Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
Dangers of "Hunger Games" salute.
Call it life imitating art with a bit of military intrigue tossed in. Thais unhappy about the latest coup are getting creative about voicing disapproval without ending up in a detention cell. Many are turning to the three-fingered salute that was a sign of resistance in the “The Hunger Games” books and movies. It's showing up in selfies and on Facebook (when it's working there) all over the nation and abroad. Yet the military already appears fed up with the three-fingered threat. At least one woman flashing the sign of quiet dissent was filmed being confronted by security forces. Time for a stealthier resistance gesture?
Whither India's inflation challenge?
Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan's delicate dance with Narendra Modi has begun in earnest. Rajan's held the benchmark repurchase rate at 8 percent and signaled he's willing to ease policy if inflation pressures wane. The monetary world is one of winks, nods and secret handshakes and this sure seems like Rajan's way of telling India's new prime minister that the RBI is keeping an open mind. Modi pledged to take steps on the supply side to reduce price pressures. Rajan, and the rest of India, can only hope he succeeds. He's ready with lower rates if Modi does, too.
North Korea's pot calls South's kettle black.
It's a bit rich that after years of Pyongyang's computer hackers attacking South Korea and Japan and causing paranoia at America's Pentagon, North Korea claims it's the one under cyberattack. It's no secret that, for years now, North Korea has been busily hacking into government, military, commercial and educational institutions. Clearly, if Edward Snowden's disclosures taught us anything, it's that no government is immune from Internet attacks from allies as well as enemies. But Kim Jong Un sure does know how to play the victim -- unconvincingly, in this case.
Another global financial crisis?
Reading this alarmist piece by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, I find my brain telling me he's wrong and my gut saying he makes some good points about vulnerabilities imperiling global markets. The common denominator in equity, currency and credit markets is an eerie lack of volatility -- one which raises many questions. One is whether markets are bracing for some significant dislocations as the Federal Reserve tapers, China slows or Europe's troubles reemerge. Whether you are a bull, a bear or undecided, here's a thought-provoking look at where the world economy may be headed.
Casting call for you Asian divas.
Calling all you "ultra-rich Asian girls," Vancouver may have a reality show that will make you a star. Highbrow entertainment, it won't be -- not with the proposed title "HBICtv," which stands inelegantly for “Hot B**** in Charge.” But as casting call notices go, this is one for the ages: "Are you the next #HBIC of Vancouver? Centurion Black Amex Card? Hermes, Lanvin, Dior, Louboutin, Chanel, Lambos and Ferraris are all a part of the daily lives of our HBICtv Divas.” I cringe to see what other shows these producers have planned.
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