In China 1.2 Million Candidates Apply For 19,000 Government Jobs

The difficulty of US workers to obtain “desirable” jobs has been noted here previously. Recall in 2012 when Delta received 22,000 applications for about 300 flight attendant jobs in the first week after posting the positions outside the company (which was an improvement from 2010, when the Atlanta-based carrier received 100,000 applications for 1,000 jobs when it last hired flight attendants in October 2010). Or when in 2011 McDonalds hired 62,000 minimum wage applicants out of one million total applicants. However, that is nothing compared to the job seeking frenzy in China, where as AFP reports, more than one million people took China’s national civil service exam at the weekend in a modern version of an age-old rite, but faced huge odds against clinching one of the few government jobs available. A total of 1.12 million took the National Public Servant Exam, according to figures from the State Administration of Civil Service figures. How many total job openings were there? A tiny 19,000 according to China’s Global Times, meaning less than 1 on 50 would be successful.

But that’s just the tip of the scramble. According to AFP, the most competitive role was with the National Ethnic Affairs Commission, where 14,384 candidates were vying for just two jobs. Why the surge in applicants? “Domestic reports said it was so popular because the application process appeared to be less arduous than for other positions.” Somehow math suggest that over 7,000 applicants for one job means a somewhat more “arduous” application process, not less.

As for the allure of government jobs, the story here is well-known: job safety coupled with an easy living in which one isn’t expected to do much of anything:

Government jobs are especially appealing to Chinese because they are seen as stable employment and bring with them a range of privileges, as well as the status of being an official. The benefits can include living allowances, pensions, health insurance and even property — a valuable commodity in China’s prolonged housing boom.


The current civil service test is a legacy of the ancient imperial examination known as the keju, introduced during the Sui Dynasty, which ruled from 580-618 AD, and often regarded as a key meritocratic element of the governing system.


Early forms of the examinations were largely based on Confucian texts. They were open only to boys who were able to complete their education, either because of family wealth or sponsorship by benefactors.

In the US the pinnacle of professional development may mean ending up as a hedge fund billionaire on Twitter and moving stocks with nothing but a buy or sell recommendation in under 140 characters, but in China it is all about the government jobs:

The tests were only held every three years, and local officials would often present those who passed with a special banner to be hung at the entrance to their home, to ensure the success was remembered for generations.

The amusing nature of this process was not lost on the locals:

Many posters on Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, ridiculed the candidates. “This really is China’s peculiar landscape”, said one poster with the username “Law and its value”.


“Do they really want to pass the test to ‘serve the people’? No. They desperately hope to go and enjoy a privileged system of wages.”


Another said: “Every time (they take the test), they are in fact just competing to be able to take bribes and bend the law.”


Other netizens asked whether more civil servants were needed in China, following government pledges to cut down on bureaucracy.


“Who wouldn’t want to have a job that is guaranteed for life?” said one netizen.


“But the real question should be: ‘Is it really necessary to recruit tens of thousands of civil servants every year?'”

The answer: of course it is. How else can the world’s second most centrally-planned economy and market (after the US of course) preserve the illusion of 7%+ growth unless it created as many government jobs as needed to fill the daily growing slack. But if you think 7000 applicants for 1 “desired” job is bad, wait until the full impact of China’s easing of its 1 child policy is felt…


via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Twitter Takes Steps To Frustrate NSA, Other Government Snoops

TwitterTwitter announced Friday that
it’s joining other tech companies in implementing “perfect forward
secrecy.” While many online services already encrypt user
comunications and other data, this form of encryption ensures that
snoops—we’re looking at you, National Security Agency—who break
through the encryption get access to only a snippet of data, rather
than everything belonging to a user. Even where a warrant is
involved, perfect forward secrecy has the potential to limit
intrusions, rather than acting as an open-ended skeleton key.

From Twitter’s
Jacob Hoffman-Andrews

As part of our continuing effort to keep our users’ information
as secure as possible, we’re happy to announce that we recently
enabled forward secrecy for traffic on,, and On top of the usual
confidentiality and integrity properties of HTTPS, forward secrecy
adds a new property. If an adversary is currently recording all
Twitter users’ encrypted traffic, and they later crack or steal
Twitter’s private keys, they should not be able to use those keys
to decrypt the recorded traffic.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Parker Higgins
describes how perfect forward secrecy works

How can perfect forward secrecy help protect user privacy
against that kind of threat? In order to understand that, it’s
helpful to have a basic idea of how HTTPS works in general. Every
Web server that uses HTTPS has its own secret key that it uses to
encrypt data that it sends to users. Specifically, it uses that
secret key to generate a new “session key” that only the server and
the browser know. Without that secret key, the traffic traveling
back and forth between the user and the server is incomprehensible,
to the NSA and to any other eavesdroppers.

But imagine that some of that incomprehensible data is being
recorded anyway—as leaked NSA documents confirm the agency is
doing. An eavesdropper who gets the secret key at any time in the
future—even years later—can use it to decrypt all of the stored
data! That means that the encrypted data, once stored, is only as
secure as the secret key, which may be vulnerable to compromised
server security or disclosure by the service provider.

That’s where perfect forward secrecy comes in. When an encrypted
connection uses perfect forward secrecy, that means that the
session keys the server generates are truly ephemeral, and even
somebody with access to the secret key can’t later derive the
relevant session key that would allow her to decrypt any particular
HTTPS session. So intercepted encrypted data is protected from
prying eyes long into the future, even if the website’s secret key
is later compromised.

also plans to implement perfect forward secrecy
, and
Google has had it in place
since 2011. Google points out that
“not even the server operator will be able to retroactively decrypt
HTTPS sessions,” meaning that companies that implement the security
can’t turn users’ lives into open books, no matter the
pressure they face.

As fuck-yous to the surveillance state go, this is both welcome,
and effective.

from Hit & Run

Yes, a Man in Ohio Is Facing Prison Time Entirely for Having a Secret Car Compartment

Nobody whose logo looks like this should be accusing anybody else of drug-related offensesNorman Gurley, whom I noted
last week
was arrested
in northern Ohio for violating the state’s new
statute prohibiting secret compartments in cars (if authorities
determine they’re being used for transporting drugs) faces a
preliminary hearing tomorrow at Oberlin Municipal Court. According
to court
, Ohio Highway Patrol officers weren’t kidding when
they said they’d have nothing on Gurley if they hadn’t found the
compartment. The one count of violating Ohio’s hidden compartment
law is the only charge levied against Gurley.

Even though Gurley’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for
tomorrow, Oberlin’s site does not list an attorney for the man to
try to contact. Several commenters (and e-mailers) are curious as
to how the troopers justified the search. You can probably guess,
but if not, The Morning Journal of … somewhere
(dear small media outlets: Please indicate where the
hell you are on your websites and not assume that visitors already
got some comments
from Ohio Highway Patrol Lt. Michael

“The troopers noticed a smell of raw marijuana, which led them
to perform a search of the car,” Combs said. “While searching, they
saw some indicators that led them to believe a secret compartment
may have been added to the car.”

So the officers were able to smell raw marijuana while standing
outside the vehicle, but they weren’t able to find any during their
search. Those are some strong noses. I bet they don’t even need
police dogs up there in Ohio. Combs added that they found evidence
that the car was being used to transport drugs, but the evidence is
not detailed.

Violating Ohio’s hidden compartment law is a fourth degree felony,
meaning a judge could sentence Gurley to up to 18 months in prison
if convicted. If the defendant had been previously convicted
(apparently not the case with Gurley) the crime becomes a
third-degree felony, leading to a sentence of up to three years. If
it turns out there are drugs in the hidden compartment, the crime
becomes a second degree felony with a potential sentence of up to
five years in prison.

Once Reason passed along the story on Thursday it spread fast
and quickly on the Internet through social media. I’ll do my best
to try to keep an eye on the case (from all the way out here in
California), and when Gurley gets an attorney, I’ll see if he or
she is willing to comment.

from Hit & Run

NYSE “Breaks” As Twitter Slumps To New Record Low

Even as the Dot-Com 2.0 exasperates to new highs, it seems Twitter – the darling of the no-profit-but-lots-of-hype recent IPOs – is losing its lustre. TWTR is down 4% today to new lows post-IPO under $40. The catalyst for this latest slump appears to be a WSJ article about "fake accounts" – whocouldanode? Of course, it wouldn't be the new normal markets without an exchange 'breaking'… The NYSE and NYSE MKT cash equities markets is working to resolve an issue with customer connectivity.


Via WSJ,

In securities filings, Twitter says it believes fake accounts represent fewer than 5% of its 230 million active users. Independent researchers believe the number is higher.


Italian security researchers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli say they found 20 million fake accounts for sale on Twitter this summer. That would amount to nearly 9% of Twitter's monthly active users.



via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

NYSE "Breaks" As Twitter Slumps To New Record Low

Even as the Dot-Com 2.0 exasperates to new highs, it seems Twitter – the darling of the no-profit-but-lots-of-hype recent IPOs – is losing its lustre. TWTR is down 4% today to new lows post-IPO under $40. The catalyst for this latest slump appears to be a WSJ article about "fake accounts" – whocouldanode? Of course, it wouldn't be the new normal markets without an exchange 'breaking'… The NYSE and NYSE MKT cash equities markets is working to resolve an issue with customer connectivity.


Via WSJ,

In securities filings, Twitter says it believes fake accounts represent fewer than 5% of its 230 million active users. Independent researchers believe the number is higher.


Italian security researchers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli say they found 20 million fake accounts for sale on Twitter this summer. That would amount to nearly 9% of Twitter's monthly active users.



via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Pending Home Sales Collapse At Fastest Pace Since April 2011, Drop To December 2012 Levels

Despite the downtick in rates for a month or two, the housing ‘recovery’ appears to have come to an end. This is the fifth consecutive monthly decline in pending home sales and even though a smorgasbord of Wall Street’s best and brightest doth protest, it would appear the lagged impact of rising rates is with us for good (as the fast money has left the flipping building). This is the biggest YoY decline since April 2011 as NAR blames low inventories and affordability for the poor performance. Perhaps more worrying for those still clinging to the hope that this ends well is the new mortgage rules in January that could further delay approvals.



Via NAR,

“The government shutdown in the first half of last month sidelined some potential buyers. In a survey, 17 percent of Realtors reported delays in October, mostly from waiting for IRS income verification for mortgage approval,” he said.


“We could rebound a bit from this level, but still face the headwinds of limited inventory and falling affordability conditions. Job creation and a slight dialing down from current stringent mortgage underwriting standards going into 2014 can help offset the headwind factors,” Yun said.


Yun said there are concerns heading into 2014. “New mortgage rules in January could delay the approval process, and another government shutdown would harm both housing and the economy,” he said.

So the Fed provided the liquidity that bid prices up to a point that makes it unaffordable for the average joe and uneconomic for the average free-money-riding hedge fund. The Fed has made any recovery entirely dependent on extremely low rates and now is suggesting that taper is coming… and still… Strategists exclaim that rates are low by historical standards and so it won’t matter!! come on!


via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

How One of the Biggest Douchebags in Sports Made Basketball a Freer Market

Interesting piece over
at Slate
about the generally unsung role NBA/ABA great Rick
Barry played in creating a freer labor market in professional
basketball and sports more generally. As Dave Hollander points out,
to know Rick Barry was pretty much to hate Rick Barry. He was a
vain, egotistical, offensive jerk who rarely missed an opportunity
to offend, either intentionally or not (he once referred to the
African-American trailblazer Bill Russell as having “a watermelon

Yet Hollander, who has a book out about the 1974-75 Golden State
Warriors, argues persuasively that Rick Barry helped put a
sledgehammer to the “reserve clause” operating in all major sports
leagues. Due to a series of awful court rulings and legislative
decisions made by idiot elected officials, the reserve clause
essentially gave all power to owners and reduced athletes to the
status of chattel (baseball’s great emancipator, Curt Flood,
explicitly likened the reserve clause to slavery).

In the late 1960s, Barry became the first NBA star to decide to
jump to the upstart ABA. In order to do so, Hollander explains, he
had to challenge basketball’s reserve clause, which among other
things forced a player to play for his current team for a year
after his contract expired unless the team let him go. Barry filed
a suit and eventually lost in court and had to sit out a year.

The ABA had its first NBA player and a legitimate jumping off
point to launch a bidding war. That bidding war gave players an
option to choose between leagues. It increased their average
salaries from $18,000 in 1967 to $110,000 in 1975. When the NBA
wanted to stop the spending madness by merging with its rival
league, do you know who blocked it? The NBA players. Why? To keep
the salary war going.

Congress was considering an exemption to antitrust rules that
would allow the rival leagues to merge and the players, led by
Oscar Robertson, wanted to make sure that the new combined league
would not simply be able to revert to old practice. He ended up
appearing before the Senate and had this positively awesome
exchange with Sen. Roman Hruska:

Robertson: I think it is terribly
wrong for anyone to limit anyone’s ability to earn money no matter
where it may be, whether it is in business or sports. I think any
time you limit a person as to where he can go, such as the case was
prior to the two leagues, I think it is terribly wrong.

Hruska: Is it wrong to limit the
amount of money a man can earn?

Robertson: I think in America it

Hruska: Does the draft system do

Robertson: I think if you only had
one league, that is true. As long as you have two leagues, there is
no telling what a person can earn.

Hollander sums up:

Ipso facto the ABA was the death knell for
the NBA reserve clause. Consider this syllogism: No two leagues, no
end of the reserve clause. No ABA, no two leagues. No Rick Barry,
no ABA. Therefore, no Rick Barry, no defeat of the reserve

If you care about sports, capitalism, or comb-overs
(another thing that Rick Barry pioneered),
read the whole thing.

And read Matt
Welch’s 2005 classic, “Locker-Room Liberty,”
which looks at the
various ways that Joe Namath, Dick Allen, and Robertson helped to
create a sports world in which the folks actually putting asses in
the seats got a bigger cut of the amount of money they were
generating (for the time being, let’s not hold them accountable for
all the taxpayer dollars that are now propping up big-league

And watch
the great sportswriter Robert Lipsyste
talk about how sports
reflects society in good, bad, and ugly ways). Specifically, check
out his comments about how tennis legend Billie Jean King was the
single-most important figure in expanding athlete’s paychecks in
post-war America (around 26.30 minutes):


from Hit & Run

The Kids No Longer Love Obama. Who Can Blame Them?

Writes Nick Gillespie:

A new Quinnipiac Poll finds that only 36 percent of voters
between the ages of 18 and 29 approve of the job the president is
doing while fully 54 percent of the kids give him the thumbs down
(10 percent didn’t know or care enough to respond to the topic).
Back in March 2009, 62 percent of 18 to 29 years
approved, compared to just 20 percent disapproving.

Millennials may be young, but they’re not stupid. As bad as
Obama’s time in office has been for older
Americans, nobody has taken it on the chin quite as bad
as kids under 30, who are more likely to be unemployed, broke,
and facing decades of sub-par wages if and when they do finally get
a job.

View this article.

from Hit & Run

What Bubble? NASDAQ Rises Above 4,000, Back To Year 2000, Dot-Com Bubble Levels

Nope, no bubble here… and no complacency either. And while just like last time, the tech companies still have no profits, at least this time they have revenues… most of which originate from the seemingly infinite advertising budgets at struggling discretionary retailers. By way of gentle reminder – In 2000, total US debt was $5.7 trillion. Now it is three times greater, or $17.2 trillion. As Kyle Bass once warned, “we are right back there! The brevity of financial memory is about two years.”



via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden