Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
No more Filipino entertainers, please.
Enough singers, dancers and actors in public office, already! It's not the usual warning from a national leader, but then the Philippines isn't your average nation and President Benigno Aquino isn't the kind of politician Filipinos have had before. Voters there often have a soft spot for celebrities-turned-lawmakers who make a mess of things in government. Look no further than former actor Joseph Estrada, who became president in 1998 and was later ousted for plunder. Two years before his term ends, Aquino's plea is this: "We don't need someone who is good at reading scripts, dancing or singing. It's our responsibility to ensure that the Philippines is more just and progressive than it was in the past.” I couldn't agree more.
Bank of Korea holds its fire -- again.
Thirteen months, no interest-rate changes. That's the score over in Seoul as newish Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju Yeol gets used to running the monetary policy of an event-rich economy. But it's good to see Lee acting elsewhere to repair Korea's weak spots, including addressing household debt and other imbalances such as a heavy reliance on exports. He's even prodding his staff to consider the economic effects of a possible unification with North Korea, including the mechanics of monetary integration and other economic and financial challenges that might arise. Busy days in Seoul, indeed.
Pity those Bank of Japan reporters.
It might sound like the sexiest job in Tokyo: covering Governor Haruhiko Kuroda's monetary shock-and-awe program aimed at ridding Japan of deflation. But the opposite is true. The Bank of Japan will be stuck with its quantitative-easing scheme for many years to come. There may be a surprise here and there -- like when Kuroda prints even more yen. But for the most part, BOJ reporters are looking at a very long -- and potentially boring -- dry spell when it comes to big news out of the central bank.
Thai generals adopt their enemy's ways.
If Thaksin Shinawatra is the bogeyman Thai coup leaders say, why are they adopting his signature economic policies? It's a very valid question as the generals who grabbed power on May 22 increase budget spending, cap fuel costs and freeze prices on many consumer goods. Those steps come right out of the economic playbook of former Prime Minister Thaksin, who was ousted in 2006. Sound surreal? I'm hoping I'm not alone in having trouble getting my head around what this latest coup is all about.
Infosys tries to reclaim glory days.
India’s second-largest software services exporter turned to former SAP AG executive Vishal Sikka to reverse four straight years of narrowing margins. It's the first time one of the fabled tech giant's founders isn't running the show and it will be fascinating to see if the Bangalore company can restore a bit of its former glory. Right out of the gate, Sikka must figure out how to sign new contracts at a time when companies want mobile applications to interact with consumers and rent shared computing services rather than maintain their own servers. There's not a moment to waste.
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