News that matter

American politicians and intelligence agencies are making too big a deal out of their claims that Russia interfered with their elections. Their interference in democratic processes in other countries is well known. Russia could not have influenced the vote. This comes across – whether intended or not – as an attempt to cast aspersions on the legitimacy of the victory of President Trump. This blog post by a blogger Michael Kreiger of the Liberty Blitzkreig blog is an important read.

Incidentally, Mr. Michael Kreiger has good posts on Trump’s cabinet picks. Read them here. They are critical observations and legitimate too. They echo my observations in my recent MINT column:

Indeed, whether the swamp is drained or allowed to remain would be very much determined by the actions taken with respect to the financial sector. Reining in financialization is the key to tackling income and wealth inequality and distortions caused to the real economy by debt (leverage, in general) and leverage-backed surges in asset prices. [Link]

Of course, in my MINT column, I had referred to a Wall Street Journal article that mentions that Trump appointees favour a higher bank capital ratio. That is a good thing.

Indonesia has chastised and cut off business with JP MOrgan for the latter has downgraded Indonesian sovereign bonds to underweight. Some wrote that the Indonesian stock market had been downgraded. I do not think that is right. In either case, it is an over-reaction. Needless. Only if there is a clear case of malintent as was between Morgan Stanley and Kazakhstan, then there is a need for governments to react. The former accumulated CDS on Kazakh bonds and worked to trigger a credit event. Read Gillian Tett commentary in 2009 on this.

When governments do this, they  attack the analysts’ integrity and independence. Then, when they do the same with stocks, governments lose their moral rights to pull them up or punish them in the name of good governance.

Apple deferred to China and pulled New York Times from its app. in China. It could not have happened to a more objective and balanced newspaper (?!)

China has further tightened the screws on foreign non-governmental organisations operating in China:

The legislation requiring the China offices of charities and foundations to find an official sponsor and file regular and detailed activity plans to the police is seen as one of the ways the ruling Communist party intends to cement its rule by asserting control over a burgeoning civil society.

China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) waited until last week to publish a list of eligible sponsors, meaning that almost none of the thousands of foreign non-profits in China — ranging from charities such as Greenpeace and Oxfam to funds such as the Ford Foundation — will meet the law’s conditions before the January 1 deadline. [Link]

This is a sequel to what was done last April.

In an article peppered with unverified and anonymous comments, FT writers blame Brexit and Theresa May for China cooling off towards Britain. For all we know, it might be a good thing for Britain.

Further, China is squeezing South Korea hard because it had chosen to deploy a US missile defence system on its soil:

China has threatened some of South Korea’s largest companies over Seoul’s decision to deploy a US ballistic missile shield, according to several people briefed on the conversations.

Samsung and Lotte Group were among companies warned by a foreign ministry official during a visit to Seoul last week that their China business could suffer because of the Korean stance.

South Korean officials labelled a visit by Chen Hai, the ministry’s deputy director-general of the department of Asian affairs, as “highly irregular”. They said he ignored requests to postpone the trip until the new year and did not pay a courtesy call to his counterparts at the foreign ministry in Seoul. [Link]

One would have thought that this would bring South Korea and Japan closer. Is it bad diplomacy or is it a case of bad times for South Korea? Apparently, a non-governmental organisation set up a statue of a ‘comfort woman’ outside the Japanese consulate in the port city of Busan. Japan has recalled its Ambassador to Seoul. May be, who knows, some NGOs are still useful for Beijing?

May be, I am repeating it. This news about Indonesia is important too. The title of the article is appropriate. May be, this is justification enough for JP Morgan downgrade?

I wonder about the presumptive logic of the inevitability of Asian rise in the 21st century.


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