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China-India Panel @ UChicago Management Conference

Friday 23 May, 2008

I attended this panel discussion China, India and the Global Economy last week @ the Gleacher Center.  The panel consisted of 3 GSB profs & 1 GSB grad who earned his degree almost 20 years ago.

Prof. Mian presented his latest research on differences in credit related to income inequality & how China played a role. i.e. the poor borrowed more while we imported more inexpensive goods from China, which the poor bought, thus, the open credit fueled purchasing by the poor which was supplied by China.  The open questions are :  Can China’s dilapidated financial system absorb our financial worries? & how will the US respond to the budget & trade deficits?

Prof. Barry pointed out some significant differences in demographics (IN workers 6-7 years younger) & business sector focus (export/mfg vs. services) between in China & India.   India’s fragmented labor markets make it tough to fire people while creating a corporate bond market in China would help their antiquated banking system.  He provided some real world examples from his experiences which were very illustrative.

Miranda is a financier who focuses specifically on infrastructure projects, which a good place to be in India & China these days, noting they account for 40% of the economic growth today according to the World Bank.  They’ve taken different paths to achieve that growth, but face many of the same challenges.  In terms of infrastructure, China is way ahead, partly because China finances more creatively while India simply subsidizes.  China has provided electricity for 100% of its houses, India is better @ protecting the environment.

To me, this event provided a great example of the start contrast between UC GSB & other schools with which I’m familiar.  The #’s were @ the core of everything, which ignores some issues.  The discussion was quite theoretical & policy-oriented, & didn’t offer much practical tactical detail.  I don’t mean to sound overly critical, rather simply to make the observation.  I sat in on the beginning of the following presentation Building Cross-Border Businesses but wasn’t able to stay for the whole thing.  It seemed to offer more of a hands-on approach to international topics.  These panelists were all GSB alumni, aside from the moderator, who each offered a different model for approaching international markets; sales channels, investment, services partners,  & acquiring outsourcing competencies.  The interest in both panels was high, because the rooms were filled with 100+ people & standing room only for each panel.

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