Tony Nash joins Jamie Robertson at the BBC Business Matters podcast and they discussed mostly the US Election as the electoral college confirms Biden win. Or is it too early to tell? They also talked about the recent Google meltdown and why it shouldn’t be a surprise. Also, do Chinatowns around the world suffer because of the anti-China movement? What about the vaccine — will it help us get back to normal at last? And, what’s wrong with California and why do businesses and people move out of the state and to Texas?
This podcast was published on December 15, 2020 and the original source can be found at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w172x194l551ll3
BBC Business Matters Description:
Joe Biden has been formally certified as the next president of the United States, with results from electoral colleges in all but one US state giving him 302 votes. This takes him over the 270 threshold required to win the presidency. The electors in each state are appointed to reflect the popular vote, which was won by Mr Biden in November. We get reaction from Washington DC and examine the US democratic process.
Two major cyber-incidents on Monday. The first you may well have noticed, the second will have almost certainly passed you by but may be in the long term far more significant. Google applications including YouTube, Gmail and Docs suffered a massive service outage, with users unable to access many of the company’s services. The second was a sweeping hacking campaign that may have attacked the US Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury and Commerce departments and thousands of businesses. We take a look at how working from home may be leaving businesses and government more vulnerable.
And we’re in the Philippines where the country has been showing an interest in the very English game of cricket. Throughout the programme, Jamie Robertson is joined by analyst Tony Nash in the United States and social welfare expert Rachel Cartland in Hong Kong.
JR: Joe Biden has been formally certified as the next president of the United States, but results from Electoral College is in all but one US state, giving him 302 votes. That takes him over the crucial 270 threshold, which is required to win the presidency. The electors in each state are appointed to reflect the popular vote which has won by Mr. Biden in November. OK, so, Tony, it’s all over. Pretty much, you reckon?
TN: I don’t know. I sat with you guys the day after the election and I said, everyone is pretty convinced that it was the end of the line then. And I said at that point, it’d be weeks, if not months before this was settled. And we still have a lot happening here. So honestly, I have no idea what’s going to happen on January 6th, but it’ll be interesting.
Look, Donald Trump is always interesting. You can never accuse the guy of being boring. So I wouldn’t be surprised. Actually, your commentator was not right about the president of the Senate, which is Mike Pence, actually has to accept the electors.
JR: It’s not just a question of counting. It’s a question of accepting that count as a right.
TN: So the speaker of the House and the president, the Senate have to accept the electors. So if they don’t, then it goes to the House. But there’s one vote per state and there are more Republican delegate delegations to the House of Representatives than there are Democrat delegations. If you look purely a state, no. So I actually have no idea how it’s going to end. I have no idea what’s happening on January 6th. But it’s not as simple as this was done because there are, I think, six or seven states where the Republican electors actually protested and actually sent their electors as well. So you have states divided and protesting, it can be problematic, so I have no idea what’s going to happen.
JR: I certainly haven’t heard the fat lady sing in us. Tony who feels like we might be losing a battle somewhere here, or do you think it’s not as easy to say as that?
TN: First of all, there is more hacking and there’s more information lost than most people are aware of. This is terrible, but I don’t think we should be naive and believe that this is rare.
JR: Why would it become public, though? It’s quite interesting that I mean, why tell people this has happened?
TN: Because so many companies have been exposed. It’s 18,000, I think. But I think publicly traded companies never disclose that happens to them, even though they’re obligated to disclose, they don’t govern institutions. You know, it happens all the time. And it’s a daily occurrence.
My company is on Google infrastructure for part of our work. And what worries me is we’ll never know what information was exposed, especially with the Google hack. And I think there should be a requirement that companies let people know what has been exposed, but we’ll never know and we’ll never know what was lost and what was exposed. Companies have their their corporate secrets, their trade secrets on their cloud drives. And we never really know if things were exposed. And we never you know.
JR: Tony, there’s a Chinatown in Houston. And there’s research to back this up. Chinatowns have suffered worse than many other communities in the U.S. Is it connected to an anti China feeling, do you think? Or is there something else going on here that I haven’t seen?
TN: I don’t think there is. I lived in Asia for 15 years and my entire social community for much of that time was Chinese. I understand it at a different level. I do think there is a sensitivity among the Chinese community that they may be targeted for this. So I don’t necessarily believe that is the case. At least it’s not in Houston. Maybe it is in New York. But in Houston, I don’t feel that’s the case at all.
JR: I just want to continue our conversation she had earlier, which is about China or at least Chinese Institute of Chinese Chinatowns in the United States, which may have been losing more business than most other communities, possibly because they’re Chinese. And Tony gave a very nuanced view saying, but perhaps there’s a perception this is happening, but it may not be actually true in reality. Right, Tony? A vaccine, is it a shot in the arm for the economy as well? I mean, my impression I got from that interview with Constance Hunter from KPMG was that he thinks it’s going to take a bit of time, but it may be just the light at the end of a tunnel, which everybody needs.
TN: Just put the vaccine into context. So fatality rates for Covid, at least in Texas, are a third today of what they were just in September. So it’s more the government halting business that.
JR: Can I just challenge you on that? You say it’s a third time. It is a third of the total. But on the other hand, you’re having many more many more cases identified than you were in September. I mean, that may be in absolute terms. I’m not quite sure whether if you’re getting more cases actually reported, if it’s a third of the ones being being reported.
TN: More deaths in August.
TN: August 5th and 6th, we had 229 deaths in Texas now were around 139, 146, 121, 128, OK. So right now, the thing that we need to caution both on absolute and percentage numbers, we’re a third as a percent. We’re a third better. We’re a third of what they were in September even.
It’s great that we have a vaccine. I’m not trying to pull back on that.
But the problem here is that the government pulled the plug on people’s livelihoods. Hundreds of thousands of companies in America are out of business because state and local governments shut economies. That is a fact.
JR: You don’t think people would have been frightened to go out, frightened to go to restaurants, frightened to go to cinemas?
TN: I believe that people are responsible and they would have washed their hands and done all this stuff, worn masks, all that stuff.
Government officials killed local economies. What’s happening right now is federal government officials have not put the stimulus out that they should have put out in August. The package that came out in May was only supposed to last three months. They were supposed to put another package out in August, September. They didn’t. So we’re in on one hand, it’s state and local governments that killed economies and killed hundreds of thousands of companies and millions of jobs. On the other hand, it’s the federal officials who wanted to negotiate small details while people starve. It is government on both ends of this that are harming individuals, killing companies, harming families. It’s terrible.
JR: What is wrong with California? What’s so great about Texas?
TN: I have an artificial intelligence company in Texas. So we are in a technology ecosystem here in Texas. And Oracle, as you noted, just announced on Friday, they’re coming. Tesla’s moved.
I lived in California during the first Internet bubble of the late 90s, early 2000s. And what I find about California now is especially around the talent. They’re good. There’s nothing wrong with the talent there. It’s good. But it’s not the world class that it once was. It’s really expensive and it’s very arrogant. Silicon Valley is, kind of, to use an Asian analogy, it’s the Singapore of the U.S. It’s entitled, expensive, and kind of OK, good, but not great.
I’m in Texas and I moved my company from Singapore to Texas because I can find a very experienced technical person who will roll up their sleeves and actually do hard work. People are pretty affordable. The quality of skills here are great and it’s a fantastic business environment.
JR: This may sound a little bit like an Englishman talking, but it’s not to do with the weather, is it? And there is more to that question to mention immediate, bearing in mind for the rather high temperatures and wildfires.
TN: California’s got the Pacific Ocean and beautiful weather. People are coming here initially because they have to. But then they want to because they realized there are a lot of really nice people here. And I loved it. I lived in California for a long time and I voluntarily moved to Texas because of the business environment. I’ve been here four years now.
JR: And Tony, I mean, cricket may be played in far flung things, but in Texas, I don’t think so.
TN: You would be surprised, Jamie, 20 miles from my house is the largest cricket complex in America. That’s amazing. So Texas has a very large Indian community and we have the largest cricket complex in America.