We are finally starting to see some positive news around the East Asia and Pacific region, but it is too soon to begin to speak of "green shoots" of economic activity or reaching the bottom of the economic downturn in Asia. Although the Swine flu (one disease originating from animals that did not come from Asia!) and the nervousness about the condition of U.S. banks had a slightly negative impact on financial markets in Asia this past week, the stock markets are still up by about 12% for the year – led by Indonesia (21.6%), Korea (11.8%), and China (9.4%).
Last week China reported its first quarter GDP data. Consumer inflation for the quarter was 8%, which is too high, but we already knew that. The main news was that GDP growth came in at 10.6% year-on-year. This is down from last year’s 11.7% rate, but higher than most forecasts for 2008 (including the Bank’