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2019年10月23日 10:14:07 | 作者:泡泡助手 | 来源:新华社
Finance and Economics;Economics focus; Tricky Dick and the dollar财经;经济焦点; 狡猾的迪克和美元;Does Richard Nixon have anything to teach Barack Obama about economic diplomacy?在经济外交上,尼克松真的有可以教奥巴马的吗?THE “Nixon shock” is not the name given to President Richard Nixons resignation in 1974 amid the Watergate scandal, his bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam war or his audacious visit to communist China. It refers instead to a bundle of economic policies unveiled to an unsuspecting world on August 15th 1971. The president imposed a freeze on wages and prices for 90 days to break inflation, ended the convertibility of dollars into gold, and slapped a “surcharge” or tariff of 10% on imports.“尼克松冲击”不是在说美国故总统尼克松在1974年为水门事件而下台,也不是在说他在越战期间对柬埔寨大肆轰炸,更不是在说他大胆的造访了共产中国。这词是在说他在1971年8月15日毫无预警的对世界宣布了一套经济政策。这位总统为了遏止通胀,将薪资成长和物价冻结了九十天,终结了美元和黄金可以用一定比例互换的制度(金汇兑本位制),也对进口货物扣上了10%的”附加税”。Nixon is not usually a source of inspiration for left-leaning pundits such as Paul Krugman of the New York Times. But like 130 congressmen, who this month signed a letter to Timothy Geithner, Americas treasury secretary, he is calling on the White House to emulate Nixon and impose a “surcharge” on imports from China. The tariff is supposed to force China to strengthen its currency, the yuan, against the dollar, just as Nixons surcharge prompted Americas trading partners to renegotiate their exchange rates four months later.左倾的家如纽约时报的保罗˙克鲁曼,通常是不会把尼克松当作是惕励的对象。但是这个月,他连同一百三十位众议员签暑了一封信给美国的财政部长提西˙盖特纳(Timothy Geithner),信中呼吁白宫要仿效尼克松对中国进口物品课征”附加税”。这个进口税的用意是要逼使中国让人民币对美元升值,正如当年尼克松的”附加税”逼使美国的贸易伙伴在四个月后重新议定汇率。Mr Krugman argues that Chinas weak yuan is costing America roughly 1.4m jobs. Its cheap currency gives its exporters an edge in the American marketplace. China then squirrels its dollar earnings away in American securities rather than spending them on American goods. In normal circumstances these asset purchases would lower interest rates, boosting American borrowing and spending. But America, like other rich countries, is now caught in a “liquidity trap”. Interest rates are as low as they can go. By saving dollars rather than spending them, China is draining demand from the world economy.克鲁曼先生主张,中国被低估的人民币,让美国失去了将近一百四十万个工作。低估的汇率给了中国出口商在美国市场上的优势。然后中国像松鼠般把钱投资到美国券上存起来,而不是用来买美国的商品。在正常情况下,对美国资产的投资会降低利率,因而提升美国人的借贷和消费。但是美国现在,和其他富有国家一样,也陷入了所谓的”流动性陷阱”。利率已经降无可降。中国将美元存起而不消费的行为,正消耗着世界的需求。Chinas foreign-exchange reserves now total .4 trillion, of which about 70% are thought to be in dollars. In 1971 the central banks of Americas trading partners had amassed a rather smaller hoard, of about billion. But that was enough to buy the gold in Fort Knox three times over, if America upheld its commitment to sell the metal at an ounce. Britains request to exchange dollars for gold on August 13th 1971 was the last straw. “Although the US government attached no great importance to the gold as such, a run on this gold would have been a sorry spectacle,” wrote George Shultz and Kenneth Dam, two prominent economic officials in the Nixon administration, in their book “Economic Policy Beyond the Headlines”. On August 15th Nixon, in effect, announced that America was now unwilling to do what it would soon be incapable of doing—converting dollars into gold at the agreed exchange rate.中国的外汇存底现在总计达2.4万亿美元,其中大约70%是存成美元。在1971年时,美国贸易伙伴的央行累积的美元不多,大约只有四百亿美元。可是如果美国信守当时美元和黄金的兑换率,35美元兑一盎司黄金,这些美元已然足够可以买下三倍诺克斯堡(Fort Knox)库存的所有的黄金(译注: 美国储备的黄金大多存放在诺克斯堡)。英国在1971年8月13日要求将其持有美元兑换黄金是压倒骆驼的最后一根稻草。两位尼克松幕僚的重要经济官员,乔治˙舒尔茨(George Shultz)和肯尼˙丹(Kenneth Dam),在他们的书”头条背后的经济政策(Economic Policy Beyond the Headlines)”中说,”虽然美国政府不认为黄金非常重要,但是如果发生黄金挤兑却也实在难看”。在8月15日,尼克松实际上宣布了美国政府不愿意履行其即将没有能力履行的事--将美元按既定的汇率兑换黄金。Messrs Shultz and Dam argue that the import surcharge was intended as “an attention-getter and a bargaining chip”. It allowed John Connally, Nixons treasury secretary and a Texan, to stride down the corridors of international finance “with both guns blazing”. In the face of this bravado Americas trading partners duly backed down. By December they agreed to let the dollar fall (by a trade-weighted average of 6.5%) and the surcharge was removed. Nixon was able to present the humbling of the dollar as a political victory. But were Barack Obama to emulate him, would he really enjoy the same result?舒尔茨先生和丹先生认为进口的附加税是刻意用来做为”注意唤醒剂和谈判筹码”。好让尼克松那位德州人的财政部长约翰˙康纳利(John Connally),走在国际金融的大街上,”手持双亮晃”。在这样的威吓下,美国的贸易伙伴们全都乖乖就范。十二月不到,他们就同意让美元贬值(幅度约是交易额加权平均数的6.5%),附加税也跟着取消。尼克松当时将美元的贬值宣传成政治上的胜利。不过如果奥巴马如法泡制,他会真的赢得同样的结果吗?The obvious difference is that in 1971 America was locked into a system of fixed parities. By pegging to the dollar, a currency was automatically fixed to everything else. Since July 2008 China has pegged the yuan to the greenback. But over that period its currency has swung up and down against those of its trading partners and competitors. On a trade-weighted basis the yuan is back to where it was when the financial crisis started. Indeed, compared with Chinas emerging-market competitors in its big export markets, the yuan is about 12% more expensive today than it was before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, according to a measure (the “third-country” effective exchange rate) calculated by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. By this indicator Chinas currency is about 25% above its level in 2005.今昔最明显的差别是,在1971年时,美国和其他国家的货币是采用固定汇率制。任何一个货币,只要对美元挂钩,就会自动的与其他货币挂钩。自2008年7月以来,中国维持人民币与美元挂钩。但是,在同一段时间里,人民币与其贸易伙伴和竞争者的货币,在汇率上却有着上下的摆荡。以交易额加权平均数为基准来看,人民币的币值和金融危机开始时相差不多。根据香港主管货币机构编纂的一个指数(“第三国家”实际汇率),中国比起其出口上竞争的新兴国家,确实在币值上比雷曼兄弟倒闭时升值了12%。这个指数也指出,中国的货币比2005年的水平要升值了25%。The second difference is related to the first. Because everybody was pegged to the dollar in 1971, everybody had to pay the surcharge. Nixon dismayed everyone but discriminated against no one. Chinas critics today, on the other hand, urge Mr Obama to slap a tariff on Chinese goods alone. This will reduce the demand for Chinese imports, which constitute about 15% of Americas total. But there is no guarantee that customers will switch from Chinese goods to American ones instead. They are more likely to buy from Chinas rivals in Asia. The surcharge may change the composition of Americas trade deficit, without necessarily changing its size.第二个差别和第一个有关。在1971年时,所有的货币都和美元挂钩,所以所有的国家都必须被课附加税。尼克松让所有的国家都沮丧,但却没对任何一个国家有差别待遇。今天批评中国的人,却催促奥巴马先生单独对中国商品扣上附加税。虽然这将减少对目前占美国总进口15%的中国进口品的需求。却不保消费者会转而购买美国的产品。更可能的是,他们会对中国在亚洲的竞争者下单。附加税只会改变美国贸易赤字的组成比例,而不见得能改变其规模。Nixon goes to China尼克松造访中国The Nixon shock holds lessons for China as well as Mr Obama. Like China today, Germany in the 1960s disavowed any responsibility for the worlds imbalances, insisting that the solution lay with tighter policies in deficit countries rather than looser policies in surplus countries. (Germany is still singing a version of that song.) But by holding fast to the dollar, Germany ended up importing Americas laxity. It could not insulate itself from the loose monetary policy engineered to help Nixon win the 1972 election. German prices rose by over 5% in 1971. China, too, risks a loss of macroeconomic control if it continues to peg to the dollar. Its money supply grew by about 35% in the year to February. That kind of surge may be a precursor to inflation.尼克松的冲击,对中国以及奥巴马来说,都有借镜之处。正如今日的中国,1960年代的德国,也是拒绝承认对世界的贸易失衡有任何关系,并坚持解决之道在于贸易逆差国要紧缩,而不是贸易顺差国要放宽。可是经由对美元的挂钩,德国最终进口到美国货币上的宽松。尼克松为了赢得1972年选举,泡制了宽松的货币政策,而德国无法置身其外。德国物价在1971年上升了超过5%。如果人民币继续和美元挂钩,中国也同样冒着宏观经济失控的风险。该国货币供给在到二月份截止的年度里成长了35%。这种飙升也许是通胀的前兆。The advocates of a surcharge argue that China will not act unless it is forced to do so. They point to defensive remarks by Wen Jiabao, Chinas prime minister, arguing that the yuan was not undervalued and would remain “basically stable”. But the demise of the Bretton Woods system suggests that official statements can be a poor guide to future policy. The decision not to revalue is “final, unequivocal and for eternity”. Thats not a Chinese official in 2010, but a German official in the Nixon era—just five months before the Deutschmark was revalued by 9.3%.附加税的鼓吹者主张,中国必须要有人施压才会行动。他们指出中国的总理温家宝仍做着防卫性的,说人民币并没被低估,也将会维持”基本上稳定”。但是布雷顿森林体系(Bretton Woods)的废弃,说明着官方说词通常不代表未来政策的走向。德国官方在尼克松时代说,我们决定不升值,而这决定是”不会改变、毫不含糊、直到永久”。这听起来像是中国官方的说法。在五个月后,德国马克升值了9.3%。 /201305/237612You wake up one morning to find a strange man standing in your kitchen; worse than that, heseems to have made himself completely at home.你一早醒来,发现你的厨房里站着一个陌生人。更糟糕的是,他似乎像在自己家一样随意。Someones child is sitting in the living room watching television, on which somebody or other isgiving a speech while standing next to a bust of some old guy.不知谁家的孩子正坐在客厅看电视,电视里播放着一个人站在一位老者的半身像旁高声演讲着。Who are these people? Andwheres your family?这些人是谁?你的家人去哪儿了?If you suffered from the neurological disorder called “facial agnosia,” a twilight-zone styleexperience of this sort might be a reality.如果你患上了一种脑神经失调的面孔失认症,那么像这样模糊不清的“过渡”式的经历或许是一个事实。Facial agnosia typically occurs to people who havereceived damage to the right hemisphere of the brain due to stroke or injury.面孔失认症常出现于人们大脑的右半球被打击或损伤后。People with facial agnosia lose the ability to recognize even the most familiar faces:患有面孔失认症的人会失去辨认面孔的能力,即使是最熟悉的人也不列外:in this case a husband anddaughter, the president of the ed States and a bust of Abraham Lincoln.比如丈夫或者女儿,美国的总统或者亚伯拉罕林肯的半身像。In severe cases anexamining physician will be able to hold up a photograph of him or herself and, seated in front ofthe patient with facial agnosia, ask if they recognize this person—to no avail.在严重的情况下,检查的医生会拿着一张自己的照片,坐在面孔失认症患者的前面,询问他们是否认识这个人,但是完全不起作用。Whats especially interesting to researchers about this condition is its specificity.对于研究者来说这种情况最有趣的就是它的特殊性。Visual ability itself isnot damaged, and the person with facial agnosia can still recognize anything else—except a face.视觉能力本身没有损坏,面孔失认症患者仍然能够辨别别的事物-除了脸。Indeed, they can still describe faces very accurately, but only in the way one describes an object:事实上,他们仍然可以非常准确地描述面孔,但是就像描述物体似的。“He needs a shave. He has droopy eyes. He has a small scar,” but never “Wait a minute—this ismy high school yearbook picture.”“他需要刮胡子,他有双下垂的眼睛,他有一个小疤痕”。但是从不会听到“等一下-这是我高中的毕业照。”Facial agnosia strongly suggests the existence of amechanism in the brain devoted specifically to recognizing individuals weve seen before, a mechanism thought to exist in many other animals and even some insects.面孔失认症患者暗示了人类大脑里存在着一种专门用于辨认见过的人的机制,这种机制也被认为存在于别的动物甚至一些昆虫中。 201408/324726Yeal: What would you say your attitude is toward celebrities, Don?雅艾尔:你对明星持什么态度呢,唐?Don: Do you mean whether I like them?唐:你的意思是我是否喜欢他们?Yeal: I mean are you obsessed? Do you spend hours on the Internet trying to find out what their favorite nail polish color is and whether they believe in hypnosis?雅艾尔:我是说你是否对他们着迷?你是否会花很多时间上网查看他们喜欢什么颜色的指甲油,还有他们是否相信催眠术。Don: Im fond of The BeeGees, but I dont think they wear nail polish and I could care less what they think about hypnosis.唐:我喜欢比琪乐队,但是我想他们不会用指甲油,并且我对他们如何看待催眠不怎么感兴趣。Yeal: Okay, do you believe in a just world, that life is fair?雅艾尔:那好,你是否相信在一个公正的世界里,生活是公平的呢?Don: I cant pick up a newspaper without ing evidence that life is not only unfair, but often cruel.唐:如果报纸上没有迹象表明生活不仅不公平而且是残酷的话,我也不会去读它们了。Yeal: Good. What I mean is that psychologists have found that people who believe in a just world are more likely to worship celebrities, whereas people more critical of society are less likely to obsess over a celebrity. People who strongly believe in a just world believe that life is fair, that good things happen to good people and bad things to bad people. People who believe in a just world are expressing acceptance of society and its institutions. Since the celebrity system is one of these institutions researchers suggest that it makes sense that those believing in a just world would be satisfied with how celebrities are made and thus more likely to admire and even obsess over them. Vice versa, people who do not believe in a fair world might resist worshipping celebrities, and in fact question or criticize the system that produces them and decides who gets to be a celebrity.雅艾尔:很好。我的意思是,心理学家发现相信世界是公平的人更有可能追星,反之,对社会越挑剔的人则不太可能对明星们着迷。那些坚信这个世界是公正的人认为生活是公平的,善有善报,恶有恶报。相信公平的人接受这个社会以及其所有的制度。因为明星也是这个制度里的一份子,所以研究人员指出那些相信世界是公平的人对明星们感到满意,并因此崇拜他们、甚至迷恋他们,这是有道理的。反之亦然,相信这个世界是不公平的人也许不会崇拜名人,他们反而还会质疑或者批判产生这种制度和决定谁可以成为名人的社会。Don: Dont get me started.唐:别让我打开话匣子!原文译文属!201304/236179When we remember something, the neurons in our brains communicate with each other in a particular way.我们在记忆一些事情的时候,大脑里的神经元会以一种特殊的方式进行交流。The chemical and sometimes even structural changes that occur create a pathway called a memory trace.这种化学物质的结构时而发生变化产生一种叫“记忆痕迹”的路径。Signals traveling along these traces are what allow us to remember things.信号通过这些路径传输,这样我们就可以记住事情了。When the chemical changes first occur, they create short term memory, or things we remember for only a brief time.化学物质最初发生变化时,就制造出短期记忆或是一些我们只能记很短时间的事情。But short-term memory can become long term memory if the memory trace is activated enough so that it creates a long-term pathway in the brain.如果记忆痕迹足够活跃在大脑里制造出一条长期路径的话,短期记忆可以变成长期。This process is called consolidation.这个过程叫加强。When something interrupts the memory-storage process–like a hard knock to the head–newly formed memories arent stored for the long run and you cant remember things that just happened.当记忆储存的过程被打断—就像头被狠狠的敲击。新形成的记忆就不会持续很久,所以就不能记住刚刚发生的事情。This is called anterogradeamnesia.这叫作顺行性遗忘症。Retrograde amnesia which is when you cant recall things from your long term memory either.逆行性遗忘症是不记得以前发生的事。Luckily, in many cases of amnesia memory eventually returns, although the incident that causedamnesia is often never recalled.幸运的是,在许多健忘症的案例中,大多数最终都会恢复记忆。虽然引起失忆的原因也通常不记得。201406/305372

Science and technology科学技术Battery technology电池技术A pile of wood一堆木头An old material may find a new use in batteries一种古老的原材料可能会在电池上发挥它的新用途。 ON A list of cutting-edge materials for high-tech applications, you might not expect to see wood near the top.在一个应用于高科技的尖端材料目录上,看到木材会名列前茅,你可能不会想到。But an experiment by Teng Li and Liangbing Hu of the University of Maryland may soon put it there.但是,由马里兰大学的李腾和胡良冰所做的一个实验可能会产生这种意外情况。For Dr Li and Dr Hu, writing in Nano Letters, have just described how wood might be used to make one class of batteries cheaper by permitting the lithium now employed in them to be replaced with sodium.根据纳米快报的报道,李士和胡士已经详细说明了,在得到允许的情况下,用钠取代现在制造电池的锂。再用木材制造某一类电池可能会降低成本。As any high-school chemist knows, lithium and sodium are chemically similar.任何一个高中的化学家都知道,锂和钠的化学性质很相似。Sodium ions are, however, five times the size of lithium ions.然而,钠离子—在缺少一个电子的前提下,钠原子带正电—是锂离子的五倍大小。That matters because a battery works by shuttling ions between its anode and its cathode.这一点很关键,因为电池就是通过穿梭于它的阴极和阳极之间的离子来工作的。The bigger the ion, the more damage this shuttling causes—and the shorter, in consequence, is the batterys life.离子越大,它的穿梭难度就越大—因此,电池的工作寿命就越短。Hitherto, that has ruled sodium out as a plausible ingredient of batteries.到目前为止,作为电池的合理组成部分,钠早已被排除在外。But engineers would still like to devise a commercially viable sodium battery, because sodium is much more abundant than lithium.但是,从商业角度来讲,钠资源远比锂资源丰富,所以工程师们仍旧希望能够发明一种能够使用的钠电池。Dr Li and Dr Hu wondered if the problem of electrode damage might be ameliorated by using a more pliant material for the frames on which the electrodes are suspended.李士和胡士想弄清楚,如果使用一种构成电池框架的,更柔韧的材料—以达到延缓电极的目的,这样是否可以改善有关电极损坏方面的问题。These frames, which also transmit current to and from the electrodes, are normally made of metal, and are therefore rigid.这些电池的组成框架也起着在电极之间传输电流的作用,它们通常是由金属材料制成,因此硬度很高。But the two researchers reckoned that suitably treated wood could do the job of conduction equally well while providing more yielding support for an electrode that was continually expanding and contracting as ions moved in and out of it.但是两位研究者认为,对木材进行适当的处理后,木材也能同样起到这种传导的作用,同时,当离子从电极间穿梭时,还能够更好地增加电极的柔韧性,使之能够持续地扩张收缩。To test this idea, they used slivers of wood from yellow pines.为了测试这种想法,他们从黄松树干上取了些木条子。First, they coated these with carbon nanotubes, to improve their conductivity.首先,他们在这些木条子外面包上了碳纳米,以提高它们的导电性。Then they applied a film of tin to each sliver.然后,在每个木条子上面涂上了薄薄的锡。This done, they immersed the slivers in an electrolyte containing sodium ions and put the resulting battery through 400 cycles of discharging and recharging.完成这些后,研究人员把木条浸在一种含有钠离子的电解液里,对这种特殊的“电池”进行了四百次的循环充放电。As a control, they built similar batteries using slivers of copper.为了便于比较,他们用铜条做成了类似的电池。The wooden battery was not perfect.这个木电池并不成功。Its initial capacity was 339 milliamp hours per gram, but that fell to 145 mAH/g over the course of the 400 cycles.它的初始容量是339毫安/每小时,但是经过400次不停地充放电后,降到了145毫安时/克。This, however, was not bad for a prototype, and far better than the copper-framed batteries managed.然而,对于一个电池雏形来说,结果并不算坏,而且这个结果远比那个铜电池好得多。They had an initial capacity of 50 mAH/g.铜电池的初始容量是50毫安时/克。That fell to 22 mAH/g after just 100 cycles.然而仅仅在100次不停地充放电后,就减小到了22毫安时/克。Wood, then, seems a plausible candidate for battery frames.所以,木村似乎是电池架构的合理备用材料。Obviously you are not going to see wooden-framed batteries in your phone or laptop anytime soon.很明显,人们要想在自己的手机或笔记本电脑中看到这种木材架构的电池,要很久以后了。But that was never the plan for Dr Li and Dr Hu.但是,李士和胡士的计划可不是这样的。What their work might lead to is giant sodium-ion batteries for the overnight storage of electricity from solar power stations.他们的研究结果可能会产生一种巨型钠电池,用来储存隔夜的太阳能发电站的电流。Cheap storage is the missing part of the solar-energy jigsaw—for solar cells themselves are now cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels, in sunny climes at least.便宜的太阳能储存是完善太阳能行业目前所急需的—因为与化石燃料相比,现在的太阳能电池已经很便宜了,至少在阳光明媚的天气是这样的。The search for solutions to the solar-energy problem has concentrated on making man-made materials more and more sophisticated.解决太阳能能源的研究一直专注于制造越来越复杂的人工材料。It would be a delicious irony if the jigsaw was completed not by one of these snazzy new substances but by one of the oldest materials around.如果太阳能行业这个拼图的完美不是来自于这些时尚的新材料,而来源于人们周围一种最古老的材料,那将会是一个极大的讽刺。 /201309/258311

Accounting fraud会计造假Gotem, Gotham抓住他们!哥谭The company-accounts detectives collar another suspect公司财务侦探们抓到了另一位嫌疑犯JENARO GARCiA was an eloquent cheerleader for Gowex, helping to propel the Spanish Wi-Fi firm to European startup stardom. When investors asked detailed financial questions of its founder and boss, however, he would clam up. Short-sellers, who bet against companies by selling borrowed shares, in the hope of buying them back more cheaply later, began to act on this reticence early this year. But the killer blow was a report by an opaque outfit called Gotham City Research, alleging that Gowex had far fewer wireless hotspots than it claimed and that 90% of its sales were bogus. On July 6th, five days after the reports publication, the firm said it would file for bankruptcy and that Mr Garcia had resigned after admitting to fiddling the accounts for at least four years.赫那罗·加西亚,这位口才十分了得的Gowex掌舵人,正推动着这家西班牙Wi-Fi公司成为欧洲一颗冉冉升起的明星。然而,当投资者们想要对公司创始人以及老总的财务细节进行质询之时,他便开始沉默不语。“做空者”,指的是一批在金融投资领域中,由于不看好市场前景而向券公司借股票先卖掉以后,接着在未来等股票价格跌倒一定水平再买回来的人,他们在今年早些时候就开始对上述的“沉默”做出反应。但其最致命的一击还是来自别的地方—一份来自隐秘机构Gotham City Research的报告,宣称Gowex公司旗下的无线热点远比自己公布的要少,并且该公司90%的销售额是伪造而成的。6月6号,正是这份报告公布的五天后,Gowex公司宣布自己将申请破产,并且加西亚先生在承认进行了至少四年的会计造假后,也随即辞职。Gowexs dramatic collapse marks one of the biggest victories for a relatively new breed of company-accounts “detectives”: small, independent research-and-investment outfits that revel in unearthing alleged book-cooking. Having focused largely on Chinas fraud-filled market until now, they are branching out. Gotham is a secretive group linked to Daniel Yu, a trader whose motto is, “It is not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us.” Other firms with which it has locked horns include Quindell and Ebix, two software providers. Both deny wrongdoing.Gowex公司戏剧般的坍塌,标志着一次公司财务“侦探”相对来说的新生,标志着一次新生以来最大的胜利:小型、独立、调查与投资业务并存的机构,在搜索疑似财务造假案当中如鱼得水。现在,这些机构正扩展着自己的针对范围,此前他们一直都将大部分精力放置于充满着虚假财务数据的中国市场当中。Gotham是一个与交易员Daniel Yu相关联的秘密组织,而这位仁兄的座右铭是“我们到底是谁并不重要,而是我们所做的一切才真正定义了我们!”。还有一些别的公司也被Gotham锁定为嫌疑目标,其中包括两家软件供应商Quindell和Ebix。这两家公司均否认自己存在财务造假。Gothams approach is to short and shout: it takes a negative investment position, then noisily publicises its findings. It is cut from the same cloth as Muddy Waters, which is run by Carson Block, a former self-storage entrepreneur. His biggest scalp to date is Sino-Forest, which went bust in 2012 after Muddy Waters accused it of overstating its forest holdings in China.Gotham手段就是制造舆论与关注,使得目标陷入混乱:它会对目标进行消极的投资,进而大张旗鼓地公布自己的所有发现。它与浑水公司是一路货色,而后者是由卡森·布洛克所运营的,一位之前专注于自助式仓储的企业家。布洛克迄今为止最大的战利品莫过于嘉汉林业,一家于2012年破产的企业,其缘由正是浑水公司指控这家企业夸大自己在中国森林资源的储量。Another such outfit is Citron Research, whose leader, Andrew Left, prides himself on never having been successfully sued for defamation. A few hedge funds like to kick up a similar stink—most notably Bill Ackmans Pershing Square, which is out to prove that Herbalife, a nutritional-supplements firm, is a pyramid scheme.Their lineage can be traced back to the successful shorting of Enron in 2001 by James Chanos, another hedge-fund manager.同种类的另外一家机构Citron Research,其领导人为安德鲁·莱福特,他有一点十分自豪,那就是别人从未成功地因诽谤而将他告上法庭。一些对冲基金也想加入到他们的队伍当中——其中最瞩目的莫过于比尔·阿克曼的潘兴广场,它将对营养补充品公司康宝莱进行调查,指控后者为金字塔式非法传销公司。这些基金公司的财务调查史可以追溯到2001年另一位对冲基金经理詹姆斯·查诺斯对安然公司造假案的成功揭露。Gotham spent eight months studying Gowex, amassing far better information than investment-bank analysts, most of whom were still recommending the shares when it buckled. Gotham spotted that Gowex used a little-known auditor (a classic red flag: see the Bernard Madoff case), whose fees were unusually low, as if they were based on revenue far smaller than Gowexs books stated. Often, the sleuths comb the books for ratios that are hard to manipulate. Gotham also noted, for instance, that Gowexs revenue per employee was implausible compared with rivals—while the revenue could be inflated, it was harder to fake the headcount.Gotham耗费了8个月的时间来调查Gowex公司,收集了远比其他投行分析师更庞大的数据。事实上,大部分投行分析师在Gowex公司崩溃时,仍在推荐该公司的股票。Gotham发现了Gowex公司聘请了不太知名的审计师,审计费用也异常地低廉,就像是Gowex公司是在一个远比账面价值低的利润基础上经营。通常情况下,侦探们都会在账本里梳理出不容易操控的财务比率。例如,Gotham也发现了Gowex公司里每位员工的平均利润与竞争对手相比呈现不合理的情况—虽然利润容易被拉高,但职工总数是很难造假的。Legwork also helps. Muddy Waters analysts visit target companies, their suppliers and clients to verify claims about production, staff levels and so on, sometimes posing as prospective business partners. Chinese firms with advance warning of visits by analysts have been known to rent workers and stock to deceive them.四处奔走调查也是一个好方法。浑水公司的分析师们会对一些公司进行拜访,其中包括目标公司的供应商和客户,以辨别该公司的产品反馈、员工水平之类的数据,有些时候还会冒充成潜在商业合作伙伴以进行探访调查。中国公司在得到事先预警的情况下,会在调查人员来临之时租借工人和存货,从而达到欺骗的目的。Courageous crusaders勇猛的征战者Gothams declaration after Gowexs downfall—“May truth, justice, restoration and redemption prevail”—was somewhat bombastic. But a bit of bravado is justified: taking a big short position requires courage, especially in a rising stockmarket. Since shares have a floor but no ceiling, the upside for short-sellers is more limited than the downside.在Gowex公司破产后,Gotham发布了如下宣言—“愿真相、正义、恢复与救赎恒久于人间”,而这听起来挺浮夸的。但这种小小的虚张声势确实是合理的:做空头寸需要勇气,尤其是在这样一个行情看涨的股票市场里。由于股票有下限而没有上限,对于做空投资者来说,坏的一面会压过好的一面。There have been cases of short-sellers seeking to profit by sping false alarms, but they probably detect real fraud more often than auditors, regulators and bankers combined. In catching fiddlers while they are still tiddlers, Gotham and its kind are sparing investors Enron-sized nightmares. Nevertheless, market regulators often eye them with suspicion: Spains at first reacted to Gothams report by investigating its publisher, not Gowex. China has cracked down on shorts, even imprisoning the writer of one negative report.虽然许多案子当中,都是做空投资者在对市场散播虚假警报以期获得利润,但他们也很有可能调查到真实存在的假账,且其数目要比审计师、监管者和家加起来所查出的总数都要多。在这场抓假账的游戏里,Gotham和同类的公司是小鱼,但他们确实免除了投资者要去面对像安然公司如此庞大造假噩梦的疑虑。尽管如此,监管者也在用怀疑的眼光密切留意着这些财务侦探们的动向:西班牙当局对近期Gotham报告的回应并不是着手调查Gowex公司,而是率先找出这篇报告的出版者。中国政府目前正全面封杀唱空者,甚至会把任何书写消极报告的作家扔进监狱里。Even so, China will remain fertile territory. Muddy Waters latest quarry there is NQ Mobile, the head of whose audit committee resigned abruptly on July 4th. Mr Block is also said to be sniffing around in Africa, where investors are chucking money at little-known firms. Citrons Mr Left reckons corporate fraudsters “cant bullshit [investors] the way they used to,” because “theres so much more accessible information online, in public records, and so on,” with which to disprove their claims. True, but the temptation to give it a try, faced with so many naive punters hungry for fat returns, seems undiminished.尽管如此,中国依旧是一片充满“机遇”的土地。浑水公司最新的调查对象是秦网手机,后者的审计委员会主席在7月4号突然请辞。当市场投资者们对各类小知名度的企业掷下重金之时,布洛克先生在非洲观望着经济态势发展。Citron的莱福特先生认识到,企业行骗者已经不能像从前那样行事了,因为现在人们有更多的手段可以查到网络资讯以及公共记录等等的数据。上述资料都能用以揭穿投资者们的各种声明。诚然,但同时也充斥着太多天真的赌徒,总在期盼着天上能掉下来几块馅饼,而他们总会不厌其烦地想要给予风险家们一次机会。Gerard Zack, the author of “Financial Statement Fraud”, a textbook, reckons that perhaps two-thirds of cases involve improper revenue recognition. New global accounting rules announced in May seek to curb one common ruse, booking sales prematurely, for instance on long-term contracts. But sometimes the revenues are simply invented, often by getting a related party to pose as a customer. Sometimes very closely related: Gotham said in its report on Gowex that it had evidence the firms biggest customer “was really itself.”据财务教材《Financial Statement Fraud》的作家Gerard Zack估计,或许在三分之二的财务造假案当中,都涉及到不恰当的利润确认的问题。五月,新颁布的国际会计准则设法限制一个常用的造假伎俩—提前确认的账面销售额,例如在长期合同里销售额。但一些时候利润也就是简单地凭空创造出来,比如公司往往会令关联企业伪装成自己的客户来增加销售额。还有些时候,则直接“关联”到自己身上去了:Gotham在报告里表示自己拥有据,明Gowex公司最大的客户其实就是“Gowex自己”。Such tricks can be used in any industry: think of the massive fake sales at Parmalat, an Italian dairy firm. But verifying that accounts match reality is often harder in technology businesses, making them “easier candidates for fraud”, says Michael Jones, editor of another book on “creative accounting”. In fast-growing tech industries there is a temptation to exaggerate revenues, to persuade the world that you are the “next big thing” and create enough momentum for truth to catch up with the hype. If this turned out to be the motive with Gowex, it would be no surprise.这样的把戏在各行各业中都能找得出:大家可以联想到意大利乳制品公司Parmalat的巨额虚假销售案。另一本“创意会计”方面的书籍编辑Michael Jones提到,在辨别出科技企业业务当中的会计猫腻要比别的行业困难得多,这也导致了科技企业更容易陷入“假账候选人名录”当中。在快速成长的科技领域,各家企业都在充满着夸大利润诱因的环境中经营,希望令世界相信自己的公司才是那“一下代巨人”,同时也为了创造出足够的社会信任度,与自己铺天盖地的宣传相得益彰。如果这真的是Gowex公司造假因由的话,想必也不会引起多大的震撼。 /201407/312938

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