Publication in Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific

Monetary policy and China’s soaring leverage problem

The headquarters of the People's Bank of China, Beijing, 20 November, 2013 (Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee).

Author: Ran Li, Peking University

China’s leverage ratio — the ratio of debt to assets or equity — is rising at an alarming pace and approaching a historical high. High leverage ratios have in the past caused concern that financial asset bubbles in China might soon burst. Read more…

Does the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation make a difference?

Ministers and central bank governors pose during a photo session at the ASEAN+3 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' Meeting on the sideline of Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting in Yokohama, Tokyo, 5 May, 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Issei Kato).

Author: Chalongphob Sussangkarn, Thailand Development Research Institute

I have always been a strong supporter of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM), which is ASEAN+3’s safety net mechanism for crisis prevention and resolution. While there have been some significant achievements, the safety net mechanism itself has progressed very slowly and is not yet in a position to make a difference compared to the situation during the Asian Financial Crisis. Read more…

Facing facts at the Shangri-La Dialogue

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis in West Point, New York, 27 May 2017. He will be addressing the Shangri-La Dialogue (Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar).

Author: Hugh White, ANU

Each year, the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore provides a platform for Washington to affirm the United States’ strategic commitment to Asia, strengthen US regional leadership and push back against China’s encroachments. And it gives US friends and allies in Asia an opportunity to line up in support. Read more…

Thailand’s constitutional dispossession

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun salutes as he leaves the monument of King Rama I after signing a new constitution in Bangkok, Thailand 6 April 2017. (Photo:Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha).

Author: Tyrell Haberkorn, ANU

On 6 April 2017, Thailand’s 20th constitution came into force, replacing a temporary constitution that was handed down in the wake of the country’s most recent coup almost three years earlier. The promulgation of the new constitution gleamed with the possibility of a transition away from military authoritarianism and a new pact between the rulers and the ruled. Read more…

No more ‘straight Aas’ for China?

A man walks near the Chinese national flag and a flag of the Bank of China in Beijing, China 24 May 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter).

Author: Jiao Wang, University of Melbourne

On 24 May 2017, Moody’s Investors Service cut China’s long-term local currency and foreign currency issuer ratings from Aa3 to A1 and changed the outlook of the Chinese economy from negative to stable. Moody’s is not a teacher handing out report cards, but the feeling from losing ‘straight As’ is the same — unpleasant. Read more…

Myanmar’s hard road to democracy

Myanmar military commander in chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Speaker of upper house of parliament Mahn Win Khaing Than and Vice President Henry Van Thio chat next to State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun).

Author: Editors, East Asia Forum

In July 2012, two years after her release from house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi delivered her maiden speech to Myanmar’s parliament. Then opposition leader, she used the opportunity to voice concern about ethnic disunity and continuing civil war — a concern that has consumed the people of Myanmar since the unifying Panglong Agreement reached under her father, Aung San, fell to pieces in the late-1940s. Read more…

Potholes in Myanmar’s road to ‘democracy’

An ethnic woman takes a selfie with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi after the opening ceremony of the 21st Century Panglong Conference (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun).

Author: David I. Steinberg, Georgetown University

Even before the elections of November 2015, there was a general foreign perception that Myanmar was on the ‘road to democracy’. But the military only promised a ‘discipline-flourishing democracy’ — and whenever that term is modified, it is diminished. Myanmar is definitely on a transitional path from which there is no returning to authoritarian rule without widespread public disturbance. Read more…

Is a Chinese sovereign debt default likely?

The name of Ping An Bank is displayed over its ATM booths outside a branch in Shenzhen, China 12 November 2016 (Photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip).

Author: Yiping Huang, Peking University

Moody’s recent downgrading of China’s sovereign debt rating triggered waves of reaction in both financial markets and policy circles. But like many other rating adjustments it looks more like a lagging, rather than a leading, indicator of an existing risk factor. China does have a major debt problem. But given its recent policy action, China’s sovereign debt risks will in fact likely fall going forward, although debt risks in other areas might rise. Read more…

A blow to Buddhist nationalism in Myanmar?

Buddhist ultranationalist monks from the radical Ma Ba Tha group attend a meeting to celebrate their anniversary with a nationwide conference in Yangon, Myanmar 27 May 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun).

Author: Nyi Nyi Kyaw, NUS

On 23 May 2017 Myanmar’s State Sangha Maha Nayaka (MHN) Committee, a government-appointed group of monks responsible for regulating the country’s Buddhist clergy, announced a four-point order effectively banning the Organisation for the Protection of Race and Religion, known as Ma Ba Tha. Read more…

The India–Australia FTA’s impossible road ahead

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes out of a room to receive his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull before a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, 10 April 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi).

Author: Henry Sherrell, ANU

The India–Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement — or Free Trade Agreement in Australian parlance — took a tremendous blow on 19 April 2017. Read more…

Can China eradicate poverty by 2020?

A man takes a nap on a street in Beijing, China, 6 February 2015. (Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon).

Author: Francesca Chiu, University of Hong Kong

In 2016 in a village in Gansu, one of China’s poorest provinces, Yang Gailan killed herself and her four children after she had been denied official anti-poverty assistance for a second year. Read more…

Can India be a game changer in Afghanistan?

An Afghan policeman inspects a building used by insurgents after an operation near the Indian consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, 5 January 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Anil Usyan).

Author: Frédéric Grare, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

In an interview on 3 May 2017, former president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai strongly attacked US policy in Afghanistan and, once again, asked India to do more in his country. Read more…

Diplomatically denuclearising North Korea

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in takes an oath during his inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, 10 May 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Ahn Young-joon).

Author: Moon Chung-in, Seoul

Nearly two weeks into South Korea’s new administration, the dark clouds of impeachment have cleared. President Moon Jae-in‘s inauguration speech was full of common sense, and genuinely communicated with the people. Read more…

RAMSI chapter ends in Australia’s Pacific story

Australian soldiers patrol a road leading to the Solomon Islands Parliament House in Honiara, 25 April 2006. (Photo: Reuters/Tim Wimborne )

Author: James Batley, ANU

On 30 June this year, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) will come to an end after 14 years. RAMSI was deployed in mid-2003 at the invitation of a desperate Solomon Islands government following several years of conflict between armed militant groups, a collapse in law and order and in the state’s capacity to deliver services Read more…

Is peace on the horizon for Myanmar?

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar's President Htin Kyaw after the opening ceremony of the 21st Century Panglong Conference in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, 24 May, 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun).

Author: Su Mon Thazin Aung, Institute for Strategy and Policy

Myanmar’s second 21st Century Panglong Conference, which will begin on the 24 May, comes with mixed expectations. Many are cautiously welcoming the event as a step towards amending the 2008 military-drafted constitution. But there are also those concerned that the conference will only serve as a showcase event for the Myanmar government. Read more…