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Showing posts for "Economics"

Thailand’s State Capitalism

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Thaksin-red shirts A member of the pro-government "red shirt" group (C) holds a picture of ousted Thai former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as she gather with others during a rally in Nakhon Pathom province on the outskirts of Bangkok, on April 5, 2014. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Though former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose family originally came from the northern suburbs of Chiang Mai, has lived in exile for years, in the Chiang Mai area, until the spring of 2014, it was almost as if he never left. Cab drivers displayed his photo on their dashboard right next to Buddha images and pictures of ancient Thai royals. Community radio stations broadcast his speeches from exile, and vendors in nearby villages sold posters of the politician grinning and T-shirts bearing his image. Billboards featuring Thaksin and other local politicians from his party dominated the landscape on the sides of roads. Read more »

State Capitalism and its Threats

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Thaksin-red shirts-2 A member of the pro-government "red shirt" group gestures and holds a picture of ousted Thai prime ministers Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra during a rally in Nakhon Pathom province on the outskirts of Bangkok, on May 11, 2014. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters)

State capitalism poses five types of threats to democracy, global security, and the global economy.

One of the fears about state capitalism is that the state’s control of the economy, in democratic nations, will inexorably lead to state control of politics and a reduction in democratic freedoms. These fears are not totally misplaced. But when Western writers, politicians and other opinion leaders examine state capitalism, they tend to take an undifferentiated approach, treating all state capitalists alike, rather than examining each country in some more detail. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of March 11, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Modi-Make-in-India Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the inauguration ceremony of the “Make In India” week in Mumbai, India, February 13, 2016. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, Gabriel Walker, and Pei-Yu Wei look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Indian Prime Minister Modi earns points for his “Make in India” campaign. Attesting to the increasing vitality and quality of India’s automobile industry, Maruti Suzuki, a special joint venture set up in 1983 between India’s Maruti Udyog and Japan’s Suzuki, began exporting to Japan its new hatchback automobile, the Baleno. Although Suzuki has been operating with Maruti in India for decades, this is the first time an Indian-made car is available for export to the Japanese market. Read more »

To Understand China’s Economic Signals, Start With the Four Comprehensives

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A trainee walks past a communist party logo as he attends a training course at the communist party school called China Executive Leadership Academy of Pudong in Shanghai, September 24, 2012. China's Communist Party has dramatically stepped up its training of the country's roughly 40 million party and government officials in the past decade. With public scrutiny of cadre behaviour growing via social media, the party is likely to call for continued, and deepened, cadre education at the upcoming 18th Party Congress. At the vanguard of this education drive, alongside a Central Party School in Beijing, are three "Executive Leadership Academies" which opened in 2005 for middle-ranking and senior officials in Shanghai, Yan'an and Jinggangshan. The curriculum covers Marxism, Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, but students may also take finance courses, receive in-depth media training or role-play crisis management scenarios on everything from disease outbreaks to train wrecks. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY BUSINESS LOGO) A trainee walks past a communist party logo as he attends a training course at the communist party school called China Executive Leadership Academy of Pudong in Shanghai, September 24, 2012. China's Communist Party has dramatically stepped up its training of the country's roughly 40 million party and government officials in the past decade. (Carlos Barria/Reuters).

John Fei is a program officer for the Asia Security Initiative at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The views expressed here represent those of the author, and not those of the MacArthur Foundation or any other organization.

The recent drama surrounding China’s economy reveals contradictions in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) monetary and fiscal management policies. Witness the rare, and highly scripted, appearances of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) governor Zhou Xiaochuan or the China Securities Regulatory Commission’s (CSRC) regulatory flip-flop on circuit-breaker mechanisms imposed on trading. While there has been a plethora of analyses regarding the need for improved communication and greater independence of organizations such as the PBOC, less has been said about how the recent spate of economic events relates to the CCP’s leadership doctrine. Read more »

Plunging Commodity Prices and the Impact on Malaysia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
najib-razak-budget Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak announces revisions to the fiscal budget in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on January 28, 2016. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

Last month, Malaysia cut its 2016 growth forecast and slashed spending plans as the economy continues to suffer from falling oil prices. Oil and commodities are very important to Malaysia’s economy, with palm oil, in particular, being one of its foundations. Gas and rubber are also important sectors. So falling global commodity prices have hurt Malaysia badly. According to an article in the Straits Times, the Malaysian government has said that “each $1 drop in oil prices slashes RM 300 million [roughly $72 million] from its annual revenue.” Read more »

Podcast: Michael Pettis on the ABC’s of the Chinese Economy

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Pettis-China-economy-podcast An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, July 13, 2009. (Stringer/Reuters)

Peking University Professor of Finance Michael Pettis recently sat down with me to share his thoughts on what is going on in the Chinese economy, what the Chinese leadership needs to do to get back on track, and what it all means for the United States and the rest of the world. The takeaway: Hold on to your hats, we are in for a bumpy ride… but we are not falling off the cliff… yet.

Read more »

The Fits and Starts of China’s Economic Reforms

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Chinese President Xi Jinping applauds after unveiling a sculpture during the opening ceremony of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing, China, January 16, 2016. (Mark Schiefelbein/Reuters) Chinese President Xi Jinping applauds after unveiling a sculpture during the opening ceremony of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing, China, January 16, 2016. (Mark Schiefelbein/Reuters)

Over the past several months, it has become more than a full-time job trying to figure out what is going on in the Chinese economy. There have been many good efforts to make sense of all the disparate numbers that are coming out of Beijing and to tell people what to look for moving forward (including from George Magnus, Gabriel Wildau, and Eswar Prasad), but it is challenging. One thing that should not be—but often is—forgotten in the sea of numbers is the politics of the reform process. The political dimension can provide some much-needed context as to the problems Beijing is facing. Let me suggest three political factors that may be contributing to Beijing’s disjointed and seemingly sub-optimal economic decision-making process. Read more »

Indonesia’s Education Gap

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Indonesian President Joko Widodo visits an elementary school in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan October 31, 2015. President Widodo this week cut short an official trip to the United States due to a haze crisis caused by raging peat fires in the Southeast Asian country. After weeks of hazardous air caused by haze-producing forest fires, people on Indonesia's southern Sumatra and Kalimantan islands have finally found respite after three days of persistent rain significantly improved the air quality and quelled many of the raging forest fires, according to the national disaster agency on Friday. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside Indonesian President Joko Widodo visits an elementary school in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan on October 31, 2015. (Darren Whiteside/Reuters)

Jake Thomases is a public policy analyst at the Risk Analysis Research Center.

Investors in Indonesia let out a small sigh of relief when Heri Sudarmanto, the director of foreign workers, announced on October 19 that foreign workers would not be required to pass Indonesian language tests after all. Just three days earlier, an official with the manpower ministry told reporters that such a test would be implemented. The language requirement, which has been proposed and rescinded more than once, is just the latest attempt to shield sectors of the Indonesian economy from outside competition. Such measures are puzzling and counterproductive given President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s pleas for infrastructure investment dollars during every state visit he makes. Against the backdrop of economic protectionism, such pleas come across as: “Bring us the money and we’ll tell you how to spend it.”

Read more »

The Top Ten Stories in South Asia, 2015

by Alyssa Ayres
Afghans listen to a radio broadcast run by the Islamic State militants, in the eastern city of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on December 19, 2015. Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan have taken to the airwaves to win recruits as they try to build strength and replace the Taliban as the leading force in the Islamist insurgency. Officials have been increasingly concerned by the broadcasts, which encourage young people to find a sense of direction in the radical movement (Parwiz Parwiz/Reuters). Afghans listen to a radio broadcast run by the Islamic State militants, in the eastern city of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on December 19, 2015. Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan have taken to the airwaves to win recruits as they try to build strength and replace the Taliban as the leading force in the Islamist insurgency. Officials have been increasingly concerned by the broadcasts, which encourage young people to find a sense of direction in the radical movement (Parwiz Parwiz/Reuters).

Each of the past two years, I’ve done a roundup of the developments and stories that mattered the most in South Asia. In 2014, India’s historic national election and the coming together of Afghanistan’s hard-won unity government topped my list. The year before, Indian women’s political activism, and Nawaz Sharif’s election in Pakistan’s first transfer of power from one civilian to another, were my top two picks. Looking back at those posts compared with the ten events I’ve selected for 2015, this year suggests a markedly less hopeful mood. The most chilling development has been the steady trickle of reports about the self-proclaimed Islamic State and its presence in the region, particularly in Afghanistan, border areas of Pakistan, and possibly in Bangladesh. Other developments in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Maldives present a mixed picture of both progress and setbacks. Here is my selection of 2015’s most consequential stories in South Asia: Read more »

India Says: Bring Us Your Sick

by Guest blogger for Alyssa Ayres
"Cathlab (Angiogram & Angioplasty)," February 25, 2013. Photo by Hmhedp licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons / Cropped from original. "Cathlab (Angiogram & Angioplasty)," February 25, 2013. Photo by Hmhedp licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons / Cropped from original.

Kermit Jones, MD, JD, is a physician and former White House Fellow based in Chicago. His research focuses on intellectual property and health information technology use in medicine; he recently returned from a medical observership at Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad, India. Follow him on Twitter: @duniyakermit Read more »