Kim Jong-un secure as North Korean economy picks up


Author: Chung-in Moon, Yonsei University

The longevity of Kim Jong-un’s regime in North Korea has been subject to widespread speculation by outside observers. Several factors led some to predict an early downfall for the regime: young and immature leadership, a potential factional struggle, a stagnant economy and a hostile external environment. But this prediction has not yet been realised. The Kim Jong-un regime is alive and well. Read more…

Falling fossil fuel prices create a climate change opportunity


Author: Andrew Elek, ANU

The recent and sharp fall in fossil fuel prices, thanks to new extractive techniques, will not last forever. It is high time to think about its threats and the opportunities.

In the short term, lower fossil fuel prices are terrible news for autocrats and kleptocrats whose survival depends on the resource rents created by higher prices. Read more…

Where there’s a will there’s a way to reform

A man rides his bicycle past stacked shipping containers carrying his wife and child in Shanghai. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Zhao Changwen, DRC

The further reform of China’s state-owned enterprises has attracted a lot of attention and triggered debate since it was discussed last year at the third plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Central Committee (the Third Plenum). Three areas need to be addressed if reforms are to be meaningful and comprehensive: reforming the property rights system of SOEs by developing a ‘mixed ownership economy’; shifting from managing state assets to managing state capital; and promoting a modern corporate system. Read more…

What will Abe deliver now?

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bows after being re-elected, as lawmakers applaud in the Lower House of the Parliament in Tokyo, Japan, 24 December 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

After a decisive election victory on 14 December, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would seem to be in an extremely sweet spot to deliver on both his main domestic and international policy agendas. Read more…

What now for Abe third time round

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech at a New Year party of business group Japan Association of New Economy, 22 January 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Nobumasa Akiyama, Hitotsubashi University

Shinzo Abe’s second term as prime minister of Japan, unlike his first, was a modest success through till 2014. But he will have to bring real and tangible outcomes for Japan and the Japanese economy if it is to succeed the third time round. Read more…

Asia’s growing ties with Latin America

Trade officials of South Korea and Chile hold consultations on upgrading their free trade agreement in a video conference. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Ganeshan Wignaraja, ADB Institute

Amid a recovering world economy beset by risks, the outlook for Asia–Latin America economic ties seems bright. Asia needs commodities for its dynamic global factory and Latin America has abundant natural resources. Asia needs food for its large population and Latin America has fertile agricultural land. Read more…

Unregulated cyberspace a cause for concern

The FBI director revealed new details Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, about the stunning cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., part of the Obama administration's effort to challenge persistent skepticism about whether North Korea's government was responsible for the brazen hacking. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Zach Montague, Delma Institute

China and the US are entering a new and troubling phase of cybersecurity. The recent crash of North Korea’s internet network reveals just how inexperienced world leaders are in dealing with cyber conflict. It shows how one reckless act in the cyber realm can quickly devolve into a bigger international crisis. The confusion and ambiguity surrounding this sequence of events has left the US and China entangled in a high profile cybersecurity standoff. Read more…

Why the Aussie dollar needs to devalue further

People are reflected in the window as they walk past the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) boards showing the Australian dollar has fallen to a four-and-a-half-year low after the release of very strong US employment growth figures, in Sydney on December 8, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Janine Dixon, Victoria University

The Australian dollar depreciated significantly in the second half of 2014, losing around 14 per cent of its value against the US dollar and almost as much against the Chinese renminbi. But the Australian dollar needs to devalue by a further 15 per cent in the coming years if the Australian economy is to continue operating at close to full employment. Read more…

Why Japan should follow Germany’s lead on war history

A group of Japanese lawmakers follow a Shinto priest to pay respect for the war dead at Yasukuni Shrine during an annual autumn festival in Tokyo, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The shrine enshrines war criminals, including wartime leader Hideki Tojo, among the 2.5 million war dead. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Jean-Pierre Lehmann, IMD

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific. How does Japan and Germany’s postwar behaviour compare?

The ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings (D-Day) united not only the leaders of the allied powers, but also German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Read more…

Bright signs on the horizon for the Philippines


Author: Cesar Virata, Manila

The economy of the Philippines hit some rough patches in 2014. The outlook for 2015, on the other hand, is fairly strong.

GDP growth slowed down to about 6 per cent. This was because government spending — in particular, infrastructure spending — did not meet its targets. Read more…

The new normal of Chinese growth


Author: Wang Yong, Peking University

The Chinese economy is widely perceived to have entered a ‘new normal’ — annual GDP growth has slowed to between 7 per cent and 7.5 per cent from the double-digit levels of previous years. This was something that policymakers expected: an inevitable result of economic restructuring. Read more…

Vietnam’s careful dance with the superpowers


Author: Phuong Nguyen, CSIS, Washington DC

US–Vietnam military relations have improved remarkably in recent years but talk of an enhanced alliance between Washington and Hanoi overlooks important geopolitical and historic nuances. Defence relations between the two countries turned a page in the early 2000s, when both countries moved beyond the legacy of the Vietnam War. Both countries began to actively explore new ways to work together. Read more…

People power trounces Sri Lanka’s war winning President Rajapaska


Author: Saman Kelegama, IPS

Two months before the Sri Lankan presidential elections, few thought that President Mahinda Rajapaksa would lose. There was no formidable opponent from the opposition to challenge him. Since his re-election after the war victory in 2009 for a second term in 2010, his party had won all the Provincial Council elections — except for the Northern Province — held on a staggered basis. Read more…

Getting Chinese reforms in the zone

Night view of an installation for the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone at the Waigaoqiao area in Pudong, Shanghai, China, September 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Bo Chen, SUFE

Since the release of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone blueprint in September 2013, plans for similar reforms in the rest of China have emerged — and are to be implemented within the next three years. Read more…

Australia’s economy in need of reform in 2015

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is greeted by Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Jamie Briggs, and Federal member for Macarthur Russell Matheson, as he arrives to announce the start of the upgrade to Bringelly road, in Sydney, 20 January 2015. The Australian government’s focus on putting its budget on a ‘credible path back to surplus’ over the medium term, appears to rule out any substantial infrastructure investment program as a form of stimulus. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Saul Eslake, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

For some time now, Australia’s economy has been underperforming its peers.

Since the end of 2012, Australia’s real GDP has grown at an annual rate of 2.3 per cent, 0.1 percentage points less than that of the United States, 0.2 percentage point less than those of the United Kingdom and Canada, and 0.3 percentage points less than that of New Zealand. Read more…