Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday Links

  • The above is EU-wide and Eurozone unemployment.  There is a little hint of stabilization at the overall level, but it is much too soon to tell for sure.
  • US household formation, which had been rebounding after the great recession, is now stabilizing.  Sober Look argues this means that house price appreciation will slow going forward.
  • The Chinese have drones too.
  • Here is the full Mandiant report on the Chinese PLA unit 61398 that they say is responsible for a large fraction of Chinese cyberattacks on the US.  They make a plausible case, and the report is a lot of work and well worth reading for IT folks (non-specialists might just skim the beginning and conclusions).  One caution: I don't think all that much of the statistical analyses in the report.   Mandiant is a rapidly growing US company founded in 2004, and so anything measured from inside Mandiant is going to be based on a sample that started with a few US customers and grew to many more US customers and started to incorporate international ones as well.  There are ways to account for that, but the statistics here are just absolute numbers and so will be heavily contaminated by Mandiant's growth.  That said, there's essentially no doubt of the main point here - China is engaged in massive-scale state-sponsored cyber-espionage against the west.
  • Which is the perfect segue to this Michael Pettis essay arguing, amongst other things, that almost all countries that successfully transitioned from undeveloped to developed state did so via protecting their infant industries with tarriffs and generally with large amounts of intellectual property theft from the dominant country of the day.  So Chinese intellectual property theft is following a long tradition - just with modern electronic efficiency.

5 comments:

sunbeam said...

"That said, there's essentially no doubt of the main point here - China is engaged in massive-scale state-sponsored cyber-espionage against the west."

Stuart, I don't disagree with your point, but what is unusual about this?

This has been going on basically forever, and done by all countries. Aside from the obvious military aspects, there is also a long history of espionage conducted for economic purposes, which in some ways might be more important than the military side of matters.

I remember reading a series of articles in the late 80's and early 90's about European, particularly French, economic espionage. Honey traps, bribes, the whole nine yards. The purpose wasn't to secure some military advantage over the US, or to manipulate foreign policy or anything like that. It was to make a buck.

The angle on the series was the involvement of state espionage organizations in this activity, like it was something unusual. That is anything but. Everyone does it. We do it.

It would be unusual if the Chinese didn't.

This is to say, that from my viewpoint if China is engaged in espionage against the West, I just have to say "So?"

Obviously they are interested in military things. But I bet the prime focus is in the end economic and general technology.

The kicker is they don't really have to bother, though they will. The usual Randian assclowns will sell them technology, or just plain put it over there because it is a few percentage points more profitable.

And heck, who needs to spy on our government? They can lobby them like anyone else. Like Johnny Chung said, "I see the White House is like the Subway, I just have to put in tokens."

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like a big to-do about nothing unusual, or nothing anyone can do anything about without a real sea change in the way America does things.

Nick G said...

Communism traditionally didn't believe in the idea of intellectual property - they thought information should be free.

Strikingly, that's the way the US's founding Fathers thought too: they thought patents and copyrights were necessary evils, whose lives should be kept as short as possible. They'd be horrified by the recent dramatic extensions of copyright sponsored by Disney et al.

TiradeFaction said...

>arguing, amongst other things, that almost all countries that successfully transitioned from undeveloped to developed state did so via protecting their infant industries with tarriffs and generally with large amounts of intellectual property theft from the dominant country of the day.

That's not really a new observation (even if it isn't discussed much in mainstream economic circles).

Ha-Joon Chang wrote about this (albeit from a South Korean perspective). Great book http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Samaritans-Secret-History-Capitalism/dp/1596915986

Zeke said...

Personally, I think the whole China hacking thing is just more US China bashing. Are they hacking? Of course!! And so is the US big, big time. As is the rest of the world. But it's all the rage now. Create a new enemy, scare the masses, build whole new technologies and, most of all, build ever more expensive military weapons. Gotta earn that lobbying (bribe)money. Me, I'm just tired of the constant US implication that we are the great, the pure and the exception.

Stuart Staniford said...

It's quite true that the US engages in cyber-espionage and even actual damage via cyber-attacks (eg Stuxnet), but I don't think there's much evidence of it doing large scale commercial espionage. We'd know - there'd have to be a whole system for distributing the proceeds, and that would be apparent. Also, we don't have nearly the same motive since China is catching up to us, not vice versa. China is definitely doing very large scale commercial espionage.