Advertisements

Asia’s Largest Film Festival Closes with Record Visitors

The annual Busan International Film Festival drew to a close on Saturday with a record number of visitors and many new Asian movies for the world to enjoy.

The start of the 20th edition seemed doomed by a cut in the South Korean government’s budget for the event and typhoon-triggered strong winds that grounded red carpet guests.

But the festival overcame those obstacles, as companies based in Busan, other corporate sponsors and South Korean film professionals stepped up to help fund the festival. Organizers also arranged bullet trains or drivers to whisk many of the A-list guests stranded at a Seoul airport, including German actress Nastassja Kinski, to Busan in time for the opening ceremony.

The event drew a record number of 227,000 visitors over 10 days, a slight increase from last year. Legendary filmmakers such as Hou Hsiao Hsien and Leos Carax, American actor Harvey Keitel, French actress Sophie Marceau and Korean heartthrob Yoo A-in were among the top stars who met audiences at a movie screening or at an open air talk on the beach. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

China: Julia Leung, ‘The Tides of Capital’

Julia-Leung

Edited from an interview with William Kazer

Julia Leung has spent two decades engaged in financial policy work for the Hong Kong government. During her time as an official, she’s seen the city’s economy whiplashed by the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis and again by the global crisis a decade later. She has also tides-of-capitalwitnessed the territory’s increasing economic links to mainland China.

[Check out Julia Leung’s book “The Tides of Capital: How Asia surmounted financial crisis and is guiding world recovery” at Amazon]

In her new book The Tides of Capital, Ms. Leung examines the origins and response to financial crises of the 1990s and 2008 that shook economies across Asia and the world. The former Hong Kong Monetary Authority official and ex-undersecretary for financial services and the treasury (who also had a decade-long stint with the Asian Wall Street Journal) contends that emerging economies need a greater voice in global financial governance. China Real Time caught up with the reporter-turned-policy maker to talk about the financial challenges facing emerging nations, as well as China’s own financial and economic reforms.

Edited excerpts (read the full text of this edited excerpt here)

In your book you conclude that the IMF and the U.S. offered up the wrong prescriptions in the Asian crisis of 1997-1998. Where do you see policy leadership headed in the future?

Twenty years ago, the world was divided between the core and the outlying periphery….Financial crises only happened in the periphery, and the core dished out advice. In 2007, financial crisis erupted at the core and rippled to the periphery. Between 2008 and 2013, the size of China ’s economy doubled in dollar terms. The U.S. grew 14% during the same period, while Europe including the U.K. still falls short of the peak reached before the crisis. Combined GDP of emerging markets now make up more than 50% of global GDP, compared to one-third in 1990.

There will have to be considerable give-and-take between the country that is still the world’s leading economy and the other important players, especially China, that are assuming a progressively more important role. In view of the economic stagnation and political infighting besetting Europe, that continent will not be playing a full part in developing and policing a julia_leung_highresseries of better standards for world economic and financial governance. The world will rely ever more on a U.S.-Asian tandem for policy leadership.

You say the U.S. Congress is standing in the way of reforming International Monetary Fund quotas that would give more say to emerging markets. What will happen if there’s no reform?

The IMF is ideally positioned to provide policy leadership, particularly at times of crisis, but its effectiveness is undermined by its shareholding and governance structure, which has not kept pace with the shift in economic power to emerging markets. It is not surprising that developing countries have shown considerable frustration and exasperation with this imbalance, leading to new regional financing facilities, such as the Asian Infrastructure Bank and the New Development Bank.

When the core of the old world order continues to write rules that don’t take developing countries’ interests into account, the “peripheral” nations will use their own vast resources to start a new core…and write their own rules.

You say Asia needs to speak with a more coordinated voice. How much progress do you see here and what steps are still needed?

Even if Asia has a coordinated voice, it’s hard for it to be heard in the councils of the world power when the governance of these councils is slow to reflect shifting power. Read the rest of this entry »


Currency Crises Abroad Are Benefiting the U.S.

horse-2

If this looks like good news, think again. Being the ‘best looking horse in the glue factory’ isn’t an enviable position to be in.

Christopher Matthews writes:  Analysts are calling them “The Fragile Five,” a catchy sobriquet for five countries–Turkey, Brazil, India, South Africa and Indonesia–that have been experiencing serious turmoil in their economies and currencies in recent weeks.

dollarstack

Victor Albrow / Getty Images

To one degree or another these five economies have been rocked by foreign investors who are taking their money and parking it in safer and increasingly more lucrative investments in developed countries like the U.S. This capital flight has caused these nations’ currencies to plummet in value, forcing central banks to raise interest rates and possibly weaken economic growth at home. This week, the Turkish Central Bank raised its interest rate a stunning 4.5%, hoping to convince investors to keep their money in Turkey.

So what exactly does a currency crisis in Turkey or India have to do with the U.S.? In recent days, foreign leaders like Brazilian President Dilma Roussef reportedly laid blame for economic troubles in her country at the feet of the United States’Federal Reservesaying ”the withdrawal of the monetary stimulus in developed countries” was fueling “market volatility.” Some analysts have dismissed this as simple scapegoating, but according to Eswar Prasad, a Cornell economist and author of a forthcoming book on the international monetary system, The Dollar Trap,  the analysis is not entirely off the mark. Volatility in places like Brazil “isn’t an indictment of Federal Reserve policy, but it certainly is a side effect,” he says.

Read the rest of this entry »