Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
This region had an inkling it would love a Janet Yellen-led Federal Reserve, and President Barack Obama's choice to replace Ben Bernanke didn't disappoint. Stocks rose the most in more than four weeks as Yellen made clear Fed tapering wouldn't begin anytime soon. Her comments that U.S. growth and labor markets must improve before the Fed throttles back are a big weight off Asia's shoulders. The bad news, of course, is that we can now look forward to another year of obsessing about all things Fed. It's enough to have Asia feeling, well, fed up.
A little disaster golf, anyone?
Sorry, but holding a huge golf tournament while the Philippines has a state-of-calamity order in place and morgues are filling up following Typhoon Haiyan is just dumb. Granted, the course for the Manila Masters is south of the capital, some 300 miles from the devastated city of Tacloban. Organizers promise to help the Red Cross "provide aid and assistance to alleviate the human suffering." But a postponement seems like it should have been in order. It sends the wrong message to 6.9 million Filipinos affected by Haiyan and to the outside world when a nation in crisis goes ahead with an event where a bunch of golfers vie for $750,000 in prize money. They can swing their clubs another time.
India's swelling Internet influence
There's good news and bad news in India's rising number of Internet users. Bad news first: online penetration is still shy of 16 percent of the population. But a report from the Internet and Mobile Association of India estimates the nation will have more Internet users than the U.S. by June 2014 -- roughly 243 million. India will be second biggest e-commerce market, trailing only China, a status that might attract more foreign investment and give entrepreneurs new incentives to innovate. If India's government could just learn to stay out of the way, India's online potential is virtually boundless.
Another debt-limit crisis?
Not in Washington, but Canberra. The upper house Senate wants to cap the debt ceiling at $374 billion, setting Australia up for a possible U.S.-style government shutdown. Lawmakers have until Dec. 12 to avert one, but as growth slows you'd think lawmakers would learn from their American counterparts and settle this issue now. As Martin Whetton of Nomura told Bloomberg News: "We've seen with the U.S. example how disruptive these sorts of political disputes over debt can be." The question is, have politicians in Canberra?
Japanese city tries mascotdiplomacy
Perhaps no country is more obsessed with "cute" than Japan, and the place is awash in furry mascots. Some of these cuddly critters would travel poorly outside Japan, of course. Tokyo Electric Power's bizarrely named "Fukuppy" -- blending the first part of "Fukushima" with the last part of "happy" -- is a case in point. Beat cops in Boston would surely chuckle at seeing the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department's orange "Peepo" amulet. Still Kumamoto Prefecture governor Ikuo Kabashima thought he'd take his "Kumamon" to Harvard this week, where he lectured on how to "maximize the overall happiness" of a city's residents. Given the latest economic numbers -- Japan's economy grew just 1.9 percent in the third quarter, roughly half as much as the previous quarter -- the red-cheeked furball might be needed more at home.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.
To contact the author on this story:
Willie Pesek at email@example.com