Abe’s womenomics needs to include men too

A mother and child cycle past an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, 21 January 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Helen Macnaughtan, SOAS

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to enable more women to participate in the Japanese workforce. But his policy has largely amounted to rhetoric and there has been no discussion of the impact of these policies for male employment. In order to realistically increase opportunities for women, the current system of male-focused employment needs to be reconfigured. And Abe shows no willingness to address this. Read more…

Sri Lanka chooses changes

New Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena hands a letter of appointment to Mangala Samaraweera as the Minister of Foreign Affairs during the swearing-in of the new Cabinet in Colombo, 12 January 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Razeen Sally, NUS

The recent election of President Maithripala Sirisena heralds a golden opportunity for Sri Lanka to heal old wounds and to open up its economy — and for the West, India and even East Asian countries to re-engage.

In November 2014 the former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, called an early election in the hope it would be a cakewalk. Read more…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Political preference crowding out enterprise in Malaysia

Author: Hwok-Aun Lee, University of Malaya

Malaysia’s government-linked companies (GLCs) are, relatively speaking, among the most extensive and powerful in the world in terms of capitalisation, market presence and socio-political mandate.

GLCs reportedly comprise 36 per cent of the Malaysian stock exchange’s capitalisation and 54 per cent of the entities that make up the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index. Read more…

Vietnam’s economy steady as it grows

A bicycle stands in rice fields in Vietnam. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Suiwah Leung, ANU

The Vietnamese economy has stabilised but is growing below trend. In 2014, the economy relied principally on manufactured exports. The government seems to be pushing on with structural reforms of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and the banking sector. But it remains to be seen whether its current efforts will be sufficient to restore economic growth in time for the country to transform itself into a high-income industrialised economy in the longer-term future. Read more…

Tentative but no fundamental change in Singapore

Singapore's skyline gliters with lights as spheres in the waters of Marina Bay form the number '50' to mark Singapore’s 50th anniversary in 2015, ahead of the New Year's countdown celebrations in Singapore on December 31, 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Mukul G. Asher, NUS, and Chang Yee Kwan, Independent

On the usual measures of economic prosperity, Singapore went from strength to macroeconomic strength in 2014. Real economic growth was between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent for the year. The world economy was forecast by the IMF in October to have grown at 3.3 per cent. Singapore continued to grow in importance as an ASEAN hub for RMB-denominated financial services, and was named, for the ninth year running, the best global location for business and enterprise. Read more…

Mongolia’s economic prospects turn sour from external pressures

A Mongolian child plays with a toy lion and tiger on Sukhbaatar Square in Ulan Bator, Mongolia on June 2, 2013. The country is in the middle of a resources boom with the huge copper and gold Oyu Tolgoi soon to open and which will provide vast revenues for the government that can be spent on infrastructure and education if corruption can be kept in check. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Tuvshintugs Batdelger, National University of Mongolia

Mongolia experienced drastic changes in its macroeconomic environment in 2014.

The economy is expected to grow by 7 per cent in 2014. This is a healthy pace. But the majority of this growth has come from the mining sector, which experienced a significant boost from the production ramp up in the first phase of the Oyu Tolgoi project. Read more…