Good morning

The headlines:
  1. The US Government has sued Apple (and five publishing houses) for ebook price-fixing. Apparently, they all worked together to eliminate competition amongst stores (ie. Amazon) selling ebooks, ultimately increasing prices to shareholders (and decreasing profits for Amazon). On a personal note, and as a frequent customer of the iBooks store, I have noticed that the price of ebooks has more or less returned to those that I’d pay for a new printed copy (it was not always that way). But maybe I’ve just bought the story (pun intended) that the bulk of a book’s cost is not in the paper and binding. Honestly, I think that the real loser in all this is Amazon, who dominated the ebook market before Apple started its “agency model”. Nutshell: Amazon used to buy the books wholesale, and then sell them on at a markup; Apple now sells the books as an agent for the publishers, and takes a cut. Does that sound less competitive? It certainly sounds more intelligent… Link: US Sues Apple for Ebook Pricing.
  2. The World Bank has cut its forecast on China’s growth. Note that this means that the World Bank still expects growth, just less of it. The forecast has fallen from 8.4% to 8.2%, which doesn’t sound like much – but China is the second largest economy in the world. A 0.2% drop in their growth could be the equivalent of, say, the economy of Ghana. “World Bank cuts growth forecast; World loses medium-sized African nation”. The World Bank’s solution: the Chinese government should increase fiscal spending to spur consumption, and bank reserve requirement should be lowered (again) to ease credit. It all sounds very conventional – but does anyone worry that the correct word here is more “spurious” than “spur”? The solution is fiscal spending (how will they finance it?) and more credit? Does any of that sound sustainable? Link: World Bank forecasts China.
  3. In other Chinese news, the fall of Bo Xilai continues in spectacular style. The former Minister of Commerce, and until recently the Communist Party of China (CPC) Chongqing Committee Secretary (AKA – the leader), his fall comes ahead of the once-in-a-decade leadership change (elections/appointments for the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee, China’s highest ruling council, are happening in a couple of months). He was a lead candidate for promotion, until some police chief in Chongqing sought refuge in a consulate for some reason. This lost Bo his position (?). Now his wife has been accused of murdering a British businessman (the term used is “highly suspected”), with her charges being read out on China’s central television station every hour on the hour. The CPC is going media-crazy in calling for Bo’s investigation (but isn’t this his wife?), announcing that “Bo has seriously violated the Party discipline, causing damage to the cause and the image of the Party and state”. I’m in awe of the Chinese political machine. Link: Boo hoo, Bo who?.
  4. Christopher Dodd, Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, has announced that SOPA is dead, in his view. The Stop Online Piracy Act was shelved by Congress in January after the Google and Wikipedia-led protest against it (I have fond memories of a #FactsWithoutWikipedia trend on twitter that day). The Motion Picture Association had lobbied heavily in favour of the bill, but Dodd admits that it probably went further than it should have. According to Bloomberg, under SOPA, the US Department of Justice would have been able to obtain court orders forcing Internet-service providers, search engines, payment processors and online ad networks to block non-US sites linked to selling counterfeit goods. Which seems strange – because my understanding is that SOPA would have meant no more music videos on Youtube. Either way, I think we won. Link: Web Piracy Bills are Dead.
  5. And continuing yesterday’s story on the South China Sea, Philippines President Benigno Aquino says that he is seeing a diplomatic solution to the stand-off with China. I’m sure he is. Look at what they happened to Bo! But China has issued their side of the story. Yesterday, the Philippines said that the Chinese ships had stopped them arresting illegal fisherman. China has now said that the Philippines folk had illegally blocked the passage of ships seeking shelter from bad weather. Although it seems that the fisherman were seeking shelter for three days, because they were first spotted on April 8. And the diplomatic incident took place on April 10. Link: Philippines seeks peaceful end
  6. And the African Business News in brief. Link: ABN Briefs. The highlight:
    • Sudan has stopped all talks with South Sudan after new fighting on their border. South Sudan says it was acting in self defence. 
That’s all for now.
Have a good day.