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from Ian Bremmer:

Chinese reform is coming, but not the political kind

In a western democracy like the United States, we assume that the best time for a leader to accomplish something is in the first year of his first term. The election has just ended, the opposition is still scattered, and the legislative mandate is intact. Everybody still talks about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first 100 Days for a reason.

In authoritarian governments, like China’s, it’s supposed to be different. Steering such a large bureaucracy takes time, as all the moving pieces catch up with one another. What matters is minimizing risk surrounding the transfer of power, and then engaging in a slow buildup of consensus. And yet, Xi Jinping is proving the conventional wisdom wrong. After just six months at the helm, Xi is already clearly on track to accomplish far more than his predecessor Hu Jintao.

The constellation of China’s leadership left Xi Jinping with more room to maneuver upon taking office: the Politburo Standing Committee, the top brass in China’s government, was consolidated from nine members to seven. Over the next few months, Xi built up a track record of successful reforms. He has worked at overhauling the banking system and shaking out its bad loans. Through his anti-corruption efforts, he has increased the accountability for the leaders of state-owned enterprises and provincial leaders. He improved product safety and the environment by changing the reward structure for the people in charge and implementing air pollution regulations. We’ve also seen the establishment of a free trade zone in Shanghai.

Despite all this progress, there is vastly more to do. But Xi seems up to the task -- and he is eager to get started. Over the weekend, one of Xi’s allies, Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, promised even further reforms at the upcoming Third Plenum meeting of party leadership from November 9-12th, declaring it will usher in “unprecedented” policy changes and reform.

from Global Investing:

When Japan was an emerging country

Recent wild swings in Japan's financial markets -- stocks, bonds and the yen -- make Japan look almost like an emerging country.

Back in the 19th century, Japan was an emerging country, with its feudal society based largely on farming.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

FACTBOX-What is the status of India’s economic reform proposals?

NEW DELHI, Aug 23 (Reuters) - With India's main opposition party continuing to object to bills on tax reform and opening up the $150 billion nuclear power market, several reforms proposed by the coalition government may be delayed.

The Congress Party-led coalition government has a slim majority in the lower house of parliament, but not in the upper house. The coalition is also composed of several small and fickle parties who are often suspicious of reforms, making the passage of bills in parliament subject to torturous negotiations.

from Andrew Marshall:

Risks to watch: Indonesia

INDONESIA-POLITICS

Strong growth and political stability made Indonesia southeast Asia's most attractive investment destination last year, but the outlook is threatened by a struggle between reformers and powerful vested interests.

Top reformer Sri Mulyani Indrawati's decision to quit in May, fed up with the pressure from the political old guard, was a setback. But her successor as finance minister, Agus Martowardojo, is no pushover, so prospects for continuing her work and achieving an investment grade credit rating are strong.

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