Over spring break, Saint Mary’s junior Margaret Cox participated in an externship with Fannie Mae, which was established and rewarded by College alumna and senior executive with Fannie Mae Renee Schultz.Although Cox began her first year at Saint Mary’s solely as a marketing major, she said she soon discovered an interest in finance.“I was a marketing major when I came to Saint Mary’s, and marketing students have to take a finance course,” she said. “I took it and I started really enjoying the topic and doing well in the class. So, I decided to major in finance as well.”The externship consisted of a four day trip to Washington, D.C. over spring break, Cox said, where she was able to shadow some of the female executives working at Fannie Mae.“They scheduled me to meet with different women in the company and see the different positions,” she said. “The women I met taught me a lot about the industry itself because I didn’t know much about it. It was nice to learn about something not taught in school. The externship was more about getting to know women and asking them how they got to their position.”Cox said a valuable piece of information she gained from participating in the externship was the importance of pursuing her passions.“One of the women told me you have to be really passionate about what you’re doing,” she said. “I feel you need to passionate about a job to enjoy it so it doesn’t just become work.”Cox said she hopes to continue working with Fannie Mae in the future.“They have a two year rotational program within the company so I’m going to look into applying for that next fall,” she said.Cox said her favorite part about the externship was actually seeing what happens in the private world of finance and understanding that world better. “I have interned with marketing companies before, and now with the finance externship I see how different the two worlds really are,” she said. “The finance world is so fast-paced. I enjoy doing these internships and externships because otherwise I wouldn’t know what to expect. That’s the best part about these opportunities — I’m learning what’s going on. I think if I didn’t have this opportunity I might not have thought about having a career in finance.”Young women should always be open to pushing themselves to take on new opportunities, Cox said. “I didn’t think I’d be interested in finance until I started to take the classes, so I’d tell [young women] to always give it a shot and take that class or take that opportunity to learn about something different,” she said.Cox said Fannie Mae is a progressive company when it comes to employing women in positions of power, but she still feels the industry can do more when it comes to hiring women.“Fannie Mae was a good company to shadow because they do have a lot of women in their industry, and they are a progressive company that’s trying to get more women in senior positions,” she said. “We need to expand that further in the industry.”Cox said it is important for women in the finance industry, and any industry, to build each other up and not put each other down — this way, every woman can succeed and open the doors for future women CEOs, entrepreneurs and financial executives.“A point they made throughout the externship was that in work environments and school environments, women can sometimes cut each other down because they want to be the best or grow fastest,” she said. “Fannie Mae was really focused on helping women grow and the importance of women building up other women. I feel that’s really important. At Fannie Mae nobody wants to cut anyone down, they want to help women succeed.”Tags: externship, finance, internship, Marketing
Bobby Smith’s first job was on his family’s dairy farm in Boaz, Alabama. He felt right at home when University of Georgia Cooperative Extension hired him to work with farmers in Morgan County, one of the state’s most productive dairy regions, 18 years ago.Almost two decades later, Smith uses his experience from the farm, the Extension office and in administration to help guide and support UGA Extension agents across northeast Georgia.Since June 1, he has served as the director for UGA Extension’s 40-county Northeast District. In this role, he mentors young agents and assists seasoned agents in securing the resources they need to support their programs.“I’m looking forward to serving northeast Georgia and working with all the agents who add value to our organization with great programs that build our county relationships,” he said.UGA Extension serves every county in Georgia through a network of local Agriculture and Natural Resources, Family and Consumer Sciences, and 4-H Youth Development agents. Each county office is somewhat independent, but district directors, like Smith, guide programming throughout the region, help agents team up on joint projects and encourage professional development.During his time with Extension, Smith has worked as a county agent, a county coordinator and an Agriculture and Natural Resources program development coordinator in northeast Georgia.“He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role of district director, and we are excited to have him join the Extension leadership team,” said Laura Perry Johnson, associate dean for UGA Extension.When he’s not working for Extension, Smith helps to raise dairy heifers with his grandchildren.For more information about the resources and information available to Georgians through UGA Extension, visit www.extension.uga.edu.
By ShareAmerica February 14, 2020 Ever since Islamic fundamentalists overthrew Iran’s government in 1979, the world has witnessed acts of aggression against other nations and peoples — and against the Iranian people themselves. From attacks on embassies — the very symbol of diplomacy and peaceful relations between nations — to hostage-taking, the murder of exiles and flat-out terrorism, the mullahs have flouted international law and left a trail of bloodshed in their wake.“Iran has a long history of unprovoked aggression, 40 years now, against its own people, against its neighbors, and indeed against civilization itself,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says. “From murdering and torturing their own people, to killing Americans from Lebanon to Iraq, to harboring al-Qaida even today, Iran has rampaged for four decades, and sadly with too few consequences.”Here are just a few examples.Storming embassiesInternational law recognizes embassies as inviolable. That means a host nation may not enter them without permission and, under the Vienna Convention, must protect them “against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.”Soon after the 1979 revolution, Iranian radicals stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. The clerical regime countenanced this, and even today, hostage-takers retain positions of responsibility in Iran’s government.Iran’s regime similarly was behind the December 31, 2019 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. General Qassem Soleimani was the chief architect. His henchmen, the leaders of Iran-backed militias in Iraq, rallied crowds outside the embassy, encouraging the attack.Taking hostagesThe Iranian regime’s hostage-taking extends beyond embassies. Ever since the 1979 hostage crisis, the regime has used people as bargaining chips to extract money or policy concessions from other governments. Foreigners who work, study or visit family in Iran are frequent hostage-taking targets.Dual nationals like American-Iranian businessman Siamak Namazi and British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe are special targets of the regime’s wrath. Retired FBI agent Robert Levinson has been missing in Iran for more than 12 years. The Rewards for Justice program is offering up to $20 million for information leading to Levinson’s safe return.Killing exilesThe Iranian regime kills its own citizens abroad in a crime spree that spans the globe.Sometimes the targets are former political figures like exiled former Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar, killed August 6, 1991, at his home in the Paris suburbs; or the Iranian Kurdish dissident dispatched in Vienna on July 13, 1989; or the opposition figure murdered in Istanbul on February 20, 1996. The killings have not been limited to political opponents. Writers and other intellectuals are among the regime’s favorite targets.Sponsoring terrorIran’s clerical regime remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, even if it hides behind the proxy forces that do its dirty work. Hezbollah is notable here. In June 1985, it hijacked TWA flight 847 in Athens. Hezbollah bombings in Paris, between December 1985 and June 1986, killed 12 people and wounded 200 others.On July 18, 1994, Iran’s regime supported a Hezbollah suicide bomber who drove a van packed with explosives into the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Society building in Buenos Aires. The bombing killed 85 people, including a 5-year-old boy, and injured 300 others.Authorities arrested an Iranian operative in July 2012, who was conducting surveillance on a synagogue in Sofia, Bulgaria. When Pompeo says the U.S. seeks “to convince the Iranian regime to behave like a normal nation,” he means Iran should stop actions like these.
Judges say politics are interfering with independence October 15, 2001 Assistant Editor Regular News Judges say politics are interfering with independence Amy K. Brown Assistant EditorA League of Women Voters of Tallahassee survey recently revealed that many judges in Florida believe politics are increasingly infringing on their ability to do their jobs.Florida’s 833 judges at all levels of the state judicial system were polled about their feelings on judicial independence, with 74 responding — about a 10 percent response rate. The responses were almost entirely anonymous, with judges only noting their years on the bench and the level of court they serve on.“This is a rare window into some of their thoughts and opinions about recent happenings that will affect the judiciary,” said Lynda Russell, president of the League’s Tallahassee chapter.Bar President Terry Russell said the survey was “a great opportunity to see how judges feel about judicial independence, which of course translates to their ability to be impartial, unbiased, fair, and unpolitical.”Russell said there is now a greater need than ever before to ensure the ability of the courts to protect and maintain their independence.“Judicial independence, of course, is the cornerstone of our democracy,” he said. “The fact that judges predictably believe they have to be free and independent to do their jobs is of extraordinary importance to a free and civil society.” A lmost 60 percent of respondents preferred appointing judges, according to the survey, and less than 28 percent liked the election of judges. The statistics also show that the longer a judge has served on the bench, the more strongly he or she supports appointment rather than election. For those judges with greater than 10 years experience on the bench, nearly 68 percent endorsed the appointment process, while for judges with less than 10 years experience, nearly 44 percent endorsed appointment, and another 22 percent had no preference.An overwhelming majority of the judges agreed that voters are generally uninformed regarding judicial candidates’ qualifications, and that there is no simple way to make them informed. Only two percent of respondents endorsed partisan elections for judges, and one commented, “[A]t least party labels would give voters some rough indication of the type of individual for whom they were voting.”The remaining 98 percent agreed that, if judicial elections were to continue, they should remain nonpartisan. The judges included comments such as, “Politics has no place in the judicial branch of government” and “Partisan elections would further undermine the public’s waning confidence in the judiciary.”Some of the judges expressed concern that elections of judges tend to be “popularity contests,” rather than merit-based races, and that the best way to guarantee quality judges is through the merit selection and retention process.Almost 77 percent of the judges believed the judicial appointment process has been fair, but more than 94 percent believed the new system — which gives the governor increased power over the appointment of judicial nominating commission members — will weaken the nomination process.While some respondents commented that the JNC system is biased “against the appointment of blacks and women,” many of the judges agreed the process has great potential for reducing the influence of politics in selecting judges. A weakness in the system, one judge noted, is the “public perception of the process being fixed.” Several judges called for more involvement from attorneys and the Bar, saying “the unfairness enters the system through the governor’s office,” and “the governor has too much control over the nomination process.”Others worry the new process will only increase the governor’s power. One judge commented, “[G]iving the governor a virtual veto power over commission members will ensure that nominees who share the governor’s political persuasion are chosen.” Some added, “Politics getting involved is never good for perception or reality,” and “merit has now dropped to fourth place, after race, gender, and now political ideology.”The judges’ recommendations for improving the appointment process were varied, but many noted problems arise when the Bar’s power is removed or lessened. Others noted “the removal of civics from our secondary education curriculum has eroded the public’s understanding of the courts,” and still others suggested a return to the former system. Legislative Involvement Nearly 96 percent of the judges believed the legislature should not be involved with judicial rulemaking. “How can judicial decisions be independent and unbiased if mandated by another and separate branch of government?” one judge asked.Almost 45 percent of the judges found that restrictions on hearing cases have limited their ability to render justice, but almost 81 percent said limits on judicial discretion have limited their ability to render justice. Many respondents cite sentencing restrictions and guidelines, and minimum mandatory sentences as having “taken discretion from judges.”“The legislature seems to want to. . . micromanage our sentencing process,” one judge commented. “[T]his can result in many forms of injustice,” another added. One judge even went as far as to comment that the legislature’s guidelines result “in the truly evil avoiding punishment and the technically guilty being senselessly incarcerated more often than should be tolerated in a free society.” Public Perception The Judicial Qualifications Commission system for disciplining judges effectively protects the public, according to 85 percent of the judges. Some offered suggestions for improvement, including “speed up the process,” and that it “should be more public,” but the majority believed the JQC disciplines effectively. Some, however, argued “there is a bias against conservative and elected judges,” and several others were not familiar with the JQC process or track record.The judges’ biggest concerns related to judicial independence seem evenly spread among the public perception that judges should be more responsive to the current mood of the public, attacks on the judiciary by other branches of government or special interest groups, and the failure of the public and the legislature to realize the need for a fully independent judiciary. The judges’ solutions to those concerns are fairly equally divided between education of the public and the other branches of government, and institution of merit selection and retention across the board.One of the most revealing statistics shows that nearly 95 percent of respondents admitted they are conscious of the ramifications of making an unpopular ruling, and 25 percent said this happens often. Although no respondents admitted this affects their rulings, almost 83 percent believed other judges are affected. Many of the judges commented that, “it’s part of the job”; however, some agreed it’s inevitable to worry about the possible ramifications of a case, given recent attacks on the courts and the increased likelihood for a judge not to be reelected. Others said they often spend extra time drafting an order or judgment that is likely to be met with negative public response, if only to “appear as neutral as possible.”“It’s not a popularity contest, and I expect I make decisions all the time that others don’t like,” one judge commented. “If I were concerned about making everyone happy, I certainly wouldn’t have chosen this profession.”Many respondents offered lifetime appointment as a solution to this increased pressure, and some suggested public financing of campaigns. However, the majority of comments recommended increased judicial independence and merit selection to prevent rulings from being influenced by public opinion. Several judges called on the Bar and other groups to educate the public, especially in response to the type of public outcry which resulted from the presidential election cases.“Although [the judges’] political parties and alleged biases were widely reported, when their decisions were impartially rendered,. . . nothing was said to correct the matter publicly,” one judge said. “It was a very, very unfair situation and very unfair to some highly intelligent, dedicated judges.”In his closing statements, Russell noted the league’s survey is important to all Florida lawyers, especially in light of requests by the responding judges for help from the Bar.“The Florida Bar stands firmly with the League of Women Voters with respect to judicial independence,” he said. The survey “is well, well worth review by the public, the media, and us.”The “Judicial Independence Project” survey was funded by grants from the League of Women Voters Education Fund, the Open Society Institute, and voluntary contributions from Florida lawyers.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Tehron SimsAn Amityville man has been arrested for shooting and wounding three people at a Copiague house party early Saturday morning, Suffolk County police said.First Precinct officers returning to a Maple Court home to break up a party they had responded to hours earlier arrived to find that three people had been shot at 1:40 a.m., police said.A witness pointed out the alleged shooter to police as the crowd was dispersing and officers took 25-year-old Tehron Sims into custody, police said.The three victims were taken to area hospitals for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.Sims will be arraigned Sunday at First District Court in Central Islip on charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon.First Squad detectives are continuing the investigation and ask anyone who attended the party and may have information on the shooting to call them at 631-854-8152. All calls will remain confidential.
Get the Dearlove Women’s Casual Dolman Sleeve Open Front Knit Cardigan for $36, available at Amazon! Please note, prices are accurate at the date of publication, November 10, 2020, but are subject to change.This sweater is made from a chunky knit material that features a variety of textures throughout. It’s designed in an open-front style, and it’s super oversized and casual. The wide collar has a standard cable knit seen in many sweaters, while the rest of the body has a more open knit. In contrast, the sleeves have ribbed cuffing — which creates a terrific trifecta of knits that work together perfectly.Sure, this piece has a bit of a bohemian touch to it — but it’s certainly polished enough to wear with dresses and still cut an elegant figure. The batwing sleeves are large and loose, but they come together at the wrists to complete the look. We’re picturing ourselves wrapped up in this cardigan 24/7, whether out for a cozy dinner with girlfriends or curled up in front of old Schitt’s Creek episodes.Dearlove Women’s Casual Dolman Sleeve Open Front Knit Cardigan Amazon- Advertisement – There’s quite a bit to choose from on the market right now, but few are as fabulous as this option from Dearlove. It reminds Us of that trusty blanket which makes it impossible to leave the couch this time of year — you know what we’re talking about!AmazonDearlove Women’s Casual Dolman Sleeve Open Front Knit Cardigan See it!- Advertisement – Us Weekly has affiliate partnerships so we may receive compensation for some links to products and services.Ah, sweater weather — is there anything more synonymous with the fall season (besides pumpkin spice lattes, of course)? We’re well into autumn at this point, with Thanksgiving right around the corner — and the plunging temperatures of winter not far after. You know what that means: It’s time to shop for more sweaters!- Advertisement – See it!Get the Dearlove Women’s Casual Dolman Sleeve Open Front Knit Cardigan for $36, available at Amazon! Please note, prices are accurate at the date of publication, November 10, 2020, but are subject to change.This sweater is currently up for grabs in a couple of hues, all of which shoppers adore. In fact, some are scoring multiple shades since it’s so appropriate for the cold climate. Even if you’re already stacked in the sweater department, we won’t judge if you want to add another to the collection. No true knit lover could resist a fabulous find like this!See it: Get the Dearlove Women’s Casual Dolman Sleeve Open Front Knit Cardigan for $36, available at Amazon! Please note, prices are accurate at the date of publication, November 10, 2020, but are subject to change.Not what you’re looking for? Check out more styles from Dearlove and shop all of the clothing, shoes and jewelry available at Amazon! Don’t forget to check out all of Amazon’s Daily Deals here!Check out more of our picks and deals here!This post is brought to you by Us Weekly’s Shop With Us team. The Shop With Us team aims to highlight products and services our readers might find interesting and useful, such as face masks, self tanners, Lululemon-style leggings and all the best gifts for everyone in your life. Product and service selection, however, is in no way intended to constitute an endorsement by either Us Weekly or of any celebrity mentioned in the post.The Shop With Us team may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. In addition, Us Weekly receives compensation from the manufacturer of the products we write about when you click on a link and then purchase the product featured in an article. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product or service is featured or recommended. Shop With Us operates independently from advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback at ShopWithUs@usmagazine.com. Happy shopping! – Advertisement –
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US President Donald Trump gave popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok six weeks to sell its US operations to an American company, saying Monday it would be “out of business” otherwise, and that the government wanted a financial benefit from the deal.”It’s got to be an American company… it’s got to be owned here,” Trump said. “We don’t want to have any problem with security.”Trump said that Microsoft was in talks to buy TikTok, which has as many as one billion worldwide users who make quirky 60-second videos with its smartphone app. Sell or shut down The pressure for a sale of TikTok’s US and international business, based in Los Angeles, left the company and ByteDance facing tough decisions. Trump has made TikTok the latest front in the ongoing political and trade battles between Washington and Beijing.The app has been under formal investigation on US national security grounds because it collects large amounts of personal data on all its users and is legally bound to share that with authorities in Beijing if they demand it.Both its huge user base and its algorithm for collecting data make it hugely valuable.But being forced by the US government to sell at least its US business or be shut down — and to then split the sale price with the US Treasury as Trump is demanding — was an almost unheard-of tactic.Shutting down could force users to switch to competitors, and many content creators are already encouraging followers to follow them on other social media platforms.”The most obvious beneficiaries are Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter, with Snapchat likely being the biggest beneficiary,” said investment analysts at Lightshed Partners.Earlier Monday, ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming acknowledged the hefty pressure and said in a letter to staff, reported by Chinese media, that they were working around-the-clock “for the best outcome.” “We have always been committed to ensuring user data security, as well as the platform neutrality and transparency,” Zhang said.However, he said, the company faces “mounting complexities across the geopolitical landscape and significant external pressure.” He said the company must confront the challenge from the United States, though “without giving up exploring any possibilities.”According to Britain’s The Sun newspaper Monday, as a possible consequence of the pressure, ByteDance is planning to relocate TikTok’s global operations to Britain. But US officials say the app constitutes a national security risk because it could share millions of Americans’ personal data with Chinese intelligence.Trump gave the company’s Chinese parent ByteDance until mid-September to strike a deal.”I set a date of around September 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States,” he said.Whatever the price is, he said, “the United States should get a very large percentage of that price because we’re making it possible.” Pushing back China’s foreign ministry pushed back Monday, calling Washington hypocritical for demanding TikTok be sold.”The US is using an abused concept of national security and, without providing any evidence, is making presumptions of guilt and issuing threats to relevant companies,” said spokesman Wang Wenbin.”This goes against the principle of market economy and exposes the hypocrisy and typical double standards of the US in upholding so-called fairness and freedom,” he added.Topics : Trump compared the demand for a piece of the pie to a landlord demanding under-the-table “key money” from a new tenant, a practice widely illegal including in New York, where the billionaire president built his real estate empire.”TikTok is a big success, but a big portion of it is in the country,” he said. “I think it’s very fair.”But Trump also threw a surprise new condition in any deal, saying the sale of TikTok’s US business would have to result in a significant payout to the US Treasury for initiating it.”A very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States, because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen,” Trump told reporters.”They don’t have any rights unless we give it to them,” he said.
Towers Watson, as part an annual report on the Swiss pension fund association’s members, had calculated a 10% median return for 2014.Discount rates dropped, along with corporate bonds, yielding 100-125bps less in Q4.Bond yields were further strained by the Swiss National Bank’s announcement that it would introduce a negative base rate.Adam Casey, senior consultant at Towers Watson in Zurich, said: “This directly affected the yields of Swiss bonds.”At Publica, Switzerland’s largest public pension fund, director Dieter Stohler pointed to another effect resulting from the SNB’s policy.“On the international currency markets, the forward discounts for Swiss francs have widened slightly, increasing costs for FX-hedging,” he said. He told IPE he did not think Swiss institutions would start introducing negative rates on savings any time soon, adding that the SNB would have to continue to make the Swiss franc “less attractive” as long as it wanted to continue to uphold the minimum exchange rate of 1.20CHF per euro. A decrease in Swiss discount rates last year caused funding levels for the country’s pension funds to fall by 640 basis points, according to Towers Watson’s latest ‘Swiss Pension Finance Watch’.Every quarter, the consultancy puts together an index based on the ratio of assets to liabilities in Swiss Pensionskassen, which dropped to 96.5% as of the end of December 2014 from 102.9% as of the end of 2013 – which had been a record high since the financial crisis.Over the course of last year, the index dropped to around 100% in Q1 and slightly recovered in Q2 but then dropped back to 99.5% at the end of September.Peter Zanella, head of retirement solutions at Towers Watson in Zurich, said the increase in liabilities triggered by continually falling discount rates had been offset by strong returns, albeit “only to a certain extent”.
How should cities develop? Historically, the process has often been haphazard, driven by factors such as trade and population flows. As cities grow larger, the interactions between cities located close to each other start to become more important.Countries across Europe have seen this effect in regional groupings: for example, the four largest cities in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) form the Randstad, while the Rhine-Ruhr region in Germany consists of 11 cities with populations of more than 200,000.In China, the phenomenon of the ‘clustering’ of cities to form regional powerhouses is being taken to a whole new dimension, driven by two forces that European countries do not possess: a huge population and a highly centralised administration.Gary Smith, managing director at the Barings Investment Institute, has produced a fascinating paper outlining the goals and impact of China’s ambitious plans to set up 19 city clusters – expected to be home to 800m people – by 2030. Shanghai has a population of 26m people – and could have as many as 34m by 2035, according to StatistaThere are many reasons that could account for this. Suppliers located closer together can offer a more diverse and less expensive range of products, while common infrastructure and transportation framework costs can be shared. The larger and more diverse labour pool also helps firms and workers find a better match for one another, and innovations are shared more easily and diffused more quickly. Clusters of smaller cities may also be able to support a university or large factory that a single city may not be large enough to support.AgglomerationThere is, however, a competing force that Smith also describes: the “agglomeration shadow effects”, whereby competition between cities limits growth. In China, it appears that “borrowed size” benefits have been more powerful than “shadow effects” in China’s cluster cities, he says.The three leading clusters are Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the Yangtze river delta cluster around Shanghai, and the Greater Bay Area encompassing Hong Kong, Shenzen, Macau and Guangzhou. The size of the populations is staggering. The numbers are larger than the populations of most European countries, with 130m in the Beijing cluster, 152m in the Yangtze river delta, and 65m in the Greater Bay area.As Smith points out, many other nations have urban regions of comparable scale to those in China, but they do not have governance coordination that is as centralised as in China. That has been key to China’s implementation of a successful national industrial policy, and the building out of extensive public infrastructure projects.By contrast, European countries struggle to implement long-term infrastructure projects and, arguably, any long-term developmental plans. If concentrations of urban activity produce synergies that drive growth, can concentrations of cities deliver bigger benefits? “The answer is an unequivocal ‘sometimes’,” says Smith.Rudiger Ahrend – head of the urban programme at the OECD’s directorate for public governance and territorial development – estimates that doubling a city’s population should boost productivity by 2-5%. Source: Alex NeedhamA ‘maglev’ train coming out of Pudong International Airport, ShanghaiThe flip side to this is that there is also the significant potential in China for waste, with “white elephant” projects proliferating, driven by political reasons rather than economics. The maglev train from Pudong airport is a joy to travel in, but it is difficult to see how it could be profitable when it appears to be only half full and drops passengers off only in the outskirts of Shanghai.Barings’ Smith cites an OECD study that describes the Chengdu-Chongqing cluster in the centre of China as “forced”, with two largely independent cities separated by 300km of largely unoccupied and hilly land.Smith also focuses on the 55km link connecting Hong Kong to Macau and Zhuhai on the mainland, incorporating two artificial islands and a 7.7km tunnel that is hardly used – although Smith admits that traffic numbers will increase as regulations are eased. However, political objectives may have trumped any economic considerations in its construction.As Smith argues, it is difficult to see which other countries have the appetite and the administrative tools to replicate the policies that China has put in place. As a result, the Chinese experiment in creating mega-city clusters might turn out to be unique. But it may still have lessons for Europe and the US as a casebook study of the competing forces of synergies and agglomeration shadow effects when it comes to generating economic growth in regions.