17 October 2018 FT — Articles to Read

17 October 2018


Question: According to MSN: Money, when downsizing in retirement, what are four (4) questions to ask first?


China’s building boom sets regions on course for potential $6tn ‘debt iceberg’ – Pg. 1

–        Local governments may have accrued a debt pile hidden off their balance sheet as high as $6tn following “rampant” growth in borrowing, …

–        The mounting debt in so-called local government financing vehicles, or LGFVs, hit an “alarming” 60% of China’s GDP at the end of last year and was expected to lead to increasing defaults at companies connected to regional authorities


Bezos defends military links – Pg. 3

–        …rebuke at rival Google over its refusal to work with the US military, revealing a sharp divide that has opened between some of the biggest US tech platforms over the issue

–        The search company said that part of its reason for withdrawing was that the work might have contravened the guidelines it has set for the ethical use of artificial intelligence, one of which said that its technology should not be used to kill people

–        Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, the two biggest cloud computing companies, have been angling for the contract

–        Pressure from its workers caused Google to come up with the rules on ethical use of AI that led to back down from the Pentagon contract


Homeowners in China stage protest over falling prices – Pg. 4

–        Homeowners in Shanghai and other large cities took to the streets this month to demand refunds on their homes after property developers cut prices on new properties  to stimulate sales

–        The property sector is estimated to account for 15% of China’s GDP, with the total rising closer to 30% if related industries are included

–        Other evidence of a downturn is starting to emerge.  Sales by floor area dropped 27% year-on-year during the “golden week” national holiday earlier this month, a peak period for house buying in china, …

–        Tightening mortgage restrictions, amid a government drive to deleverage the economy, have caused the recent property market weakness, along with reduced spending on a slum renovation drive that saw the central government fund purchases for relocated residents


Cushman v cleaner puts non-compete deals in focus – Pg. 16

–        Last year, Sonia Mercado took an $18-an-hour cleaning job with Cushman & Wakefield in New Hampshire.  When she left to work for a rival, the $3.4bn real estate services group sued her for breaking a non-compete agreement

–        Cushman’s lawyers argued that it would be “irreparably harmed, the extent of which cannot be readily calculated”, if the non-compete agreement were not enforced

–        Cushman, which raised $765m when it floated earlier this year, operates in 70 countries and has almost 50,000 staff.  Created out of the merger of two real estate firms in 2015, it provides services from cleaning to commercial property brokering.  Its chief executive, Brett White, was paid $2.5m last year

–        Almost 40% of workers in the US have been subject to non-compete agreements at some point in their careers…

–        Cushman & Wakefield declined to discuss Ms Mercado’s case specifically, but said the provisions C&W Services, a subsidiary of Cushman & Wakefield, used in its contracts with janitorial staff were not “non-compete” agreements.  It said “non-service” agreements were commonly used at C&W Services to prevent janitorial staff from working at the same location if they joined a competing company (Prof Note: More information does shed C&W in better light.  Now I see it more clearly from C&W’s perspective, was there a “greater good” in the legal pursuit of an $18/hour worker?  Fortunately, not my decision!)

–        C&W said her responsibilities included “scheduling personnel, establishing work standards…conducting site evaluations/audits” and “maintaining budget control”

–        Ms Mercado signed without reading it… (Prof Note: Most employees do this…very dangerous)

–        Non-compete agreements are enforceable in all but three US states, though several more moved to restrict their use.  Businesses say the provisions allow them to invest in staff training and protect proprietary information from competitors

–        (Prof Note: As former head of HR for a company, I know people just blindly sign the papers put forward.  They need the job, want the higher salary, etc.  There needs to be a balance.  Several years ago, amid my family’s estate legal case, I was offered a class at a local university in southern Maryland.  I was finally going to be able to bike to class.  I even bought the bike with a basket on the front for my laptop.  A true dream!  Well, when my attorneys reviewed the HR packet, the small school required unlimited ability to check my background (remember I was in the middle of an awful litigation).  I could not agree to this for a single class paying $3,500.  Note: I offered to donate 100.0% of the salary back to the school if we could limit the background check to a single occurrence (unlimited in scope).  The dream was dead! L  I am not certain what recourse/power an individual employee has.  Often policy is policy.  Be very careful what rights one give’s up and/or limitations one accepts when signing corporate documents.)


Answer: (1) Am I struggling to afford my current home?; (2) Will downsizing actually save me money?; (3) Can I make money hanging on to a larger home?; (4) Will my new space accommodate my physical needs?