Thursday, March 15, 2007

Econlinks for 15-03-'07

  • Quite an interesting article in last week's print edition of The Economist about divorce as a business. Essence: it really matters where the divorce is pronounced (tip: don't choose England if you're the rich(er) spouse...). Here's something each of you might want to remember: "The lesson for couples? How you live may determine the length and happiness of your marriage. Where you live is likely to determine how it ends."
  • In the same edition of the Economist, a good short material on Eastern Europe's technology boom with its pluses and minuses, with quite some attention paid to Romania's situation. Some relevant excerpts:

"On the face of it, Romania's software industry could hardly be doing better. Foreign firms such as Microsoft, Alcatel and Hewlett-Packard are piling in, attracted by cheap, skilled and multilingual programmers, and proximity to rich Europe" ;

"Cornelius Brody of IQuest, which writes software for companies including Virgin Atlantic and Lloyd's of London, now employs 160 people after ten years in Romania. He praises the 'multilingualism, multiculturalism and Western-oriented mentality' in the nothern part of Romania, which used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. But business is getting harder. His programmers' salaries are now at 50% of Western levels and are rising by as much as 20% a year. When the discount to Western salary levels drops to around a quarter, it is scarcely worth going abroad, he notes.";

"[...]Ukraine, with a population of 47m, produces 30,000 computing graduates a year. This gives it an edge over Romania, with a population of 22m, which produces only 8,000. Zsolt Nagy, the Romanian government minister responsible, admits there is a bottleneck, but insists that public-private partnerships in education will increase capacity. Yet across eastern Europe, higher education- almost always state-run- has been remarkably resistant to reform. [...]universities are run as "fiefs" where innovations such as teaching by outside practioners are strongly resisted. Higher demand for graduates tends to result in corruption in entrance requirements or a drop in standards, rather than better teaching".

No comments: