World and Nation

Shorts (left)

As Factories Shut, China’s Workers Are Suffering

Wang Denggui, father of three, arrived more than a year ago in the palm-lined streets of this southern town with a single goal: toil in a factory to save for his children’s school tuition.

But the plans of Wang and thousands of co-workers unraveled at noon on Nov. 1, when the Taiwanese board chairman of their ailing shoe factory climbed over a factory wall to flee the country and his debts. That left several American shoe companies with unfilled orders and 2,000 workers without jobs.

For decades, the steamy Pearl River Delta area of southern Guangdong province served as a primary engine for China’s astounding economic growth. But an export slowdown that began earlier this year and that has been magnified by the global financial crisis of recent months — as well as by plummeting stock and real estate markets — is contributing to the shutdown of tens of thousands of small and midsize factories here and in other coastal regions, forcing laborers to scramble for other jobs or return home to the countryside.

Three Successful Republicans Warn Against Move to the Right

As congressional Republicans lick their political wounds and try to figure out how to bounce back in 2010 and beyond, they might want to consult with Susan Collins, Lamar Alexander and Peter T. King.

Sen. Collins, Sen. Alexander and Rep. King were among Republicans who defied the odds in a terrible year for their colleagues. Their re-elections provide a possible road map for how the party can succeed in a challenging political environment. The answer, the three veteran politicians agreed, is not to become a more conservative, combative party focused on narrow partisan issues.

“What doesn’t work is drawing a harsh ideological line in the sand,” said Collins of Maine, who early in the year was a top Democratic target for defeat but ended up winning 61 percent of the vote while Sen. Barack Obama received 58 percent in the presidential race in her state.

“We make a mistake if we are going to make our entire appeal rural and outside the Northeast and outside the Rust Belt,” said King, of New York, who easily won re-election in a region shedding Republicans at a precipitous rate.

Fund Managers See Need For Some Tighter Regulation

The Senate is sometimes referred to as a millionaires’ club — a reference to the wealth of many of its members. But for a few hours on Thursday, the House of Representatives became a billionaires’ club.

Five of the richest people in the world strode into a packed committee hearing room promptly at noon to take up one of the most worrisome issues in the financial world: the outsize role of hedge funds in the markets.

The billionaires were all hedge fund managers themselves, and among the most prominent — and successful — in the business. Many of the people crowding the room expected a slugfest, given the growing calls on Capitol Hill for hedge funds, those secretive private investment vehicles, to disclose their investments and business practices. So it came as something of a surprise when many of the managers by and large agreed with the lawmakers.

All five managers — Philip A. Falcone, Kenneth C. Griffin, John A. Paulson, James Simons and George Soros — said they would support new rules that would require their fragmented industry, nearly $2 trillion in size, to disclose more of its secrets.