The Great Debate UK
from Global News Journal:
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."
The former South Korean foreign minister is in the final year of his first five-year term and is widely expected to run for another stint as the supreme U.N. official. The formal re-election process is likely to commence in the coming months. In the meantime, Ban is visiting the capitals of key U.N. member states to gauge his chances of keeping his job. Those chances, U.N. diplomats say, are excellent. So far, no country has nominated any candidate to oppose him. "I'd put my money on Ban Ki-moon getting a second term," said a Security Council diplomat.
The 15-nation Security Council nominates the secretary-general, though the choice has to be confirmed by the 192-nation General Assembly. Despite the veneer of democracy, it is the five veto-wielding permanent council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- who choose the top U.N. bureaucrat in New York. And none of the five has any serious objections to a second and final term for Ban, diplomats say.
– 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:
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!
-Kathleen Brooks is research director at forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-
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:
Jim 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.
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.
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.
from Global News Journal:
It’s the season to be merry - and to make forecasts about next year. Across the finance industry fine minds spend December crafting outlooks and extrapolations about how the world will fare, in the hope of a decent return over the next 12 months and avoiding the bear traps that will swallow an investment. The banks, strategic advisories and political risk consultants trumpet their analytical prowess, of course, but are also meeting a natural human need to peer into the future. We all want guidance to take the sting out of living in an uncertain world.
Nowhere is prediction more fraught with peril than in politics and world affairs. The success rate is in inverse proportion to the costs that unexpected acts in the real world can impose on the investor. So despite the difficulty of providing a reliable guide to the future there are huge incentives to try to chart the way ahead. Here's Control Risks, a risk consultancy firm, on its view of 2011, while competitor Eurasia reveals in early January, as does the World Economic Forum. Nomura has a list of 10 political challenges to prosperity that range from the prospect of gridlock in US domestic politics to brinksmanship on the Korean peninsula.
Decades of mistrust haven't stopped China and India's trade from tripling in the past five years. Now China wants to restart free trade talks when Premier Wen Jiabao visits New Delhi later this week. India has long resisted such an agreement. Yet more open trade should leave both sides winners.
Since the two countries warred over a border dispute in 1962, China and India have had a fractious relationship. But on some issues they agree. India helped China stop an agreement over climate change in Copenhagen that both felt was too soft on rich countries. Chinese and Indian state-owned firms have bid together for oil and gas assets.
from Reuters Investigates:
Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, now has 189 stories in China, according to its website. Soon it will have many more. The U.S. chain has announced plans to open a series of "compact hypermarkets", using a bare-bones model developed in Latin America, the Financial Times said.
Wal-Mart stores are a bit different than the one's you might find in, say, Little Rock Arkansas. They sell live toads and turtles for one thing, The Economist reported. But they also sell the appliances, gadgets, and housewares that Wal-Mart stores merchandise everywhere.