Complete Intelligence CEO and Founder Tony Nash joins BBC Business Matters to talk about Texas’s approach on handling coronavirus, why there are nearly half of companies in China’s Greater Bay Area are planning to move out of China move out of China, the deadly jade and hardwood industries in Myanmar and if loot box as a potential gambling addiction for children.
This podcast is originally published at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w172x18t1d40cnb
The US economy created jobs at a record pace in June as firms took on more staff after the coronavirus downturn. Payrolls surged 4.8 million, the most since the Labor Department began keeping records in 1939, helped by the reopening of factories and restaurants. But a recent spike in Covid-19 cases has raised fears for continued growth.
China’s decision to impose a new security law on Hong Kong is having rapid international ramifications. We explore how various countries are reacting.
Also in the programme – another fatal accident in one of Myanmar’s enormous jade mines. We discuss the scale and immense value of a decidedly murky industry – and how men, women and children can be victims of the blood jade trade.
And we’ll hear how a ruling in the UK High Court means that President Maduro of Venezuela will not gain access to a billion-dollar stash of gold stored at the Bank of England.
Plus – do loot boxes in the game Overwatch encourage problem gambling?
Presenter Fergus Nicoll is joined by Rachel Cartland in Hong Kong and Tony Nash in the US.
BBC: What do you make of what’s going on right now? The Texas governer now ordering facemasks in public. Does it feel precarious?
TN: No not at all. I live in Houston. I see what’s happening here. I work with hospital groups in Texas. The COVID capacity in their hostpitals is around 25% of the ICU. What I see in international media is about case counts. Case counts are higher because testings have risen dramatically. But in terms of the capacity in hospitals, what I see hospital executives are saying is that they are not alarmed and they are not worried. But a lot of the flurry of hype that I see in the international media is about case counts. When we started this, we talked about flattening the curve so we don’t overwhelm the ICU. We’ve actually done that. We’ve flatten things. And the ICUs are at 20% capacity with COVID. What we’ve seen is a lot of people during the COVID peak, people put off their non-COVID procedures and did not have their non-COVID ailments treated. So when you hear about the COVID capacities in ICUs, what I’m hearing is that those non COVID patients who are coming in, who are a lot worse than they were 2 months ago because they were afraid to go to the hospital.
BBC: That’s really interesting, and the US is not the only nation, I’m certain with, that that’s phenomenon has been observed. But just ot be clear, would you line up with Chris Engram and say that quarantine those who must be quarantined for their own good. Let business proceed?
TN: Yeah. You have to. When you look at the rates of drug addiction, when you look at the rates of suicide, these things are up 20-30 % over normal times. Certainly, every life matters. Take care of the people who are sick and people who need to take precautions, help them take precautions. All of that is necessary. Wash your hands, all that stuff. But we have to move on with the economy. And the people who don’t have an option, the people who are unemployed. We’ve had almost 200 thousand companies close in the US. Obviously there are a lot of jobs than just that.
The part of this that is most concerning on my part is that it’s largely state and local government officials who are closing the markets, and closing businesses and they have zero fiscal responsibility for the outcome. Meaning, if any fiscal support is to come, it comes from the federal government. But it’s not the federal government that is closing local communities, it’s the city, county, and state officials who are closing. But they are not helping out the business people. They have zero accountability, they have zero fiscal responsibility for their actions, which is the most troubling for me because people are making decisions that sound good politically, sound good on paper, but they are not sound for people’s lives in terms of the general population, in terms of business, in terms of people who need to get out and see people, and certainly mental health. It’s really reached fever pitch. I think people really need to look at the data around death rates, which is critical. The eficacy of the disease, as far as I’m seeing is declining. Death rates per 100 thousand are declining. And Texas, death rates per 100 thousand is 8. Death rates per 100 thousand in New York is 160. So we are 20 times less fatal in Texas than they were in New York.
BBC: You’ve thrown some interesting things in the last few hours on your feed. First of all, you’re talking about the state deparment intervening in terms of those interest in China and investment in China. You also talked about the factory in the Great Bay Area in Southern China thinking about moving house. Just to address those two points, if you would.
TN: There’s a recent story done. I did not do this story. I am not the origin of this story. But there was a survey done in China’s Greater Bay Area, which is a large factory of the world, where 43% of the survey respondents, who are factory owners said that they are actively considering relocating our of China. That is significant. Nearly half of factory owners in the manufacturing hub of the world are considering moving our of China. There are domestic factories there, of course. We’ve all seen fall out in COVID. There are larger demand issue in China than what we are seeing with the official data. But with trade, I would guess that most of those factories, I need to look deeper into the data, but most of those factories are export-oriented factories. That’s dramatic.
BBC: And when it comes to state departments, warning companies on conducting business with China. That’s from Fox News. I’m wondering does that mean don’t do business with China or are we back to the old grievances about intellectual property and so on?
TN: I think it’s more of the latter than the former. You can always say it’s most prudent not to but I don’t necessarily believe that myself. But I think one has to be very, very careful with intellectual property, of course, that’s an old story. But also with this new legislation that made its way to the US Congress. You have to be careful about who you’re doing business with. I think more than ever, American companies have to be really careful who they’re doing business with. Not just what they’re doing.
BBC: Tony, you’ve travelled extremely wildly in Southeast Asia. It seems like a perennial tragedy that the Burmese jade industry, the Burmese hardwood logging sector seems to be so frought with these complexities of the military interference and so on.
TN: Yes, absolutely. I think when I hear about this even specifically, it reminds me of two things. The first is we had a series of Chinese mining incidents probably over the last 10 or 15 years. We’ve heard less of this in the last 5 years. But it also reminded me in Bangladesh. 3 or 4 years ago, there’s a fire in a garment factory and there have been a series of safety incidence there. This is not a perfect analogy but the fact is, the working environments and the physical safety environments in many parts of the world, in Myanmar, are very, very difficult. And Myanmar is a very poor country and people work very hard to make very little money. And the trade offs that they have to make to try to make that money are have to do with their life and their well being.
BBC: Do boycotts work in the commercial sector?
TN: I think they have an impact. Do they work? I don’t know. It really depends on how you really define success. I think about the change that we’ve had with things like shark fin over the last 15 years. It hasn’t completely stopped people eating shark fin. But certainly a lot more people who won’t do it. And so, you really have to define what success is and really figure out how you get to that success. What was said about people about lusting after something that’s made by someone far, far away. That’s true. They don’t feel any personal consequence for the difficulties and the dangers of making these stuff.
BBC: On young gambling, as a parent, do you watch this kind of thing? Do you set rules? Is it even gambling playing this kind of stuff?
TN: I honestly never thought of a loot box as gambling until I saw the story. So, I don’t know if it’s something that I should be interested in and alarmed by. I just never thought of it as gambling. I feel a little bit ignorant.
Yeah, my kids play Fortnight, they play Over Watch. But I don’t see them with those types of behaviours. But I’ll take another look at it for sure. But again I never saw it as gambling. Maybe I’m just unaware.