Pesek on Asia: India's Dollar Binge
Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
Rajan's dollar splurge in India
A week after unleashing the biggest banking reforms since 2004, central bank Governor Raghuram Rajan is cheering economists on another front: by overseeing the biggest jump in foreign-exchange reserves in two years. It's a wise move aimed at the speculators who drove the rupee down to record lows in recent months. A stable currency will help contain inflation and bolster confidence in India's financial system. With reserves rising to $6.7 billion in October, Rajan is clearly telling punters looking to test his mettle to think again.
Singapore Inc. sells to Singapore Inc.
Let me see if I have this straight. Singapore's largest lender, DBS Group, is selling its remaining stake in Bank of the Philippine Islands for $681 million to GIC Pte. and Ayala Corp. That means a bank controlled by government-linked Temasek is flipping some of the stake to Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund. Isn't that a matter of Singapore Inc. doing a deal with, well, Singapore Inc.? Hey, a deal is a deal, no matter what your address is, I guess.
Another storm heads to the Philippines
The Philippines can't get a break. Just as President Benigno Aquino declared a state of calamity to accelerate aid to areas devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan, which may have killed more than 10,000 people, a fresh storm landed. The damage, and the specter of more to come, is sure to slam Asia's 13th biggest economy just as it's enjoying the global spotlight and the investment inflows that come with it. Losses could be far worse, relatively speaking, than those caused by Superstorm Sandy in the U.S. As rescue efforts continue, the world is asking how well prepared nations are for the next disaster. Here, the Atlantic takes an interesting crack at what those efforts might entail.
American wants to be big in Japan
Entrepreneur Anis Uzzaman calls his book “Startup Bible” because the American wants young Japanese to read from it reverently each day and heed its lessons for life. And oddly, it might just be the perfect title at the perfect time as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tries to encourage his countrymen and -women to be more innovative and less adverse to risk taking. Here's to Uzzaman, a founding member of California's Fenox Venture Capital, selling loads of books in Japan and encouraging youngsters to eschew the salaryman lifestyle of generations past.
Should Myanmar look to Belfast?
As Myanmar's opening progresses, officials in Naypyidaw, the nation's capital, are running into a unique problem: a lack of obvious role models. Many former military states go the China route -- opening the economy without making corresponding political reforms. Myanmar is doing the opposite: It’s opening socially and politically before it really even has an economy. Here's an intriguing argument for Myanmar to glean insights from Northern Ireland -- not on the economy, but its experience managing sectarian troubles like those currently plaguing the Southeast Asian nation. Aung San Suu Kyi got a first-hand look last week when the Nobel laureate visited Belfast.
(William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)