In terms of big newsworthy events in Asia, one of the biggest has to be the anti-government protests in Thailand. A relatively small number of protesters dramatically caused the cancellation of an ASEAN+3 meeting held in Pattaya this past weekend where 10 regional heads of state were evacuated. The World Bank President, as well as the head of the IMF and UN, were turned around at the airport in Bangkok. Although the protests around the country have effectively ended after martial law was declared and two protesters died, the damage of this may be longer-lasting. Although a discussion of the politics would be interesting, let's concentrate on the finance-related issues.
Despite a surge in joblessness and a regional drop of the forecasted GDP growth to 5.3 percent expected in 2009, developing East Asian and Pacific countries may be able to look to China for hope during the current global economic slowdown. That's according to the World Bank's April 2009 edition of the East Asia & Pacific Update, which was released today.
The latest half-yearly assessment of the region's economic health, aptly titled "Battling the Forces of Global Recession", says there have already been signs of China's economy bottoming out by mid-2009. China's possible subsequent recovery in 2010, concludes the report, could contribute to the entire region's stabilization, and perhaps recovery.
There are a number of ways to review the findings of the report on the World Bank's website. Head over to worldbank.org/eapupdate to view specific chapters or download the full report. For an intimate view of people who are being affected by the ongoing financial crisis in East Asian and Pacific countries – including Cambodia, Thailand, Mongolia and the Philippines – check out "Faces of the Crisis". You can also view hi-res graphs from the report here.
Also, check back here in the next day or so for blog posts written by World Bank economists based in Cambodia and Lao PDR.
UPDATE: For country-specific expert perspectives on the new World Bank repot, check out blog posts from World Bank economists based in Cambodia and Laos. Stéphane Guimbert considers what contraction might look like in Cambodia. And Katia Vostroknutova takes a look at Laos' economy, which is less affected by crisis, but faces the increasing challenge of sustaining growth during the crisis.
|Restaurants in Mongolia can face fines for not having the right number of forks.|
One area fully in Government control is business inspections. This is an important function: inspections protect the health and safety of the general public. But when inspections run wild, they can become a major burden to businesses, especially small ones. Inspections can impose large costs on businesses in terms of time and money, encourage firms to bribe their way out of violations, and even encourage entrepreneurs to operate in the shadows. That means less tax revenue and potentially dangerous products and services being offered to the public.
Is this a problem in Mongolia? Absolutely.
|Local meets global in Ulaanbataar: ice sculptures of Chinggis Khaan in front of the popular Grand Khaan Irish Pub.|
Here’s a website that might pique your interest, even if you don’t plan on becoming the next T. Boone Pickens – a wealthy American businessman who is investing millions of his own dollars in wind energy. A site called FirstLook has a Google Maps mashup overlaying years of meteorological wind data onto an interactive map.
They’ve recently expanded their wind data to cover the entire planet, making it a really easy tool to see potential spots for future wind farms in Mongolia (pretty good) versus Indonesia (not so good). The website sells detailed site location information, which is intended for entrepreneurs looking to get in on the ground floor of alternative energy investments. Still, I think the free wind speed data is interesting by itself.
The FirstLook site also has a section to look at an area’s solar satellite data, but it unfortunately only covers the places in the United States.
I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but the bad news keeps coming on the economies in the region. As the Financial Times just put it, “The Asian Financial Crisis Deepens.” Thus far, the deteriorating economic performance has not appeared to flow through to the financial sector, but it now seems th
I hate goats. I’ll admit that I do love the feel of a good cashmere scarf or pullover, and have delighted in sensual cashmere socks I’ve been given. I am also partial to goat curry, goat kebabs, roast goat, and goat in a good wine sauce – though I lose my appetite on seeing a pop-eyed goat’s head staring at me out of a bowl of boiled goat bits at some of the meals I’m offered while on mission. And I do enjoy some nice goat cheese with a crisp cracker and celery.
Still, I hate goats.