FinanceAsia Magazine

Issue: May 2013

As FinanceAsia was going to press, China’s State Council endorsed reformist agendas by central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan and premier Li Keqiang to sacrifice short-term GDP gains in favour of reforming the economy — namely by making yuan capital account convertibility an official goal.

Part of that will revive ideas around allowing mainland citizens to invest more easily in offshore securities, probably via Hong Kong. This plus the easing of interest rate and currency controls by the central government will enable a much greater degree of private economic and investment decision-making.

It shows that the administration of Xi Jinping is finding its feet and taking very seriously the need for restructuring the economy. Chinese politics is often dysfunctional, but Beijing sometimes gets the big things right.

There is more good news in how Asian countries are governed. Japan’s new administration under Shinzo Abe has made a bold start toward reviving the economy, although the planned monetary stimulus needs to be met by real industrial reform, as explored in the supplement accompanying this edition of the magazine.

Malaysia, also featured in this month’s edition (pages 34-41), has just completed an exciting, closely fought election. The opposition won a narrow majority of the vote despite the governing party/government’s blatant manipulation of the local media and shameless use of patronage and gerrymandering. Yet the incumbent winner, Najib Razak, having lost urban (notably Chinese) hearts and minds, will have to strip back race-based preferential policies and revitalise the economy if his Malay party, Umno, is to survive.

Pragmatism rules the day in Seoul, Taipei, Manila, Jakarta and Singapore — where the ruling People’s Action Party is quickly adjusting to its falling popularity by trying to boost growth and employment. Even Myanmar is finally taking active moves to modernise its economy and society, while Bangladesh, faced with the tragedy of collapsing factories and dead garment workers, will need to find a sensible path toward maintaining its economic revival.

There are plenty of problems, fears and challenges throughout the region, from pollution to corruption to militarism. Politicians are failing India and Vietnam, for example, and even where economic reformers are ascendant (China and Japan, for example), they sometimes embody antediluvian elements. But North Korea is the only true basket case left in Asia.

This willingness by governments to be serious about grappling with their challenges is a reflection of the aspirations felt by billions of people, for some of whom the idea of a better life would have sounded like science fiction a mere generation or two ago.

This Asian pragmatism is all the more notable in the face of political dysfunction in Europe and the United States. Western governments, particularly in the eurozone, are struggling to up their game.

Our cover story, about Cnooc’s acquisition of Canada’s Nexen (page 24), proved a challenge for Canadian and US regulators, but for different reasons. Ottawa’s desire to see the deal consummated no doubt put the more hawkish Washington politicians in a bind, but in the end, pragmatism prevailed there too and the transaction was blessed.

It’s an interesting shift, seeing sensible dealmakers from Asia wielding both logic and power to achieve win/wins in the West.

 

Jame DiBiasio
Executive Editor
jame.dibiasio@haymarket.asia

 


 

 

 

About FinanceAsia Magazine

Established in 1996, FinanceAsia is the leading publisher of financial news in the Asia-Pacific region. Our combination of print and online products provide the latest news, analysis and insight into Asia’s financial markets.

Published monthly from our office in Hong Kong, FinanceAsia magazine provides our readers with the latest financial trends, interviews, features and investigative reports. The publication has a readership of key decision-makers at corporations, governments, investment and commercial banks, institutional investors, asset managers, brokers, traders and financial intermediaries.

Our regular sections include:

Data Story
We look at the key data behind a topical theme in Asian finance, showcased with an array of graphs and tables.

Greenshoe
A monthly opinion column from the FinanceAsia editorial team. We provide our thoughts on a topic making the headlines.

Deal of the Month
Our regular two-page spread with its signature artwork and in-depth analysis examines the equity, debt or M&A deal that we feel has had the biggest impact on the Asian capital markets that month.

Investor Dialogue
For company CEOs and CFOs, what investors think is a critical concern, and in this column we help them understand just this. Each month we speak to a Chief Investment Officer of a top fund and outline their views on corporate governance, what stocks they like and where they expect to generate the best returns.

Soapbox
A monthly opinion piece from a respected author or commentator on Asian business, finance or economics.

People on the Move
Here we summarise the key hires, fires and moves at the region’s banks, highlighting at least one major move each month.

Deal Tracker
We examine the major primary markets deals of the month and comment on the quality of the debt or equity transaction and the secondary market performance.

The Arts of Finance
A light-hearted look at investment opportunities surrounding the arts business in Asia.

 

Print Edition

FinanceAsia Print Edition