Archive | March, 2016 GovernanceFinanceHealthEconomicsInfrastructure, Regional Cooperation
The increasing use of the internet in recent years has caught the fancy of consumers and producers, in commodities, services, and leisure activities. The wide prevalence of wireless internet access and the portability of devices such as smartphones and tablets have increased access and diffusion of related services and products as possibly no other technology in history. Read more.
On August 2015, the People’s Bank of China devalued the yuan with the aim of appreciating the currency against the US dollar. On October 2015, the European Central Bank signaled the intention to pump more liquidity into the eurozone economy. On October 2015, the Federal Reserve postponed its intention to conduct tapering on its monetary policy. Over the last 24 months, the dollar has been up nearly 10% against a major currency index of its trading partners. Emerging market economies have been facing disappointing growth, more volatile foreign exchange rates, and low inflation due to the slowdown in economic activities and the sharp decline in commodity prices. Moreover, the growth of debt in emerging countries has increased dramatically compared to advanced economies. Since 2009, the average level of private credit as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) has increased from around 75% to 125%. These stylized facts highlight deep uncertainties and downside risks in Asia. Measures of regional financial integration, capital market deepening, and emerging market banking systems must be carefully evaluated. Read more.
New ADBI research (Aizawa and Helble, forthcoming) studies how overweight and obesity have become major threats to public health in Indonesia. The evidence shows that obesity, which was previously a problem among high-income groups in the country, has spread across all income groups. Obesity in the lower-income groups, in particular, has been rising rapidly. Overweight and obesity significantly increase the risk of suffering from a large number of chronic conditions. Lower income groups are particularly ill-prepared to face continuously high health expenditures, as health systems remain weak. Urgent policy action is needed to mitigate the risk of these groups of falling into poverty due to high health expenditures caused by diseases related to obesity. Read more.
By Matthias Helble. Posted March 14, 2016
The Bank of Japan had a difficult start into 2016. The latest data shows that inflation in the last quarter of 2015 was lower than expected. Furthermore, doubts are increasing about the recovery of the economy. At the end of January, BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda surprised markets by announcing negative interest rates for certain commercial bank deposits at the BOJ. On March 1 Japan started to sell government bonds with a yield below zero. Market observers expect even bolder steps later this year. Read more.
By Jean-Francois Gautrin. Posted March 9, 2016
Despite strong linkages in the past during the colonial period and strong ethnic and traditional ties, South Asian countries have become increasingly more diverse since their independence. While they are geographically closely connected, this does not mean that they are well integrated. Countries in the region have vastly different sizes, populations, and topography, and there are significant differences in their economies and income per capita. The conditions, however, might be ripe for a boost in regional integration. Implementing highly visible and symbolic transport connectivity projects, which have long been considered as dream realizations, would trigger the acceleration of regional integration for the benefit of all. Read more.
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