China’s Larger Role in the World; Immortality in a Test Tube

Q1 | March 2020

stack of old newspapers, pile of old newspapers

Topic: Pearls of Wisdom

Devin Crago CFA

March 26, 2020

Image used with permission: iStock/hanohiki


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China’s Larger Role in the World; Immortality in a Test Tube

Q1 | March 2020

Reading is one of the principal occupations in our profession. As we digest a wide range of material, interesting ideas and surprising facts – some serious and some light-hearted – rise to the surface. We attempt to share a few of those with you in each of our issues of Nexus Notes.

China’s larger role in the world

Seldom has the world’s attention been so focused on China. Between trade wars and the coronavirus outbreak, there is a lot happening in the world’s most populous country. While there are plenty of metrics available to measure the ascent of China, we found this one particularly intriguing: Chinese shoppers now account for approximately 35% of global luxury sales. That number is not only large in its own right, but also represents tremendous growth from only a 2% share during the SARS epidemic in 2003. Many of the high-end brands that have benefited from the rise of Chinese shoppers (Gucci, Cartier, Louis Vuitton) are likely in for a difficult period ahead until the coronavirus outbreak recedes. To make matters worse for those brands, many of the products are manufactured in Italy – another country that has been hit hard by the virus. (“Luxury Brands Fear Sales Hit as Chinese Shoppers Stay Home”, The Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2020.)

Immortality in a test tube

The healthcare industry is among the most dynamic and innovative sectors of the modern economy. From robotic surgery to breakthrough pharmaceutical therapies, the extent of progress in this industry over the past century is stunning. However, Mother Nature often is the source of the best innovations. Recent lab research into how the brain works has focused on the hydra, a half-inch long relative of the jellyfish. The organism – which dates back some 750 million years – is sometimes considered immortal, due to its uncanny ability to repair itself. According to Columbia University neuroscientists “The hydra’s regenerative powers are so incredible that if you break it up into individual cells and collect the cells in a test tube, they will reconfigure themselves into a proper animal within a few days.” (“What Can this Ancient Creature Tell Us about the Human Brain?”, Columbia Magazine, Winter 2019-20.)

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