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…

Mr Paulson Goes to China

It is a measure of the shock and awe with which the US currently views China that six members of President George W Bush’s cabinet plus Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are in Beijing this week. But quite what this blockbuster approach to China is supposed to achieve is hard to tell. If it is…

Psst. Want a Western University Degree Without Studying?

The time-honored practice of awarding university degrees for money is alive and well in Cambodia. After being turfed out of Malaysia for being neither Irish nor a university, the Internet-based Irish International University of Europa is showering Cambodian political leaders with degrees and establishing an “Asian campus” in Phnom Penh. The advent of the Internet…

Fleecing Asia’s Homebuyers

The traditional Chinese adage, “Wealth comes from land” has never been as important to many ethnic Chinese around the world as today when growing consumer wealth enables a new class of people to jump gleefully onto the bandwagon of home ownership, particularly in China. But another old adage: “location, location, location” takes on a new…

Enduring Mystery Surrounds a Hong Kong Tower Block

Hong Kong may have an iconic skyline and a spectacular if rapidly diminishing harbor. But it has torn down enough of its distinguished old buildings to make IM Pei’s externally dramatic Bank of China and Norman Foster’s internally dramatic Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank now its iconic buildings. But here is another iconic building, one…

Time of Trial for Hong Kong’s US Dollar Peg

The time is coming before too long when the world’s highest paid central banker, Hong Kong’s Joseph Yam, may have to do rather more to justify his salary. Being the head of the HK Monetary Authority, or de facto central bank, has been relatively cushy position for most of the 15 years that Yam has…

The Devil and the Dollar

The dollar fell 2% against the yen last week and is at a 19-month low against the euro and appears set to go lower. Several Asian currencies, even including the Philippine peso, are at their best levels since the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998. Is this a blip? Or the start of a massive decline…