Health

Impact of universal health coverage: A micro-founded macroeconomic perspective

Impact of Universal Health Coverage: A Micro-founded Macroeconomic Perspective
Universal health coverage (UHC) has become a key agenda of policy makers in many countries. According to the definition of the World Health Organization (2010), UHC is the goal that “all people have access to health services and do not suffer financial hardship in paying for them.” In most developing countries, the goal of UHC is not easy to reach due to the fact that large, resource-poor populations have limited access to health services. Given that resource-poor people cannot afford out-of-pocket health expenditures, or can only afford them by sacrificing other priorities, a health financing system where people are required to pay for use directly is one of the major barriers to reaching UHC. Although cost sharing is necessary to prevent the overutilization of health services arising from the potential problem of moral hazard, universal coverage is more likely to be reached when the out-of-pocket ratio for direct payment is sufficiently low. Read more.
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Economics

Importance of SMEs in the Thai economy

Importance of SMEs in the Thai economy
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a significant role in the Thai economy. In 2012 there were 2.7 million SMEs in Thailand (see Figure 1) comprising 98.5% of total enterprises. In the same year, SMEs accounted for 37.0% of gross domestic product (GDP) and 80.4% of the workforce. Thai SMEs also contributed to 28.8% of total exports and 31.9% of total imports by value in 2012. Read more.
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Economics

East Asian bond markets entering choppy waters

Over the long term, Asian markets may be more affected by the actions of the Fed than recent market volatility
After years of smooth sailing through calm market conditions, bond markets in East Asia are navigating through stormier weather. Data from the supplement to the 2015 Asian Development Outlook released this week shows that weaker growth in the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has weighed down overall regional growth. Read more.
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Finance, Trade

Japanese banks’ appetite for economic partnership agreements

Japanese banks’ appetite for economic partnership agreements
When viewed through the lens of trade deals negotiated with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Japan has shown recent willingness to engage in global free trade. However, is there any indication that these deals are striking a chord where it matters most, with Japan’s services sector, which comprises 70% of its economic activity? Read more.
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Finance

Loan-to-value policy as a macroprudential tool: The case of residential mortgage loans in Asia

Loan-to-value policy as a macroprudential tool: The case of residential mortgage loans in Asia
The global financial crisis of 2007–2009 underlined the need for central banks and financial regulators to take a macroprudential perspective on financial risk, i.e., to monitor and regulate the buildup of systemic financial risk in the economy as a whole, as opposed to simply monitoring the condition of individual financial institutions (microprudential regulation). This has been highlighted in numerous reports, e.g., G30 (2009), IMF (2009), Brunnermeier et al. (2009), and TdLG (2009). The regulatory response to this in advanced economies, under the guidance of the G20 and the Financial Stability Board, has tended to focus on strengthening the liability side of banks’ balance sheets by enforcing stricter capital adequacy requirements, including the introduction of a countercyclical buffer and the introduction of liquidity requirements (see, e.g., BIS 2010a). Read more.
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Economics

Impacts of oil prices on emerging and developed economies

Impacts of oil prices on emerging and developed economies
In recent years, the sharp increase in oil prices that began in 2001 and the two sharp declines that followed in 2008, due to the subprime mortgage crisis, and at the end of 2014–early 2015 have renewed interest in the effects of oil prices on the macro economy. Most recently, the price of oil has more than halved in a 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 over $100 per barrel in September 2014, to below $46 per barrel in January 2015. Read more.
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Energy

Energy strategies must consider all parts of the ‘energy trilemma’

A woman installs a solar panels on the roof of her house in rural Bhutan
As we gather this week for the 2015 Asian Clean Energy Forum, the context for our meeting has changed greatly from that of last year. We have seen a dramatic drop in the price of oil, which has sent shockwaves through the entire energy sector. Volatility is the new normal, and, for a sector known for its conservative outlook, this drives those at the forefront of the energy challenge to re-evaluate traditional norms. However, we see that it is not just price shocks that keep energy leaders awake at night: extreme weather and large-scale accidents/disruptions top the list of issues facing energy leaders in Asia. Read more.
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Education, Regional Cooperation

Scholars, policymakers, and international affairs: Finding common cause

Scholars, Policymakers, and International Affairs: Finding Common Cause
Any attempt to bridge the divide between scholars and policy-makers in international affairs is so welcome that I couldn’t help but applaud this book. The sad truth, however, is that after reading it I am even more convinced that the divide is a chasm. Read more.
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Economics, Finance

Currency arrangements in the Pacific—time to re-think?

Currency arrangements in the Pacific—time to re-think?
The Pacific developing member countries (DMCs) of the Asian Development Bank are a heterogeneous group of economies with different levels of economic development and economic size. However, when it comes to choosing an optimal exchange rate, the Pacific DMCs face similar challenges. All of the Pacific economies are relatively small and have underdeveloped financial and exchange rate markets. Read more.
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Infrastructure

The case for connecting South Asia and Southeast Asia

The case for connecting South Asia and Southeast Asia
The time is ripe for enhancing economic integration between South Asia and Southeast Asia. The new “normal” era of slow growth in advanced industrial economies following the global financial crisis suggests that Asian economies will need to rely more on domestic and regional demand to secure inclusive growth. The recent slowdown in growth in the People’s Republic of China suggests further grounds for tapping growth opportunities between South Asia and Southeast Asia. Read more.
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