Treachery in Shanghai!

The Shanghai government is reaping a whirlwind of rising xenophobia and reviving memories of the Opium Wars over a plan to force local retailers out of the famed Nanjing Lu shopping area and turn the district over to upscale foreign brands. If web postings are any yardstick, the plan has generated nearly unprecedented protest. Hundreds…

India Fever Overheats

There are several accidents waiting to happen in global financial markets. But the one that beats them all – even beats mainland Chinese bank fever – is India. Conditions are rapidly building for an accident that will not just devastate stock prices but strike a body blow at India’s expectations of sustaining a faster growth…

Off-Line City

For Hong Kong’s power elite, the communications crisis that began on December 26 when the sea floor south of Taiwan suddenly heaved and damaged a clutch of undersea cables has long since been over.  But for the thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises that find access to the Internet to be crucial, it is anything…

Are North Korea’s Reform Bottles Half-Empty?

In the basement entertainment center of the luxurious Yanggakdo Hotel in Pyongyang, there is a bowling alley and a cocktail bar. A row of expensive liquor bottles stand reserved for their owners, their amber contents glowing in the light just as one would find in affluent Seoul or Tokyo. But this is austere North Korea…

Asia’s Communications System Begins to Return to Normal

As the New Year dawns, Asia’s telecommunications and cable companies appear finally to be making progress in returning the region’s communications structure to normal in the wake of the December 26 earthquake that damaged undersea cables on the sea floor thousands of meters below the surface a few kilometers south of Taiwan. A spokesman for…

Asia’s Earthquake-inspired internet blackout

On December 26, two years exactly after the earthquake-inspired tsunami that took the lives of an estimated 230,000 people in Southeast Asia, the sea floor 13 kilometers off southern Taiwan gave way, generating a temblor that reached 7.1 on the Richter Scale. The quake did relatively little damage, except to some of the 18 undersea…

Another Tar Baby for Hong Kong’s Investors

Hong Kong’s property barons never seem to lack for new ways of squeezing the local public and other investors. In most markets outside places like Russia and the Philippines it would be regarded as bizarre to invest in a so-called trust – a vehicle supposed to be run by independent trustees acting on behalf of…

Don’t Blame Thailand for This Mess

Although the Thai government spectacularly botched its effort to rein in the baht over the last two days, the fact that the government felt obliged to try to halt the currency’s appreciation says more about financial global imbalances than about Thailand and its military-appointed government. Just as the 1997 Asia financial crisis was kicked off…

Thai Junta Stumbles on the Baht

Thai stocks crashed Tuesday after the central bank imposed the harshest capital controls since the 1997 financial crisis in an effort to weaken the surging baht, prompting the government to quickly reverse course and exclude the stock market from the short-term fund restrictions.   The economic juggling resulting in the crash put the generals who…

Indonesia, Malaysia push a biofuels cartel

Just as the administration of US President George W Bush is being urged by a group of leading US business executives and senior military officers to act decisively to break America’s dependence on oil and the EU is seeking alternative energy sources, Malaysia and Indonesia want to create a an Opec-style cartel based on one…