India’s economic slowdown a stain on 2011

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) building is seen in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, 24 January 2012. India's central bank said growth will slow to 7 per cent this fiscal year, but left interest rates unchanged Tuesday as it struggles to balance a toxic mix of high inflation and a flagging economy. (Photo: AAP)

Author: M. Govinda Rao, NIPFP

India’s economy was one of the earliest to stage a turnaround after the global financial crisis.

The decisions taken in early 2008 to increase public-sector wages, forgive loans for farmers who had borrowed from the banks, and massively expand the rural-employment guarantee scheme assisted the economy before the global financial crisis unfolded in the last quarter of the year. Read more…

Political surprises dominate the Korean peninsula in 2011

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon. The historic victory of Park over the ruling party candidate in 2011 is indicative of growing dissatisfaction in Korea.  (Photo: AAP)

Author: Yoon Young-kwan, Seoul National University

After North Korea’s sinking of a South Korean frigate, Cheonan, and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, inter-Korean relations did not improve much in 2011.

There was limited official contact between the South and the North and between the US and the North to discuss the possible resumption of Six-Party Talks or food aid. Read more…

Thailand’s politics hamstrings economic progress

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (R) talks with General Prem Tinsulanonda (L), President of the Privy Council, during a gala dinner on the occasion of the Royal Thai Army Day at the Thai Army Club in Bangkok, 19 Jan. 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Chulalongkorn University

While Thai politics has long been unruly, it has rarely been so unsettled and intractable as in 2011.

Thailand has entered 2012 bruised and battered, even compared to previous bouts of political instability. Read more…

Pakistan: a tumultuous economy and divided politics

A Pakistani sweets vendor waits for customers at a roadside of Islamabad on 17 January 2012. For the fourth year in a row, GDP growth in 2011−12 will fall below its long-term growth rate. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Ishrat Husain, IBA, Karachi

Pakistan’s economy remained sluggish in 2011 due to domestic political instability, energy shortages, deteriorating Pakistan-US relations, global climate change and internal security concerns.

For the fourth year in a row, GDP growth in 2011-12 will fall below its long-term growth rate. Read more…

Vietnam: the beginning of another economic transformation?

A woman sells decorative lights in Hanoi. The Vietnamese economy will continue to face many threats due to fluctuations in the world economy such as high inflation, declining growth, trade deficits and low liquidity of the banking system, according to experts. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Doan Hong Quang, World Bank

Consensus-based policy making is a salient feature of Vietnam, where important decisions are collectively made.


Consensus is needed not only for the formulation of a reform vision but also for the elaboration and implementation of this vision. Read more…

Pakistan: lots of headlines, little progress

A Pakistani woman looks for warm clothes at a roadside market in Islamabad on 17 January 2012. The Pakistan economy has been badly affected by three major factors, including devastating floods in 2010 which caused damage US$10 billion worth of damage, an increase in oil prices at the international level, and the turbulent security situation. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Alicia Mollaun, ANU

In Pakistan, external shocks and unforeseen events defined 2011. But for the Western world and for Pakistanis, this past year will be remembered very differently.

Drones, floods, economic misery, developmental challenges and a fraught relationship with the US will stick in the memory of Pakistanis. While in the West, 2011 will be remembered as the year the US killed Osama bin Laden — only 50 kilometres from the Pakistani capital.

Read more…

New Zealand: might 2012 be smoother?

A sign advertising the 2011 Rugby Worl Cup stands outside the destroyed Christchurch Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, after the city was hit by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake on Feb. 22. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Robert Ayson, Victoria University of Wellington

Visitors to New Zealand during the uneventful general election in November 2011, which returned John Key’s National Party to office, would be forgiven for thinking things were running smoothly.

This was helped by the fact that a few weeks earlier, New Zealanders gained the greatest prize they could wish for. This was not a Nobel Prize for their leading scientists; nor a temporary seat on the UN Security Council, which Mr Key’s government wants to secure; nor the competent hosting of the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland, which came and went without much trace. Read more…