The DailyBrief

Monday December 5, 2016

Just before midnight local time, Italy’s Channel 5 projected a 60% “No” vote in the country’s constitutional referendum, a crushing defeat for the Socialist Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The euro dropped by 1.5% on the news, but has recovered slightly; the yen gained initially, but has quickly fallen back to Friday levels and below, writes David P. Goldman. Asian stock benchmarks were lower in Monday morning trade, but there has been no catastrophic Italy reaction, indeed, no indication that index declines were Italy-related at all.

A long-delayed trading link between the exchanges of Hong Kong and Shenzhen got off to a disappointing start on Monday, with markets on both sides of the border ending lower. The link opens another door to the mainland’s cloistered stock markets, allowing foreigners to buy shares in more than 800 Chinese firms for the first time, while also giving mainlanders further access to Hong Kong-listed stocks.

US President-elect Donald Trump railed against China on Sunday, only hours after his transition team denied that his call with Taiwan’s president signaled a new US policy toward Pacific power. Trump’s unusual call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday prompted a diplomatic protest with the United States on Saturday, although Vice President-elect Mike Pence downplayed its significance, saying it was a “courtesy” call, not intended to show a shift in US policy on China.

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s plan to launch a new national sales tax next April suffered a jolt at the weekend when a two-day meeting with state officials ended without resolving the deadlock on who should administer the tax. The long-awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST) is intended to transform Asia’s No 3 economy into a single national tax system, boost revenues through better compliance and make life simpler for businesses that now pay a host of federal and state levies.

Navy aircraft mechanic Kuniyoshi Takimoto watched as Japanese planes roared off the aircraft carrier Hiryu to attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The shock assault 75 years ago this Wednesday in Hawaii sparked patriotic celebration in Japan but left Takimoto feeling uneasy, writes Shingo Ito. “I wondered if such a poor country would be all right fighting such a big one,” said the former real estate agent, now 95 and one of the few Japanese participants still alive.