MacroScope

United Korea: bigger than Japan?

North Korea, one of former President George Bush’s “axis of evil” countries and one of the few remaining Stalinist states, deserves to be re-evaluated given the prospect of a power succession and the changing economic landscape in the region, according to Goldman Sachs.

Apart from the robust military establishment (absorbing at least 20-30% of GDP vs 3% of GDP in South Korea),  Goldman says North Korea has large untapped potential, including rich human capital, abundant mineral resources (valued at around 140 times 2008 GDP) and significant room for productivity gains.

“We project that the GDP of a united Korea in dollar terms could exceed that of France, Germany and possibly Japan in 30-40 years, should the growth potential of North Korea, notably its rich mineral wealth, be realised,” the bank’s economist Goohoon Kwon says in a paper.

“This projection would put the size of a united Korea in 2050 firmly on a par with, or in excess of, that of most G7 countries, except for the U.S.

Readers of Global Investing may be aware that there are investors who are already looking at North Korea’s potential.

North Korea: New Europe?

Finance ministers and other executives busy discussing the future of Eastern European transition economies at a European Bank for Reconstruction and Development meeting were reminded of a country far from Europe which needs aid to transform its economy.

South Korea thinks its Stalinist neighbour should receive aid from the London-based lender, set up in 1991 to help former communist countries make the transition to market economies.

“I strongly recommend North Korea as a next candidate to become a recipient country, once it decides to transform itself into a market economy,” Young Geol Lee, vice minister of strategy and finance, said in a speech. “Please bear in mind that North Korea has great potentials as a future client of the EBRD.”

from Global Investing:

The final frontier market

As a fallout in emerging markets -- once hailed as a safe-haven from the global financial crisis -- gathers pace, asset managers are scrambling for newer markets.

What about North Korea? The Stalinist country boasts large untapped natural resources with deposits of gold, coal, zinc and other minerals. It has virtually no capital markets and its banks are all state-owned -- making it a true safe haven from the global financial crisis.

The communist state has a good logistics route. It has borders with China, Russia and of course South Korea and a short sea route to Japan. South Korean firms such as Hyundai and LG already invest in the North.