Is Hong Kong a Has-Been?
That's a big question here in Asia at the moment, not only because the city recently announced a dismal negative 7.8 percent GDP growth thanks to the financial crisis, but also because its days as Asia's financial capital may be numbered.
Could Huawei Go All the Way?
For the last few months, there's been a lot of talk about how the financial crisis will be an opportunity for strong emerging market companies with good balance sheets to undercut their Western competitors and gain global market share, ultimately building the sort of name brands that are still owned mostly by Western blue chips.
New Growth in China's Pearl River Delta?
Down in southern China, in the Pearl River Delta, the world's biggest manufacturing hub, everyone is trying to figure out how to move beyond manufacturing (at least, the dirty low-end kind).
Made In China
I'm spending the week in Guangdong, the southern-most province of China and the first to open up to outsiders in the 1980s. It's the world's factory, where most of the stuff that's Made In China gets made – and that's why I'm here, on an East-West Center fellowship studying the effects of the financial crisis in Asia.
Japan: The World's Worst Economy
When the financial crisis first began, one big worry was that China would be hit hardest amongst the Asian countries because of its huge dependence on exports to the West.
The W-Shaped Economic Recovery
When it comes to grading the economy, most professors would probably award a C-. But the letters bandied about now when macroeconomists congregate are L, U, V and W.
Will the Recession Make the World Smaller?
That's the premise of a new book by a longtime source of mine, Jeff Rubin, the former chief economist for CIBC World Markets in Canada. I remember back when oil spiked to $147 in July of 2008, I interviewed Rubin about how nosebleed oil prices would change the world.
Economic statistics might seem a dry topic, but it's actually full of colorful anecdotes. We hear a lot, for example, about how hard it is to gauge what's going on in the ever-important Chinese economy because economic reality and the numbers to support it are basically made up by Beijing.
Political Fallout from the Great Recession
On yet another endless Asian flight (it seems to take 6 hours to get anywhere out here), I read an interesting piece in the McKinsey Quarterly by Robert Wright, an economics professor at NYU's Stern School of Business.
The Poor Get Poorer
While Americans are worried about dips in their 401Ks, Asians are increasingly worried about more important things, like feeding their families, as the global recession continues to play out.
Attention Drivers: Gas Prices Will Stay Low
Last summer's gas price spike ($4 a gallon and beyond) helped push the U.S. further into recession. So, now that oil prices are starting to move higher, with lots of smart folks predicting another peak in the next year or so, should we worry about higher prices at the pump again?
China Rising, and Rising, and Rising
I'm still here in Hawaii for one more day, hearing Asian economic experts talk about the impact of the financial crisis on the region. To me, one really interesting fallout of the crisis is how quickly the Chinese are turning their relative economic power into political power.
The Asian Century
Pretty much every bit of economic data that comes across my desk these days seems to back up the idea that we're very quickly headed for the Asian century.
Goods and People Are Moving, But Money Isn't
That leaves capital -- and that's where the news gets grim. Despite the market's positive reaction to financial stress tests, banks haven't loosened the taps on loans, especially cross-border loans.
Paris Just Got Cheaper
Taxes are going up in most parts of the world as governments struggle to pay for the financial crisis, but one place they are going down is in French restaurants.
Will Europe Ever Catch Up?
Europe, as it turns out, lags behind the US in all key indicators by an average of 24 years. That means that the U.S reached current EU levels of performance way back in the 1980s.
Stress Tests: What To Expect
Whatever the case, it's clear the banking sector as a whole won't be in great shape. As Capital's analysis shows, even after Treasury injected some $200 billion into ailing banks in the last quarter of 2008, tier 1 capital (that's the good kind) only rose by about $20 billion.
In this week's cover of Newsweek International, we explored whether Shanghai is the new Detroit. Now, I'm beginning to wonder if it may soon be the new Wall Street.
Give Us Our Coffee and Arugula
Of course, the one other thing that people won't skimp on is coffee and tea -- around 70 percent or more of people around the world say they haven't cut their caffeine spend, and don't expect to. Frugal may be the new chic, but we all still need a pick me up.
And Now, For the Good News...
As we've written, the current recession is, at its core, about imbalances in the global economy -- namely Americans spending too much and the Chinese saving too much.
CEOs: What's With The Wishful Thinking?
I guess these captains of industry expect wishful thinking to pull us out of the downturn. All of the major economic forecasters are predicting recession into 2010.
The Return of Political Risk
That may now be changing, according to the folks at Eurasia Group. I recently had lunch with Eurasia's head, Ian Bremmer, who pointed out how irrelevant the old "BRICs" term to describe high growth emerging economies is, when at least one of the three letters (R for Russia) is endanger of falling out of out of the acronym altogether thanks to recession related economic and political turmoil.
Why Bank Profits Aren't Good News
At its core, the financial crisis is about uncertainty; who's holding what, how much it's worth, when it will blow up.
Let's Not Give Up What Made Us Great...
Two things are different this time round. First, thanks to the housing bubble, a lot more people own homes. Home-owners, as the Times article pointed out, are much less willing to move than renters.
Banks' Balance Sheets: Curiouser and Curiouser
I was reading "Alice In Wonderland" to my daughter last night and came across these lines. The White Queen: Can you do addition? What's one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one?
The End of Mutual Funds?
Stewart isn't the only one bashing Cramer. In the March/April 09 Yale Alumni magazine, Yale's brilliant chief investment officer David Swensen blasts not only Cramer but most of the fund industry too: "Look at Fidelity and Schwab with their full-page advertisements.
The Financial Crisis Hits Education
I wonder what effect this will have on student diversity in coming years. It's certainly going to put pressure on those much lauded Ivy league programs to offer free tuition to lower and even middle income students -- Harvard had announced a free ride to students who come from families earning $60,000 or less annually a few years back.
Can A Bangladeshi Bank Help Fix America's Financial System?
The idea of a Bangladeshi bank finding a market in America while Wall Street implodes is fascinating for all sorts of reasons. Aside from the fact that Grameen consistently pulls millions of people out of poverty each year, there are two particularly interesting things about the bank that are worth noting amidst the global financial crisis.
Why Pay Is Rising, Even As Jobs Disappear
As anyone who works in media or finance can tell you, mandatory pay cuts are becoming as common as layoffs. Yet, these industries are actually exceptional—one mystery of this recession is that overall average hourly earnings in the U.S. have continued to grow, even as jobs disappear.