Saturday, April 11, 2009

us household debt

Some info from an SCMP article.
  • Household debt of the US has reached 100 per cent of country's annual GDP in 2007 = USD13.8 trillion.
  • To get back to the historical mean level of 75 per cent, amount of USD2.5 trillion needs to be reduced.
  • In case a third (USD1.1 trillion) is to be written off, banks and insurance companies do not have enough capital and they need to be nationalized.
  • If the remaining portion (USD2.4 trillion, 17% of annual GDP) is to be repaid through future income, the government needs to incur equal amount of decicit to make up for it.
Future of the US economy looks quite gloomy and it seems like there is no way but the USD will devalue in the mid-long term, which is probably not good for my financial situation either.

Friday, April 10, 2009

nchiku for mandarin study

Yes, it is more than a dictionary. Too bad I didn't know about this website until recently.


Below are some features that I think are good:
  • Shows results from a few diffrent dictionaries with sentence examples.
  • You can listen to most of the sentence examples.
  • Words and phrases looked up are instantly added to the Vocab List.
  • You can take tests (Learning Definitions, Learning Words, Dictation, and Writing), out of which I particularly find Dictation and Writing useful to me.
  • Automatically records the result of the test to help visualize your study progress.

My Madarin laoshi told me that my grammer and pronounciation are ok, but my vocabulary should be expanded. I think this webtool can certainly help this purpose. So below will be my study procedure.

  1. Listen and study Chinesepod skits.
  2. Lookup unfamiliar words in nciku.
  3. Randomely review nciku Vocab List in a frequent cycle.
  4. Put Chinesepod skits in iPod and listen and listen and listen.

I wish there were things equivelant for Cantonese. As online tools are quite limited for the language, I just study in an old-fashioned way - read printed text books. I wonder if the market for Cantonese is too small for developers to focus on.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

tram stake sold

A French company has purchased 50% of the tram stake. Their intention seems to be to gain some experience in Hong Kong before going into the mainland market where they plan to provide urban rail services. I wonder if anything will be changed under their management. I don't ride trams very often but I like how they haven't changed for a long time.

Some facts from newspaper:
Tram company's earnings in 2007 was HKD10 mil while in 2008 HKD30 mil.

The surge is from advertisement. I was wondering how they made profit when they charge only HKD2(?) a customer (it's not that a thousand people can ride a tram at the same time), but yes, they are now full of advertisements on the outside.