We spotted him towards the back of the large event space, as always looming large just outside of the spotlight. We were attending the inaugural New Orleans Food and Funk Fest which his company was organizing in Seattle featuring chefs and musicians from New Orleans. Although we had never met him, his life had impacted ours, and countless others, in a myriad of ways, from the technology he pioneered as a young man, to his real estate endeavors that transformed the city we live in, to his research in cutting edge areas of science, to his efforts to save elephants, to his promotion of the arts, including this very festival we were attending. Years before, when our father-in-law worked for him as a janitor, he flew our father-in-law on his private plane to Portland to watch a Trail Blazers game. This night he stood quietly next to another man, perhaps a friend or bodyguard. As this most private of men saw us walking towards him, we could see a look of discomfort creep onto his face. But when we merely thanked him for organizing this festival because of our love of New Orleans, he smiled and relaxed. Both he and I expressed our admiration for the Crescent City and then we left him to his private thoughts, as we headed for alligator cheesecake and beignets. Perhaps our favorite marker of his life is the incredible diversity of friends and acquaintances lamenting his passing—musician Quincy Jones, cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, comedian and fellow New Orleanphile Harry Shearer, philosopher Marshawn Lynch, rock band Pearl Jam, hack politician Newt Gingrich and many others from a panoply of life–science, sports, music and more. And, although not a friend, we too lament. RIP Paul Allen, our favorite, and this is not meant as a joke, Seattle billionaire. It’s this week’s International Need to Know, All Along Paul Allen’s Watchtower as we gaze upon and comment on our complicated world.
We are again on the road next week. INTN is back with scary world stories on Halloween
Without further ado, here’s what you need to know.
Asia’s Most Trade Dependent Country Meets U.S.-China
As China and the U.S. continue a battle of the economic bulges, which countries may benefit? Vietnam, the most trade dependent country in Asia, as measured by exports as a percentage of GDP, is an excellent candidate. Over the last decade, Vietnam’s exports have quadrupled to well over $200 billion. According to Natixix, “Out of Vietnam’s top ten export items, eight are included in higher U.S. tariffs for China, which means that Vietnam has become a relatively more competitive location for those items via tariff arbitrage in addition to labor cost differential.” Even before the tariff war, some assembly was being moved to Vietnam because of rising labor costs in China. And, Vietnam is the fourth-largest recipient of foreign direct investment in all of Asia, behind only China, Singapore and India. Vietnam, unlike China, is seeing a decrease in the number of state-owned-enterprises (25 percent decrease since 2011), and does not have as much debt as China. Vietnam still has a rigid governance structure and perhaps someday Trump will aim his trade bazookas at this southeast nation, but for now, keep an eye on Vietnam as the U.S. and China continue to do economic battle.
Who is Winning the World Popularity Contest?
China is likely to grow in influence over the coming years, despite whatever policies are pursued by the current U.S. Administration and despite any dark roads down which President Xi may lead his country. China’s growing influence will be one of the most important factors affecting world affairs in the coming decades. Unless China moves away from authoritarianism and censorship, it won’t be an entirely benign influence. As it turns out, we are not alone in such worries. Whatever concerns people have about the United States and its current leadership (concerns we also share), there is still a clear preference over China. According to a recent Pew Global survey, “a median of 63% across the nations surveyed say having the U.S. as the world’s leading power would be better for the world. In contrast, just 19% say a world in which China was the leading power would be better.” This preference is even higher in Asia, where more than 70 percent of most countries’ residents prefer U.S. leadership to China’s. The only countries in the survey to prefer China to the U.S.? Argentina, Tunisia, and yes, of course, Russia.
Who is Getting Cyber-attacked the Most?
The last few years you may have seen a lot more news about cyberattacks—unless you’re one of the victims in which case maybe you can’t access the Internet…which I suppose means you aren’t reading this. But, which countries are victims of the most targeted attacks? The cyber security company Symantec provides some answers, including what we mean by “targeted attacks”: “an attack directed at a specific target or targets as opposed to widescale indiscriminate campaigns.” Unsurprisingly, the U.S. tops the list of countries suffering targeted attacks. But surprisingly, at least to us, India comes in second. Japan, Taiwan and Ukraine round out the top five. For malware, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand top the list. South Africa has the highest phishing rate, Saudi Arabia the highest spam rate and Ukraine, China and Indonesia suffer the highest rates of mobile malware. The whole report is worth perusing as cyberattacks are increasingly the medium of nation-state battles.