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Chan Akya


Franc-ly, my dear ...
The Swiss National Bank's decision to stop maintaining a de facto peg of the Swiss franc against the euro led to one-day volatility in the currency markets that doubtless wiped out many participants. Beyond that, who really gives a damn. (Jan 16, '15)

Mao clashes with Gini and Maslow
Beijing and its counselors could do well to recognize - quickly if they can - that what they are facing in Hong Kong isn't a call for democracy so much as a call for change in the way the city is run, driven by people who are looking to improve their self-esteem. (Oct 6, '14)

'Bent' Fed now blind
Bad enough that the US Federal Reserve faces aspersions regarding its role as regulator and its conflicts of interest; the resignation from fund giant PIMCO of Bill Gross, the Fed's "go to" person on market opinion, tops that. It all adds up to a rough ride ahead for the Fed - and the markets. (Sep 29, '14)

An era of thugs
At some stage in recent history, governments started to outsource operational aspects of geopolitical strategy to gangs of robbers, murderers and nutcases - Washington in Afghanistan to oppose Russia, Russia in Ukraine now are just two examples - and are increasingly abrogating greater responsibilities to them. It is a very dangerous practice, and where this all ends is anyone's conjecture. (Jul 28, '14)

Monkeys, the IS and the US
With the right mix of punishments - such as scalding water and mutual beating up - even monkeys can "learn" to choose the least harsh of foul options, a grim thought when considering the prospects facing the populations of the Middle East and those who fancy ruling them. (Jul 3, '14)

Flash boys can't match central banks
Flash Boys - Revolt on Wall Street
by Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis's latest book uses accessible language to describe the complex algorithms involved in high-frequency trading, with colorful prose and oddball characters helping to sketch out the "scandal". However, it fails to explore the role of Wall Street strategy departments in inflating the prospects of markets, and to note the bigger scam involving central banks. - Chan Akya (Apr 25, '14)

Market valuation and the 'two egg' problem
An oversimplified use of the "two egg" formula to explain step-like movements in asset prices would suggest investors push up the markets in ever smaller increments to figure out where breaking points lie. This ignores human and technical factors affecting the market's fragility.
- Chan Akya (Apr 23, '14)

T-10 - or Ukraine in a test tube
Ukraine's crisis, which developed from a simple protest to regime change and perhaps eventually a full-blown civil war, highlights humans' inability to assess the potential evolution of events from the ordinary to revolutionary sea-changes. Predictions of how such events might progress would be less contradictory if thought were given to such simple cases as the growth of bacteria in a test tube. (Feb 24, '14)

Define irony ...
Equity investors cheering every intervention by central banks seem unaware that while these keep asset prices artificially high, they fail to provide tangible benefits in employment generation or wage increases. Public outbursts from Singapore to the Arab world suggest anger over high asset prices won't just simmer forever. (Feb 14, '14)

Pratchett becomes serious in Asia
Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" series is the stuff of fun fiction. Except that at times it has a disconcerting tendency to prefigure reality, never more so than in Jingo, with its stand-off between the Klatchians and the city-state of Ankh-Morpork over a newly surfaced island. Fast-forward to the present day posturing in the East China Sea and comical fiction ceases to be a laughing matter. (Dec 3, '13)

EMH and Treasury yields
The Nobel economics prize has brought public attention to the Efficient Market Hypothesis. Yet the present US government crisis and widespread central bank intervention that has skewed asset prices globally mean that now is certainly not the time for anyone to depend on EMH. (Oct 15, '13)

Lousy game theory in Syria
Rather than convince tinpot dictators of the West's moral or military superiority, all the mooted attack on Syria will achieve is an acceleration in nuclear weapons programs of countries ranging from Egypt and Iran to Turkey. But for the West this is a Mount Everest moment - for once it must act simply due to expediency rather than strategy or humanitarian aims. - Chan Akya (Sep 4, '13)

Time to Pay (up), Pal
PayPal's admission of momentarily crediting a customer's account with some US$92 quadrillion is good entertainment, certainly more so than the Federal Reserve's handing over of trillions of dollars to global banks. Detroit's bankruptcy filing shows that Fed money isn't going to where it is actually needed. (Jul 18, '13)

QE Coyote
The Federal Reserve's signaling of an easing of its quantitative easing policy is being blamed for the sell-off in emerging markets and sales of assets ranging from US Treasuries to gold. The reality is more nuanced, as credit risk is being re-priced into the markets at an inopportune time, presenting global markets with a Roadrunner-style "QE Coyote" cliff-edge moment. (Jun 21, '13)

'Soft' issues to the fore
China and India have been rocked recently over governance, transparency and data reliability, putting undue focus on the these countries' trustworthiness as trade counterparts while accentuating the present downturn in investor confidence in many "downstream" countries. Government focus on such "soft" issues is needed in the Asian giants for longer-term stability. (Jun 10, '13)

The phase that launched a thousand bubbles
Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has presided over a thousand economic bubbles. Rather than ushering in investors who could help turn around economies, he and his ilk have created a class of traders who roil asset prices and maximize leverage, but produce no lasting benefits.
- Chan Akya (May 17, '13)
This concludes a three-part series.

Bernanke stole your pension
Government spending to offset private sector contraction is not a victimless crime. Central bankers pushing ever more quantitative easing down the throats of economies are damaging pensioners' security for decades to come.
- Chan Akya (May 10, '13)
This is the second article in a three-part series.

Keynes stole your ship
The market mayhem caused by government intervention in national economies is only too evident since the global financial crisis. The shipping industry, a survivor of economic storms since ancient times, is one sector that finds itself on the rocks thanks to Keynesian policies.
- Chan Akya (May 3, '13)
This is the first article of a three-part series.

Beyond parody
Who needs parody when the news - such as ''Governments borrow to fight debt crisis'' - already fills the spot, supported by ill-informed commentators and readers/audiences? People in the West, emerging from a period of prosperity and "entitlement'' are ill-equipped to deal with this crisis, and hard facts are putting comedy writers out of work. (Apr 2, '13)

EU takes sinister path in Cyprus
The European Union's action against banks and (notably Russian) deposits in Cyprus marks a departure from usual EU practices to something more sinister and ''directed''. If in the name of social justice for Europeans, Russian depositors can be targeted today, what next - Muslims tomorrow and Chinese investors the day after? (Mar 21, '13)

Of mutton and lamb
Britain has been rocked by the scandal of liberal portions of horsemeat being found in what consumers thought was beef. It has been less shocked by a health scandal involving hundreds of negligent hospital deaths. The different levels of apparent concern could be down to a media conspiracy - or just a preference for juvenile jokes over grim facts of healthcare. (Mar 8, '13)

All the world's a stage...
The sight of Michelle Obama involved in the Oscars circus was, for some, an affront to the dignity of the office of the United States president. They miss the point - our time requires those in power - from presidents to treasury secretaries - not so much to enact their authority but merely to act as if they were doing so. And an important part of such acting is to be seen to be acting. (Feb 26, '13)

Ride the chaos curve
Little about the present bond and stock markets makes sense, with ridiculously low bond yields and laughable share valuations. Investors would be advised to consider chaos and game theories rather than fundamentals (or take a speedier route to wisdom and just buy gold). (Feb 8, '13)

Schumpeter's long revenge
The recent demise of various high-profile companies, including HMV and Blockbuster, highlights the benefits of creative destruction, while posing uncomfortable parallels where non-market forces interrupt this process. While the French keep their industrial giants like Peugeot alive, capital thus wasted will add inexorably to longer-term liabilities. (Jan 22, '13)

Deaf frogs, markets and credit ratings
Much like central bankers who took and applied the wrong lessons from the financial crisis, we now have sundry pundits pronouncing the end of credit quality as a determinant for sovereign debt yields, due mainly to the strong performance of the category this year. That is the primary reason there will very likely be a blow up in the global sovereign debt market over the course of 2013. (Dec 21, '12)

A paean to (corporate) tax evasion
Tax evasion has become an international obsession particularly as bankrupt governments attempt to raid companies to cure their own excesses. Yet when done by companies, such savings actually benefit society at large due to recirculation of productive savings to capital investments that bear higher returns than generic government waste. (Dec 18, '12)

The end of Japan as we know it
Between a dysfunctional democracy that seeks to return traditional parties that show little innovation, an economy that is losing competitiveness with every passing day, a demographic time bomb and prickly relations with its neighbors, Japan as we know it may simply cease to be a major functioning economy over the next couple of decades. Political paralysis may embody rather than be the cause of a sclerotic economy. (Nov 26, '12)

UBS goes under cover
The decision of UBS to close its investment banking side is a response only in part to regulatory action against "casino banking". It also reflects a slump in fee income and that global banking is going private, beyond the disclosure requirements of the corporate world. (Oct 29, '12)

Regulators and technology
Microsoft's launch of its new operating system, Windows 8, was spoiled by Apple grabbing the limelight and European Union regulators moaning about the absence of browser choice. It was little consolation that the EU suits were merely demonstrating their own ineptness. (Oct 26, '12)

Benign neglect vs aggressive indifference
The last of the US presidential debates confirmed what has been perfectly clear for a while - whether the incumbent or the challenger is in the White House next year, US policies aren't going to change on the economy or foreign policy. The all-noise-and-no-heat show will be seen as yet another piece of evidence that the US will decline to irrelevance even as China assumes its mantle. (Oct 24, '12)

A tale of two princes, part 2
The tale of the Bumi price collapse unravels into a potentially messy divorce for the Indonesian tycoon from his British partners; but along the line also raises some serious questions on what it is about the search for capital that drives Asian tycoons into Western markets with results that seem primed for disappointment. (Oct 19, '12)

Bumi price crash: A tale of two princes
A curious tale has popped up in the business pages of late, one that brings to mind a modern-day South Sea Bubble as it were. It combines politics in a country that houses the world’s largest Muslim population whilst bringing to the fore a Jewish family and a wealthy Indonesian tycoon. This is potboiler stuff, and not even half the story may have been written yet. (Sep 28, '12)

Maybe it's just me …
So today's main news is that Iran will be building a nuclear weapon that could wipe out Israel, but is the new iPhone 5 any good at all … hang on there, Xi has gone missing and that surely means … al-Qaeda is back in Libya with a bang you say … what, you got the topless photos of Kate Middleton? Global media is suffering from changed economics, and this has destroyed centuries of experience in clearly articulating stories. (Sep 18, '12)

President Ryan
Paul Ryan, putative candidate for the job of Vice President in a Romney administration, represents a major, if not the first significant, ideological challenge to the Keynesian idiocies at the heart of government policies in the US and Europe since 2007. Selecting a vigorously Austrian candidate as his running mate may have been cold political calculations for the otherwise uninspiring Mitt Romney, but it is a stroke of genius. (Aug 17, '12)

Olympics of greed and fear
This year's Olympic Games may be marked by inadequate infrastructure, strikes, poor weather and acts of violence along with great athletic achievements. But whatever other records are broken in London, they may be most remembered as the "Greed and Fear Games". (Jul 27, '12)

Laundry of your choice
HSBC's travails in the US Senate money-laundering investigation risk being trivialized, when in reality the careless acts of a few can compromise the lives of thousands. That said, governments and banks are ill-equipped to handle the complexities of today's technological, privacy and transactional challenges. (Jul 20, '12)

Half a Ferris wheel
Five years after the global financial crisis broke, the Europeans have failed to set their house in order, while the United States has moved forward but with little thought to ending the country's financial follies. While a half-built Ferris wheel is of little use, a completed one is of little more value. (Jul 13, '12)

Who put the lie in Libor?
Britain's Barclays bank, and its now former chief, American Bob Diamond, have been fingered as the bad boys in the rate-fixing Libor scandal. The real villains, though, are found elsewhere, snugly in charge, for instance, at the West's main central banks. (Jul 6, '12)

Naked emperors, holy cows and Libor
It would take a brave person to draw a line between tottering Arab dictatorships, American bankers under siege, the European sovereign debt crisis, credit rating agencies losing their mojo and this week, the Libor scandal. Institutionalization of habits tends to create its own perverse ripple effect within which the seeds of chaos are embedded. This isn't about capitalism versus socialism but rather the appreciation of inertia as the greatest force known to mankind. (Jun 29, '12)

The blonde pimpernel
Boris Johnson, the blonde, unruly and newly re-elected mayor of London, may well be the closest thing to a political voice in Europe who is unafraid of stating obvious necessities to cut government spending, roll back Keynesian policies and let the markets do their work. Johnson goes against the European zeitgeistand, should he so choose, has the opportunity to be the modern day Pimpernel.
- Chan Akya (May 14, '12)

The crisis tales roll on
Exile on Wall Streetby Mike Mayo
Mike Mayo may be the most suitable person to stare down the CEOs of the world's top banks. As he points out in one of four books by various others reviewed here, the global financial crisis "didn't occur because of something that banks did. No, it was the natural consequence of the way banks are, even today." (Apr 25, '12)

My kingdom for a 5-year-old
It is obvious to the average five-year old that a default has taken place in Greece. No less obvious - yet largely ignored so far - is that the levels at which government bonds issued by rich countries currently trade just do not reflect reality. (Mar 16, '12)

The jaded sage
Sage of Omaha Warren Buffett, richer (surely) than Croessus, and an American hero, advises holding on to soft-drink shares rather than gold. Two decades from now, economists and finance students may ponder the madness of times that made a man like him the world's foremost investing genius. (Feb 28, '12)

Debt, cash and bonfires
As a deal on Greek's debt is reached - or perhaps not - debt frenzy has caught on in Europe, with a billion in bail-out money available for every outstretched hand. No one wants to listen to the Germans speaking sense, but the Hungarians, demonstrating the likely consequences, have found a new way to keep warm. (Feb 10, '12)

The Pied Piper of Humbug
A gaggle of comic and self-righteous critiques of the evils of capitalism - amid the assorted chirping from Davos - led us on a merry dance over the past week. We've heard the tune before, but the piper's credibility is at stake in the absence of viable institutions to police fast-changing markets. (Jan 27, '12)

Draghi: Europe's master of illusion
Belief in the markets, and the breathtaking bravado of new European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, may already have saved the euro - just two months into the job - thanks to the impressive illusion of stability his handouts have created. Mere facts will do nothing to derail such a rally. (Jan 20, '12)

Year of Dali
This year has been fraught with surprises, even for the most experienced of observers - not so much on the scale of "how did that happen", but more on the lines of "why couldn't they escape that". Whether in the travails of humanity in the face of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and tsunamis, or merely the goings-on among financial assets and politicians, surrealism has more than crept to the surface - it has usurped the entire proceedings. (Dec 21, '11)

The trick to flying
As Europe's leaders try to muddle through to a resolution of their debt crisis and the United States does no better on fixing its budget deficit, it is possible to consider the most likely outcomes. Most involve the word "decline", and even there they carry a strong whiff of wishful thinking. (Nov 23, '11)

Financial fascism
Europe's leaders, in their treatment of Greek wishes for an austerity referendum, have brought back the era of fascism as they contend with the financial contradictions that the euro project has become. The elite of Europe are choosing to perpetuate the euro's existence at the expense of the people. (Nov 7, '11)

Europe - into the end game
Concerted action is required to resolve the eurozone's deepening woes, yet the institutions in Europe and the United States required to play a key role are at war with each other, while external intervention, say from China, has little in the way of positive history. We are approaching, or are already in, the end game for the euro project. (Sep 14, '11)

Deeper than '08 ...
The world's central bankers gathering in Wyoming's Jackson Hole had little to cheer them during their annual retreat, with three years of effort poured into generating an economic recovery looking increasingly a wasted effort. With Greece's latest posturing on its debt, 2008 could soon look a relatively minor crisis. - Chan Akya (Aug 29, '11)

London riots reduce lies of left to ashes
London's burning shops are proof that rioters aren't sated but spoiled by welfare states, whose costs will never be recovered absent miraculous economic growth. Europeans must cut the welfare state today, or the Chinese and Indians will do it for them tomorrow. (Aug 15, '11)

A world without a benchmark
Americans who question the validity of the downgrading of United States debt by rating agency Standard & Poor's, or China, which has called on America to rein in its ballooning budget deficit, are almost entirely wrong with their assumptions of how this particular fork in the global financial crisis road needs to be navigated. New rules apply in the markets now. (Aug 8, '11)

Beggars and choosers
The European Union, like a well-meaning passer-by handing out coins to beggars, has thrown more cash at Greece, blind to the truth of what is involved. Markets, with an eye on Spain and Italy, will test the claim that this is the "first and only" such deal, and the core Greek solvency problem remains unresolved. (Jul 22, '11)

Murdoch, Moody's and Mandelbrot
The scandal enveloping Rupert Murdoch's News Corp echoes the evolution of the crisis in global markets, seen in the series of events that threatens to bring the United States' credit rating down. In events triggering conflict, lost credibility or a collapse in confidence, the same trajectory applies - and the smart money follows mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot. (Jul 19, '11)

Say no to 'Sino'?
The Sino-Forest scandal further dents the reputation of Chinese companies on the world's stock markets. More transparency, thinner skins on company bosses, and more good accountants and lawyers in China would make it less necessary for them to raise funds abroad. Otherwise, Prada and its like will carry on pocketing the real cash in China's backyard. (Jul 11, '11)

Pointless Europe, redux
Developments in Europe over the past three years confirm the view that the continent operates on emotional rather than economic principles to the point of becoming entirely dysfunctional. The transition from major economy to derelict tourist destination will soon be complete. (Jun 24, '11)

Bank folks can't count
The illusions of grandeur (and questionable math skills) displayed by the European Union as it throws another US$86 billion into the Greek debt pit recall the contrasting basketball athleticism of Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. The markets are at least recognizing that survival of the euro is no slam dunk. (Jun 13, '11)

Saleem in the shadow of Massoud
In 2001, al-Qaeda killed Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Lion of Panjshir and leader of the Northern Alliance, as he had become an inconvenience to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Is it possible that the killing of Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times Online's Pakistan bureau chief, took place because he had become an inconvenience to those planning a major operation, possibly against Israel? (Jun 2, '11)

Web of self-deceit
American disenchantment with the supposed double-game played by Pakistan in taking money from the US government while housing terrorists can perhaps be mollified by the realization that much the same game has been played with taxpayer's money in the US banking system. Throwing other people's money at a problem without full understanding or control is to blame in both cases. (May 6, '11)

With friends like these
The notion that central banks, governments or multilateral agencies would come to grips with the complexities of the financial system let alone muster the courage to do something meaningful about the problems has been dealt a fatal blow by a recently released trinity of reports. There is no hope for the global financial system as things stand today except to continue bobbing from one crisis to the next. (Apr 21, '11)

S&P adds its own footnote to crisis
S&P's declared willingness to downgrade US government debt formally marks the possible end of that debt's status as the global benchmark for risk-free assets - at a time when the ratings business increasingly comes under attack from the same government. The move means an uncomfortable way forward for the global investment community. - Chan Akya (Apr 19, '11)

Calculated risk
As we have seen only too clearly, government officials and other people in an earthquake-prone area tend to act in a fashion that suggest an underestimation of risks, while with respect to nuclear power plants their behavior suggests an overestimation of risks. The fault is not with them; rather it lies in what they think the rest of us expect from them.(Mar 21, '11)

Do you feel lucky?
For four years, central banks have fired salvo after salvo in their efforts to keep economies from collapse. Now, with widespread unrest further unsettling market nerves, investors must surely be asking: "Have they anything left in their armories?" (Mar 11, '11)

Ostrich investing
Ignoring all manner of macro risks, investors appear to be ever focused on answering the rallying call of risk assets. This fashion for "ostrich investing" is bound to end in tears, but the strategy for everyone appears to be to push the day of reckoning as far into the future as possible. That entails a concerted effort to sweep beneath all the world's carpets some inconvenient truths. Go ahead and dance, but stay near the exit. (Jan 28, '11)

... And they all fall down
Tunisia is just the sign of things to come, not just for overwrought Arab nations but for demographically challenged European countries. The little nugget that all politics boils down to the Golden Rule (he who has the gold makes the rules) is set to be challenged as those without the gold strive to make amends for a century of inaction. (Jan 19, '11)

The value of a nuclear Iran
A nuclear-capable Iran may be exactly what is required to destabilize the Wahhabi establishment, reduce support for extreme groups such as al-Qaeda - and usher in a new era of democracy across the Middle East. If the issue of Iran's attitude towards Israel can be addressed comprehensively, a strong Shi'ite state may well suit the strategic requirements of both the West and Asia. (Dec 17, '10)

The saving grace of markets
Short-sellers aren't evil. Cynics and skeptics aren't bad people. A failure to toe a government's line of thinking isn't a crime. Fallacies spread by those in power are falling away, with lies being exposed and wrong-doers punished - at least in the markets; in turn changing government behavior. (Dec 10, '10)

Bottom fishing for the brave
Gunfire on the Korean Peninsula, a bailout for Ireland - there could be much more to come of that specific catalyst to creating value; panic. Many points of weakness exist, not least a collapse of European unity. While a sharp sell-off is unlikely, the patient and the brave can scoop up long-term value. (Nov 24, '10)

(F)Ire and Ice
Crisis-hit Iceland froze out bank creditors as it sought stability, but in Ireland the Dublin government has had to bail out banks, impose austerity efforts - and even then hold out a cap for help. That is the price of eurozone membership and the key to why the European project is over. (Nov 19, '10)

Pay up, or wiggle out
The debt loads carried by democracies can be hard to confront when externalities are altered, so a little discipline is no bad thing. When it comes to seeing their savings disappear or banks being rescued, aging voters in particular know the decision they will back. - Chan Akya (Nov 16, '10)
This article concludes a two-part report.

PART 1: Debt and democracy

Debt and democracy
Strikes in France and the United Kingdom, mass mailing of letter bombs in Greece, the ruling party rejected in the United States - with the cost of debt and austerity in Western democracies mounting in more ways than one, old-fashioned dictatorships are looking a safer bet for investors. (Nov 10, '10)

The wizards of ABS
With the patina of collateral being peeled away from the edifice of asset-backed securities , what remains is simply a mountain of debt that cannot be serviced by America's banks, nor its government. A rapprochement of sorts between the US and China is a vain bid to hold the house of cards from simply falling down. (Oct 29, '10)

The Incorrigibles
The end game of a second round of quantitative easing is all but done as a deal between the United States, Europe and Japan. Fans of quantitative easing round 2 (or QE2) should perhaps pay attention to the other QE2 - an aging cruise ship that ruled the seas in its day and is now a rust bucket parked outside Dubai. The monetary version will end up creating more rust buckets for future generations to ponder. (Oct 15, '10)

Circular firing squad
Competitive devaluations of the sort being enforced by Japan, the United States, China and now Europe spell the end of the camaraderie the Group of 20 attempted to enforce to usher in globally coordinated economic growth. Trade wars are the tip of the iceberg; what lies beneath in terms of stock and bond market destruction represents the more credible threat to global prosperity. (Oct 1, '10)

Salami tactics
Big crises in politics and economics tend not to happen all of a sudden - although those in power, when they are not themselves blind to events, might wish ordinary folk to see things that way. They develop bit by bit, with risk managers on the receiving end obfuscating and procrastinating as the rot develops. Call it salami tactics. (Sep 24, '10)

The 'tragi-terror' that is Pakistan
With any semblance of a nation essentially washed away in the recent floods, Pakistan will most likely once again descend into anarchy; to be rescued by the armed forces in its role as the sole surviving national institution. And the country's plight remains largely ignored by the United States and Europe. (Sep 13, '10)

Obama's battles in Asia
Across Asia, from Japan to China to Indonesia, United States President Barack Obama has missed opportunities that are likely to haunt America for some time to come. It's not too late, though, and greater engagement would go a long way towards rectifying matters. (Aug 13, '10)

Unintended consequences
Keynesian policies intended to get the world out the financial crisis have produced the opposite of the desired results for two years running. To persist with these policies, as some governments appear determined to do, is worse then unfortunate. It is a simple case of insanity. It is time for tightening. (Aug 9, '10)

Burqa over the Bastille
The French move to ban women from wearing the all-covering burqa - with other European countries possibly following suit - has elicited widespread public and media reaction. Tellingly, it appears that Europe and America have polar opposite points of view. The "war on terror" could have something to do with this. (Jul 23, '10)

The 'why' of Europe's banks
The dismal state of European banks, in stark contrast to the Agriculture Bank of China's world record US$22 billion share sale, offers Chinese authorities a window on what should - and should not - be done to prevent Chinese lenders heading in the same direction that European banks followed over the past 20 years. (Jul 9, '10)

The short list
None of the numerous reasons being given for this week's steep stock market declines should come as a surprise, and the sensible response is simple - sell almost everything, and if you want to buy, go low-tech, small (Singapore), or African. Most obviously, go gold. (Jul 2, '10)

Bhopal, BP and karma
The public mauling of BP chief executive Tony Hayward by US congressmen stands in stark contrast with the attitudes of the United States government, courts and industrialists towards industrial catastrophes visited by US businesses on communities overseas. If United Carbide's reaction to the disaster in the Indian city of Bhopal, for example, were the template, Hayward would merely wash his hands of the whole business. (Jun 18, '10)

The cup of joy
Emerging football nations such as China and India may not be participating and the South African hosts may be nervous over predictions of low revenues and soaring costs, but millions in Asia still can't wait for Friday's start to the 2010 World Cup. Gamblers may fancy outsiders like North Korea - who will hopefully just be launching shots on goal - but a real wild card entry is the weather. - Chan Akya (Jun 9, '10)

The new order is chaos
This week's stock trading should tell academics and economists all they need to know as they struggle to define the "new normal". It isn't about relative economic growth or the dynamics of inflation. It is the return of gut-wrenching volatility that places investing in a permanent state of siege. Chaos is the new order; a constant state of crisis is the new normal. (May 21, '10)

Yes, debtor
For all her posturing for tough austerity measures by countries asking for bailouts, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's eventual retreat underlined the power of European bureaucrats who engineered the eventual eurozone bailout package despite the absence of any democratic mandate to pull it off. The decisions being taken by Brussels appear to have nothing to do with the popular will of Europeans. (May 14, '10)

Keynesian Waterloo
The numerous factors that contributed to Thursday's record intra-day decline in the Dow Jones Industrial Average should not mask that we are witnessing the consequence of government overindulgence in spending as buyers of debt now fear an explosion of credit risk. Smart advocates of Keynesian profligacy should recognize the magnitude of this rout and consider quiet exile. (May 7, '10)

South Park - the markets
Somewhere along the line a joke can suddenly seem not so funny, and the fun and games suddenly stop - sometimes when some loon pulls out a gun, real or otherwise. The markets are not immune to innocuous squibs masquerading as real explosives, or vice versa. Recently, they all seem to be hallmarked "G". (May 5, '10)

IPL - or India's predictable larcenies
The Indian Premier League cricket tournament has over three years gone from a zero revenue base to a hugely popular event, securing US$1 billion in television contracts. With that cash has come corruption, politics and sex, as yet another emerging market effort to supplant developed country brethren implodes on an inability to adopt adequate governance standards. (Apr 23, '10)

Lewis comes up short
The Big Short by Michael Lewis
The celebrated author of Liar's Poker returns to his old hunting ground of the financial markets to chase down the characters who saw the financial crisis coming and backed their insights with hard cash. The "who" and the "how" are vintage Lewis. Missing, unfortunately, is the big question(s) - "why?". - Chan Akya (Apr 16, '10)

The perfect crime
Rating agencies, for all their role in fueling the financial crisis, survive essentially untouched by subsequent regulation - official zeal no doubt tempered by government needs to raise cash (and get ratings) in the bond markets. If ever there was an issue for Asian countries to take a lead on, the pursuit of truth in credit ratings, this is it. (Mar 26, '10)

Liar's punishment
Deceit at the highest levels increasingly appears the norm - from the nonsense of Greek debt figures to the accounting sleight of hand that US regulators accepted at Lehman Brothers. Capping them all, perhaps, are impossible claims that exports will haul the world into full recovery. The lesson? Believe no one, sell everything (except solid precious metals). And distrust even this warning ... (Mar 19, '10)

The blame game
European governments scrabbling for a way to resolve the Greek debt crisis are focusing on the role played by peddlers of credit default swaps. Money was certainly there to be made by those who anticipated events, but government energies would be better spent. As that ancient Greek Sophocles put it, no one loves the messenger who brings bad news. That's no reason to shoot him. (Mar 5, '10)

Asia's permanent advantage
Traveling around Asia quickly teaches that "growth" is more than economic statistics - it increasingly means efficient airports, good roads and quality service that mock "developed-world" counterparts. Asia, with the financial muscle and determination to continue this trend, is developing an apparently permanent advantage, leaving Europe and North America ever further behind. (Feb 26, '10)

Oedipus wrecks
The European Union's public pledge of support for Greece makes clear for the rest of the world that, off-stage, there is no government in Europe, let alone one that is effective or coordinated. Currency death and economic pain among this family of nations has just started as the latest Greek tragedy works towards its climax. (Feb 12, '10)

Hair of Damocles' sword
United States Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's future in office might be short, with a warning by Moody's Investors Service that the US is at risk of losing its triple A credit rating, giving more ammunition to critics of his handling of the financial crisis. Whenever his successor takes over, humiliating deals with China are likely to be part of a thankless work load. (Feb 5, '10)

Vestigial organs
As governments in the United States and Europe figure out how to bail out their struggling states - California and Greece the prime candidates for failure - the rest of the world can consider the body's vestigial organs, such as the appendix, and wonder if such a fate now awaits the US dollar and the euro. (Jan 29, '10)

Bonus battles
The popular view that bank bonuses represent greed, gluttony and perhaps lust ignores the factors allowing banks to make such money - central bankers' sloth and government pride in their financial systems. When the bonus drama ends, it will be because people realize the true culprits are, indeed, governments. (Jan 22, '10)

Nine pins from '09
The ghosts of the year past are wasting little time in making their chilling presence felt on the investment outlook for 2010 - from Alcoa's earnings results to China's monetary tightening to increasing preference for cash, the harbingers are spooky at best. (Jan 15, '10)

What's in a name?
Renaming the world's tallest building to honor Dubai's financial rescuer may mark the death of a non-resource-based model of development in the Arab world. It could also serve to encourage other similar changes - RBS could be renamed the People's Bank of Britain, or California (given the right terms with China) could become Xinjiang (West). (Jan 6, '10)

It's who you know
Perhaps the best way to summarize 2009 would be to look at the obvious winners, such as Wall Street and Big Government, against less obvious losers, such as taxpayers, the unemployed and small businessmen globally. With the Japanese way of capitalism well established, the year could be remembered as sowing the seeds of the longest depression the world has seen. While that may be an awful thought, think what will need to happen to end such a depression. (Dec 23, '09)

How to solve climate change
The failure of the Copenhagen summit on climate change is exactly as expected. Whenever people try to come together and solve an issue that is of importance to all of humanity, the binding force has to be greed or fear; but never altruism. There isn't enough fear in climate science yet, therefore a monetary, that is, economic approach, is the only notion that could've worked. (Dec 21, '09)

'Good peg' illusion
Whether a currency peg is intended to address external or domestic imbalances, it will likely be the source of significant volatility, with some effects visible and others not quite so. Ignoring the basic truths of the "unholy trinity" will always prove detrimental in the long run to the interests of those who wish to take undue advantage of a currency peg. (Dec 8, '09)

Dubai, debt and a return to reality
The trouble with debt-burdened Dubai isn't that its woes could trigger serious shocks around the global financial system. Rather, that irrespective of liquidity conditions, the world remains an unforgiving place for those who borrowed too much and gave up too little in return. Various other notions, such as "too big to fail" and "implicit guarantee", will soon fall by the wayside. (Nov 30, '09)

Hollywood, the macabre
The latest and most popular releases from Hollywood present disturbing vignettes of where the West in general and the United States in particular are headed. Teenage vampires in The New Moon represent the age-old quest for immortality, even as 2012 plays truant with Armageddon. Both represent a grudging acceptance, if not adulation, for unattainable elite status. (Nov 24, '09)

No country for gold men
People of all nationalities should now look to gold as the ultimate hedge against inflation as well as globally irresponsible monetary policy, as the absence of an exit strategy from central banks combined with an explicit targeting of inflationary increases would create the ideal conditions for wholesale destruction of savings stored through financial instruments. (Nov 13, '09)

Leverage not level
The picture is familiar - higher oil prices, a lower US dollar, and rising US stocks. Missing from the picture is the leverage taken in, and related to, monetary expansion in China - and what happens once that expansion is removed. (Nov 6, '09)

Time to go Dutch
The ruling by the European Union Commissioner for Competition that Dutch bank ING Groep should sell its insurance unit and US banking arm demonstrates that the Europeans, unlike their US counterparts, are taking the right route regarding stewardship of the global financial system. (Oct 30, '09)

The truth about banks and dogs
Over-aggressive, yappy and totally incapable of fending for themselves - today's banks are similar to small breeds of dogs created by man's manipulation of nature. Banks know full well that any misstep will lead to a government rescue, just as Chihuahuas and Pekinese turn into a furry ball of trembling fear without their masters. (Oct 23, '09)

Us and them
Controlling the renewed menace of the Taliban will involve actions in the United States and Europe to destroy the demand for heroin and oil; the twin fuels of Islamic fundamentalism. Getting those achieved may not be the most popular course of action, but this is more likely to succeed than mere adjustments to the current war strategy. Historical evidence involving the decline of the British Empire favors the notion, too. (Oct 19, '09)

Double or quits
As the employment picture in the United States grows ever more weak, Keynesian economists are producing their standard calls to government - spend more, and the good times will come. This after seeing vast amounts already poured into rescuing the economy come to little effect. It is the cry of despair of a failing gambler. (Oct 5, '09)

One man's terrorist ...
Behind the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka and the killing of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud are stories of countries creating bands of terrorists to do things that were impossible for those in power to be seen to be doing directly. In this dangerous game, blowback is inevitable. (Oct 2, '09)

Running out of road
China, of all countries the best placed to mitigate an asset bubble, appears the most concerned about the impact of government stimulus packages. Elsewhere, the assumptions underlying hopes of better times ahead look all too flawed.(Sep 28, '09)

Moral hazard is back
There is clearly a class of people who do not face the full force of the law because of who they happen to be. The same stunning level of corruption is also true for banks, bailouts and financial systems. This will be the unsavory legacy of the Lehman Brothers aftermath. (Sep 18, '09)

The Surreal Symphony
World governments have succeeded in postponing the reckoning for leverage and asset prices, not to mention global real incomes, without any prospects of avoiding a repeat of the very circumstances that led to the current financial crisis. If this were a fairy tale, it would be both surreal and have a nasty ending. It is not, so we are just left to ponder the latter ... (Sep 11, '09)

We are all Japanese now
The end of capitalism as the system du jour will happen not with a bang but with a whimper. Lower growth, higher debt and more bank failures will feature in the distant future; but for now, many people will celebrate the death of laissez faire and the advent of Japanese capitalism in its place. (Sep 4, '09)

Prada to Pravda
European luxury brands championed the consumerism of the United States and European countries that led to the global financial crisis; that situation is now being replaced by a pseudo-reality straight from the pages of old Soviet newspapers. Now, governments dictate market movements, even as they slant news coverage to suit specific requirements. (Aug 28, '09)

Crisis hindsight
As the storm recedes, at least for a while, from the worst financial crisis since World War II, bookshelves are littered with accounts claiming insight into how and why it happened, if not why so few saw it coming. Whether you opt for the views of PIMCO's Mohamed El-Erian, famed investor George Soros or the insightful but relatively obscure Thomas E Woods - choose with care. Not all are what they seem, as with ex-bond salesman Michael Lewis. (Aug 14, '09)

Faith-based investing
Continued gains in the world's stock markets have attracted numerous explanations in harness with poor analytical skills, self-contradicting indicators and a lack of basic math. There is only one answer for rising market values for risk assets - and therein lies the path, once more, to economic ruin. (Aug 4, '09)

Goldman's Atlas shrug
No sooner than a Wall Street firm had announced bumper earnings than all the communists squirm out of the woodwork to criticize them for "profiteering", whatever that means. It is very much the job of capitalists to make money off the idiocy of communists and socialists, and given the rich pickings across the world, more are likely to follow Goldman Sachs principles than those of communists in government. (Jul 20, '09)

Raining on the Blue Fox
The shine has started wearing off the "Green Shoots" story that has propped up stock markets and helped various countries pretend that further developments aren't imminent. As various US states approach different stages of bankruptcy, the time for governments to change policies is dawning. (Jul 3,'09)

The Jackson factor

Global investors can find in the debt and drugs-fueled tragedy that marked Michael Jackson's final years a parallel to the current goings-on in stock markets. Stimulus funds sourced from government debt are leaking into the stock markets while antidepressants may be helping people ignore rising valuation risks. (Jun 29,'09)

BRIC plotters stage a farce
The inaugural "BRIC" summit of leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and China ended in farce, as can only be expected when four disparate economies attempt to cobble together an alliance based on ephemeral rather than sustainable competitive advantages. The motley crew, instead of plotting the downfall of Julius Caesar, merely ended up begging for more, like Oliver Twist. (Jun 19,'09)

Principal over principle
The very moral fiber of Anglo-Saxon countries appears to have come under threat In response to the ongoing financial crisis. Be it the nationalization of vast swathes of US industry, the expenses scandal in Britain or the attacks on Indian students in Australia, the very ugly side of these societies has been pushed into plain view. (Jun 5,'09)

Till debt do us part
Getting out from under the weight of debt is a hard business, not the stuff of magic wands some in the financial media seem to want it to be. With some governments adding to the confusion amid both creditors and debtors, today's recession is likely to become a global depression before individuals and capitalists, not least those in China and Brazil, once more take charge of their destiny. (May 29,'09)

Easy bets with other folks' cash
Recognizing the role financial engineers are playing in the current global stock-market rally will help investors identify just how they are being hoodwinked. Irresponsible comments from central bankers and government officials aside, it is the people who talk up their own books who merit the most ire. (May 22,'09)

Truth is too hard to handle
Greed and fear have re-established themselves as the drivers behind bond and stock performances. All hint of logic is absent as the markets adopt the "green shoots" anthem. Yet in reality, we can forget about the stability of financial institutions and stop imagining any chances of corporate earnings recoveries. Higher interest rates and lower stock values beckon. (May 11,'09)

Swine flu over cuckoo markets
The outbreak of swine flu and the continuing global financial crisis have more in common than their potential to disrupt the lives of numerous people across the globe. Both highlight the danger of maintaining unsustainable modus operandi at the core of modern humanity's lifestyle. (Apr 28,'09)

G-8's first bankruptcy
The United Kingdom is the leading candidate for the first sovereign bankruptcy among Group of Eight countries. Rather than learn from the downward spiral of its financial system, the government is crawling back towards populist socialism in a move that is destined to destroy the economy. (Apr 24,'09)

China's unreal estate
Chinese property is a perfect example of what happens when irresponsible policies meet indomitable market forces. The u-turn within a year - from efforts to cool property prices to measures to prop up the sector - highlights the consequences of a pegged exchange rate maintained by a government that claims to know what's best for the country, with all evidence to the contrary. (Apr 9,'09)

The G-20 piles folly on folly
Broken window panes apart, the only tangible result of the Group of 20 meeting in London - the tripling of International Monetary Fund resources to to US$750 billion - is astounding. The people whose incompetence has made the fund a byword for poverty and who had no clue about the present crisis until it burst on us are now supposed to show the foresight to end it. (Apr 3,'09)

Bonus-free knuckleheads
The way out of the financial logjam is to provide the private sector with incentives to get its act together rather than by driving through retrospective moves designed to placate popular anger. Governments don't have any experts to deal with this problem, and it is time they acknowledged that fact. (Mar 20,'09)

Buyer beware
Endemic fear of deflation has pushed Western governments to issue mountains of cash to their citizens. Asia is feeling the pinch, and not just in terms of currency values. Savers are seeing a decline in both current income and future purchasing power. (Mar 13,'09)

No work and no play ...
Terrorist attacks on sportsmen have pushed the conflicting agendas of social development, national ego and attention-seeking into a new reality that is compounded by the ongoing economic crisis. Being fabulously wealthy and all too often cheating their way to achievements, sportsmen risk becoming the new focus of social anger. That is, once anger over the financiers has cooled down a tad. (Mar 6,'09)

Beggar, I thy neighbor
The economic crisis, unsurprisingly if painfully, is forcing political realignments around the globe. The pace at which pseudo-autonomous states, from within Europe to the Gulf to the western United States, are being pushed into the embrace of richer neighbors presents rare opportunities for a new generation of Bismarckian politicians. (Feb 27,'09)

Slumdog communists
A successful and critically acclaimed film may well do more to get Indians out of their self-inflicted rut than any other media in this movie-crazy country. The more everyone around the world praises the film Slumdog Millionaire, the greater the embarrassment for the Indian middle classes who look but do not see the abject poverty and low living standards around them. (Feb 13,'09)

False hope of protectionism
It didn't take too long for protectionist impulses to rear up across Group of Seven leading industrialized countries as the initial bouts of Keynesian spending failed to provide any relief. Yet demographic factors dictate that any salvation for developed countries waits on increased consumption in the Asian region. (Feb 6,'09)

Capitalism at the crossroads
The battle between capitalism and its alternatives is set to intensify as the malcontents of 2008 come back seeking systemic adjustments that could prove unnecessary in the realignment of the global economy. Every step the socialists take will bring a great depression closer for a bulk of the world population. (Jan 15,'09)

Ask not for whom the bells toll
Analysts taking perverse pleasure at the decline of emerging markets miss the main point - that the serious erosion of confidence will become an all-pervasive global affair. As the decline of the United Kingdom can be attributed to the conniptions faced by Russia, other developed countries could be tripped by the current decline of emerging markets. (Dec 24,'08)

Honey, I switched the medication

Every government in the world is engaged in exactly the wrong course of action in response to the current crisis. As the largest borrowers attempt to bump up their borrowings, the largest savers are attempting currency devaluation to increase production. Both groups are doomed to fail, and improvement to the global economy is most unlikely over the near future. (Dec 12,'08)

Going, going, GOME
China continues to avoid a radical overhaul of its corporate governance structures, leading to the scandals that plague its top companies, the arrest of GOME's founder and chairman being the most recent. That further erodes what remains of investors' trust, undermines capital-raising and leaves too much for the government to do. (Dec 5,'08)

Debt cold turkey
Perhaps the worst thing you can tell a bankrupt person on a festive day such as Thanksgiving is that worse is yet to come. That precisely is what is in store for people across the global economy as deleveraging will continue to devour every scrap thrown at it by well-meaning but useless government officials around the world. (Nov 26,'08)

Blind leading the one-eyed
The Group of 20's Washington summit on the global financial crisis can be charitably described as a waste of time. The world's leaders agreed to fluff with no bearing on today's structural problems and maintained confidence in the institutions that led the world into this mess. As bad, leaders of countries such as Brazil, China and India bought into this malarkey. (Nov 17,'08)

The party's beginning
Emerging countries, particularly those in Asia, have a brighter chance of making government intervention work if only because of higher profit potential and the low level of debt relative to potential gross domestic product. This is the crux of the argument of turning the world around, not the well-worn ideas of propping up the leading industrialized countries. (Nov 14,'08)
This concludes a two-part report.
Part 1: The party's over

The party's over
Keynesian intervention now seems the consensus choice for governments combating the economic crisis. This response requires turning a blind eye to balance sheets and questionable assumptions regarding countries expected to subsidize consumption globally. The coming summit in Washington will be largely pointless, given the apparent lack of concern over these dynamics. (Nov 14,'08)

James Bond, communist villain
The iconic British spy has much in common with communism in the over-arching use of deadly power to discipline those disagreeing with the central tenets of government. The current tilt towards socialism makes James Bond a role model for interventionists of all hues, which is why unraveling the mystique is critical for everyone who believes in free markets. (Oct 31,'08)

Pretenders all
Alan Greenspan had the option of other responses this week when he delivered his confessionless testimony to US legislators investigating the collapse of the financial system the former Federal Reserve chairman had nourished for nearly two decades. But we all make mistakes - commentators as well as bankers - as the present state of Russia, South Korea and India demonstrate. (Oct 24,'08)

A Fukuyama moment in finance
The panic in global markets this week doesn't conjure up any obvious safe havens, except for the classic one that goes back to the historical purpose of markets. Investing in young countries with competitive advantages in factory productivity is the way forward. Not quite the end of history, but certainly a pause. (Oct 17, '08)

Europe's death by guarantee
A humiliating deal for Iceland is just the starting marker of the terminal decline of Europe. Domestic economic problems combined with unwieldy banking and regulatory supervision will put paid to the continent's hopes of surviving the current market carnage. (Oct 10, '08)

Math of doom
Simple math helps to debunk the mumbo-jumbo carelessly thrown around by central banks and the media with respect to the present financial crisis. The exercise proves among other things that the US Treasury will certainly buy assets above fair value, while European efforts to save their banking systems are doomed. (Oct 3, '08)

Deaf frogs and the Pied Piper
The United States financial crisis is being hailed as the death of market capitalism and has resurrected enthusiasm for socialism, notably as practiced in various parts of Asia. Choose that route, and Asian governments can yet manage to heap misery on their unsuspecting populations for years to come. (Sep 29, '08)

Terminal velocity
Bailouts in the United States and elsewhere in the West bring fast forward the decline of the Group of Eight industrialized countries, and mark another key moment in the rise of Asia as the world's sole economically viable region. These trends will only accelerate if existing G-8 governments are voted back to power - and if Asia's central bankers display intelligence. (Sep 22, '08)

Waiter, there's a banker in my soup
The Fed's timely courage at avoiding a Lehman bailout and pushing through an AIG takeover, allied with a decision to hold interest rates steady, may yet be seen as the steps that helped to stem the US's financial crisis. It certainly doesn't feel like a turning point, but that is the way emotions differ from fundamentals. (Sep 17, '08)

Pareto's Bazooka
The roots of Lehman's precipitous decline this week can be traced to the US government's policy actions in the rescues of Bear Stearns, Fannie and Freddie; all of which sufficiently changed the motivation of major market players to essentially invalidate core principles. The resulting food fight is lethal for the chances of a meaningful economic recovery. (Sep 12, '08)

Triangulating an Asian conflict
It's possible that in the near future Islamic extremists will have their finger on the Pakistani nuclear trigger, while Han nationalists in China and Hindu fundamentalists in India likewise control their nuclear-armed countries. These are the trends shaping tomorrow's world, writes Chan Akya, who does not see the avalanche of words about a US vice-presidential candidate as particularly relevant. (Sep 5, '08)

Bear-faced bluff
Bluffing to buy time is the latest must-do pastime from China to the US, South Korea to Singapore. Political leaders, central bankers and now their commercial counterparts are at it - accompanied by the sound of Asian cash gurgling down the US drain. (Aug 29, '08)

Asian economies meet gravity
Asian economies are losing their vibrant growth as they feel the impact of slowdowns in the United States and Europe. Intra-Asian trade will offer little in the way of an alternative stimulus, while further reforms are overdue, and much needed, in India and China. (Aug 21, '08)

Utterly pointless Europe
The utter pointlessness of Europe's existence was driven home by a combination of political, strategic and economic developments this week. Far from being a counterweight to the United States or a center of power on its own merit, Europe has turned out to be merely a vestigial organ. Russia is right to take advantage of this mess. (Aug 15, '08)

The anatomy of an Olympic winner

Sporting success is a source of nationalist pride, an avenue for chest thumping or more usually an opportunity to make money. Americans love and respect sportsmen, which is why they consistently produce some of the world's best athletes. Perverse incentives force ex-communist countries to rely on producing the world's best chemists. India doesn't win medals because it simply isn't profitable for individuals to do so. (Aug 7, '08)

And now, for Fannie and Freddie
The US government, faced with a possible failure of mortgage guarantors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is looking to once again prop up defunct institutions instead of giving up the ghost on such entities. The markets may welcome such efforts, but the implications for the ultimate credit quality of the government are negative. (Jul 11, '08)

The gullible and the greedy
Cringe-worthy analysis by luminaries ranging from the Bank for International Settlements to the Indian finance minister shows fundamental misunderstanding of market mechanisms. Yet with so-called experts from investment banks and rating agencies found wanting in their basic responsibilities, other participants have plenty of leeway to mumble-swerve. (Jul 3, '08)

Incredible India, indeed
While its neighbors blissfully ignore bigger economic trends, India's policymakers have made a series of poor strategic choices for the country, in effect pushing the economy into the eye of the global storm. As the government grapples with inflation and contends with a fractious coalition, the outlook is murky. (Jun 30, '08)

Lehman and the liars
A fresh crisis at a US investment bank brings to the fore a similar phalanx of deceit and consequences in other corners of the financial markets, ranging from yields on US Treasury bonds to the price of donkeys in Turkey. At the heart of all these events is the unraveling of convenient lies. (Jun 13, '08)

Cheap talk, pricey banks
US Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke's desperate attempts on Tuesday to talk up the US dollar highlight the Fed's increased concerns of further stress in the financial system after investment banks report their quarterly results later this month. A rising US dollar though is murderous for Asian inflation, while investments in US banks are bad for regional wealth. (Jun 4, '08)

   Oil prices fall in Asia on Fed chief's comments (AFP)

Mr Market combats the Taliban
Reduced opium production in Afghanistan as a result of soaring wheat prices points the way both for the conduct of war in poor countries, and perhaps more importantly, handling emerging environmental issues. Change that is led by the markets will prove more sustainable than any that's thrust by war. (May 30, '08)

Indiana Jones and the last capitalist
The latest avatar of the archetypal American capitalist takes viewers on a thrilling ride while raising existential questions on the side. Individual liberties and innovation that spawned decades of prosperity are now under assault globally as much from a sprawling corporate culture as from Luddite forces of modern communism. (May 23, '08)

India's real terrorists
Though Asia in general had a bad week, India's problems stand out as the most intractable and subversive, harking as they do to the dominance of age-old communist thinking that has bred a cesspool of corruption. Other Asian countries also face this peril. (May 16, '08)

All aboard the USS Titanic
As the world comes to grips with declining United States power both in political and economic terms, it almost seems surreal that global media appear so keen to paper over the cracks. With even the corrupt and unctuous Gulf dictators rebelling against the US dollar, this is the beginning of the end. (May 2, '08)

Western excess is the Earth killer
The problem with people trying to save the world, as intended in this week's Earth Day, is that everyone has different living standards and objectives. What will benefit the environment is a reduction in excessive consumption by Europe and the US, not a reversal of Asian progress. (Apr 25, '08)

Bankrupt policies, empty stomachs
Inflation in food products has become the new front in the geopolitical battlefield. Asians can start by blaming themselves for the present mess in which their farmers remain poor, their poorest struggle to pay for basics such as rice, and their governments continue to pay economic allegiance to the has-been powers of America and Europe. (Apr 18, '08)

Asia must rally behind China
Asian countries must rally behind China ahead of the Olympics as Group of Seven countries and their lackeys aim to increase their shrill rhetoric at their meeting this weekend. Using a combination of diplomatic and economic moves to trip the Americans, the region could gain the upper hand for the long term. (Apr 9, '08)

A conspiracy against gold
The global conspiracy against gold has been gathering steam, with central banks rallying around the US Federal Reserve to prevent a full-scale economic collapse. This will succeed over the near term, but as the US runs out of things to sell, so will the latest bout of risk-taking in global markets. (Apr 2, '08)

The new Brahmins
Socializing risk and privatizing profit points to a global economic gridlock that would likely drive Asia's poor back into their shantytowns. The elite of global banking can rest assured that society will pay its toll in perpetuity, essentially creating a new super-caste of bankers. It's not Asia that is being globalized, it is the West that is absorbing the worst Asian habits. (Mar 28, '08)

Why markets love dictators
This week's developments once again highlight the reasons for markets to prefer dictatorships compared with freewheeling democracies. Clarity in decision-making is more important than preserving the rights of individuals, for the benefit of society at large, as seen by the market reactions to recent political changes in India, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia and China. (Mar 20, '08)

Trust goes down the drain
The acquisition of Bear Stearns by JPMorgan Chase at a knock-down price of $2 per share means investors cannot trust the reported book value of US financial firms any more. And if they cannot trust investment banks, can the trust of commercial banks be really all that higher? The Fed and other central banks should now understand that the bailers themselves may need to be bailed out in time. (Mar 17, '08)

Forget Spitzer, fire Bernanke
While the New York governor resigned  for what was essentially a private matter, the world's central bankers cause greater damage and have proven less accountable for their actions. Continued debasement of fiat currencies leaves the financial system unhinged and more prone to collapse. (Mar 14, '08)

Europe's leaders are too busy destroying their economies to notice the grand opportunity to assume global leadership. The European Central Bank is also far from being the paragon of virtue that many economists consider it. A failure to grasp this dynamic means that the rise of the euro against the US dollar will be in vain. (Mar 10, '08)

Dead dollar sketch
The demise of the world's reserve currency reads like a financial version of the infamous Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch. The arguments of US dollar supporters appear increasingly hollow. The implications are much more geopolitical than merely economic. (Mar 3, '08)

How about a Y?
With recession a distinct possibility across the G7, the question of any eventual recovery’s shape depends much on the ability and willingness of Asia to embark on sensible economic policies. For the first time in a few centuries, we are likely to witness a Y-shaped recovery. (Feb 22, '08)

Tear down that Wall (Street)
Instead of trying to rescue the world's moribund financial firms, the US and other governments must stand aside and let the process of creative destruction go into hyperdrive. Kicking out a bunch of overpaid bankers onto merciless streets of unemployment would hardly be the worst thing imaginable today. (Feb 15, '08)

Missing genius
What if Hitler hadn't pushed Einstein into America's welcoming hands? This hypothetical question bears examination when we consider the future of Chinese and Indian emigration into the US and Europe. The deliciously circuitous decision variables will likely entail the last push into a permanent downward spiral for these countries. (Feb 8, '08)

Cry mummy
So the Fed blinked in its efforts to win market credibility, but that only seems to make investors panic even more. After one of the worst January performances on record, the rest of the year promises to be a hard, long slog. Asia's refusal to cut the umbilical cord of currency pegs with the US economy promises to send the region into a downward spiral. (Feb 1, '08)

The rogue and the pogue
The trader who lost Societe Generale US$7 billion is a kindergarten brat compared with the chaps heading the world's major central banks, whose actions cost the world economy a few trillion dollars, give or take. That said, he might well have forced the Federal Reserve's hand this week, complete with consequences that include upward pressure on Asian currencies. (Jan 25, '08)

Drunk in a bankrupt world
What unites Mitt Romney's pledge to save Michigan, mounting US bank losses and the World Bank's most recent corruption scandal in India with monetary tightening in China and the launch of the cheapest car in the world this week? Fool's gold, mainly. (Jan 18, '08)

More racist than thou
The racism row involving Indian cricketers highlights the different standards of Asia with respect to the rest of the world. Simply put, race differentiation is part of the regional culture; attempts to impose Western standards would simply go against the grain of thousands of years of history. As for the game of cricket itself, what works will be determined by Indian audiences. (Jan 10, '08)

Black swans and greedy oilmen
Two books stand out from last year's motley publications covering the subjects that matter - economics and markets. Both will in time be misused, but for now they present important learning opportunities for Asian policymakers. (Jan 5, '08)

Storm warning for Asia
Asia's economies, already under pressure amid rising regional security risks in the form of an unsettled Pakistan and a belligerent Russia, could see their growth prospects blown away as the impact of the crippled US financial system goes global. The biggest economies may pull through eventually; the smaller ones will have a tougher time finding port. (Jan 3, '08)

Annus financialitis
The year that the global financial sector experienced a meltdown has not reached its denouement, with restrictions on credit likely to intensify rather than ease in the coming 12 months. The crisis will adversely affect Asia before too long, despite the salutary effects of abundant liquidity, due mainly to a paucity of credit skills. (Dec 21, '07)

Inflation - China's lost battle
China has lost its battle with inflation, recording the highest figures in recent history last month. In the face of burgeoning domestic demand, the inability of Chinese authorities to control money supply lies at the heart of the matter. Lacking will, the authorities are also losing credibility with their people, which will result in greater social unrest next year. (Dec 14, '07)

How central bankers could save the world
Discussions on climate change in Bali ignore the crucial role that can be played by inflation-targeting central banks. If they do what it says on the can, central bankers could help to engineer substantial changes in the flow of capital and ideas across the global economy, helping to cut carbon emissions. Instead, they have chosen short-term goals much to the detriment of the world population. (Dec 7, '07)

Vanishing minnows
Asia's emerging giants are crowding out both investors and regional alignments, changes underlined by the renewed search for relevance by ASEAN and other Asian groupings. The increasing likelihood of a US recession next year will only exacerbate the downward spiral facing many of these countries. (Nov 30, '07)

Playing South Asia's World War III game
Using game theory to understand recent events in South Asia shows the possibility of a calamitous slide towards World War III, led by the decline of US power. China can't intervene in Pakistan and India won't, leaving a vacuum that will be filled by Islamic fundamentalists and their archrivals, the neo-conservatives. (Nov 16, '07)

What's Chinese for 'Ponzi'?
Four of the world's top 10 stocks by market capitalization are now Chinese, but the measure is a flawed representation of actual value. Unless the authorities take urgent action, including the freeing up of capital controls and letting the currency float, the outcome will be horrible for both investors and the government. (Nov 9, '07)

Off with their heads
Chief executive officers are losing their jobs by the dozen on Wall Street, in what constitutes a cathartic process for the eventual recovery of the sector. The contrast with the experience of Japanese banks in the 1990s shows the relative success of market-based capitalism as against state-sponsored nonsense. (Nov 5, '07 )

Pants on fire
Echoing a tragicomic version of the children's game, financial results by some banks and brokers have cast shadows on the accuracy of results declared by others in the same game. With thieves no longer treating each other honorably, financial system volatility will increase across Western economies. Not to fear though, because Asian central banks will be called to bail out all these firms soon enough. (Oct 26, '07)

Dear Dinosaurs
Discussions in this this weekend's G8 meetings will probably ignore emerging fault lines in the "developed" world. If someone in those meetings were actually serious about confronting issues head-on, these are a few topics to focus on. Then again, it may all be too late for these countries, as the "meteorite" of Asian powers taking charge of world affairs unfolds. (Oct 19, '07)

Ben, beef and Buddha
The rise in food prices globally threatens to undo all the good work on the anti-inflation front by central bankers over the past two decades (excluding exposing economies to frequent asset bubbles). Ben Bernanke's decision to cut interest rates last month now looks monumentally stupid; the only solution is to encourage Americans and Asians to turn to Buddha. (Oct 12, '07)

Ram-ming the Indian economy
India's central government has taken to playing the religious card in its efforts to keep a center-left alliance in place for the next elections, in moves that will play havoc on the country's economy. Unnecessary intervention in economic development is a major reason for India to vastly underperform on its growth potential, and there are no signs of the situation improving any time soon. (Oct 5, '07)

Capitalism does work
America's subprime problems have unleashed a torrent of left-wing chest-beating among the world's media, a lot of which casts the borrowers as victims of unscrupulous lenders. Much of the criticism, especially in Europe and Asia, appears to have extended to capitalism and free markets in general. For economies across Asia, though, now is hardly the time to experiment with any alternative systems. (Oct 28, '07)

Rocking the land of Poppins
The near default of Northern Rock in the United Kingdom must give pause to every Asian central banker and especially the ones in China and India. Rather than adopting a self-congratulatory tone on the travails of European and US banks, the region's central bankers must use the current period of strength to undertake serious structural reforms. These involve aggressive culling of small and medium-size entities, and increased supervision that incorporates sophisticated market understanding. (Sep 21, '07)

Osamanomics and the greens
Osama bin Laden's latest video extols green causes in addition to the usual litany of religious nonsense. That the world's foremost terrorist chooses to ally himself with anti-modern and Luddite green activists is not happenstance - both groups, after all, aim to cut global economic prosperity and keep billions living in servitude. Nice mustache, though. (Sep 14, '07)

 In gold we trust
The global financial system is broken, with banks refusing to lend to one another at any cost, even as central banks attempt to increase system liquidity. As LIBOR, the global interbank rate, surges well past normal levels, usual circuit-breakers such as liquidity facilities have simply failed. In this environment, only the holders of physical assets such as gold and oil appear to have the upper hand. Sell your equities, by the way. (Sep 7, '07)

India's Muslim 'problem'
With sickening regularity, India's middle classes suffer terrorist outrages that are blamed on the subcontinent's restive Muslims. But the factors that drive people to such unspeakable acts of terror against their fellow citizens are ignored by feckless politicians who lack both the vision and credibility to grasp an obvious solution, namely increased economic opportunities for the diverse minorities, with a particular emphasis on urban areas. (Aug 31, '07)

'Cracks' in credit
America's addiction to cheap credit now needs a fresh injection of liquidity from the rest of the world, and in particular Asia. No good will come to Asian banks from supporting a fresh bubble in the US economy; conversely, much good will result from calling America's bluff and ending the scourge of excessive US consumption. But the US will attack its creditors, much as its military tried to overrun Colombian drug suppliers. (Aug 27, '07)

South Asia's schizophrenic twins
The birth of India and Pakistan 60 years ago was marked with considerable pain. Their record is largely abysmal, even if the most recent history points to an improved outlook. Political failures have caused the breakdown of civility between the twins that only economic ties can resolve. For the long-suffering poor in both countries, the outlook remains desperate.
(Aug 17, '07)

Asia and the vicious cycle of bank bailouts
As with every market crisis, recent upheavals in global markets have claimed a host of victims in both US and European banking. The penchant of central banks to bail out their constituents undoubtedly predicates future crises for such banks as well as their countries. Asians can help end this vicious cycle by cutting their holdings of US and European bonds, and focusing on investments with high total returns. (Aug 10, '07)

Pay for what?
The process of paying government workers elicits more than its fair share of controversy across Asia. While some countries such as Singapore have the formula more or less right, others such as China and India are struggling to respond to changing market conditions. Focusing government activities on attainable aims would be the logical first step to paying public-sector workers, with stringent punishment for corruption becoming the second plank.
(Jul 27, '07)

The new imperialism
Asian countries remain beholden to archaic economic notions, attempting to control the growth of their economies by indulging in significant trade and investment manipulation. The resulting large wealth transfer to already rich Western societies comes at high cost to Asians, preventing them from fixing the most pressing items on their domestic agendas, including corruption, pollution and infrastructure issues. (Jul 20, '07)

The robbery of the century
Hardworking Asian savers will see their central banks post billions in losses in the next few years as investments in US subprime mortgage bonds turn to dust. The central bankers allowed themselves to be led by the nose by Western rating agencies and Wall Street investment banks, but ultimately the Asian banks and governments have only their own policy follies to blame. As usual in Asia, nobody will be held accountable, and one of the greatest robberies of our time will be swept under the carpet. (Jul 13, '07)

Asia's scalded cats
In the 10 years since the Asian financial crisis exploded with the devaluation of the Thai baht, the region has made significant progress in improving its financial strength. However, the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction, with an over-emphasis on exports that are now anachronistic. The cost of the missed opportunities will be severe: rising inflationary pressures and eventually, a substantial bust in global asset prices. (Jul 6, '07)

Deja-Wu: Why China must revalue
Rampant currency manipulation by China has elicited the same kind of US reactions that Japan experienced in the 1980s, which started with exaggerated media focus on any slip-ups by Japanese manufacturers. The recent focus on poorly manufactured Chinese toys, pet food and tires marks the start of the battle royal, which will leave Vice Premier Wu Yi with no option but to accept revaluation, just as the Japanese did. (Jun 29, '07)

PART 1: Caste-away
What do developing countries need to do to achieve social justice? In the first of two articles examining the socio-political framework underpinning China's and India's economic development, Chan Akya examines the latter's plans for affirmative action. Democracy has produced a curious race to the bottom in India that must be quickly reversed if longer-term competitiveness can be maintained. (Jun 14, '07)

PART 2: Pork-barrel politics
What do pork prices and a record number of public disturbances have in common? For China, both these indicators are likely to continue rising until the government takes a step back and accepts the futility of centrally directing the economy in perpetuity. This is the second of two articles dealing with social justice in China and India. 
(Jun 15, '07)

When progress is against the law
A Malaysian court's decision to enforce a ban on conversion from Islam to Christianity is but the latest sign of the stranglehold on Islamic thinking that Luddite elements possess, with their far-reaching economic impact across all countries in which Muslims live. Attempts to accord an insular framework to Muslim societies raises the question of whether any human development is possible without an incendiary war of civilizations. (Jun 1, '07)

Pegged problems
Coincident bubbles around the world threaten the credibility of central bankers, especially those in Asia. In China as elsewhere, at the heart of the problem is stubborn resistance to allowing currencies to appreciate against those of major trading partners, which has made the execution of domestic monetary policy nearly impossible. Instead of addressing the root of the problem, Chinese policymakers are fueling a secondary bubble. (May 24, '07)

Lifting the hood on the car industry
This sale of Chrysler, one of America's erstwhile Big Three auto makers, at a heavily discounted price to a private equity firm brings up the question of industrial organization, and the role of governments versus market forces. Even for big multiplier industries such as cars, arguments in favor of regulation and protectionism generally fail. (May 18, '07)

Brace for a China-led chill

Having lost control of the stock markets, Chinese regulators are left with no option but to enact multiple policy moves, including a freeing up of the currency regime. The result will be massive losses for speculators, as well as many of the biggest banks in the country. But it won't stop there; all Asian stock markets will face a chilling downturn in the aftermath.
(May 11, '07)

Lessons from Kashmir and Xinjiang
While both China and India can claim success in dealing with their sometimes restive Muslim populations, the methods adopted to quell rebellion are vastly different, and yet quite similar in results. That said, much also depends on the continued stability and expansion of Pakistan's economy, the success of which has robbed insurgencies in both India and China of much of their supply of cannon fodder.
(May 4, '07)

Bang for the buck
The tragic shooting of students in Virginia now occupies the media center stage, pushing other stories such as Paul Wolfowitz's continued troubles at the World Bank to the inside pages. Life imitates art, as the American mainstream media embrace Hollywood's double standards with respect to the portrayal of violence being more normal than sex.
(Apr 20, '07)

Those bubbling property markets
Archaic land-use regulations across Asia have caused significant distortions in property markets, in turn creating vicious cycles of volatility. Much as Japan lost economic growth and an entire generation of people because of its failure to address land reforms, other Asian countries that fail to learn from the experience are condemned to repeat it. (Apr 13, '07)

Toward food FTAs
Even though the US-South Korea free trade agreement may be all about ushering in a unified Korea, authorities in both countries have clearly missed the bigger picture in terms of using the framework to capitalize on their competitive advantages. The biggest battle, over agriculture, has only just begun, and rich Asian countries simply have the wrong approach. (Apr 11, '07)

'Economic, social and Jew'
South Asians have a greater tolerance for mediocrity than any other people, wrought primarily by historical animosities that are used by the powers that be to cover up their own incompetence. Politics aside, this malignant culture extends into the world of sport and even the performing arts, where the typical cultural reverence for seniority all too often engenders mediocrity.
(Mar 30, '07)

Hollywood's Muslim villains
The controversy over the new film 300 is misplaced. Cold-hearted economic thinking underpins Hollywood's forays into multiculturalism. Heroes and villains are selected on the basis of the audience reaction they are likely to evoke, rather than any notions of historical accuracy that pedants may wish to foist upon these creative geniuses. (Mar 23, '07)

A good use for the IMF: Bail out America
The US crisis in mortgages is spreading to the rest of the economy, threatening to take down the world's top consumers in the next 12 months. But fear not, for help is at hand from the International Monetary Fund, whose record of destroying economies in Asia and Latin America can now be put to use closer to home.(Mar 16, '07)

Hobson's choice
Global economic growth is likely to dip in coming quarters as the US economy heads for a recession. Declining house prices have exposed the soft underbelly of the US, namely its borrowings from the rest of the world. Along with the US, most developing countries will lose out, unless they can move from production to consumption. That would require significant adjustment of currency values, starting with China - now.(Mar 9, '07)

India 1, China 0
China made a mess of its financial-market regulation this week, even as India charged ahead, albeit with a reform-chary government acting as the proverbial millstone. Structural factors provide a distinct advantage to India as the rule of law and stronger institutions help to dull market volatility. Chinese market policies, in contrast, are reminiscent of tin-pot dictatorships. (Mar 2, '07)

The jihadi ate my homework
And not just jihadis - Maoists in India and Nepal, Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka, and many other players exploit children who should be in school as cannon fodder for their wars and disputes, perpetuating a vicious cycle of poverty and violence. At the heart of the problem are government priorities that push education far down the agenda. (Feb 23, '07)

Rich bad, poor bad
Communism fails the rich, capitalism fails the poor but Islam as an economic system appears to fail both. Failure to prepare their young for the modern world leaves Islamic countries over-dependent on the progeny of Muslims in secular democratic countries such as those in Europe. Therein lies the case for separating religion and politics across all these countries. (Feb 16, '07)

Sun Tzu's art of investing
Following the practices set out in the ancient Art of War, the Chinese government has embarked on significant changes to its investment philosophy, the net result of which will be to provide self-sufficiency in imports, and a greater say in world affairs. Collateral damage from this could well snowball to a precipitate decline of both the US and the Middle East. (Feb 9, '07)

Pointless pontification in Davos
The recently concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, produced more than its fair share of howlers from the assembled ranks of has-beens and wanna-bes. With financial markets proving more adept at transferring risks across a wider group of investors, policymakers simply have much less influence than they used to. Asian participants were embarrassing representatives of this status quo ante. (Feb 1, '07)

Barbarians at Asia's gates
Private equity players have trained their full attention on Asia, hoping to unleash many a transaction in the next few months. Over the short term, this is bound to cause confusion in Asian markets, but in the long term Asia - mainly China and India - will benefit from the creative destruction necessarily entailed by the process. (Jan 26, '07)

 The immigration reality show
On a visit to India, British prime minister in waiting Gordon Brown has spoken out against "intolerance" in the light of the ongoing row over racist slurs apparently suffered by a second-rung Bollywood actress on a third-rate British "reality" program. But beyond the platitudes, Brown has drawn attention to important economic trends regarding the shrewd management of immigration. (Jan 19, '07)

The thief and the scorpion
A lost war in Iraq and continued financial skulduggery increase the distaste of the global community for all things American or European, be it foreign policies or cars. With the US dependent on the munificence of strangers like no other superpower in history, its decline is unstoppable. That said, the surge in the value of Chinese stocks underlines the desperation rather than genius of global investors.
(Jan 12, '07)

Who gives a dam?
The tortuous process of getting large hydroelectric projects commissioned in India contrasts with the relatively easy path hewn by China. While Indians can be proud of some aspects of due process that help to maintain the rights of those adversely affected, there is much to learn from China's ability to convince broader interest groups of economic advantages to be derived from such projects. (Jan 5, '07)

It's the money, honey
Everything about society can be explained by economics. While the naive and the romantic might believe in the influence of other factors such as religion, politics, emotions and values, these work for individuals rather than for societies. It follows that social ills can only be fixed by an overhaul of the underlying economics.(Dec 21, '06)

Mid-life crisis for ASEAN
Much like many 40-year-olds, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has run into a mid-life crisis. It has failed to transit from an informal talk-shop to an organization with powers to regulate or penalize its members, and faced with resurgent terrorism and an unforgiving global economic environment, it could unravel sooner than expected. (Dec 15, '06)

Economics and Bamiyan
The destruction of the Bamiyan statues marked the nadir for secular forces in Afghanistan, but attempts to reconstruct the site will fail unless a supporting economic framework can be properly established. Tourism rather than industrialization offers the way out for the country, as the success of secular politics in Egypt and Turkey so clearly demonstrates. (Dec 8, '06) 

Feral cats, beware
The unraveling of Iraq amid political uncertainty in Washington heralds the demise of the American century. With financial markets also voting with their feet on the US dollar, Asia has to confront both the costs and the opportunity presented. The re-emergence of Russia provides a useful time lag for China to prepare the ground for taking over from the US as the world's next superpower.(Dec 1, '06)

When left is right
Forget nuclear weapons and a crashing US economy - Asians must be more concerned about the surge in populist policies across the continent, which will inevitably result in slower economic growth over the next few years. The two giants, China and India, are badly positioned to fight off this tendency, which will be bad news for stock and property markets. (Nov 22, '06)
Hazards of Oz
What really is the strategic role of Australia in Asia, besides providing a constant source of embarrassment and one-upmanship with regional superpowers? The declining role of the US could provide a short-term fillip to Australia's regional ambitions, but given a looming economic crisis, the country's citizens may be best advised to sell and move out. (Nov 17, '06)

Love your children, those little terrors
It's all very well for Islamic societies to deny any broad confluence of interests between terrorists and the large majority of Muslims, but economic trends will force this eventuality. An inability to employ its legions of youth characterizes the key difference between Islamic societies and those of China and India. (Nov 3, '06)

India vs China in the market
Indian business people are stealing a march on their Chinese counterparts when it comes to taking over Western companies. And the reason has nothing to do with negotiating skills or access to capital. (Oct 27, '06)

Not a major planet
The weekend tests of an apparent nuclear weapon by North Korea bring the fourth horseman to the apocalyptic party that the world has now become. There is now a kind of "atomic crescent" of states whose motives for possessing - and possibly using - nuclear weapons differ from those of the old order. The good news is that there are plenty of other planets in the universe. (Oct 10, '06)

Death of city-states
Recent events once again call attention to the future of Asian city-states, particularly in the context of ongoing economic and infrastructural development in China and India. Reviewing the prospects across the region, it appears that some city-states like Hong Kong are doomed, while others such as Singapore could continue to thrive. (Oct 7, '06)

co-friendly terrorism
The over-consuming West (with Japan) is the enemy both of environmentalists and of the likes of Osama bin Laden. Proposals by Western greens for saving the planet would tend to damage China, India and other Asian economies that are not a significant part of the problem. Terrorism against over-consuming, over-polluting Western cities might reduce global carbon emissions more equitably. (Sep 29, '06)

The larger question from the current shenanigans in Bangkok is not why Asian countries have a low tolerance for the foibles of democracy and weak political institutions, but why middle-class Indians tolerate the system's shortcomings phlegmatically. While Indians probably do not want to go down the path of military coups like so many of their neighbors, they should also not assume that the current situation is either optimal or self-sustaining. (Sep 23, '06)

Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny by Amartya Sen
This book is not only tedious, it misses golden opportunities presented by the everyday experiences of youth in Britain and Saudi Arabia to find more cogent arguments than the "can't we all just get along" rhetoric. Sen refuses to evaluate the impact of underlying economic imperatives on social behavior, instead looking at prejudices as a "given". (Sep 15, '06)

Garfield with guns
We're hearing a lot about Hitler, fascism and appeasement these days as the Bush administration tries to conflate today's military adventures with America's "good war", World War II. But Americans who like to portray the conflict in the Middle East in civilizational terms need to confront the notion that they are attacking what they call "Islamic fascism" not because it represents anything different from their own values, but because it possibly represents the future of their own culture. Like poles repel, after all. (Sep 1, '06)

Islam and the absence of Chinese terrorists
The world populations of Muslims and Chinese are nearly equal, but a look at the terrorist profile suggests an absence of Chinese. The history of Buddhism has much to do with this divergence. For Muslims, the main lesson is to push the more modern face of Islam forward while restraining its hard core. (Aug 25, '06)

The wages of corruption
Corruption is endemic in Asia. Those Westerners who do business with Singapore or Hong Kong don't realize that those countries are exceptions to the rule. Chan Akya examines how corruption is based on culture and history in Asia's three largest countries - India, China and Indonesia. (Aug 18, '06)

Indian reform: It's all bark and no bite
It's fair to say that no movement toward reform of the Indian economy has taken place since the 1990s. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is ineffective, and the next generation is filled with do-nothing scions of famous families. Don't expect meaningful change for decades. (Aug 15, '06)

World War III - what, me worry?
Sam Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations is now being made operational in the Middle East, thanks to the neo-conservatives' vision of the West triumphing over Islam. But where would China and India stand? Both could benefit from an all-out war, but they are more likely to engage in navel-gazing. This is the first article of a two-part comment.(Jul 24, '07)

China and India in World War III
Pakistan will likely trigger World War III - after a coup and a nuclear weapon going missing in the wake of US attacks on Iran. India, with its large Muslim population, would stay out of it while the West would turn to China. But the West would likely have to go it alone. And the outcome would be a weakening of both the West and Islamic power over the following 20 years. This is the concluding article in a two-part report. (Jul 25, '06)


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