Finance

The Korean Peninsula Crisis: Beyond Fire and Fury

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Two Crisis Group reports detail how a nightmarish war on the Korean peninsula is closer than ever in recent history, and how the Winter Olympics and North Korea’s need to show economic progress in its 70th anniversary year offer opportunities for diplomacy and de-escalation. ICG North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests combined with bellicose rhetoric from the U.S. mean the risk of a catastrophic war on the Korean peninsula is higher than at any time in recent history. Yet a short ... Read More »

Australian property ‘severely unaffordable’, Sydney crowned ‘second least affordable market’

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There’s no arguing Australian properties are among the world’s priciest, but experts disagree on exactly how unaffordable the market has become. David Chau ABC Australia’s five biggest cities have “severely unaffordable” housing markets, according to an international housing affordability think tank. Sydney was ranked “second worst”, with house prices almost 13 times higher than the median household income, Demographia said in its 14th annual report. It was beaten only by Hong Kong, where property prices were about 20 times higher ... Read More »

Oxfam: Richest one percent banked 82 percent of wealth created in 2017

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Oxfam’s latest report on wealth inequality describes how a wealthy elite accumulates vast fortunes while the poorest go without Nik Martin DW But the charity has been criticized as offering a too simplistic view of the imbalances. Oxfam on Monday detailed how the richest one percent grew its wealth by $762 billion (€620 billion) in 2017, which it says was enough to end poverty seven times over. In its annual report on wealth inequality, the UK-based poverty and disaster relief ... Read More »

China’s record US trade surplus leaves Trump trumped

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The US president will hate the figures after saying he is getting ‘much tougher’ on the world’s second largest economy Gordon Watts Asia Times Whichever way you look at it, the latest trade figures from China will make uncomfortable bedtime reading for Donald Trump. In yuan or dollar terms, the numbers are dripping with red ink, which will fail to amuse the US President. Official data released by the General Administration of Customs on Friday showed that China’s trade surplus ... Read More »

How Washington Will Lose Its Influence in Asia

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There is no guarantee that President Trump will ask Congress to renew the Trade Protection Authority Act before it expires Peter C.Y. Chow The National Interest As Douglas Irwin said, if “truth” is the first to be sacrificed in the war, then “free trade” will be the scapegoat in the populist electoral politics. The most recent examples are the Brexit and the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP-12). While the British government is facing contentious negotiations with the ... Read More »

A new Kodak moment: shares soar as company launches KODAKCoin cryptocurrency

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Shares of Eastman Kodak surged by as much as 147 per cent on Tuesday after the one-time leader in photography became the latest company to jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon Reuters Brisbane Times The storied Rochester, New York-based company said in a statement it is launching a cryptocurrency called “KODAKCoin” for photographers, part of “KODAKOne”, an image rights management platform launched in a licensing partnership with WENN Digital. The platform uses blockchain technology, the backbone of bitcoin and other digital ... Read More »

Brexit ‘will not be a fatal blow to Irish economy’

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Former WTO director general and Goldman Sachs chairman Peter Sutherland on why Ireland had to change and future economic challenges Ian Hyland The Irish Times The following is an edited version of one of the last interviews Peter Sutherland gave prior to his death Attorney general, European commissioner, director general of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), chairmanships of BP and Goldman Sachs. … Peter Sutherland has undoubtedly enjoyed an illustrious career. ... Read More »

Economic and geopolitical risks ahead for 2018

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Last year was a year of disruption and distraction – yet another year of squandered policy opportunities John Hewson * The Canberra Times I had hoped 2018 would be different, driven by real leadership and real policy, effectively responding to the needs, expectations and aspirations of the majority of the electorate, as they struggle with key elements of their daily costs of living, with their wages flatlining, and constant concern about the security of their jobs. Yet the year began ... Read More »

For richer or poorer: 4 economists ponder what 2018 has in store

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Editor’s note: We asked four economists to offer their thoughts and insights on what they expect to be a key theme or issue in 2018. Greg Wright, assistant professor of economics, University of California, Merced Patricia Smith, professor of economics, University of Michigan Christos Makridis, Ph.D. candidate in labor and public economics, Stanford University William Hauk, associate professor of economics, University of South Carolina The Conversation Income and wealth inequality are currently at levels last seen during the Gilded Age ... Read More »

The notion that lower corporate tax rates will lead to a repatriation of corporate cash and an influx of job creation in the United States is a complete nonsense.

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When the founders of the United States framed the American Constitution, one of the concerns that guided their work was the knowledge that popular democracy would eventually become an entirely commercial proposition. Christopher Whalen The National Interest This fear is clearly illustrated by the tax “reform” legislation just passed by the Republican majority in Congress. It seeks to buy votes next November with reductions in federal tax revenue that must ultimately be funded with ever larger amounts of public debt. ... Read More »

Varadkar turns out to be a surprising believer in State Enterprise

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He has committed himself to Lemass’s concept of a mixed economy with strong state companies Paul Sweeney The Irish Times Looking back over the year, an interesting speech by the Taoiseach, which got lost in the confusion around Brexit, deserves attention for three reasons. It showed that maybe the leader of Fine Gael is not as right-wing as portrayed. Secondly, it indicates there may be a Plan B for enterprise policy, which is more complex than the low corporation tax ... Read More »

Why it makes good sense to have a rainy day fund

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Ireland’s position remains vulnerable, despite the enormous progress of recent years Cliff Taylor The Irish Times There is a long tradition of interviews with the Taoiseach and senior Government Ministers over the Christmas period This year a key message from the Government is that there may be a need for restraint in tax and spending policies next year, as economic growth continues apace. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was at pains to point out that expected tax cuts of €1 billion could not be ... Read More »

Malaysia’s 1MDB settles debt owed to Abu Dhabi with China backing

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KUALA LUMPUR – State-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) has made the final settlement of US$602.7 million ($S810 million) in debt obligations to Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), by divesting its stake in two companies to buyers linked to Chinese state-owned… The Straits Times The payment, the second tranche of a US$1.2 billion loan IPIC extended in July 2015 to the troubled 1MDB, was made last Friday (Dec 22), ahead of the end-December deadline that both parties agreed to in ... Read More »

Egypt signs $200M agreement with EBRD for energy efficiency

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CAIRO – 27 December 2017: Minister of Investment Sahar Nasr signed an agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to provide a $200 million loan to the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS). Egypt Today Focusing on improving the gas pipeline and transmission network of Egypt, the EBRD said on its website that the loan will be directed to installing waste heat recovery, turbo-expanders, gas metering data systems infrastructure and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) separation plant as ... Read More »

Who has been driving the crypto boom? Individuals in Asia

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Despite a backlash from some regional governments, Asian retail traders continue to drive demand MARTIN J. YOUNG Asia Times There is no doubt that 2017 has been the figurative Big Bang for digital currency markets. Until last Friday’s selling frenzy, Bitcoin had made a meteoric rise of 1,800% since the beginning of the year. It tumbled last week below US$12,000 to put it on track for its worst week since 2013. Other cryptocurrencies, such as Riot Blockchain and Overstock.com, also struggled. But even with ... Read More »

Sri Lanka the latest victim of China’s debt-trap diplomacy

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Beijing has been given a 99-year lease on Hambantota port as part of a debt-reduction deal, amid talk of creditor imperialism following China’s buy-up of strategic ports in Piraeus, Darwin and Djibouti. BRAHMA CHELLANEY Asia Times This month, Sri Lanka, unable to pay the onerous debt to China it has accumulated, formally handed over its strategically located Hambantota port to the Asian giant. It was a major acquisition for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – which President Xi Jinping ... Read More »