22 September 2008

Ha Ha: We Told You So Back in 2005

Good Bye and Good Riddance (?) to "the Maestro"

Editor's Note: Originally posted at THE FAIRBANK REPORT on 04 November 2005 (See the 11/4/2005 entry at this Fairbank Report.)

By B G Phan
Mr. Phan is Senior Editor and Economics Correspondent of The FAIRBANK REPORT.

Good bye and perhaps good riddance to Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Alan Greenspan. He is scheduled to leave the Fed at the end of January 2006. Sycophants in government and the mass media have hailed him as "the maestro," "the genius" and other equally nauseating, honey-dripping terms of endearment.

Let's look at his recent records to see if these accolades are justified. In 1996, Greenspan correctly foresaw the "irrational exuberance" of an overheated, speculative stock market. Yet, he did nothing to cool down the market. A few interest rate hikes in 1997, 1998 and 1999 might have avoided the crash of the stock market from 2000-2003. In fact, Greespan probably exacerbated the 2000-2001 recession by belatedly and continuously raising rates after the March 2000 bubble had burst. It was only after the attacks of 9/11/2001 that the Fed began to cut interest rates.

And then there's his recent "froth" in the real estate market commentary. Duh!, as the Valley Girl would say. Under his chairmanship, the Fed has failed to regulate the banks and other financial institutions, which have been pushing dangerous exotic loans, e.g., interest-only, piggy-back, 100%+-financing mortgage loans. In overheated housing markets such as California, Boston and New York, these creative financing schemes now account for the majority of outstanding loans! People who have no business buying houses are purchasing them at enormously inflated prices. After all, it's not their money; they're playing with OPM, other people's money.

The housing bubbles in California, Boston and New York will burst. And the consequences and ramifications will be ten folds worse than the bursting of the Nasdaq bubble. Yet, Dr. Greenspan, "the maestro"--nay "the genius"--has done very little to prevent excesses in the housing markets by reining in rogue lenders.

Even if the Fed acts aggressively today, it is a day late and a dollar short. The upcoming housing bubble-induced recession, perhaps even a small depression, should be called Economic Hurricane Alan in honor of the maestro, and like other hurricanes, this one will pack a wallop and cause a world of hurt...

21 September 2008

Bail-out Nation

1. Bear Stearns
2. Bail out of unworthy homeowners to the tune of $300 billion
3. Fannie Mae
4. Freddie Mac
5. AIG

See/search for our piece on the phenomenon of "moral hazard."

12 September 2008

Happy Third Anniversary (9/15) to the Fairbank Report

Another successful year in the blogosphere. Covering the stories and controversies that MSM dare not touch! Over the last three years, this Fairbank Report has gone from strictly covering news (with a 'tude) and commentaries to now covering all facets of modern life and love in the blogosphere.

Thank you, again, to our dear, dear readers... We know you're out there for us.

J. Fairbank
M. Henchard
Bian-lian Huang

Lee Hyori: Asia's (Putative) Bad Girl

Sexy Lee Hyori

In a society that still celebrates feminine virtue and elegance, Korean pop sensation Lee Hyori appears to be a misfit. She gyrates, in a nano-skirt and high heels, to Western-style rap-rock (our invention, feel free to use it with proper credit). Of course, in Los Angeles, she would just be another typical high school girl. Except she's not in Los Angeles, and she's not a teenager. She's 29.

But we have a hunch that this "bad girl" image is just a marketing ploy. Like so many supposed "gangsta rappers" in Seoul, Taipei and now even in Beijing, Miss Lee's in-your-face dance and musical routines are not endemic to her temperament and belie the (stereo)typical persona of the sweet Asian girl next door...

10 September 2008


We at the Fairbank Report have always bridged the gap between East and West on all things. And we are delighted to do so again in the case of the most beautiful woman in the world: the lovely Han Ga-in of Korea, aged 26. Actress and super-model, Ms Han (who is married to a fellow Korean actor) is widely known in South Korea and the Far East for her beauty and elegance. And yes, she's all natural; there's nothing plasticky about her, which makes her even more amazing. One can't improve on Nature.

Yet, she is a virtual unknown in the West, which is a loss for Westerners because never before have our eyes seen such beauty and perfection...

07 September 2008

Breaking News -- Obama: "My Muslim Faith"

We knew it all along. First, it was Obama's half-brother in Kenya who confirmed the Democratic standard bearer's Muslim faith. Now Obama confirms this himself, even if unwittingly...

Obama's verbal slip fuels his critics
Christina Bellantoni (Contact)
The Washington Times
Sunday, September 7, 2008

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Sen. Barack Obama's foes seized Sunday upon a brief slip of the tongue, when the Democratic presidential nominee was outlining his Christianity but accidentally said, "my Muslim faith."

The three words -- immediately corrected -- were during an exchange with ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week," when he was trying to criticize the quiet smear campaign suggesting he is a Muslim.

But illustrating the difficulty of preventing false rumors about his faith from spreading, anti-Obama groups within one hour of the interview had sliced it out of context and were sending it around via email. They also were blogging about it.

Mr. Obama, who is a Christian and often proudly speaks about how his faith has influenced his public service, said he finds it "deeply offensive" that there are efforts "coming out of the Republican camp to suggest that perhaps I'm not who I say I am when it comes to my faith."

The exchange came after Mr. Obama said that Republicans are attempting to scare voters by suggesting he is not Christian, which McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said was "cynical."

Asked about it on ABC, Mr. Obama said, "These guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand."

"The McCain campaign has never suggested you have Muslim connections," said Mr. Stephanopoulos, who repeatedly interrupted Mr. Obama during the interview.

"I don't think that when you look at what is being promulgated on Fox News, let's say, and Republican commentators who are closely allied to these folks," Mr Obama responded, and Mr. Stephanopoulos interrupted: "But John McCain said that's wrong."

Mr. Obama noted that when Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin "was forced" to talk about her pregnant 17-year-old daughter, he issued a forceful statement to reporters that the line of inquiry was "off limits." But he said the McCain campaign tried to tie him to "liberal blogs that support Obama" and are "attacking Governor Palin."

"Let's not play games," he said. "What I was suggesting -- you're absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith. And you're absolutely right that that has not come."

Mr. Stephanopoulos interrupted with, "Christian faith."

"My Christian faith," Mr. Obama said quickly. "Well, what I'm saying is that he hasn't suggested that I'm a Muslim. And I think that his campaign's upper echelons have not, either. What I think is fair to say is that, coming out of the Republican camp, there have been efforts to suggest that perhaps I'm not who I say I am when it comes to my faith -- something which I find deeply offensive, and that has been going on for a pretty long time."

Asked to comment on the accidental misstatement illustrating the difficulty of the issue, Obama spokesman Bill Burton offered this comment: "I'm not surprised that the only outlet doing this story is The Washington Times."

Hott Chick of the Month

Han Ga-in

05 September 2008

Illiberal Obstinance: UCLA Violates Law to Admit Unqualified Minorities

Source: dailybruin.ucla.edu

Admissions cover-up alleged
University denies taking race of applicants into account, but professor’s report says otherwise
Anthony Pesce (Contact)
Published: Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A professor is alleging that UCLA illegally takes race into account when admitting black students and is accusing the university of hiding data in a cover-up.

Tim Groseclose, a professor of political science, authored an 89-page report outlining the above concerns and then Thursday resigned from his position on the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools, a faculty oversight committee on admissions.

By law, UCLA cannot consider race in admissions, but Groseclose charges that application readers are getting around this restriction because some students reveal their race in their personal essays.

UCLA administrators deny both using race to make admissions decisions and a cover-up.
Janina Montero, vice chancellor for student affairs, told the Associated Press that UCLA application readers are instructed to not consider race at all.

Tom Lifka, associate vice chancellor for student academic services, said that as a result of this report, UCLA is commissioning a study to determine whether black students or other minority students receive an unfair advantage in the admissions process.

Groseclose wrote that he requested the necessary data from the university to conduct the study himself, but he was denied the data on several occasions – constituting what he describes in the report as a cover-up.

Though students applying to any UC school have the option of revealing their race on the application, readers are not given that information. Instead, the report read, some students voluntarily share their race and other personal information in their essays – theoretically giving readers the opportunity to consider it.

Groseclose offered some circumstantial evidence to support his claim, saying that in 2006, a black student had an 11.5-percent chance of being admitted.

After UCLA adopted a holistic admissions model in 2007 that, among other things, placed a heavier weight on life challenges, the statistic went up to a 16.5-percent chance.

Lifka said these statistics are not evidence of Groseclose’s claim but are instead an outcome from which the professor is deducing a cause. Lifka added that the study currently underway should shed some light on the situation.

The university attributes this shift primarily to the adoption of the holistic admissions process, which administrators have said is fairer to applicants because it takes into account their personal background and experiences in addition to academic qualities.

In the past, however, other data have suggested that there may be a difference in the way minority students are considered. In 2007, the Daily Bruin obtained admissions data from the university that showed that black and Latino students who were admitted had significantly lower average GPAs and standardized test scores than the overall averages.

Groseclose’s report also stated that the pool of applicant readers had a disproportionately high number of people from the black community, allowing for what could be a conflict of interest from a community that has heavily criticized UCLA for its low number of black students.

Lifka did not directly challenge this claim, adding that roughly 40 of the 160 readers were black. He also said the black community was encouraging its members to apply to be UCLA application readers at the time.

But Lifka did say that this argument makes for a slippery slope.

“If you begin to hypothesize that a reader, because of their own conditions – be it racial conditions, religion, gender, whatever it is – that that’s going to lead them to make a biased decision in favor of whomever it is they’re reading ... and buy into that mentality that they’re not capable of being trained, and you can’t set up reasonable safeguards,” he said, “then all you’re left with is some mechanical, computerized system.

But Ward Connerly, a former UC regent and nationally known opponent of affirmative action, said the UC should just make a policy that prohibits students from mentioning their race in an application.

“Students reveal their race in essays, and then you have readers who are black and the system is therefore rigged to produce a certain outcome,” he said. “The only way to get around this is for UCLA to say that if you mention your race, it will be automatic grounds for a denial.”

04 September 2008

Girl Power!

Staff at the Fairbank Report along with about 37 million other Americans watched late last evening as Alaska Governor Sarah Palin delivered the speech of her political life. And she hit it out of the park. Talk radio dittoheads have gone beserk as have some of the British newspapers. Monies are pouring into the McCaine/Palin coffers like it was Typhoon Katrina all over again.

We say, you go girl!

02 September 2008

Musing: Talk about an Over-achieving Family?

We ran across this obituary in The Guardian (UK). Mr Shiu's family typifies the high-achieving Asian/Chinese family across the world...

Po-Ku Shiu
Man-Hei Shiu and Peter Shiu
The Guardian,
Monday June 16 2008
Article history

Our father, Po-Ku Shiu, who has died aged 95, may have seemed just an unremarkable self-made businessman from Hong Kong, but for the fact that he had the vision back in the 1950s - long before it became fasionable - to use his resources to send his many children to faraway Britain to be educated and acquire professional qualifications.

Po-Ku came from a well-to-do family in south China. But with the early death of his opium-addicted father, the barely educated teenager was forced to leave his "bound-feet" mother in Shiqi, a village in Canton province, to seek labouring work in Hong Kong, sending money home to support his two younger brothers. Nonetheless, he had the insight to recognise the importance of learning English at night-school, thereby enabling him to get a job as a runner for import agents.

In 1935, he married our mother, May-Ling Fung, a secretary, and had three sons before fleeing to mainland China during the Japanese wartime occupation of the colony. Despite great suffering as refugees, they had two more sons and a daughter, followed by another two sons after returning to Hong Kong in 1946. Thus they had together the supposed ideal Chinese family of "seven-stars-around-the-moon".

By the 1950s, our father was a highly successful businessman with his own company, Wah Tat, manufacturing electrical appliances (mainly domestic products such as lamps, plugs and sockets). He was rather proud that it even exported to the UK. But unlike many who went on to become fabulously rich, he decided to use his money to send his children to Britain.

In 1963, following the death of a younger brother, he also took responsibility for the education of two young nieces.

After many years in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the US and Britain, our parents settled in Birmingham in 1984. Following his wife's death in 1991, Po-Ku lived quietly as a respected member of the city's Chinese community.

He is survived by his eldest son, Man-Hei Shiu, a former transplant surgeon and professor of medicine at Cornell University, New York state; Peter Shiu, a former reader in pure mathematics at Loughborough University; Stephen Shiu, a mathematical physics graduate from Birmingham University who worked in industry; Man-Fai Shiu, a consultant cardiologist; Margaret Shiu-Tan, a prominent artist in Taiwan and economics graduate from the University of California, Berkeley; and Edward Shiu, a senior lecturer in marketing at Strathclyde University. Two of Po-Ku's sons predeceased him: Albert Shiu, a businessman and physics graduate from Birmingham University; and Matthew Shiu, a much-loved Birmingham GP.

He is also survived by his nieces, Diana Siu, a doctor in Hong Kong, and Teresa Siu-Tong, a recently retired partner with accountants Ernst & Young.

About this article

Obituary: Po-Ku Shiu This article appeared in the Guardian on Monday June 16 2008 on p31 of the Obituaries section. It was last updated at 00:03 on June 16 2008.

01 September 2008

Another Reason for the Hott Asians and Koreans: Plastic Surgery

In 2005, we brought you the fascinating story of Dawn Yang, the Singaporean blogger who went from a homely Southeastern Asian schoolgirl to a super-gorgeous model, after undergoing major plastic surgery. (We're unsure whether Miss Yang had the work done here in West Los Angeles or in South Korea.) But here's a story from Singapore's New Paper about the plastic surgery craze in Asia.

Asia, learn well the lessons from Argentina, where they spent so much of their GDP on plastic surgery that the country went belly up about five years ago...

He cuts up plain Janes to make them beautiful

With more S'porean patients, South Korean plastic surgeon Dr Kim Byung Gun wants to set up shop here.
Elysa Chen

Sun, May 18, 2008
The New Paper

TURNING plain Janes into beauties is all in a day's work for renowed South Korean plastic surgeon Kim Byung Gun.

Some of his patients even went on to become showbiz stars.

And several times a year, Dr Kim, 46, says he works his magic on faces from Singapore.

In fact, he claims the number of patients from Singapore has tripled in the last few years.

And this has spurred him to make plans to set up shop right here in Singapore.

Speaking to The New Paper on Sunday when he was here on vacation with his family two weeks ago, Dr Kim said he's planning to open a clinic, and even a plastic surgery hospital here.

The director of BK Dongyang Plastic Surgery Clinic, South Korea's largest chain of plastic surgery clinics, could not give the exact number of Singapore patients he sees in Seoul.

In an interview with The Straits Times in November 2006, Dr Kim said up to 20 Singaporeans visited him every year.

He told The New Paper on Sunday that he sees about 50 foreign patients a month.

He also runs a medical centre in Shanghai.

Dr Kim, who is likely to be the first Korean plastic surgeon to set up shop here, said: 'So many people in Singapore want plastic surgery, more and more of them are coming to Korea.

'Korean doctors have performed surgery on more patients and have much more experience.

'Many of the Singaporean patients I see in Korea have had to get revisional work done. If I come here, I can do a better job for patients the first time around.'

He claimed he had seen some patients from Singapore with botched nose and double-eyelid jobs.

When contacted, Ms Priscilla Tan, the secretariat of the Singapore Association of Plastic Surgeons, said they were not aware of other foreign plastic surgeons who are practising here, or any who plans to do so.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said any foreign doctor who wants to practise here must first be registered with the Singapore Medical Council (SMC). The clinic must also be licensed by MOH.

A check on the SMC website showed that the university which

Dr Kim went to, Seoul National University's Medical College, is recognised here.

Korean stars who go under the knife
» Harisu, a transgender actress-singer-model. Went for a sex-change operation (above)

» HAN Ae Ri, formerly from girl band Babyvox Re.V, wanted bigger breasts and a sharper 'V-line' chin. She went under the knife twice in the space of just three weeks in November last year. She lost so much blood that she had to be hospitalised.

» Kim Dong Wan of boy band Shinhwa. Fixed his 'flat nose' after his debut in 1998 because he was unhappy with it.

» Actress Kim Jung Eun, who acted in the Korean drama, Lovers. Her parents paid for her chin job as they were worried nobody would marry her.

» Actor-singer-model Kim Hee Chul of Korean boy band, Super Junior. Got a nose job after he injured his nose after falling down from the stairs in his home.

» Actress Chae Rim, who acted in All About Eve. Got a nose job


But it's not just work that will bring Dr Kim, who said he became a Singapore permanent resident two months ago, to our shores.

He said: 'I may want my children to study in Singapore because there are very good international schools here, and English is taught as the main language.'

Dr Kim and his wife, who is a supreme court judge in South Korea, have 2-year-old twin girls.

But his busy work schedule - he claims to work 350 days of the year - means he has little time left for his family.

Dr Kim said he operates on 20 patients a day, and flies to Shanghai on Sundays.

Laughing, he said: 'My wife and I talk for about 10 minutes a day!'

Dr Kim claimed to have earned more than US$30 million ($41million) in the last three years.

His charges do not come cheap. It's US$3,000 for a nose job, and US$2,000 for double eyelids.


And he claims to be the plastic surgeon to 'most of Korea's celebrities'.

So, who are some of these famous people who have gone under his knife?

Dr Kim declined to reveal their identities, but he did let on that they included two Miss Koreas and the winner of a supermodel competition.

'When I went to the beauty competition, I was surprised to see one of my patients there,' he recalled.

'She had surgery just four or five months back, and yet she won!'

Seeing his client reap the rewards of his work gave Dr Kim a great sense of satisfaction.

But he does not just operate on famous people.

He also does pro bono work.

He operated for free on one woman who had been slashed more than 40 times on her abdomen, thighs and legs during a robbery.

Because she was a poor woman from the countryside, she could not afford surgery and had to save up for 10 years before she approached a plastic surgeon.

But Dr Kim said he did not take a single cent from her.

Gratitude from her and her husband was reward enough.

Although Dr Kim was unable to correct completely the scars on her legs, her husband came to his clinic a year later and gave him fruit to thank him for helping his wife.

Dr Kim said: 'Plastic surgery is really challenging. If it's easy, everyone can be a plastic surgeon. But it's the challenges that keep me going on.'

When contacted, Dr Woffles Wu, a prominent plastic surgeon here, said that it is 'quite difficult' for foreign plastic surgeons to practise in Singapore due to strict guidelines and the selection process.

But he welcomes new competition.

'We are a globalising country. So, if the government allows it, and if the doctor is a bona fide plastic surgeon with a good reputation and a high level of skill - who is not just here to make money - I think it would be great.'

This article was first published in The New Paper on May 18, 2008.