Education

Learning crisis in South Asia

Learning crisis in South Asia
South Asia is home to a growing youth population and widely considered to benefit from the “demographic dividend” in the coming decades. The United Nations Population Fund’s State of World Population 2014 report The Power of 1.8 Billion: Adolescents, Youth and the Transformation of the Future therefore calls for increased investment in youths and adolescents. Read more.
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Economics

People’s Republic of China: The challenge of the middle-income transition

People’s Republic of China: The challenge of the middle-income transition
The Chinese economy grew by 7.4% in 2014 and is expected to expand by 7.0% this year. These are impressive growth rates for any country but lower than what has been achieved in the past. For 3 solid decades, since the beginning of market reforms in the late 1970s, the economy expanded by an annual average of almost 10%. Read more.
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Finance

3 ways to serve Asia and the Pacific’s ‘unbanked’

Analyzing microfinance loans is one way to collect “alternative data” on consumer debt levels and ability to repay. An ADB-supported microfinance institution in Uzbekistan. Photo by Eric Sales
Every time I stop and withdraw cash from an ATM or use my credit card to buy something online, I wonder how many people in Asia have access to such services. In fact, these simple transactions are beyond the reach of 45% of adults in East Asia and the Pacific alone. They are excluded from the formal financial system and will remain so until they open a bank account. Read more.
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Regional Cooperation

Potential gains from closer cooperation between South Asia and Southeast Asia

South Asian and Southeast Asian economies have all embraced an outward-oriented development strategy, albeit to different degrees. The result has been an impressive increase in international trade, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, and significant productivity improvements, which in turn have contributed to important socio-economic gains. Indeed, some of these economies have delivered among the most striking economic performances in the world. Read more.
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Finance

“Grexit” and yuan devaluation could put significant pressure on Asian currency pegs

Grexit and yuan devaluation could put significant pressure on Asian currency pegs
Already driving a housing bubble in all major Asian cities from Seoul to Jakarta, significant hot money inflows are what Hong Kong, China and Singapore seek to avoid. However, Greece’s exit from the eurozone coupled with subsequent quantitative easing by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to jump-start flagging growth could quickly exacerbate this Asian dynamic. Read more.
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Economics

What’s behind the recent oil price drop?

What’s behind the recent oil price drop?
The price of oil has more than halved in the period of less than 5 months since September 2014. After nearly 5 years of stability, the price of a barrel of Brent crude oil in Europe fell from $117.15 on 6 September 2014, to $45.13 on 14 January 2015. Figure 1 shows the movements in the spot price of crude oil from June 2009 to February 2015, including the recent price drop. Read more.
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Finance

Why do we need financial education in Asia?

Why do we need financial education in Asia?
This article assesses the case for promoting financial education in Asia. It argues that the benefits of investing in financial education can be substantial. Data are limited, but indicate low financial literacy scores for selected Asian countries. As economies develop, access to financial products and services will increase, but households and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to be able to use the products and services wisely and effectively. More effective management of savings and investment can contribute to overall economic growth. Moreover, as societies age and fiscal resources become stretched, households will become increasingly responsible for their own retirement planning. Asia’s evolving experience suggests that more national surveys of financial literacy are needed and that coherent, tailored national strategies for financial education are essential for success. Read more.
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Regional Cooperation, Trade

AEC is due—but what about institutions?

AEC is due—but what about institutions
A pressing policy question facing Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders at their summit in April 2015 and beyond is whether the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) can be sustained without more effective institutions. This article explores the link between achieving the AEC agenda and institutional effectiveness. To remedy the implementation gridlock, it proposes reforms to the leadership and the technical level of ASEAN bodies, prioritization of new institutions, an effective monitoring mechanism, and an empowered ASEAN Secretariat. Read more.
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Trade

Plurilateral trade agreements: an overlooked but powerful force for international trade opening for Asia?

Plurilateral trade agreements: an overlooked but powerful force for international trade opening for Asia?
After over a gloomy decade of inconclusive talks, a small but important step was taken in early December 2014 to finish the Doha Round negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In 2015 and beyond, actions to arrive at a Doha Round Agreement should be accompanied by embracing new plurilateral trade agreements within the WTO. This move can benefit growth and development in Asia. This article reviews the outlook for the WTO Doha Round and examines the case for plurilateral trade agreements for Asia. Read more.
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Finance

The financial sector needs to be driving the green transformation

The financial sector needs to be driving the green transformation
Many Asian countries have set ambitious targets for climate change mitigation. Governments all over the region are devising green growth strategies, aiming to reconcile economic growth with low carbon emissions as well as trying to limit other forms of environmental degradation such as soil, water, and air pollution. What is needed is no less than a “green transformation” to put green growth at the heart of development (OECD 2013). To achieve such a green transformation, large investments will be needed in renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, smart transportation networks, and many other areas that will help the shift toward sustainable patterns of production and consumption. Read more.
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