Finance, Information and Communications Technology

Blockchain pilots making waves in developing Asia

Blockchain pilots making waves in developing Asia
We’ve all heard the buzz about the potential applications of blockchain technology. But what’s actually happening in developing countries in Asia and the Pacific? Beyond bitcoin payments and remittances, blockchain exists largely in the pilot stage. Governments and banks are collaborating with technology firms to see if it can be used to solve persistent problems like traceability, identification, and trust. Read more.

Economics, Governance, Regional Cooperation, Trade

Will 2025 be the final deadline for the ASEAN Economic Community?

Will 2025 be the final deadline for the ASEAN Economic Community?
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) fell short of its target of realizing the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by the end of 2015, deferring 105 of its 506 measures. A successor blueprint called the AEC Blueprint 2025, which lays out the work for ASEAN economic integration in the next 10 years, was adopted at the 27th ASEAN Summit in November 2015. Read more.

Economics, Education, Environment, Health, Population, Social Development and Poverty, Urban

Pointers from Asia for urbanization in Africa

Pointers from Asia for urbanization in Africa
Africa and Asia are latecomers to urbanization. In these two continents, less than half live in urban centers, while elsewhere, more than 70% of people do. But Africa and Asia are now rapidly urbanizing, with Asian cities growing at an average of 1.5% per year and Africa’s at 1.1% per year. Read more.

Economics, Finance, Governance

Is corruption “sand in the wheels” for credit markets? Evidence from European MSMEs

Is corruption “sand in the wheels” for credit markets? Evidence from European MSMEs
Bank credit is a crucial financing tool for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) given their difficulty in entering equity markets. However, accessing bank credit is not as easy as one might think. Specifically, MSMEs often face difficulties when they need to provide valid collateral to loan officers (Cowan, Drexler, and Yañez, 2015). Read more.

Economics, Education, Finance, Governance, Poverty Reduction, Social Development and Poverty

Costs of expanded public pension coverage in emerging Asia

Costs of expanded public pension coverage in emerging Asia
The fiscal burden of public pensions in most emerging Asian economies is relatively small, reflecting relatively young populations and limited coverage of the retired-age population in public pension programs. Nonetheless, these conditions are likely to change dramatically in the coming decades. First, many Asian economies will face rapidly aging populations, which will raise pension and other old-age-related spending substantially. Second, as economies develop, political pressures to expand the coverage of public pensions and raise the level of pension benefits relative to income will likely increase. Read more.

Economics, Finance, Poverty Reduction

Distortions, growth catch-up, and the middle-income trap

Distortions, growth catch-up, and the middle-income trap
In theory, a distortion refers to a departure from the perfect competitive equilibrium with no externalities and in which resources have been optimally allocated so that each economic agent maximizes his or her own welfare. Thus, distortions are closely associated with market imperfections. In reality, an economy with no distortions does not exist—both advanced and developing economies use government interventions, such as stabilization policies, development strategies, industrial policies, administrative regulations, and so forth, which can be viewed as distortions, broadly defined. Read more.

Energy, Environment, Governance, Infrastructure

Propelling ASEAN towards clean coal technology

Propelling ASEAN towards clean coal technology
Coal, the most abundant and reliable energy resource, will continue to be the dominant energy source in power generation to meet the fast-growing electricity demand in the emerging economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The share of coal use in power generation was 32% in 2015, and this is projected to increase to 42% by 2040. Read more.

Economics, Energy, Finance, Governance

Twenty years after the Asian financial crisis: The evolution of Asian financial cooperation

Twenty years after the Asian financial crisis: The evolution of Asian financial cooperation
When Asia was hit by its regional financial crisis 20 years ago, Asian policy makers were quick to call for regional solutions to what was perceived to be a common problem: Asian countries’ dependence on foreign finance. Prominent political figures and scholars argued for a greater regional focus of monetary and economies policies, suggesting the introduction of currency baskets modeled on trade patterns, financial structures, and even Asian currency units akin to the European Currency Unit, the euro’s predecessor. Read more.

Economics, Education, Finance, Governance, Infrastructure

Kick-start private infrastructure with future tax-sharing bonds

Kick-start private infrastructure with future tax-sharing bonds
Everybody from President Trump to the Global Infrastructure Forum is trying to think of innovative ways to attract long-term private and institutional investors to pay for the huge and largely unmet demand for new highways, railways, and dams. Promising ideas, including guarantees or gap funding, the concessional blending of finance, and bankability enhancements, have been tried but are not enough to convince overseas pension schemes or high net worth individuals to invest their idling funds in worthwhile projects, especially in emerging economies with untried issuers (Regan, 2017). Read more.

Economics, Education, Finance

Monetary policy spillovers in emerging Asia

Monetary policy spillovers in emerging Asia
For a number of years, the central banks of the major advanced economies have pursued historically unprecedented ultra-low interest rate policies and negative interest rate policies. Facing the zero lower bound problem, they have also implemented various asset purchase programs, known as “quantitative easing,” with the aim of reducing long-term interest rates. There has been growing evidence that advanced countries’ unconventional monetary policies (UMPs) have caused significant spillovers to the financial markets of emerging market economies (EMEs). Read more.