All the cards?

中国日报网 2016-12-06 11:07



All the cards?Reader question:

Please explain “all the cards” in this sentence: Opec doesn’t hold all the cards.

My comments:

Opec refers to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, including major oil producers in the Middle East plus Venezuela in South America. Together, they control something like half of the world’s oil production and more than half of all the world’s known reserves.

Using that clout or near monopoly, Opec is known to have been able to control oil prices worldwide. It usually does this by setting output quotas among members, thus controlling world output. By controlling supply, they can then influence demand.

The world’s demand for oil at any given time is, as a matter of fact, more or less the same, as determined by the global economy as a whole. If global economy is growing fast, then demand is up. Conversely, in a economic slowdown, demand is down.

Anyways, the role of Opec is, generally speaking, to limit its output and therefore hopefully increase the demand (by artificially limiting supply).

Sometimes, often times as a matter of fact, it is able to do this because it has the near monopoly over production and reserves.

Or because it holds all the cards, in other words.

All the cards?

Yes, the question is what cards?

The big cards, or trump cards and aces etc, as this expression originates from the game of poker.

In the game of poker, if one player gets dealt all the big cards, then obviously he or she is going to win the game because their cards beat all the other smaller cards held by their opponents.

All right?

All right, for Opec to hold all the cards is to suggest that it can probably succeed again in influencing world oil prices in a big way, i.e. raising them and keeping them high. After all, raising oil prices and hopefully keeping them high is basically what Opec is after, as always. By holding all the big cards in hand, it has the situation under control.

Oh, Opec DOESN’T have all the cards.

Well, that means precisely that. Oped doesn’t have all the cards, meaning it doesn’t have all the big cards after all.

Russia, a big oil producer in its own right, holds a big card or two, for example. For another example, America has a huge potential to bring a lot of oil to the market through fracking and therefore it has a few big cards of its own. It, too, will have some say.

Thing is, both Russia and America want the same thing Opec does – higher prices, if at all possible because higher prices means bigger profits for everyone.

Either way, Opec doesn’t, does not hold all the cards.

Enough analysis here, a simplistic point of view to be sure.

Now, examples of people holding or not “all the cards” in the media and what it means for them:

1. The expense of losing an employee is more than the cost of bringing one on board, yet companies continually let good workers slip through their hands. The reasons employees leave vary, but one thing is for sure, employers don’t hold all the cards, even in a tough job market.

“Companies can’t look at employees as expendable commodities,” says Pat Sweeney, human resource manager at Old Colony Hospice and Palliative Care. “There may be a high unemployment rate but it’s not all skilled people. If you’re just looking at your bottom line, you want to make sure your employees feel valued.”

Turnover can be expensive. According to it costs a company anywhere from 120% to 150% of the person’s salary if they leave in one to three months. Not only do companies invest money and time orienting the new worker, there are also training, benefits and recruitment costs. Because of that, it behooves a company to create an environment where employees want to stay.

- Why Employees Quit Their Jobs,, February 25, 2013.

2. According to a report by Stuart Brennan of the Manchester Evening News, Spanish side Valencia are keen on prising Alvaro Negredo away from the Etihad, with club president Amadeo Salvo, backed by owner Peter Lim, reportedly having made contact already.

Negredo is currently recovering from a metatarsal injury which could keep him out until October, but Valencia are seemingly keen to sign the striker regardless of his injury situation.

Brennan suggests City made it clear earlier in the summer that the three first-team players they were prepared to lose were Javi Garcia, Matija Nastasic and Negredo. Garcia has since joined Zenit, with Nastasic also thought to be surplus to requirements and available for transfer.

As it stands, Negredo looks set to miss out on City’s Champions League squad, with UEFA only permitting clubs to name 16 non-homegrown players in their squads for the competition. The Premier League, however, allow 17, meaning the club is currently on the threshold of league rules.

Negredo, therefore, looks set to return from injury and play no part in the club’s group-stage games in the Champions League, a situation he is unlikely to enjoy.

With Negredo also thought to be unhappy having dropped beneath Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic in the pecking order at City, there’s a growing feeling that a deal for his signature could be struck.

City, though, hold a strong position at the negotiating table. Negredo has three years remaining on his current deal, and manager Manuel Pellegrini, who wants to improve on last season’s haul of two trophies, will want four strikers to choose from.


The desire to stay, fight for his place and prove to everyone his form in the early part of last season wasn't a fluke is likely to be strong, but a move back to La Liga at a club where he will be first-choice may prove an attractive proposition.

However this one pans out, City hold all the cards and won’t be forced into doing anything that doesn’t suit them.

- Manchester City Hold All the Cards in Alvaro Negredo Rumoured Transfer,, August 20, 2014.

3. Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5: Some of America’s biggest pop stars are making millions from ad campaigns for sugar-laden, low-nutrition foods, a new study says.

“Given current obesity rates among teens, it’s incredibly problematic that the majority of music celebrities’ drink endorsements -- 71 percent -- were for sugary beverages like soda,” said study lead author Marie Bragg.

“Most food endorsements -- 81 percent -- were for unhealthy products like fast food, candy, and nutritionally poor snacks,” she added.

Bragg’s team at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City said that about $2 billion is spent every year on food and drink advertising aimed at the young. Each year, the average American preteen sees about 4,700 such ads, while the average teenager views about 5,900, Bragg's group noted.

Many of the ads feature a (paid) pitch from one of a number of pop music personalities. To track which celebrities are endorsing which products, Bragg’s team focused on ads featuring hit-makers from Billboard magazine’s “Hot 100” listings in 2013 and 2014, adding in “Teen Choice Award” winners, and artists with popular videos featured on YouTube.

The investigators then compiled a list of all celebrity food/drink endorsements across all media between 2000 and 2014.

The result: 163 pop stars endorsed a total of 590 products during that 14-year period. About one-fifth (107 endorsements) were for food and non-alcoholic drinks, the study found.

Some of the biggest music stars were involved in these pitches. Katy Perry lent her fame to Pepsi and PopChips; Maroon 5 appeared in ads for Coca-Cola and Snapple; One Direction hyped Nabisco and Pepsi; and Justin Timberlake helped advertise Chili’s, McDonald’s and Pepsi.

Country music stars played their part, too: Carrie Underwood was featured in ads for Vitamin Water and Hershey's chocolate, while Blake Shelton appeared in ads for Pepsi and Pizza Hut.

The study authors said that four-fifths of the endorsed foods could be classified as unhealthy (or “nutrient poor”), while nearly three-quarters of the endorsed drinks were sugar-sweetened.

Full-calorie sodas were the most frequently hawked beverage, Bragg’s team reported.

“Companies like Coca-Cola have been using celebrities, especially professional athletes, to promote products since the early 1900s, so it’s not a new phenomenon,” said Bragg, who is assistant professor of population health at the NYU College of Global Public Health.

“Our study didn’t assess whether music celebrity endorsements of foods and beverages has been gaining steam over time,” she said. “But it’s estimated that many of these contracts are worth millions of dollars -- suggesting companies think celebrity endorsements are an incredibly valuable tool for promoting their products.”

No pop star endorsed fruits, vegetables or whole grains, the nutritionists noted.

That’s no surprise, according to Bragg, since “industries that sell fruits and vegetables can’t afford to hire celebrities.”

Still, inroads on behalf of healthier foods are being made.

“Partnership for a Healthier America recently teamed up with some celebrities -- mostly professional athletes -- to promote fruits and vegetables through an advertising campaign called FNV,” Bragg said. Their goal is “to make produce cool and edgy,” she explained.

Lona Sandon is program director and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. She agreed with Bragg that getting kids to eat better is always an uphill battle, even with advertisers on your side.

“The ‘Got Milk’ campaign by the dairy industry was fairly successful with getting celebrity athletes and pop stars on board to promote milk,” Sandon said. “It likely had some influence on milk drinking among kids.”

However, “there is more money to be made promoting less healthy food choices,” she added, and parents simply don’t hold all the cards when it comes to nutritional messaging.

“Teens want to make their own decisions and be independent, and start looking to others such as pop stars as role models,” Sandon said. “They want to try things that they see their role models doing, things that maybe their parents do not approve of, like drinking a soda or energy drink.”

And, Sandon pointed out, “Eating an apple or bowl of broccoli is just not rebellious.”

- Pop Stars Often Hawk Unhealthy Foods to Kids: Study,, June 6, 2016.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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