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

India’s economic slowdown a stain on 2011

Author: M. Govinda Rao, NIPFP

India’s economy was one of the earliest to stage a turnaround after the global financial crisis.

The decisions taken in early 2008 to increase public-sector wages, forgive loans for farmers who had borrowed from the banks, and massively expand the rural-employment guarantee scheme assisted the economy before the global financial crisis unfolded in the last quarter of the year. Read more…

Political surprises dominate the Korean peninsula in 2011

Author: Yoon Young-kwan, Seoul National University

After North Korea’s sinking of a South Korean frigate, Cheonan, and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, inter-Korean relations did not improve much in 2011.

There was limited official contact between the South and the North and between the US and the North to discuss the possible resumption of Six-Party Talks or food aid. Read more…

Thailand’s politics hamstrings economic progress

Author: Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Chulalongkorn University

While Thai politics has long been unruly, it has rarely been so unsettled and intractable as in 2011.

Thailand has entered 2012 bruised and battered, even compared to previous bouts of political instability. Read more…

Pakistan: a tumultuous economy and divided politics

Author: Ishrat Husain, IBA, Karachi

Pakistan’s economy remained sluggish in 2011 due to domestic political instability, energy shortages, deteriorating Pakistan-US relations, global climate change and internal security concerns.

For the fourth year in a row, GDP growth in 2011-12 will fall below its long-term growth rate. Read more…

Vietnam: the beginning of another economic transformation?

Author: Doan Hong Quang, World Bank

Consensus-based policy making is a salient feature of Vietnam, where important decisions are collectively made.


Consensus is needed not only for the formulation of a reform vision but also for the elaboration and implementation of this vision. Read more…

Pakistan: lots of headlines, little progress

Author: Alicia Mollaun, ANU

In Pakistan, external shocks and unforeseen events defined 2011. But for the Western world and for Pakistanis, this past year will be remembered very differently.

Drones, floods, economic misery, developmental challenges and a fraught relationship with the US will stick in the memory of Pakistanis. While in the West, 2011 will be remembered as the year the US killed Osama bin Laden — only 50 kilometres from the Pakistani capital.

Read more…

New Zealand: might 2012 be smoother?

Author: Robert Ayson, Victoria University of Wellington

Visitors to New Zealand during the uneventful general election in November 2011, which returned John Key’s National Party to office, would be forgiven for thinking things were running smoothly.

This was helped by the fact that a few weeks earlier, New Zealanders gained the greatest prize they could wish for. This was not a Nobel Prize for their leading scientists; nor a temporary seat on the UN Security Council, which Mr Key’s government wants to secure; nor the competent hosting of the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland, which came and went without much trace. Read more…

Singapore in 2011: the emergence of quality-of-life concerns

Author: Mukul Asher, NUS

With the end of 2011, Singapore’s policy makers have ample reason to be satisfied with their economic management, and the results of the long-prevailing business location growth model.

Singapore’s macroeconomic indicators, excepting the inflation rate, exhibited encouraging trends in 2011. Read more…

The Philippines: signs of economic improvement

Author: Cesar Virata, Manila

The Philippines began 2011 with high expectations and optimism after the Aquino administration announced various reform-minded plans and programs.

These included a vigorous anti-corruption campaign, plans for greater government transparency and accountability, a number of public-private partnerships (PPPs) for major infrastructure projects, social programs addressing poverty alleviation, and improved education and health programs. Read more…

Burma in 2011: contradictory impulses

Author: Jacqueline Menager, ANU

Contradiction is a mainstay in Burmese life. In downtown Rangoon, a giant new Toshiba TV screen hangs over the street, while rickety cars and taxis from the 1970s whir past below. Crumbling colonial-era buildings are mixed with shiny new Chinese-funded monoliths.

But nowhere is the country’s inherent contradiction more apparent than in the developments of 2011. Primarily, the new parliament’s formation must be juxtaposed against resumed violence in border regions. And we must decide which of the two dynamics to take as the year’s prevailing reality. Read more…

Malaysia’s progress in a gloomy global economy and contested political environment

Author: Mahani Zainal Abidin, ISIS Malaysia

After stating in 2010 his vision to transform Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib’s task in 2011 was to turn vision into reality.

The Government Transformation Programme made some progress on this front, improving the delivery of some public services. A number of Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) projects also delivered higher private-sector investments and successful large property joint ventures between the government and the private sector, both of which helped revive the investment climate. Read more…

Thailand in 2011: a year of surprises

Author: Pisit Leeahtam, Chiang Mai University

After facing two violent street protests in the last two years, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s coalition government started 2011 in relative calm.

The then-opposition Pheu Thai Party was without a visible leader, and many saw the red shirts as still suffering from the May 2010 violence and thus unlikely to stage another street protest. Read more…

Will Asia step up to the global challenges of 2012?

Author: Wendy Dobson, University of Toronto

The euro crisis hijacked the G20 Summit in Cannes — even by late December Europe’s leaders still had not fully diagnosed the problem, but without an accurate diagnosis how can there be an effective prescription?

This missing link accentuates two challenges that Asian integration will face in 2012: the consolidation of regional architecture and the need for deeper structural adjustments. Read more…

Regional cooperation and national sovereignty: Asia and the euro crisis

Author: Shinji Takagi, Osaka University

The unfolding euro crisis makes clear the difficulty of managing a single monetary policy among a group of countries that retain separate fiscal policies and regulatory rules over national banking systems. The lessons for Asia are profound.

In order to help save the euro, in December 2011, European leaders agreed to impose binding limits on national budgets and borrowing, with penalties for those who violate them. Read more…

Détente and the Myanmar spring?

Author: Roger Lee Huang, City University of Hong Kong

President Thein Sein’s actions over the last few months suggest he is a skillful leader who has the ability to balance the push for critical reforms while also preventing a backlash from more conservative elements within the military.

New laws have been passed in quick succession, allowing citizens a range of rights denied since the 1962 coup. Read more…