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it hard to know if they have got their points across. For their part, ChiOn the face of it, that benefits everyone. Chinese students pay nese students are often scornful of discussions that they regard as little handsomely at least 15,000 ($24,000) for a one-year MBA, or 8,more than "playing". Coming from a highly competitive system themannually for a three-year undergraduate course. That helps fill the universelves, they often find the British system of assessment overly fluffy sities' rattling coffers, especially at the hard-up ex-polytechnics, which and sympathetic. Another big difference is that Chinese university are finding it hard to attract British students. With cash comes enthusiteachers abandon formality outside lessons and develop close ties with asm. Chinese students tend to be brighter and harder-working than their their students. In Britain it tends to be the other way round.

local counterparts. An engineering lecturer at a midlands university newly There is a scramble to solve these problems before customers popular with Chinese customers waxes lyrical on the subject: "Compared look elsewhere. Other countries are competing for the Chinese market to my British students they are a joy to teach. They actually like to work, too. One private outfit in Germany offers an English-language MBA and they actually know the necessary maths, like calculus, already." specially tailored to Chinese students. Australia and New Zealand are But there are big problems elsewhere, mostly reflecting a funstepping up their efforts too.

damental difficulty: it is easier for universities to sell their courses than British universities need to manage expectations better. The Britto deliver what the customers want The most mundane example is dayish Council, the government's cultural diplomacy outfit, offers training to to-day life. British universities assume that students are, to most intents the agents who help Chinese families choose universities for their chiland purposes, independent adults, able to make choices about both acadren. A website provides feed-back and advice from Chinese students demic and private life. Accommodation is mostly self-catering. Social already in Britain. The better universities offer specially tailored induclife revolves heavily around alcohol.

tion courses for new Chinese arrivals ranging from tips shopping and By contrast, arrangements in China are more paternalistic. Stupublic transport to thorough training in how to write essays and give dents either live at home or sleep six to a room. Take-away food is expresentations. That differs sharply m the boozy welcome given to local tremely cheap. Few know how to cook or do housework especially if freshers. Chinese students' main priority extra-curricular activity is not they are the pampered offspring of the one-child families encouraged social life, points out a British Council specialist, but finding some by China's population controllers. British habits such as pub-crawls and workplace experience to go with their studies. Odd, or what binge drinking are mystifying, even repellent, to them. As a result, cop 59 Japan timistic. "Nihon no Jidai" (Japan's Era), by Keitaro Hasegawa, took the prize with its bold forecasts about how Japan would soon be managing Tokyo the flow of money, people and goods around the world.

It may be unfair to single out Mr Hasegawa just because his When its economy was booming, cars and electronics were not book sold more copies than the dozens of others that made similar exthe only industries in which Japan battled the West. Japanese authors trapolations. "It is considered bad form to ask what most of these guys also competed with their gaijin counterparts to churn out treatises about were writing ten years ago," says Peter Tasker, a consultant and writer Japanese ways of doing things. On one point almost everyone agreed:

in Tokyo. Still, it is worth comparing Mr Hasegawa's outlook with that the Japanese way of organising society was better, as its juggernaut of the top-selling business book now. "Tomorrow's Economics", pubeconomy proved.

lished recently by Heizo Takenaka the economics and banking minisNeedless to say, outside Japan, demand for such books is modest ter in Junichiro Koizumis cabinet also tries to envisage a bright fuat the moment. But what about in Japan After a decade of economic ture for Japan; but his optimism hangs on Japan's making a string of torpor, how do Japanese writers see their country now The swagger tough choices that authors in the bubble years did not predict.

that marked books such as "The Japan that Can Say No", in which Japan's economy has not been the only source of worry and conAkio Morita (Sony's co-founder) and Shintaro Ishihara (a novelist and fusion, however. One of the country's best-known authors, Haruki Munationalist politician who is now governor of Tokyo) trumpeted Japan's rakami, points out that two of the most significant events in Japan durrise to world, prominence just before the bubble popped, has certainly ing the 19905 were not economic: the Kobe earthquake and the poison faded. But Naoki Inose, a popular history writer who gained headlines gas attacks by the Aum Shinrikyo cult in the Tokyo metro system, both last year serving on a committee for highway reform, says that many of which took place in 1995. Though one was a natural disaster and the Japanese were never as confident as the best-selling titles of the bubble other man-made, Mr Murakami argues, I both shook the faith of many years encouraged them to be.

Japanese in their society's underpinning.

For all the affluence that Japan achieved in the 1980s, he argues, In "Underground", which recounts his interviews with the metro many Japanese still felt an underlying anxiety, and were never really attackers and their victims, Mr Murakami tried to examine broadly the convinced that their success reflected fundamental strengths in their cruelty with which Japanese society can treat those who are different.

society. Even as western and Japanese authors were praising the buAfter reading about a victim of the gas attacks who had subsequently reaucratic and business structures that Japan had developed over the been shunned by his fellow workers, Mr Murakami writes, he decided to previous century, Mr Inose argues, ordinary Japanese remained unsure find out "how Japanese society could perpetrate such a double violence".

of where those overweening institutions were taking them. Even if It is hard to say whether this sense of economic and social drift anxieties were lurking all along, however, the events of the past decade explains the slew of self-help books, several imported, which now line have driven them to the surface, and Japan's economic weakness has Tohan's non-business list of bestselling non-fiction. In 1989, the list clearly played a role.

was stocked with home-grown biographies and photograph albums of A quick glance at the bestseller lists highlights the change in prominent Japanese, from actresses and divas to Hirohito, who died at tone. Tohan, which publishes the most prominent list, compiles sepathe beginning of that year. Such lists can be misleading, however.

rate tables for business books and other sorts of non-fiction. In 1989, Books known as nihonjinron, a class of pop-anthropology books that one of the few economic worries on the minds of Japanese readers was revelled in the uniqueness of the Japanese, were cranked out so fretaxes: four of the top ten business books aimed to help them cope with quently, and resembled each other so closely, that they rarely topped a new consumption tax. Two other popular business books that year the charts of bestsellers. But many Japanese could not get enough of took a stab at forecasting the 1990s, and both of their authors were opthem in the 1980s, paying to read again and again about how their long 61 history as island rice-cultivators had set them apart from the rest of The Job Market. New Ideas Needed humanity.

Washington, DC A decade of gloom has led some Japanese to give this implicit Why many Americans are staying out of work belief a different twist. "We may be cultivators," a few reformists say, "but it might not be so bad if we acted a little more like hunters." AlFew statistics are followed more closely in George Bush's White though their sense of uniqueness remains, however, the Japanese seem House than the monthly jobs figures. In 1992, unemployment cost his to share at least one trait with readers everywhere: when times are father the election; the son has presided over more than 2,5m job tough, it helps to laugh at someone else. One of the most popular books losses. Small wonder that the White House jumped on the latest report, in Japan now is "Stupid White Men", by Michael Moore, an American released on October 3rd.

author and film-maker. It dwells on corruption, injustice and electoral It showed that non-farm payrolls rose in September, the first rise shenanigans in the United States.

in eight months. At 57 000, the net number of new jobs created was barely half the 125 000 or so needed to keep up with new entrants into the labour force; but at least it was not a drop. Better still, August's job loss number was revised down by more than half. "Things are getting better," said Mr Bush.

Are they One month of modest employment growth hardly proves the end of "the jobless recovery". Nonetheless, there are reasons for hope. One is that all of the increase in September's jobs came from the private sector, much of it from a rise in the number of temporary workers. The number of temporary jobs has risen for the fifth month in a row.

Hiring more temporary workers often precedes a rise in permanent jobs as economies emerge from recession. According to Richard Berner, an economist at Morgan Stanley, America's firms have spent the past two years trimming their workforces, after taking on too many employees during the bubble years of the late 1990s. With the excess cut out, and profit margins bigger, he reckons hiring should start again.

The pace of job growth, however, may well continue to lag behind that of previous post-1945 recoveries. This is because America's recent slowdown was no ordinary recession. Structural changes in America's economy-such as technological innovation and moving production abroad have played a far bigger role than before in job losses.

Rather than temporarily laying off workers as demand slowed, firms have been getting rid of them entirely. Those dismissed have to find jobs in new firms and new industries, which takes much longer than simply returning to an old employer.

63 In a recent study, Erica Groshen and Simon Potter, two econo- Americas firms shift their production is cast as the chief villain. The mists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, carefully examined pressure is on for China to revalue its exchange rate or, say many lawthe relative importance of cyclical and structural factors in the labour makers, face punitive tariffs.

market. They point out that temporary lay-offs, when a worker is laid Alas, the attempt to slow structural change in American industry off during a recession but later returns to the same employer, played a will not stop there. The fear of losing service-sector jobs to foreigners significant role in four recessions before the 1990s. In the two most is close behind. A study by Forrester, a business research group, sugrecent downturns, those of 199091 and 2001, they figured little. gests that the number of such jobs that will be outsourced to places The two economists also tried to measure whether job losses such as India is likely to rise from 400 000 today to 3,3m in 2015. Alwere due to cyclical or structural factors. If a job is lost because de- ready some states are trying to resist this by ordering state agencies not mand for the firm's product is temporarily low, then the job should to use call centres and the like in India.

come back as the economy begins to recover. But if a job is lost be- It would be better to address the factors that depress American cause a firm or industry is structurally in decline, then it never returns. hiring directly. One good place to start would be the rising nonwage In the sharp recession of the early 1980s, they found that job losses costs of employing permanent workers, especially health-care costs.

were split almost evenly between cyclical and structural changes. In the After slowing in the mid-1990s, these are soaring again, at double-digit most recent slowdowns, however, most job flows were due to structural rates since 1998. Finding a way to control health-care costs would be a changes. By 199091 almost 60 % of America's workers were in indus- far more sensible way to help America's workers than bashing China.

tries undergoing structural adjustments. By 2001 that figure was almost 80 %.

This highlights two important points. First, it may well take longer than expected for the jobs figures to rise, since they will have to be new jobs, often in new industries. Second, today's trend towards structural rather than cyclical shifts is an intensified version of a phenomenon already evident in the 199091 slowdown. In one way, this bodes well: although it took more than a year for job growth to pick up in the early 1990s, about 18 months into the recovery employment growth soared.

Given that America had more cyclical excesses to work off this time, and that structural shifts are even more important than in 1991, employment may well take longer to rise than it did in the early 1990s.

But rise it eventually should.

Time, unfortunately, is not on Mr Bush's side. With the presidential election little more than a year away, the White House needs to point to job increases now. Unfortunately, in their haste for results, both Mr Bush's team and his Democratic rivals are pushing wrongheaded ideas. The politicians' focus has been on trying to slow down the pace of structural change, particularly in one area, foreign competition. China source of soaring imports and the place to which many 65 Japanese Banks Rising Despite all this, there are good reasons for caution. Jason Rogers, of Barclays Capital in Tokyo, gives warning that Japan's banks have Tokyo merely moved back from near crisis a year ago to a more even keel.

But not resurrected Their operating environment remains weak. Land prices are still falling and bankruptcies are still high. Arguably, says Mr Rogers, the health of Not for the first time, the message from the stockmarket looks the small and medium-sized businesses that make up 70 % of banks' clear. Japan's sickly banks are at last on the mend. The price of shares corporate loans is continuing to deteriorate. Hironari Nozaki of HSBC in Mizuho, the biggest, jumped by a third in two weeks, and is now Securities points out that loan demand remains weak, banks are chargfive times its record low, set in April. The next three Sumitomo Miting too little interest, given the risk, and banks' fee-based businesses sui Financial Group (SMFG), Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group are barely growing.

(MTFG) and UFJ-have enjoyed similar leaps. Even Resona, the numAlthough bad loans are being disposed of more speedily, their ber five, which received 2 trillion ($17 billion) from the government quantity remains enormous. What is more, much of the recent reducin May (and still thinks it lost 1 trillion or more in the six months to tion in bad debts is accounted for by the forgiving of some loans to big, September 3oth), has seen its share price triple since the bail-out.

"zombie" firms. Instead of removing the living dead from their books, Resona's rescue, which cost shareholders nothing, signalled that banks continue to support them with credit lines or fresh loans, which the government would not let any top banks (or big borrowers) colanalysts think will probably turn sour in a couple of years. The fact that lapse. It sparked a general stock-market rally, helped along by evidence Resona's new management seems to have discovered another 1 trillion of economic recovery in Japan, though it was no surprise that banks or so of bad loans since May is one sign that Japanese banks' difficulthought too big to fail proved especially popular. First, foreign instituties are far from over.

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