Tehran timidity says more about banks than Iran

May 13, 2016

European lenders seem reluctant to follow U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s entreaties to do business in the republic. An avalanche of legal and practical banana skins hint at why. These could be surmountable - if bank bosses believe their systems are up to the job.

Saudi U.S. selloff threat not to be trifled with

April 20, 2016

The kingdom has told lawmakers it would dump some $750 bln of assets should Congress pass a bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue. These funds are its last line of defense to lower oil prices. That the alternative - having assets frozen - is an even worse outcome is scarier still.

Deepening economic ties belie China-Japan tension

September 3, 2015

Seventy years after World War Two, relations between Asia’s two biggest economies are in poor shape – as Beijing’s huge military parade shows. But trade, investment and tourism tell a different story. Japan’s economic success increasingly depends on China’s, and vice versa.

Review: Dealmaking when lives are at stake

July 10, 2015

Financiers like to compare their negotiations to military strategy. Yet the art of the deal matters far more when those talking also kill. Jonathan Powell’s “Terrorists at the Table” is a primer like few others, by a worldly ex-diplomat of stubborn hope. It’s also darkly funny.

Obama’s nuclear gift to Modi is shrewd investment

January 26, 2015

The U.S. president has unblocked a stalled nuclear power deal with India, allowing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to build new reactors. While that will boost orders for GE-Hitachi and Westinghouse, bigger gains to the U.S. economy will come from ending India’s energy deficit.

Obama and Xi may make unhappy Valentines

February 10, 2012

Iran, Syria and the yuan will all be on the agenda when the U.S. president meets his likely next Chinese counterpart on Feb. 14. Obama is under pressure to talk tough; Xi to keep cool. It’s a rerun of a similar meeting a decade ago, but pre-election timing adds to the tension.

China’s IMF boycott undermines quest for clout

October 10, 2012

For China’s top bankers to bail on the Tokyo summit amid a territorial fight suggests public feeling is governing policy. But the IMF is supposed to be just about finance - and Japan has strongly backed a bigger role for Asian countries. Maybe China isn’t ready for a bigger say.

Obama continuity is good for China-U.S. ties

November 8, 2012

The U.S. president’s re-election allows him to engage Beijing’s new leaders right away. Obama may have to endure aggressive rhetoric as the regime builds credibility. If he does that and builds on recent prudent diplomacy, the two superpowers’ rivalry can be constructive.

O-Burma trip rewards reformists for job half done

November 9, 2012

Including Myanmar in the president’s first post-re-election trip abroad is reward for dramatic reforms and cultivates a key ally in the U.S. pivot to Asia. But it’s sure to antagonize China’s new leaders - and could reduce pressure on Myanmar to make to make even tougher changes.

Obama and Xi should consider Confucian diplomacy

June 6, 2013

If the emperor merely faces south, the sage argued, the rest falls into place. The U.S. and Chinese leaders could do the same when they meet in California. Issues like hacking and trade should resolve over time through mutual self-interest. For now, inaction is the best policy.