A Billion here and a Billion there…pretty soon you’re talking about serious money

And these are pounds, not dollars, so it’s real money, that is being withdrawn from mutual funds in the UK, as noted in the Financial Times (credit for the original quote goes to Senator Dirksen although there’s some doubt he actually said it nobody can find the actual quote.. But how much is a Billion dollars anyway?):

Billions taken out of top UK mutual funds
By Ellen Kelleher and Kate Burgess

Published: February 15 2008 22:17 | Last updated: February 15 2008 22:17

Private investors have pulled billions of pounds out of some of the UK’s best-known mutual funds in recent months, in a sign of jitters about the downturn in markets and the economy.

Confidential fund sales data obtained by the Financial Times show the last three months of 2007 were among the worst on record for UK asset managers.

Fidelity suffered a net outflow of £977m from its UK funds in the fourth quarter, ceding its top ranking to Invesco Perpetual.

Standard Life reported net outflow of £492m and Norwich Union of £468m, according to data compiled by a UK fund research group. Outflows for Credit Suisse and Axa Framlington were £575m and £347m respectively.

Lipper Feri compiled the data from figures provided by asset managers. Analysts say heavy outflows continue this year and fund managers expect investors to take more money out if markets remain volatile.

A Billion here and a Billion there…pretty soon you’re talking about serious money


Amartya Sen had observed that a Free Press is the very best weapon against hunger. There has never been, he asserts, a famine in a modern nation that has both a Free Press and multi-party democracy. I had wondered a while back (in this post: The Free Press, Famines, and Disease Outbreaks) whether a free press might also play a similar role in the prevention of disease outbreaks, especially after observing that China (not free press and and not multiparty democracy) kept SARS under wraps for quite a while, and who knows what else they might be hiding, too (Public Health Issue in China Glossed over (again)?)

It’s clear that I am not the only one thinking about the connection between a free press and disease prevention and their role in politics; both the current US and Chinese administrations have been doing quite a bit of thinking along those lines, too. Only their thinking isn’t the most constructive, they are both suppressing information about public health issues.

Continue reading “Convergence”


Dr. Mongkol Na Songkhla is amazingly stupid or, in the unthinkable alternative, the Financial Times is biased

A modest post, including, as a special bonus, an enlightened understanding of the terms amazingly free and military-installed

Here we have a story about a developing country, realizing that it can’t afford some of the most expensive medicines necessary for treating AIDS, announcing that it will therefore begin producing generic versions of these very few (just 2 actually) very expensive medications.  This is specifically allowed, under the declaration of a health emergency, by WIPO rules.  But if Thailand does declare such an emergency, it is almost certain that the pharmaceutical companies or their trade group would appeal this.  It may just be posturing by the Thai government to get the best possible bargaining position, when they buy some pharmaceuticals, but this somehow seems a little more premeditated.  The Financial Times covers the story:

Thais warn of switch to generic medicines

By Amy Kazmin in Bangkok

Published: February 18 2007 22:12 | Last updated: February 18 2007 22:12

Thailand is likely to widen its use of cheaper, generic versions of patented drugs, unless western drug companies cut the prices of their original medications, the country’s health minister has said.

Dr Mongkol Na Songkhla, health minister, told the Financial Times that the military-installed government was considering whether to ignore the patents for drugs used to treat leading causes of death – such as cancer and heart disease – as it escalates its confrontation with big pharmaceuticals groups.[n.b.:emphasis added by e_f]

Hmmm…So did Dr. Mongkol Na Songkhla really say something like “Today, our military-installed government has decided that it will begin producing generic pharmaceuticals?” Now, I have never worked for a “military-installed ” government, but it seems fairly obvious that reminding one’s superiors that they came into power undemocratically is not a career-enhancing move. So, perhaps, Dr. Mongkol Na Songkhla is really, really dense. Or did the Financial Times insert that adjective sideways, to indicate disapproval of that action. If so, isn’t this news piece really an editorial? And if it is an editorial, whose interests are being represented here?

Continue reading “Dr. Mongkol Na Songkhla is amazingly stupid or, in the unthinkable alternative, the Financial Times is biased”

Dr. Mongkol Na Songkhla is amazingly stupid or, in the unthinkable alternative, the Financial Times is biased