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考研英语阅读专题经济学家期刊文章 (经济、科技、社会科学类)
  1、 Plumper How does the country’s economy compare with those of the EU? SOME of the concerns surrounding Turkey’s application to join the European Union, to be voted on by the EU’s Council of Ministers on December 17th, are economic-in particular, the country’s relative poverty. Its GDP per head is less than a third of the average for the 15 pre-2004 members of the EU. But it is not far off that of one of the ten new members which joined on May 1st 2004 (Latvia), and it is much the same as those of two countries, Bulgaria and Romania, which this week concluded accession talks with the EU that could make them full members on January 1st 20
  07. Furthermore, the country’s recent economic progress has been, according to Donald Johnston, the secretary-general of the OECD, "stunning". GDP in the second quarter of the year was
  13.4% higher than a year earlier, a rate of growth that no EU country comes close to matching. Turkey’s inflation rate has just fallen into single figures for the first time since 1972, and this week the country reached agreement with the IMF on a new three-year, $10 billion economic programme that will, according to the IMF’s managing director, Rodrigo Rato, "help Turkey... reduce inflation toward European levels, and enhance the economy’s resilience". Resilience has not historically been the country’s economic strong point. As recently as 2001, GDP fell by over 7%. It fell by more than 5% in 1994, and by just under 5% in 19
  99. Indeed, throughout the 1990s growth oscillated like an electrocardiogram recording a violent heart attack. This irregularity has been one of the main reasons (along with red tape and corruption) why the country has failed dismally to attract much-needed foreign direct investment. Its stock of such investment (as a percentage of GDP) is lower now than it was in the 1980s, and annual inflows have scarcely ever reached $1 billion (whereas Ireland attracted over $25 billion in 2003, as did Brazil in every year from 1998 to 20
  00). One deterrent to foreign investors is due to disappear on January 1st 20
  05. On that day, Turkey will take away the right of virtually every one of its citizens to call themselves a millionaire. Six noughts will be removed from the face value of the lira; one unit of the local currency will henceforth be worth what 1m are now-ie, about ?
  0.53 ($
  0.
  70). Goods will have to be priced in both the new and old lira for the whole of the year, but foreign bankers and investors can begin to look forward to a time in Turkey when they will no longer have to juggle mentally with indeterminate strings of zeros.
  2、 Fast-food succession Another change at the top CHARLIE BELL became chief executive of McDonald's in April. Within a month doctors told him that he had colorectal cancer. After stockmarket hours on November 22nd, the fast-food firm said he had resigned; it would need a third boss in under a year. Yet when the market opened, its share price barely dipped then edged higher. After all, McDonald's had, again, shown how to act swiftly and decisively in appointing a new boss. Mr Bell himself got the top job when Jim Cantalupo died of a heart attack hours before he was due to address a convention of McDonald's franchisees. Mr Cantalupo was a McDonald's
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veteran brought out of retirement in January 2003 to help remodel the firm after sales began falling because of dirty restaurants, indifferent service and growing concern about junk food. He devised a recovery plan, backed by massive marketing, and promoted Mr Bell to chief operating officer. When Mr Cantalupo died, a rapidly convened board confirmed Mr Bell, a 44-year-old Australian already widely seen as his heir apparent, in the top job. The convention got its promised chief executive's address, from the firm's first non-American leader. Yet within weeks executives had to think about what to do if Mr Bell became too ill to continue. Perhaps Mr Bell had the same thing on his mind: he usually introduced Jim Skinner, the 60-year-old vice-chairman, to visitors as the "steady hand at the wheel". Now Mr Skinner (pictured), an expert on the firm's overseas operations, becomes chief executive, and Mike Roberts, head of its American operations, joins the board as chief operating officer. Is Mr Roberts now the new heir apparent? Maybe. McDonald's has brought in supposedly healthier choices such as salads and toasted sandwiches worldwide and, instead of relying for most of its growth on opening new restaurants, has turned to upgrading its 31,000 existing ones. America has done best at this; under Mr Roberts, like-for-like sales there were up by
  7.5% in October on a year earlier. The new team's task is to keep the revitalisation plan on course, especially overseas, where some American brands are said to face political hostility from consumers. This is a big challenge. Is an in-house succession the best way to tackle it? Mr Skinner and Mr Roberts are both company veterans, having joined in the 1970s. Some recent academic studies find that the planned succession of a new boss groomed from within, such as Mr Bell and now (arguably) Mr Roberts, produces better results than looking hastily, or outside, for one. McDonald's smooth handling of its serial misfortunes at the top certainly seems to prove the point. Even so, everyone at McDonald's must be hoping that it will be a long time before the firm faces yet another such emergency. 3 、Staggering Things are slow to change in America's boardrooms THE annual review of American company board practices by Korn/Ferry, a firm of headhunters, is a useful indicator of the health of corporate governance. This year's review, published on November 12th, shows that the Sarbanes-Oxley act, passed in 2002 to try to prevent a repeat of corporate collapses such as Enron's and WorldCom's, has had an impact on the boardroom--albeit at an average implementation cost that Korn/Ferry estimates at $
  5.1m per firm. Two years ago, only 41% of American firms said they regularly held meetings of directors without their chief executive present; this year the figure was 93%. But some things have been surprisingly unaffected by the backlash against corporate scandals. For example, despite a growing feeling that former chief executives should not sit on their company's board, the percentage of American firms where they do has actually edged up, from 23% in 2003 to 25% in 20
  04. Also, disappointingly few firms have split the jobs of chairman and chief executive. Another survey of American boards published this week, by A.T. Kearney, a firm of consultants, found that in 2002 14% of the boards of S&P 500 firms had separated the roles, and a further 16% said they planned to do so. But by 2004 only 23% overall had taken the plunge. A survey earlier in the
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year by consultants at McKinsey found that 70% of American directors and investors supported the idea of splitting the jobs, which is standard practice in Europe. Another disappointment is the slow progress in abolishing "staggered" boards--ones where only one-third of the directors are up for re-election each year, to three-year terms. Invented as a defence against takeover, such boards, according to a new Harvard Law School study by Lucian Bebchuk and Alma Cohen, are unambiguously "associated with an economically significant reduction in firm value". Despite this, the percentage of S&P 500 firms with staggered boards has fallen only slightly--from 63% in 2001 to 60% in 2003, according to the Investor Responsibility Research Centre. And many of those firms that have been forced by shareholders to abolish the system are doing so only slowly. Merck, a pharmaceutical company in trouble over the possible side-effects of its arthritis drug Vioxx, is allowing its directors to run their full term before introducing a system in which they are all re-elected (or otherwise) annually. Other companies' staggered boards are entrenched in their corporate charters, which cannot be amended by a shareholders' vote. Anyone who expected the scandals of 2001 to bring about rapid change in the balance of power between managers and owners was, at best, naive.
  4、 Burnished Up goes gold, down goes the dollar MOST economists hate gold. Not, you understand, that they would turn up their noses at a bar or two. But they find the reverence in which many hold the metal almost irrational. That it was used as money for millennia is irrelevant: it isn't any more. Modern money takes the form of paper or, more often, electronic data. To economists, gold is now just another commodity. So why is its price soaring? Over the past week, this has topped $450 a troy ounce, up by 9% since the beginning of the year and 77% since April 20
  01. Ah, comes the reply, gold transactions are denominated in dollars, and the rise in the price simply reflects the dollar's fall in terms of other currencies, especially the euro, against which it hit a new low this week. Expressed in euros, the gold price has moved much less. However, there is no iron link, as it were, between the value of the dollar and the value of gold. A rising price of gold, like that of anything else, can reflect an increase in demand as well as a depreciation of its unit of account. This is where gold bulls come in. The fall in the dollar is important, but mainly because as a store of value the dollar stinks. With a few longish rallies, the greenback has been on a downward trend since it came off the gold standard in 19
  71. Now it is suffering one of its sharper declines. At the margin, extra demand has come from those who think dollars--indeed any money backed by nothing more than promises to keep inflation low--a decidedly risky investment, mainly because America, with the world's reserve currency, has been able to create and borrow so many of them. The least painful way of repaying those dollars is to make them worth less. The striking exception to this extra demand comes from central banks, which would like to sell some of the gold they already have. As a legacy of the days when their currencies were backed by the metal, central banks still hold one-fifth of the world's gold. Last month the Bank of France said it would sell 500 tonnes in coming years. But big sales by central banks can cause the price to plunge--as when the Bank of England sold 395 tonnes between 1999 and 20
  02. The result was an agreement between central banks to co-ordinate and limit future sales.
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If the price of gold marches higher, this agreement will presumably be ripped up, although a dollar crisis might make central banks think twice about switching into paper money. Will the overhang of central-bank gold drag the price down again? Not necessarily. As James Grant, gold bug and publisher of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, a newsletter, points out, in recent years the huge glut of government debt has not stopped a sharp rise in its price. 5 、Crude awakening A battle between two energy exchanges OPEN-OUTCRY trading is supposed to be a quaint, outdated practice, rapidly being replaced by sleeker, cheaper electronic systems. Try telling that to the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the world's largest commodities exchange. On November 1st the NYMEX opened an open-outcry pit in Dublin to handle Brent crude futures, the benchmark contract for pricing two-thirds of the world's oil. The NYMEX is trying to snatch liquidity from London's International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), which trades the most Brent contracts; the New York exchange has hitherto concentrated on West Texas Intermediate, an American benchmark grade. The new pit is a response to the IPE's efforts to modernise. On the same day as NYMEX traders started shouting Brent prices in Dublin, the IPE did away with its morning open-outcry session: now such trades must be electronic, or done in the pit after lunch. The New York exchange claims that customers, such as hedge funds or energy companies, prefer open-outcry because it allows for more liquidity. Although most other exchanges are heading in the opposite direction, in commodity markets such as the NYMEX, pressure from "locals"--self-employed traders--is helping to prop up open-outcry, although some reckon that customers pay up to five times as much as with electronic systems. Even the IPE has no plans to abolish its floor. Only last month it signed a lease, lasting until 2011, for its trading floor in London. Dublin's new pit is "showing promise", says Rob Laughlin, a trader with Man Financial, despite a few technical glitches. On its first day it handled 5,726 lots of Brent (each lot, or contract, is 1,000 barrels), over a third of the volume in the IPE's new morning electronic session. By the year's end, predicts Mr Laughlin, it should be clear whether the venture will be viable.
 

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