The Great Debate UK

from Breakingviews:

China’s budget should calm investors in three ways

By Wei Gu
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

HONG KONG -- Chinese premier Wen Jiabao's weekend "state of the union" speech should calm investors in three ways. Wen pledged that growth would become more sustainable thanks to a focus on social welfare.

Liquidity should be boosted by higher government spending. And if both fail to impress, record expenses on police and domestic surveillance should help contain the risks of dissatisfaction.

Investors' worries about inflation, tightening and social tensions have left the Shanghai Composite Index flat for three months. Wen's speech gave it a 2 percent boost on March 7. His 2011 budget targeted a few key numbers: 4 percent inflation, 7 percent income growth, and 10 million new affordable homes, all clearly aimed at keeping the masses happy.

from Chrystia Freeland:

The revolutionary significance of job growth

It was striking to hear how encouraged both Klaus Kleinfeld and Dominic Barton sounded when Chrystia asked them about the effects of the recent turmoil in the Middle East on the business environment there. Barton believed the regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt were "the dawn of a new good thing that's occurring" and noted that it is likely that new capital will come into these countries as a new leadership emerges. Kleinfeld, whose company is in the process of building the world's largest integrated aluminum system in Saudi Arabia, said that Alcoa is still very comfortable in the region and that the only surprises with their Saudi partners have been positive surprises. For Kleinfeld, the most assured way to bring about stability in a region plagued by unrest is to have businesses come in and create jobs:

If there's one thing that the Middle East needs particularly for the young -- as well as well-educated people -- it's jobs. And it does it in a region which typically has not had much of an economic growth around Ras Azzour. So that's all very, very good. And not just for us as a company but also for the region. And it's gonna have a stabilizing as well as a kind of uplifting, positive element

Two very different inflation problems

-Kathleen Brooks is research director at forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-

There was more evidence in February that the world economy is re-flating; both China and the UK released inflation data that showed prices running above 4 percent. Authorities in these economies have a difficult few months ahead, if prices continue to rise at this clip then they may have an economic crisis on their hands.

from Global News Journal:

UNsensational? Five more years of Ban Ki-moon

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U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman and John Kerry look on as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon addresses reporters in Washington. REUTERS/Molley Riley

U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman and John Kerry look on as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon addresses reporters in Washington. REUTERS/Molley Riley

It's hard to find a delegate to the United Nations who despises U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. But it's even harder to find someone who thinks he has the gravitas and charisma of his Nobel Peace Prize-winning predecessor Kofi Annan, who invoked the wrath of the previous U.S. administration when he called the 2003 invasion of Iraq "illegal." As one senior Western official, who declined to be identified, said about Ban: "It's not as if he's lightning in a bottle, but we can live with him."

China will not stop at becoming world’s ‘number two’

– Dirk Jan van den Berg is president of Delft University of Technology, former president of the IDEA League of European Universities, and former Dutch ambassador to China and the UN. The opinions expressed are his own. —

This week’s official confirmation that China is now the second largest economy in the world, as measured by GDP in dollars, symbolises the Middle Kingdom’s rise to global economic power in the past several decades.

from Davos Notebook:

CEOs hoping that everything comes up roses

CHINA-VALENTINE'S/A few things struck me from the annual survey of CEOs that PwC (yup, PricewaterhouseCoopers likes big 'P', little 'w', big 'C') released at Davos this year.

The most obvious was that 48 percent said they were "very confident" of growth in the next 12 months - up from 31 percent last year. Pre-crash confidence again!

Who is helping who in the China-Europe relationship?

-Kathleen Brooks is research director at forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-

PORTUGAL/

The saying goes that you only really know who your friends are during times of crisis. Well European officials must have been beaming after two of the world’s largest economies promised to purchase the debt of the currency bloc’s most troubled nations. China came out first and pledged to “support Spain’s financial sector”, through participating in its upcoming debt auctions. Likewise, Japan pledged to purchase a quarter of the upcoming euro zone bond sale that will help fund the bailout of Ireland.

from Davos Notebook:

Will Goldman’s new BRICwork stand up?

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RTXWLHHJim O'Neill, the Goldman Sachs economist who coined the term BRICs back in 2001, is adding four new countries to the elite club of emerging market economies. But does his new edifice have the same solid foundations?

In future, the BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, China and India will be merged with those of Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey and South Korea under the banner “growth markets,” O'Neill told the Financial Times.

from Breakingviews:

Low expectations should make China do more on yuan

By Wei Gu

The following article is part of Reuters Breakingviews' e-book, Predictions for 2011. The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

HONG KONG -- The Chinese currency rose just 3.6 percent in 2010. As political pressure ebbs and euro zone trouble spreads, traders now expect an even smaller gain for 2011. Beijing has said it wants to make the yuan more flexible. If it really means that, low expectations create a window of opportunity.

from Breakingviews:

China may stub its toe on rare earths quotas

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

HONG KONG -- China may stub its toe on its rare earths quotas. By restricting exports of the metallic elements, it is hoping to give domestic industries a boost. But Chinese companies will lose if the move leads to trade restrictions or boycotts of overseas acquisitions. If Beijing is serious about addressing environmental concerns, it should cut rare earths production, not exports.

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