International -- Readers Report
JAPANESE ACADEME IS MORE OPEN THAN IT LOOKS (int'l edition)
Ivan P. Hall's criticisms of Japan's "cartels of the mind" are a bit exaggerated ("The best business books of 1997," Books, Dec. 15). National universities may deny tenure to foreigners, but private universities (by far the majority) have no such restrictions. Likewise, most foreign reporters in Japan find it easy enough to live with Japan's press-club system. And so on.
If Japan is so eager to keep out foreign researchers, why do the education ministry and the Foreign Affairs Ministry's Japan Foundation spend so much money subsidizing foreign students and academics here? True, some of this money is used to "tame" academics. (I am blackballed by the Japan Foundation, for example, for criticizing Japan's foreign policies.) But the voracious media and publishing appetite here for foreign views guarantees that "cartels of the mind" cannot exist.
TokyoReturn to top
COLOMBIAN MONEY LAUNDERING IS OLD NEWS (int'l edition)
The smuggling of consumer and capital goods has been a fundamental mechanism of money laundering for more than 20 years in Colombia--all the way back to the marijuana bonanza of the '70s ("Corporate America's Colombian connection," Legal Affairs, Dec. 1). Money laundering through legal importation started only after the 1992 deregulation, and it doesn't represent a significant volume because it is reserved for big capital goods that are normally difficult to smuggle.
There is nothing new in what you published. Legal Colombian makers of anything from cigarettes to home appliances, through chocolates, clothes, spare parts (even in the petroleum business), toys, paper, or shoes have fought--and usually lost--an uneven battle against contraband for years.
Enrique Gomez Martinez
Santa Fe de Bogota, ColombiaReturn to top
THE NEXT WAVE IN CHIPS? (int'l edition)
It is important that Motorola Inc. is shifting its semiconductor strategy to systems on a chip, but I think the more dramatic change will be in the system integrators that use and mix chips fromMotorola and other companies to make their own systems--in the area of networking, for example ("Microprocessors are for wimps" Information Processing, Dec. 15).
Imagine, say, that a company uses eight chips to develop a modem for high-speed Internet access. Suddenly, when a single system-on-a-chip solution appears for this modem, the added value is retained by Motorola, and the company that devised the modem can only be a reseller, or it can try to develop its own integrated solution. But that's difficult because of the high entrance costs.
Vigo, SpainReturn to top
COMBINING GROWTH AND ECO-RESPONSIBILITY (int'l edition)
As an environmental regulator, I was struck by the paradox of promise and pessimism reported in "When green begets green" (Environment, Nov. 17). Critics fairly accuse regulators of being barriers to eco-efficiency and sustainability. Wisconsin has a new law to pilot regulatory reforms through cooperative environmental agreements with businesses. We invite the financial-services sector to join us in our laboratory of democracy and capitalism.
George E. Meyer
Natural Resources Dept.
Based on our latest research, forthcoming in the Journal of Investing, companies that are good environmental performers and have high-quality environmental-management systems are far less risky than equivalent companies that have not made an equivalent commitment to the environment.
Companies that have included environmental standards as critical components of overall business strategy and clearly signal this to the financial markets are rewarded with a lower cost of capital and can increase their share price by 5% or more.
Stanley Jay Feldman
Associate Professor of Finance
Environmental Consulting Group
Fairfax, Va.Return to top