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from Breakingviews:

Gift coupons could sweeten Japan’s sales tax pill

By Andy Mukherjee

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

Shinzo Abe mustn’t be coy about raising Japan’s sales tax. A plan to double the country’s consumption levy is crucial to convincing bondholders that public debt won’t spiral out of control. If the prime minister is worried demand will take a hit, shopping vouchers could limit the damage.

The Japanese prime minister doesn’t want to go ahead with the plan to raise the 5 percent tax on consumption to 8 percent in April 2014, and then to 10 percent in 2015, Reuters reported on July 29. Parliament had approved the higher levies last year. Abe will take a final decision in the autumn after gauging the strength of the economic recovery.

The April increase is estimated to bring in additional annual revenue of 7.5 trillion yen ($76 billion). That won’t be enough to eliminate the budget deficit. Still, steadily raising the consumption tax, the second-lowest among advanced nations, is the “most appealing” solution to eventually lowering Japan’s public debt from 237 percent of GDP, according to economists at the International Monetary Fund.

from Ian Bremmer:

The countries not letting a crisis go to waste

In 2008, before the financial crisis had even reached its nadir, Rahm Emanuel famously said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Emanuel’s quote became the conventional wisdom for crisis management, even if the idea is age-old: John F. Kennedy Jr. famously pointed out that the Chinese word for “crisis” is composed of two characters, one for “danger” and one for “opportunity. 

Nearly five years after the global economic meltdown, we can now look at the world’s major powers and assess how well they’ve responded to their various crises. Three categories emerge. Who took advantage of crisis? Who never really had a true crisis? And who is letting crisis go to waste?

from Breakingviews:

New-age trade clubs: A guide for the perplexed

By Andy Mukherjee

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

Global trade is going private. After a frustrating 12-year-long wait for the World Trade Organization to hammer out an accord acceptable to its 159 members, businesses and governments are now hedging their bets. Enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which received a boost this week with Japan joining the negotiations.

from Breakingviews:

Time for victorious Abe to roll up shirtsleeves

By Andy Mukherjee

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

Shinzo Abe’s majority in Japan’s upper house is a political watershed. With it, he can start work on the Japanese economy’s broken plumbing.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party-led alliance’s victory in the upper house elections on July 21 gives Abe control of both chambers of parliament until the next round of polls in 2016. That gives the prime minister a rare flexibility to pass laws that has eluded many of his predecessors since 1989.

from Breakingviews:

Dash from emerging to developed markets hits new risks

By Ian Campbell

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

Capital glut has become capital flight in emerging markets. Stock markets in developed economies may be the beneficiaries for now. But the switch merely exchanges one set of risks for another.

from Edward Hadas:

Get used to zombie economics

Zombies are neither really alive nor fully dead. Moviegoers know that, but the idea is also useful in demographics and economics. Although economic zombification receives little attention, its effects could be as important as monetary policy, fiscal deficits and structural reforms.

The demographic trends are well known. For the past three or four decades in most developed economies, the number of children born has been too low, often by a wide margin, to keep the population constant. Japan is the leader in this decline. Indeed, the zombification of the Japanese population could well be the most dramatic such shift in history, at least during a period of peace, prosperity and good health.

from Breakingviews:

Japan’s dealmakers deflated by Abe’s arrows

By John Foley

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

Shinzo Abe may yet revive Japan’s economy, but so far he has done the opposite for the country’s chief executives. The volume of overseas mergers this year has been positively lethargic. The prime minister’s efforts to cheapen the yen, and volatile markets, partly explain the lull, but the case for going abroad remains strong.

from Breakingviews:

Japan index: markets put speed bump in Abe’s path

By Andy  Mukherjee

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

For the first time in six months, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic experiment stumbled in May amidst skittish stock and bond markets. But the drop in the Breakingviews Abenomics Index to 93.8, from 94.4 in April, may be temporary as deflation continues to ease.

from Expert Zone:

Chinese general warns India even as Antony visits Beijing

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

India’s Defence Minister A. K. Antony is in Beijing on an official visit and a provocative curtain-raiser was provided by a retired major general of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) who cautioned India not to “provoke new problems and increase military deployments at the border area and stir up new trouble.”

Predictably, this statement by Major General Luo Yuan, who is associated with the PLA’s Academy of Military Sciences, hit the headlines in both countries. Luo is no stranger to such controversy and has in the past made shrill and hostile remarks to local media and in Chinese cyberspace about Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. One assertion - since denied - was that China should bomb Tokyo if Japan stepped out of line in relation to the long-standing island dispute between the two East Asian neighbours.

from Breakingviews:

Asia’s pain unevenly spread as China slows

By John Foley

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

Asia’s falling markets reflect the belief that a slowdown in China will take its toll on the region. But things aren’t so straightforward. Look at what proportion of the region’s largest economies goes to China, and how important those exports are to domestic GDP. Despite a decade of rapid growth, the world’s second-largest economy has had a smaller impact on its neighbours than might be expected.

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