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Physicist, Startup Founder, Blogger, Dad

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Long term investing

Will it move the needle? Perhaps.
New Yorker: ... This week, Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and chief executive of the Blackstone Group, invoked Rhodes’s gift as the inspiration behind a large new scholarship for study not in America but in China. He is hoping that familiarity with the world’s rising superpower will blunt growing American anxiety about changes in status. “Anger can lead to trade problems, and ultimately to military confrontation,” he told me. “We had to find a way to stop or ameliorate that situation.” The scholarship will draw two hundred students a year to a one-year English-language master’s program at a dedicated new college inside Tsinghua University. Twenty per cent of the winners will be from China, forty-five per cent from America, and the remainder from elsewhere. Schwarzman is giving a hundred million of a personal fortune estimated at $6.5 billion, and raising another two hundred million largely from blue-chip companies with big investments in China, to create an endowment that the Times calls “one of the largest single gifts to education in the world and one of the largest philanthropic gifts ever in China.”

[Schwarzman:] ... I sat down with President Chen and I said to him, “If we do this, what I really want to do is construct a program that that has the same prestige as the Rhodes, because those are the students that I’m aiming for.” In 1902, going to Oxford was sine qua non. J. P. Morgan worked in London after he graduated from college, because that’s what you did. And then he came back to the States.

But the world has certainly changed, and one of the things that was really driving me to do this is that I could see the negative attitudes that people had toward China were bubbling. The financial crisis, where growth rates in Europe went to zero or worse— everything went down; jobs in the United States have been very slow to come back. By the same token, in China they’re growing, at that point, nine per cent a year. And meanwhile the West is quite damaged and remains damaged from a job-creation point of view.

And I was convinced that that would create frustration in the West, and frustration would lead to anger, and that anger can lead to trade problems, and ultimately to military confrontation. And if China was going to grow at two to three times the [rate of] so-called developed countries, that within two decades, if those trends continue, they’d go from the No. 2 economy in the world to the No. 1, and whatever problems you are seeing today in these areas of frustration would be that much greater. And at a certain point, it seemed logical to me that you’d start to have some really bad things with a much higher probability of occurring. We had to find a way to stop or ameliorate that situation.

And I looked at this idea, this type of program, as a way to produce people who would have that kind of understanding of China that they wouldn’t have had, as they go back to their regular lives—to observe what’s happening in China and interpret it to their constituencies and their industries and their world. This network, at maturity, will be ten thousand kids; some will be seventy-five years old, but that’s a lot of people, spread around the world at a very high level. And so they can react to China, interpret what they’re doing. They can tell the Chinese that they’ve overdone it in certain cases, and they can also form their own global network to deal with other issues, whether they’re global or bilateral, because they’ll know people who are, I guess you would say, more kindred souls, who have a shared experience. So that’s what’s behind this.
When I met with Stephen Smale recently he said the undergraduate math students at Beida (Beijing University) and Tsinghua were the strongest group he knew of in the world today. See also Tsinghua uber alles.

14 comments:

Yan Shen said...

"But the world has certainly changed, and one of the things that was really driving me to do this is that I could see the negative attitudes that people had toward China were bubbling."

In other news, the sky is blue...

Mulcaster said...

Just goes to show there are billionaire morons.

ohmyohmy said...

Wait, isn't that analogy kind of bad, though? Shouldn't the equivalent be a scholarship that sends Chinese students to study at Harvard or Stanford or something?

Was there/is there a prestigious scholarship in the Europe in 1902 that sent their best students to the rising economy of America (I'm curious)?

5371 said...

Bound to work, after all, the Rhodes scholarships prevented the first and second world wars.

Richard Seiter said...

Given that the US entered both wars on the side of the British I think one could more easily argue it did have a positive effect fostering American/British cooperation. As you note though, for preventing war, not so much...

Richard Seiter said...

Good question (and I tend to agree with your first point). I think this is the more useful direction for a scholarship in this case though. My perception is that there are many more Chinese educated in America than vice versa so I think adding some Americans studying in China could be helpful.

tractal said...

Exactly. Very few future American leaders have a first hand sense of what's going on in China, which this should help address. Sitting in a class with Tsinghua's hyperselected student body may also provide a valuable moment of humility. This is a very good idea, and long overdue.

Mulcaster said...

Hyperselected, but not by grades Mssr tractal.

tractal said...

If you look at my previous posts you'll see we mostly agree that grades, especially high school grades, are worthless, and that relying on them for undergrad admissions to the degree we do is very stupid from an addcom point of view. At least in College its hard for a 115 IQ to get a 4.0, which improves the usefulness of undergrad GPA in my view. You are over-reading my comment.

Andrew said...

The Choate fellowship sends students from University of Cambridge to Harvard. It was founded in 1919: http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter/2003-04/special/05/206.html

Mulcaster said...

And if the GRE general and subjects weren't push overs grad addcoms and employers should rely on them exclusively also. But they are at least a little too easy and what school in the US requires them of its graduates or has its own cums? None that I know of.

The ONLY good reason for formal ed and its obscene cost is for the lab courses. Now lab courses are an after thought conducted by TAs.

It costs > 100,000 for a good B-school or law school which have no labs at all. There's a four letter word for this: evil.

And the people whose business this is, profs and admins, should be regarded as criminals.

Bobdisqus said...

Odd that bubbling when no heat was being applied to the pot.

Mulcaster said...

Rike everyone rove Chiner. Come on.

I love cocaine.

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