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Asean Affairs   7 April 2011

A tale of two different regions

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     7 April 2011

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Within the space of 24 hours, economic developments in Europe and Asia highlighted the stark contrast between the economies of the two regions.

After seeing his austerity program rejected by the Portuguese Parliament, departing Prime Minister Jose Socrates in a televised address requested economic aid from the European Commission to the tune of 70 billion euros (US$100 billion) to pay the country’s debts.

Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Asian gross domestic product would ease to 7.8 percent from 9 percent in 2010, as the Chinese and Indian economies ease.

In line with the daily news reports published by Asean Affairs, the ADB said inflation posed a threat and “higher oil and food prices could "shake developing Asia's macroeconomic stability" and cause widening income inequality and "potentially lead to social tension".

The bank suggested that more flexible exchange rates could help countries with "with persistent current account imbalances and misalignment between their exchange rate and fundamentals.” A remark aimed at China, as many feel the Chinese yuan is quite undervalued.

The ADB said a set of economic indicators agreed to by the Group of 20 leading economies in February also could "provide useful tools" for developing Asian economies to deal with inflation and capital inflows.

The contrast is striking between the East and West.

European countries struggle to resolve debt, the United States struggles to pass a budget and Asia tries to deal with continuing capital inflows and rising inflation.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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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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