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Author Archives: charles darwent

Rupiah Politics

It may lose something in translation, but Indonesian politics———not normally a rich source of humor-has finally spawned its first joke. No matter which of the country’s 141 warring parties a politician belongs to, goes the gag, he or she will always end up voting for the KKN. In a land plagued by three-letter political infighting-parties include the PDI, MPR, etc., ...

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In Like a Lamb

Stroll along the beach at the Sydney suburb of Homebush Bay these days and you will see a shimmering vision of the New Australia rising before your eyes. A year from now, in September 2000, the Olympic Games will be staged here. The shiny white buildings of Homebush Bay-trophy pieces with names like Stadium Australia and SuperDome-are being built to ...

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Malaysia Runs Down the Clock

Stand outside the office of Malaysia‘s prime minister, Mahatir Mohamad, and you may fancy you hear two clocks ticking. The first is set to go off on September 1: the date on which the raft of capital and currency controls imposed on foreign investors a year ago by the Malaysian central bank expires. These were put in place at Mahatir’s ...

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Water Works

“If you had asked me about the differences between French and American companies 10 years ago, I would have said they were enormous,” says Gerard Mestrallet, lacing his fingers behind his head in a ruminative sort of way. “Major French corporations were one huge knot of cross-holdings, each of which wanted its own particular interests to be served before those ...

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China’s Private Moment

When Jeremy Frearson received another edict from the Chinese Bureau of Petrochemical Industry last January, he accepted it with a resignation bordering on the Confucian: “You need to take a long view here,” said Frearson, philosophically. One wonders at his stoicism. The edict in question placed an open-ended moratorium-a “postponement” was the word officially used-on foreign investment in China‘s petrochemicals ...

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When the Chips are Down

There’s a story that Pasquale Pistorio, president and CEO of STMicroelectronics, relishes. In July 1980, Pistorio, then head of Motorola’s international semiconductor business, decided to take a job as CEO of Italian microelectronics outfit, SGS. “I went to my boss at Motorola and told him I was going back to Italy,” recounts the Sicilian, a Santa-ish twinkle in his eye. ...

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Scraping the Sky

Peer over the terrace of Joe Adman’s 21st-floor Hong Kong apartment and you will be rewarded with one of the world’s most extraordinary vistas: tier after tier of brightly lit skyscrapers—I.M. Pei’s Bank of China, Norman Foster’s Hongkong Bank-shimmering expensively down Victoria Peak to the darkness of the South China Sea. The view is stupendous, and so it should be. ...

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Grimm Reaper

For a nation raised on the blood-curdling tales of the Brothers Grimm, the morning of 28 September must have come as a particular sort of shock. The night before, a sizeable majority of Germans had gone to their beds unable, quite, to believe that the Red-Green that Monster Chancellor Helmut Kohl had spent the past 16 years warning them about ...

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Designing Mind

“The first time we came to Boston, it was T really amazing,” says Charles Edelstenne, hands waving in Gallic semaphore. “Investors saw us as a kind of curiosity——like they were thinking ‘What are these French people? They’re coming here, to the U.S.? They must be crazy.” Edelstenne pauses, then adds, with a wry moue, “The second time we came, I ...

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Peso Politics

Wander into one of Mexico‘s neighborhood tianguis these days and you may find yourself distracted by a strange new noise. Above the normal clatter of open air-markets floats a faint electric whirr. Track it to its source and you will discover an audience of ladies held rapt by a demonstration of cross-stitching, curtain-ruching and French pleating, all performed on a ...

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