The Big Ideas: Cold (cash) wars; understanding China's slowdown; and the case for mobile banking in India

The foreign investment Russia didn’t want. Masha Gessen in The New York Times’ Room for Debate debunks the notion that a tide of protests in Russia have been funded by the US State Department. She should know; she was involved in the protest movement from last December through June and says most of the money came from wealthy Russian donors. Of Putin’s government, “The regime’s cherished illusion is that by shielding the country from foreign influence it will secure its own future indefinitely.”

Fragile China. Anil K. Gupta and Haiyan Wang in Businessweek offer help to companies dealing with a slowdown in China. There’s now less need for infrastructure investments, there will be slower urbanization and lower-income housing built in smaller cities. What’s more, “China’s export machine is already facing structural limits.” So, proceed with caution.

M-banking in India. Mint points out that India has 900 million cell phone users, but only 13 million people made mobile banking transactions in fiscal year 2012. In a country that is predominantly a cash economy, mobile banking makes a lot of sense since it can cut down to one-tenth what a bank charges for similar transactions. However, regulators are not keen on letting m-banking take over and there are still security concerns.

Argentina’s tango with inflation. Sin-ming Shaw in Project Syndicate explains why Argentina, a country full of passion and pride, excels at the tango but has a woefully troubled economy. Despite inflation in the double digits, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner insists otherwise. “The authorities have defied the International Monetary Fund, defaulted on debts, and proudly proclaimed that Argentina has transcended traditional economics.”

The idea matters. Martin Lindstrom in Fast Company argues that it’s more important to have an idea that an organization believes in rather than agonizing over perfection. Corporations could benefit from this scrappy entrepreneurial approach in places like Facebook, Skype, and Instagram. “Whenever I spend time in boardrooms across the world, I can’t help but notice that courage seems to be a limited currency. No matter how the company presents itself, it seems CEOs rarely have the power one would imagine.”

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