Asia Pacific

  • Thailand's latest constitutional referendum passed, but will it last?

    Can Thailand's Latest Constitution Last?

    The result of the Thailand’s recent referendum appeared to show an easy win to the ‘yes’ camp. Sixty-one percent of voters approved the draft constitution while 39 percent voted ‘no’. Fifty-eight percent also approved a second question, inserted at the last minute, on whether a non-elected prime minister could be appointed by a joint sitting of the Senate and House of Representatives.

    Yet the result of the referendum is less conclusive than it would appear.

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  • China should adopt new urbanization patterns to kickstart growth.

    Old Urbanization Patterns Won't Help a New China

    China’s unprecedented growth since reforms began in the late 1970s has been accompanied by an equally transformative process of urbanisation. China’s urbanisation rate increased from 17.9 to 54.8 percent between 1978 and 2014, which represents the largest peacetime population movement in human history. The transfer of labour from the agricultural sector and rural areas to non-agricultural sectors and urban areas in China underwrote the world’s fastest sustained period of economic growth in the past three decades.

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  • Financial transactions that are obscure and complicated can lead to trouble.

    Complex, Obscure Financial Transactions behind 1MDB

    Malaysia’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal reached a crescendo in July 2016. The US Attorney General claimed that more than US$3.5 billion belonging to 1MDB was ‘allegedly misappropriated by high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates’ between 2009 and 2015. The case is officially closed in Malaysia, but Prime Minister Najib Razak’s difficulties remain.

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  • Former military officers are helping Jokowi maintain a power balance.

    Indonesia's Jokowi Relying on Military Leaders

    Without networks within the military, and having no effective power over the political parties, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has been constrained in his political manoeuvres. To combat this, Jokowi has installed retired army generals to important civilian posts as coordinating ministers, defence minister and head of state intelligence.

    The inclusion of a considerable number of former military officers in his administration has been Jokowi’s way to balance the influence of the oligarchs that supported him during his presidential campaign.

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  • A less attractive India means a weaker rupee.

    Will India’s Monetary Policy Continue to Weaken Rupee?

    During the second bi-monthly monetary policy decision in August this year, the Reserve Bank of India maintained the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility as unchanged at 7.25%. As a consequence, the reverse repo rate against the liquidity adjustment facility will remain unchanged at 6.25%.

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  • Negative interest rates and falling oil prices conspire against Japan's growth.

    Japan's Double Economic Whammy

    Background

    In February 2016, the Bank of Japan (BOJ), in order to reach a 2% inflation target, initiated a negative interest rate policy by increasing massive money supply through the purchase of long-term Japanese government bonds (JGBs).

    This policy flattened the yield curve of JGBs. Banks started to purchase government bonds less frequently, because of the negative yield for both short-term government bonds and even for long-term government bonds up to 15 years.

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  • Indonesia's Jokowi does a cabinet shuffle to restart his administration.

    Where will a Cabinet Shuffle Lead Indonesian Democracy?

    Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi) victory in the 2014 presidential election was celebrated as it represented a major step forward for democracy in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. Jokowi’s rise to power was unprecedented.

    It was largely the collective effort of volunteers and a strong social media presence, which helped overcome his humble persona and highlight credible achievements during his term as mayor of Solo and Governor of Jakarta. This inspired high expectations that he would be able to enact much-needed political and economic reforms as president.

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  • Analysis of China's water and energy use yields surprising results.

    There is Something in the Water in China

    Water and energy are indispensable inputs to modern economies. However, in China these are both under threat. China’s per capita quantity of fresh water is only one-quarter of the global average and its sparse water resources are unevenly distributed across the country.

    At the same time, China faces serious energy pressures due to the dominance of coal in energy consumption, causing severe environmental crises and its high external energy dependence in general.

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  • Jokowi's appointment of Mulyani is commendable.

    Jokowi's Mulyani Appointment a Step in the Right Direction

    Once again, President Joko Widodo has reshuffled his cabinet. One pleasant surprise is the return of Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who until recently was Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the World Bank. She accepted the offer to serve as the Minister of Finance, replacing Bambang Brodjonegoro who now leads the Ministry of Planning.

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