Pesek on Asia: U.S. Turns Japanese
Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
U.S. turns Japanese
I almost wish I'd saved some of those you're-an-idiot e-mails I received back in 2008 and 2009 when I warned the U.S. risked becoming Japan with its own brand of chronic stagnation, deflationary pressures and political paralysis. This Bloomberg News piece details how Japanese investors are loading up on longer-dated Treasuries as U.S. consumer prices rise the least since 2009. Not that Japan's deflation is going anywhere with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recovery drive producing a feeble 1.1 percent growth in the third quarter. But it seems U.S. and Japanese officials may have lots of note-sharing to do in 2014.
Riots shake peaceful Singapore
It's a rare, rare day when a Singaporean prime minister needs to speak out about a riot, as Lee Hsien Loong did today. The last time that was necessary was some four decades ago, back in the early days of his father's rule in 1969. Sunday's violence involved about 400 people in the Little India district, after a traffic accident killed a 33-year Indian worker. Isolated incident? Or a sign of increased tensions to come? Only time will tell. But as the Financial Times points out here, Sunday's riot "tarnishes Singapore's image as place of ethnic harmony."
Wall Street's Communist Party scandal
This New York Times piece explores how U.S. regulators are probing even deeper into Wall Street hiring practices in China. First it was just JPMorgan Chase, now Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse are coming under the microscope of U.S. authorities curious about whether anti-bribery laws were breached by hiring the children and other relatives of well-connected Chinese politicians and clients. It's unusual for a Congressional hearing to cause an international stir. Just wait until the subpoenas start flying on this one, on both sides of the Pacific.
India's election cycle speeds up
It's not surprising that voters are punishing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's ruling coalition. What has caught New Delhi a bit off guard, though, is just how resounding the rejection has been. Just a few months ago, Narendra Modi seemed like a long shot to replace the hapless and spent Singh. The odds of the economic reformer from Gujarat state having a chance to apply his policies more broadly are increasing by the day. Here, Quartz offers a useful cheat sheet on the other big beneficiaries of recent state contests as Indians prepare to head to the polls in national elections next spring.
A Hong Kong real-estate recession?
Imagine 10,000 real estate agents in Hong Kong on the unemployment line. That's the future that analysts at Centaline Property Agency envision as the city's government cracks down on a huge property bubble. Not only are house prices in Hong Kong at record highs -- they have more than doubled since 2009. That, at a time of slowing economic growth and widening income inequality. And when Angela Wong of Hong Kong-listed Midland Holdings tells Bloomberg News that "the worst is yet to come," it smacks more of understatement than hyperbole.
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