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from Breakingviews:

Cheap oil is no tonic for sluggish Asian economies

By Andy Mukherjee

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Cheaper oil won’t be much of a tonic for Asian economies. While painful for exporters, sliding prices should benefit consumers of crude. For most in the region, though, less expensive oil is mainly a sign that growth is stalling.

The big exceptions are India and Indonesia. Both governments supply gasoline and diesel to their consumers at fixed, affordable rates. For them, the 25 percent slide in the price of a barrel of Brent crude over the past four months translates into significant budgetary savings, which could be channelled into much-needed infrastructure investment.

Other major Asian economies, though, will look at falling oil prices less as a stimulant and more as a signal that global growth is faltering. For export-dependent Asia, lacklustre worldwide demand could end up being highly disinflationary.

from Breakingviews:

Asia’s reform spotlight swings to Indonesia

By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The election of a fresh, charismatic leader fuels hopes for overdue change. After Japan and India, Asia’s reform spotlight has swung to Indonesia. Joko Widodo’s rise to the presidency invites comparisons with Narendra Modi in India and even Japan’s Shinzo Abe. The challenges facing Widodo – widely known as Jokowi - are more daunting. But the rewards for faster reform could be large.

from Breakingviews:

Fed adds urgency to Indonesia’s fuel reform test

By Andy Mukherjee 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is adding urgency to Indonesian President-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s first big test: Rethinking the country’s massive energy subsidies.

from Breakingviews:

Close presidential race may slow Indonesia reforms

By Andy Mukherjee

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Indonesia’s tight presidential race could diminish the country’s chances of finding decisive leadership to execute urgent reforms.

from The Human Impact:

Election day, a time of hope – and concern – over Indonesian women’s rights

Tri Widayati is the first woman in her family - and her village too, she thinks - to find employment. At 18, soon after graduating from high school, she left her small village in Klaten regency in Central Java for Bekasi, a satellite town of the capital, Jakarta.

“Every woman in my village, once they get married, they just stay at home and look after the children,” including her mother and sister, Tri said.

from Global Investing:

Buying back into emerging markets

After almost a year of selling emerging markets, investors seem to be returning in force. The latest to turn positive on the asset class is asset and wealth manager Pictet Group (AUM: 265 billion pounds) which said on Tuesday its asset management division (clarifies division of Pictet) was starting to build positions on emerging equities and local currency debt. It has an overweight position on the latter for the first time since it went underweight last July.

Local emerging debt has been out of favour with investors because of how volatile currencies have been since last May, For an investor who is funding an emerging market investments from dollars or euros, a fast-falling rand can wipe out any gains he makes on a South African bond. But the rand and its peers such as the Turkish lira, Indian rupee, Indonesian rupiah and Brazilan real -- at the forefront of last year's selloff --  have stabilised from the lows hit in recent months.  According to Pictet Asset Management:

from Photographers' Blog:

From the White House to the Mad House

Bali, Indonesia

By Jason Reed

Just a couple of months ago I was swirling in a perpetual bubble, a privileged circle of photographers whose job it is to photograph one man – the President of the United States.

I did it for ten years and mostly enjoyed every minute. Over that period of time there comes a predictable familiarity to the role, in which you can pre-write all your captions hours and sometimes days in advance and plan your coverage down to the last detail. It is a safe and cosy existence. Due to the nature of the subject, it needs to be.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Behind the wave of market anxiety

What has caused the sudden anxiety attack that overwhelmed financial markets after the New Year? We may find out the answer at 8.30 on Friday morning, Eastern Standard Time.

Almost all agree that the market turmoil has been linked to alarming events in several emerging economies -- including Turkey, Thailand, Argentina and Ukraine -- that has spilled over into concerns about more important economies, such as China, Russia, South Africa, Indonesia and Brazil.

from Global Investing:

It’s not end of the world at the Fragile Five

Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding capital-hungry Fragile Five countries, real money managers have not abandoned the ship at all.

Aberdeen Asset Management has overweight equity positions in Indonesia, India, Turkey and Brazil -- that's already 4 of the five countries that have come under market pressure because of their funding deficits.  The fund is also positive on Thailand and the Philippines.

from Global Markets Forum Dashboard:

Better year for commodities?

We quizzed Gavin Wendt, Founding Director & Senior Resource Analyst at MineLife, on the impact of Fed-taper on commodities, base metals, precious metals, nat-gas, Indonesia's ban on mineral exports and China.

Gavin is positive on soft commodities as hard commodities in the medium to longer-term. "The world's population is 7 billion and growing - and demand for energy, hard and soft commodities will only grow," he said.

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