East Germany and Japan 1: Kajima Corporation

Japan’s post-war rise is often mentioned in the same breath with Germany’s spectacular economic miracle – the “Wirtschaftswunder”. For someone born on the other side of the wall in East Berlin, it is interesting to read about the less-documented relationship between economic superstar Japan and socialist East Germany during the decades of the cold war. The first installment in a set of some anecdotes is about Kajima Corporation’s export of Japanese construction practices to Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden.


Hotel Merkur Leipzig model presentation by Kajima Corporation in 1978

Continue reading

American embassy housing

While in Tokyo we lived in a serviced apartment in Ark Hills, right next to Roppongi-itchome station. We could see the 1983 US embassy residences opposite Roppongi Dori from our windows. I found some pictures from before they were built. They illustrate how the area has changed since the war and bring back to life two historic buildings that occupied the site before. 30 Nov: Update at bottom of the post


September 1953 – Perry Apartments, left, with Harris Apartments on the right (Antonin Raymond), photograph from Gerald & Rella Warner Japan Slide Collection, reproduced with permission.

Continue reading

Economies of vastness

The New York Times ran an article about Kazakhstan’s rail network the other day. It made me think both of the country that I have had the pleasure of visiting frequently and a growing interest in the interdisciplinary world of spatial economics. Some hopefully related thoughts after the jump.

Kazansky Rail Terminal, train to Kazakhstan (Казанский Вокзал, поезд в Казахстан)

Kazakhstan rail wagon – in Kazan, Russia, by Flickr user Mikhail Shcherbakov (creative commons)

Continue reading

Social Impact Bonds

I don’t get many comments on this blog but one of the few I did get urged me to look at social impact bonds (SIBs). It came in response to a critical post I wrote on impact investing. SIBs are a potentially major instrument in impact investing in which payback is linked to a pre-defined (social) outcome. Most of them don’t deserve the name bond as they exhibit more option-like characteristics. But that is not the only source of my theoretical confusion surrounding SIBs.


Again for a lack of a better photo – view down Broad Street, downtown Manhattan

Continue reading

History on Seventh Avenue

A stone throw away from where I live stand two buildings that occupy a special place in Harlem’s history. They are the First Corinthian Baptist Church on the southwest corner of 7th Avenue and 116th Street and Graham Court diagonally across the street. Theresa Hotel is another landmark building, nine blocks uptown on 7th Avenue and 125th Street.

grahamcourt Continue reading

Strivers’ Row

One of the stops on my Harlem-for-visitors tour is Stivers’ Row on West 138th and 139th Streets between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd and Frederick Douglass Blvd. Some photos and a little history after the jump.


The courtyards acted as an alleyway with horse stables

Continue reading

Export Germany

Germany has been the target of some stinging criticism as of late. The US Treasury and the IMF accused the Germans of running too large trade and current account surpluses. Germany is hence fuelling huge global imbalances, as these surpluses must by definition lead to equivalent deficits elsewhere. Is there any merit to this argument?


Berlin – TV Tower / Fernsehturm on foggy day

Continue reading

China learning from Japan

I went to a presentation by Stephen Roach (former chief economist of Morgan Stanley) a couple of weeks ago. He started off with a good overview of current global financial imbalances. Yet I felt he fell short on delivering on the presentation title’s promise – showing how China can learn from Japan – in good ways and in bad. Some of the topics I would have liked to be seen addressed after the jump.


Shanghai haze viewed from Pudong

Continue reading