beneficial to the banker? The process that he explained was lengthily but under Islamic law was permitted. The banker will buy a commodity for the "loaner," the example given was steel. The bank buys the steel at $10,000 and sells it to the "loaner" for $15,000 but the "loaner" needs to pay for the steel somehow so the bank sells the steel on behalf of the "loaner" and then the "loaner" gets the money and the bank makes a profit off of the sale of the steel to the loaner and the second time to the buyer of the "loaner's" steel. All in all the process was very confusing to a non Islamic person that doesn't have to follow rules and guidelines when it comes to banking and loans but it is a process that helps many Islamic people follow what they believe in while still being able to use a bank to keep there money safe.

Top: Northwood Students at INTI college, Malaysia
Right: Faizal Abdul Rahim (center)