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Asean Affairs   1  August  2011

The biggest Asean story is the US economy

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     1  August 2011

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Monday, August 1, dawned in Asia with a great deal of uncertainty over the ridiculous soap opera debt settlement drama in Washington.

However, the early morning brought with it news that a debt agreement had been reached in Washington D.C., to avert an historic debt default and Asian markets responded with relief.

Tokyo jumped 1.94 percent in the afternoon, Hong Kong rose 1.51 percent in the morning and Sydney added 1.97 percent, while Seoul gained 1.75 percent and Taipei climbed 0.45 percent.

Shanghai edged 0.15 percent higher.

Singapore shares were higher at midday on Monday, with the benchmark Straits Times Index at 3,223.4 in early trade, up 1.07 percent, or 34.14 points and Thai stocks opened up 10.32 points at the start of trade Monday morning.

The early details indicate that the agreement is not substantive enough to truly address the economic problems the US faces, but just good enough to get the country to the next debt crisis.

Media reporting from the US have frequently characterized the debt debacle as an example of a “dysfunctional” political system in the US and who can doubt that given the recent weeklong siege in Washington.

With so many issues needing solutions, it is regrettable that from now until the November 2012 elections, politics will drain the attention of the US from the real economic and international challenges it faces.

Some critics view the budget impasse as a symptom of decline in the US empire and there is mounting evidence to support that view as Asia begins to assume a larger role on the world stage.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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