This week's question:
In which country is the percentage of super rich expected to grow fastest over the next 10 years?
Listen to the programme to find out the answer.
things you can buy and sell
something you own to show off your wealth and social position
to make business sense
to be good for business
somewhere impossible to escape
the informal social system from most to least powerful
spending a lot of money so other people notice your wealth
Note: This is not a word for word transcript
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English – the programme where we bring you an interesting topic and six items of vocabulary. I'm Neil.
And I'm Catherine. Today we're taking a look into the lives of the super rich – and we're going to look at one of their favourite pastimes.
The super rich are people with over $30 million US dollars of assets.
Assets are things we can own and sell – like property, boats and private planes.
Expensive toys. First things first, let's do our question, Catherine. In which country is the percentage of super rich expected to grow fastest over the next 10 years?
I'm going to go for Vietnam. I think, that's an up and coming country and I think there is going to be a lot of growth in wealth in the future.
Ok, well we'll find out if you are right or wrong later. The number of super rich are expected to increase by 43% over the next decade.
Now, this doesn't mean income is rising at the same speed for everyone. You might remember a report last year which said the world's richest 62 individuals owned as much as the poorest 50% of people in the whole world.
So, my question is – what on earth do people with so much money spend it on?
One academic in the UK has been researching just that. And her answer is …, Neil?
Yachts! A yacht – a luxury boat used for pleasure. The ultimate status symbol – that is, an item which allows you to show off your wealth and position in society.
Let's listen to Emma Spence from Cardiff University in the UK. What's so unusual about yachts?
Emma Spence, PhD researcher, Cardiff University
If you have an exclusive wine collection or art collection or even the purchase of a business jet – these are investable assets – something that you can retain value on or accrue value on. A business jet, a private jet, can cut costs – and make businesses more convenient by running faster, more comfortably than commercial airlines. So these purchases, they make good, sound business sense. Whereas a superyacht is essentially a black hole.
Before we get to the yacht, Emma talked about certain assets like planes and wine that made business sense.
Now, to make sense – is a phrase you'll be familiar with. So, if we say something makes business sense, it means 'it's good for business'. But yachts are different.
Yachts, and especially what she calls superyachts, actually lose money. So much so, she calls a superyacht a black hole of wealth.
A black hole, in scientific terms, is a place where gravity is so strong that nothing can escape – not even light. So, in business terms, a black hole eats all your money!
It's also used conversationally to mean 'a place where things go missing'.
These superyachts are big. The world's longest is 180m in length. And they require a professional crew. Which is how Emma began her study – she used to work on the yachts.
She's now spent six years studying the world of superyachts and the super rich.
So, what else did she learn?
She says that in the world of the super rich – the size of your yacht shows your place in the pecking order.
The pecking order means 'the social system from most powerful to least powerful'.
If you're higher up in the yachting pecking order, you get the best place in the harbour. Which is very important to yacht owners, apparently.
Apparently, so. It's all about seeing and being seen. You could actually say that yachts are the ultimate form of conspicuous consumption. Now that's another great term – conspicuous means 'visible or noticeable' and consumption means 'spending'. So, the phrase conspicuous consumption refers to the kind of buying you do so that other people notice your money.
Before we sail off into the sunset Catherine, how about we answer today's question.
I said that Vietnam is the country in which the percentage of super rich is expected to grow fastest over the next 10 years.
Well, I'm very pleased to say that you were right. It was in fact Vietnam – according to the same report by Knight Frank – the population of ultra wealthy is expected to grow by a staggering 170% in the next decade.
Now, how about we have another look at the wealth of vocabulary in this programme?
Very good. We started with assets – here it means 'things we can buy or sell'. What are your assets?
Oh, you know, my diamond rings, my bike, my laptop. I'm not like you though Neil, I don't live in an expensive mansion – that would be a real status symbol!
If only that were true, but it's a good example. A status symbol is a possession that shows off our wealth and our place in society.
Yes, and we had the phrase to make business sense – in other words to be good for business. We could also say that a particular policy makes economic sense.
Or I could say investing wisely makes financial sense. Not like yachts which are expensive to buy and run. In fact, they're a black hole for our money.
Now, did you know our next phrase, pecking order, actually comes from chicken behaviour?
And finally, the phrase conspicuous consumption. For example, you could say that dining at the finest restaurants wearing expensive clothes is conspicuous consumption.
And to clear up two similar phrases: a status symbol refers to the object itself, like a luxury car; whereas conspicuous consumption refers to the act of spending money on things like expensive cars but you're spending money so that other people notice.
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Neil & Catherine
Three Thais on Diamond Princess cruise ship infected with Covid-19
Feb 20. 2020
By THE NATION
Three Thai people on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship currently in quarantine in Japan were found infected with the new coronavirus or Covid-19, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Cherdkiat Atthakorn said.
“Out of 3,700 passengers on board, 542 tested positive for Covid-19, including thee Thais -- one a passenger and the other two crew,” he said. “They were taken to a hospital in Tokyo for treatment.”
“The ship carries 25 Thais in total, two passengers and 23 crew members,” he added.
Cherdkiat said that the Thai Embassy in Tokyo has provided updates on the three patients regularly and that their condition is now stable. “As for another Thai passenger who tested negative for the virus, they were allowed to disembark the ship and have been brought back to the hotel in an embassy vehicle and will soon return to Thailand. The 21 crew members, however, will need to stay on the ship to complete their jobs.”
The mandatory 14-day quarantine ended on Wednesday (February 19) and passengers who passed the final test were allowed to leave the ship until Friday. “The Japanese government had also sent their immigration staff to process the extension of visa for passengers on the ship, therefore Thais don’t need to worry about overstaying in Japan,” added Cherdkiat.
As of February 18, Japan has confirmed 621 cases of Covid-19 with passengers on the Diamond Princess accounting for 542 people.
As cases mount, Japan is rapidly becoming a coronavirus hotbed
Feb 19. 2020
File Photo of cruise ship docked in Japan and infected passengers were transferred to hospitals.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Gearoid Reidy · WORLD, ASIA-PACIFIC
Japan is emerging as one of the riskiest places for the spread of the coronavirus, prompting criticism that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has misfired on its policies to block the outbreak.
The number of infections in Japan has more than doubled in the past week to 74, rivaling Singapore as the country outside mainland China with the most cases. The government is being faulted for being too slow to bar visitors from China and too lax in its quarantine of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where infections surged during two weeks docked in Yokohama.
While the hundreds of cases aboard the ship have grabbed the world's attention, they are not counted among Japan's total. What appears to be more troublesome is that Japan is starting to see a surge in cases in multiple areas across the country -- sometimes with little to link the outbreaks.
Adding to the worries is that passengers began leaving the quarantined vessel Wednesday amid concerns some might later test positive and take the virus to more parts of Japan. The situation is growing more alarming as Japan's elderly population and work ethic present high-risk scenarios for the outbreak's spread.
"The Japanese government's decision to wait for the China-friendly WHO to make its much-delayed declaration of a global health emergency led to the first cases of domestic person-to-person transmission and tarnished the country's international reputation," Richard Koo, chief economist at Nomura Research Institute, wrote in a report.
"The coronavirus will probably cause a substantial amount of economic damage in Japan," Koo wrote. The Abe administration, he says, "managed to completely drop the ball on this issue."
A Bloomberg survey released Wednesday showed that economists see Japan falling into recession as the coronavirus pummels an economy already weakened by a sales tax hike.
While a handful of the cases in the country are evacuees from Hubei province, the vast majority are Japan residents, many with no history of traveling to China. Among those have been several taxi drivers, suspected of having extensive interactions with the public before their diagnoses.
A party on board a pleasure boat for a group of taxi drivers is believed to be at the heart of one cluster of cases in Tokyo, spreading to at least 11 people. Among those infected was the mother-in-law of one of the drivers, who became Japan's only confirmed domestic death from the virus to date.
Health experts warn that the countries with the greatest public risks for the virus are poor states with few resources to fight the disease, such as China's neighbor North Korea. Developed states with advanced health-care systems like Japan are best suited to treat patients and conduct tests to find those infected.
As the threat of the coronavirus became apparent in January, Japan's stance of rejecting travel bans for Chinese tourists stood in stark contrast to nations such as Australia, which barred entry. Chinese tourism to Japan hit a January record high, with Tokyo's travel curbs only taking effect on Feb 1.
And while businesses in Hong Kong and Singapore implemented work-from-home experiments on a scale never before seen, Abe merely acknowledged telework as "one effective strategy."
While a growing number of companies are banning events and allowing employees to work from home to contain the spread, there has been little push to implement a wide-scale lockdown. Tokyo rush-hour trains remained as packed as ever, leading Abe to call on Japan's famously hard-working residents to stay home from work or students from school if they suspect they have a cold.
With the cases mounting internally, Japan received a rare rebuke from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the way it managed the quarantine on the cruise ship, saying "it may not have been sufficient to prevent transmission." The U.S. and others placed a 14-day quarantine on repatriated nationals, but about 500 people cleared by Japan left the ship Wednesday to go about their normal lives, and were told to call authorities if they feel ill.
In a video posted to YouTube that went viral in Japan, Professor Kentaro Iwata, a specialist of infectious diseases at Kobe University Hospital who said he boarded the Diamond Princess, slammed the attempt to quarantine the boat.
"The cruise ship was completely inadequate in terms of infection control," Iwata said, adding there was no distinction between zones for those infected and those uninfected. He said he was later removed from the ship after criticizing the response and called on international bodies to ask Japan to change its actions.
The government has defended its policies and may have been stretched to find a facility on land to place the 3,700 people aboard the cruise ship in quarantine.
An admission by the nation's Health Minister Katsunobu Kato on Sunday that Japan had lost track of the route of some of the cases of infection shocked many, and has led to increasing criticism of the government's control efforts.
"It's not correct to say they lost the path of infection," Kazuhiro Haraguchi, a politician with the opposition Democratic Party for the People and former minister, said on Twitter. "By taking steps like only checking people from Hubei, they didn't try to understand the full infection, or the dangers."
A mass outbreak native to Japan is something the nation can ill afford, with two of its top economic standouts -- a booming tourism sector and the 2020 Olympics -- potentially under threat from the outbreak in China.
In the absence of travel bans, visitors to Japan fell only 1.1% in January, a drop that was mainly due to an ongoing spat with South Korea, with tourists from China lodging a surprising 23% increase compared with the year earlier. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization and the International Olympic Committee have refused to countenance any cancellation of the Olympics, set to begin in July. Others have said there is little that can be done to prevent the eventual spread of the disease.
"This virus spread very, very fast. Not only China, not only Japan, but also many other countries cannot catch up with the speed of this virus," Hitoshi Oshitani, a professor of virology at Tohoku University, told reporters in Tokyo. Oshitani also sits on the government panel tackling the virus. "Even if they implemented a travel ban to all of China, it was too late."
February 20, 2020