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"I know my conduct was wrong....I apologize for my actions." -- Sanjay Kumar, ex-chief executive of CA Inc., formerly Computer Associates International, pleading guilty in court to securities fraud, perjury, and obstruction of justice charges Investors aren't the only ones clamoring for a piece of the hedge fund bonanza. The rapid growth of the $1.4 trillion industry has offshore financial hubs from the Bahamas to the Republic of Mauritius vying for fund business. "Governments are laying out the welcome mat," says Michael Serota, co-leader of Ernst & Young's Americas Hedge Fund practice.
Hedge funds move all or part of their operations for a variety of reasons. Some set up back offices overseas to cut costs. Others create satellite units to find investments abroad. Then there are U.S. hedge funds, some of which are registering offshore to avoid regulation: As of Feb. 1 they must register with the SEC and open up to audits.
The offshore hubs want the added high-skilled jobs, tax revenues, and the cachet funds bring to local financial markets. "It's all good stuff for their economy," says Serota. On Mar. 1, Hong Kong, in a tight rivalry with Singapore, created new tax breaks for offshored hedge funds. Malta, an emerging player, has been gaining traction as a low-cost locale. And the Cayman Islands, where roughly 7,000 hedge funds are already registered, is promoting its established financial sector. With some 12,000 hedge funds globally, there's plenty to go around. The immigration rights protest planned for Monday, May 1, is gathering force -- and some dissent within the ranks. The job walkout, dubbed The Great American Boycott 2006: A Day Without an Immigrant, is meant to demonstrate the protesters' economic importance. Truckers at the Port of Los Angeles, 85% of whom are Hispanic and known as troqueros, say they'll strike. And Cargill, after polling workers, plans to close seven Midwestern plants in support of the boycott. "There is a lot of passion and emotion behind this issue," says Mark Klein, a spokesman for the Minneapolis-based agribusiness giant.
Some pro-immigrant and business groups, worried about a backlash just as the Senate plans to reignite debate on the immigration reform bill, will stay on the sidelines. The National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group, doesn't endorse the walkout, for instance. But "economically, it's going to have an impact," says John Gay, vice-president of the National Restaurant Assn. and co-chair of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, a pro-immigrant business group. (Neither group endorses the protest.) Gay says many association members worry that the walkout will close even more outlets than the huge April rallies did. Sign-up sheets for taking the day off are already maxed out at some outlets, he says, and "more people are saying they won't be coming in." David Brailer always said he hated Washington, and apparently he meant it. The 46-year-old doctor and economist, who led President George W. Bush's charge to revolutionize the health-care industry by setting up a national medical-records network, resigned on Apr. 20 after just two years at Health & Human Services.
Brailer cites family reasons. (For two years, he has been commuting to work from San Francisco.) But aides add that the job was changing in ways he didn't like. His once-small staff, made up of close associates from his private-sector days, was becoming more of a bureaucracy.
He isn't complaining. ("I got a couple of trips on Air Force One out of it," he jokes.) And he still evangelizes about the ways in which e-health records can reduce medical errors that kill patients or drive up costs (BW -- Oct. 31, 2005). "David has been such a relentless booster that I worry about the momentum slowing," says Mark Smith, president of the California HealthCare Foundation.
As vice-chairman of a key HHS advisory group, Brailer will keep his hand in the program. After he leaves his post in May, he plans to look for a job in private equity. Beijing recently approved China's 11th five-year plan. But this time the familiar wu nian ji hua (five-year plan) has been officially replaced with wu nian gui hua (five-year framework or blueprint). Rhetoric thus catches up with the reality of China's economy, about half of which is private, many economists say, not planned.
Today's five-year plan is "more a medium-term economic forecast," says UBS chief economist Jonathan Anderson. The goals of the wu nian gui hua? To double 2000's per capita gross domestic product by 2010, use energy more efficiently, and raise incomes in recently restive rural areas, where most of China's more than 1 billion people live. fistfulofeuros.netWHY READ ITFor a pan-European take on economics and politics by 15 bloggers from nine countries.NOTABLE POST"...[T]he French economy isn't actually in trouble. Growth, although not great, is ticking along, inflation is controlled, unemployment is higher than in the U.K. but lower than Italy or Germany....[T]here's more youth unemployment than one might like, but almost all the figures for this are wildly misleading.... Unemployment as a percentage of the age group is rather lower than the national rate and not much different from that elsewhere in Europe." John & Jane Toll-Free, a documentary making the rounds at film festivals this spring, looks at the lives behind the Indian-accented voices at the other end of an 800 call. Moviemaker Ashim Ahluwalia, who studied film at Bard College in New York, follows six workers at a fluorescent-lit, Bombay call center as they sell Americans everything from insurance to pancake molds. Fascinated by the culture clash, Ahluwalia records the workers' classes in American life (where they study shopping flyers and catalogs), their phone pitches, and their lives at home.
Indian by day, American by night (when their shifts and their Western aliases kick in), the call agents range from the angry young man who feels caged by the 14-hour shifts to the newly blond "Naomi," who embraces her American identity. The Bombay-born Ahluwalia says he made the film to capture "this new generation: Indians who live in India and abroad simultaneously." The film airs on HBO next year. When Congress renewed the USA Patriot Act last month, it gave the Justice Dept. new tools to counter the threat of weapons of mass destruction, airport violence, and... monopolies? Buried in the law is a provision allowing the use of wiretaps in suspected antitrust cases. The measure is the brainchild of Senators Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who say it's needed because antitrust infractions are tougher to prove than other corporate crimes but are just as harmful to consumers.
Defense lawyers, however, say the measure could lead to boardroom bugs and surveillance of CEO cell phones and might compromise trade secrets, if prosecutors mistakenly introduce proprietary information into the public record. "A prosecutor doesn't necessarily know the business significance of things," says Mark Racanelli, a former federal prosecutor who is now with the New York law office of O'Melveny & Myers. Barry Boss, the managing partner at the Washington (D.C.) office of the law firm Cozen O'Connor, echoes his concerns. "You're talking about a giant step forward in the intrusion on traditionally private, confidential communications," he says. "This is a really big deal."
And the issue may go beyond antitrust. A Justice Dept. bill floating around Congress seeks authority to use wiretaps in intellectual property investigations.
As in other types of cases, Justice will need a judge's O.K. to eavesdrop, but courts tend to be amenable to such requests. In 2004 state and federal enforcement officials asked for 1,710 wiretaps, mostly in drug cases. Judges granted them all. Global positioning is increasingly being marketed as a mobile parenting tool. Sprint Nextel (S
), Disney (DIS
), and Verizon (V
) all have recently announced cell phones or services that use GPS technology to allow parents to keep track of their kids. Now, a service is targeting parents' fears about the sexual predators they read and hear about. In March, CATS Communication launched CAT Trax, which uses GPS to do more than track kids' whereabouts. It also alerts parents when their children are near places where known sex offenders live or work. If a child spends a minute too long in the so-called zone, "a parent can be alerted and get to them immediately," says company founder Russ McCullough.
CAT Trax uses a database of registered sex offenders compiled from public information kept by all but six states. The software draws an electronic fence around addresses of sex offenders, sending parents e-mails or text messages if their kids enter those zones.
The service is available for an extra $19.99 a month on Motorola (MOT
) phones using the Sprint Nextel network. McCullough, who says demand for the service is picking up, says he plans to roll out CAT Trax on other mobile networks this year.
Of course, kids can always switch off their mobile phones. And research shows that 90% of sexual assaults against children are committed by family members and friends, not strangers.