International -- Readers Report
Looking for Better Ways to Rank B-Schools (int'l edition)
I can't help being disappointed by the lack of coverage of distance-education MBA programs in "The Best B-Schools" (Cover Story, Oct. 2). This is one of the fields in which the Internet's forte--the quick exchange of information--can be exploited successfully.
Many small and midsize companies cannot afford to have their managers studying on a campus far away, so distance learning is a valid alternative. For students, though, it is difficult to assess the quality of these programs. I think I am not the only reader who would like to see a report on the quality of the distance-education MBA programs offered.
Frenkendorf, SwitzerlandReturn to top
The Stranded Euro: We Should Have Seen It Coming (int'l edition)
"Severe oil shock" (Asian Business, Oct. 2) and "The euro mess" (Special Report, Oct. 2) converge to prove that real-life events can often leave the experts trailing. The opening up of economies in the 1990s increased foreign borrowing by the Asian Tigers and left them susceptible to speculative attack. After their currencies crashed unexpectedly, the Tigers' quick bounce back was equally unexpected--and a significant factor in pushing up oil demand and prices. In Europe, the pull of the Goldilocks U.S. economy drained away capital, leaving the Euro stranded--another unexpected development. We need to move from the Age of Information to the Age of Knowledge, where developments are not just seen but also foreseen.
BombayReturn to top
Wal-Mart's Aggressive Pricing Makes It a Bully (int'l edition)
In "Germany: Stop bullying Wal-Mart" (Editorial, Sept. 25), the author describes Germany's Cartel Office as a rough regulatory body that is trying to undermine fair market competition. Fact is, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., together with some of its German competitors, tried to lure consumers into its shops with offerings priced below costs. These offerings, in consequence of the automatic losses incurred through sales, have to be subsidized either by higher-priced products in other segments of Wal-Mart's assortment or by a price hike in the future.
Wal-Mart may be one of the world's most efficient retailers, but aggressive marketing tactics should stop at a point at which prices become nontransparent and inefficient for consumers. That's because even in the most liberalized economy, goods have to be produced at a certain cost, which should be the lowest limit when setting retail prices.
The German retail market is overregulated, that's for sure. But competition in this market should remain fair. Price wars, with the retail giants selling below cost, will only lead to one thing: consolidation in the sector and higher prices for consumers when the big battles are over. Wal-Mart certainly has the war chest to survive such battles, even in highly competitive markets.
To get it straight: Sheer size and financial strength to do some dumping aren't the crucial points in today's free-market economies, but rather it is the ability to provide value for consumers and shareholders even in stagnating or saturated markets.
Bamberg, GermanyReturn to top