Pesek on Asia: Japan's Stuck in the Mud

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Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:

Why Bank of Japan is stuck in the mud.

The Wall Street Journal's Jacob Schlesinger tackles the $600 billion question baffling Asia's second-biggest economy: Why isn't Japan's central bank getting more traction with its pledge to add at least that much per year to the money supply? Companies, Schlesinger writes, are "still sitting on large stockpiles of cash, despite the best efforts by the Bank of Japan to get them to do something better with it." The good news: With much of that cash stuffed into government bonds, yields aren't jumping higher and undermining the economy. The bad, as Schlesinger puts it: "Some of Japan's old deflation-era habits die hard."

Crowdsourcing comes of age with Flight 370.

"The power of the mouse." That's the takeaway by Shihoko Goto as the Washington-based academic and writer for, explores history's greatest crowdsourcing adventure: the hunt for missing Malaysian Air 370. So far, she reckons, more than two million people worldwide have participated, using their fingers, to monitor reams of satellite imagery, one tiny speck of a frame at a time. Within days of crowdsourcing platform Tomnod inviting global input, Flight 370-related pages recorded over 350 million views. So, along with being the most expensive and surreal search ever, Flight 370 is also modern history's greatest participatory event, too.

Myanmar gamble faces investors.

Few investment narratives are more compelling than Myanmar. Walled off from the global economy for decades, the resource-rich nation of 60 million has been re-entering the global community with a vengeance in recent years. Last year alone, more than $3.6 billion of foreign investment zoomed its way. But as this Asia Sentinel piece warns, much of the money flowing in could rush back out at the slightest indication President Thein Sein and his administration disappoint on the economic-reform front. They must work expeditiously and consistently to improve infrastructure, reduce corruption, develop human capital and enact transparent investment laws. Here's a timely look at what's at stake both in Yangon and the nation's capital Naypyidaw.

Is Hong Kong's Article 23 coming back?

Are the chilling anti-sedition laws China has been trying to impose on Hong Kong for over a decade about to return? Beijing is being coy about the ambiguously-worded measures that could restrict basic liberties like the flow of information and freedom of speech. So have Hong Kong's leaders amid hints Beijing's clampdown in the city's autonomy could return at any moment. But South China Morning Post political commentator Albert Cheng finds great significance in the failure by Hong Kong's government to deny such efforts are afoot. "The silence is deafening," Cheng writes. "If the most politically aware of our society choose not to speak up, Hong Kong will certainly wither and die in silence."

Lessons from South Korea 's success.

The search for economic role models can be an exhaustive one these days. Even places that peers might look to for pointers, like South Korea in the Asia region, face their fair share of challenges. In Korea's case that includes income inequality, property bubbles and an education arms race that plunges all too many families into debt. Yet here from the Asian Development Bank is a timely look at what Asia's fourth-biggest economy has done right -- including steps to open the economy and develop human capital -- and what developing Asia can learn from it.

(William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @williampesek.)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

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Willie Pesek at

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