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Analysis

Commentary

Cryptocurrencies' rise in Asia

by National University of Singapore authors | Mon 20 Nov 2017

Chinese regulators shook market watchers in September when they introduced extensive restrictions on cryptocurrencies, including a ban on fund-raising initial coin offerings. Regional competitor Japan, conversely, has adopted a more permissive approach. At the same time as their Chinese counterparts were introducing restrictions, Japanese regulators approved 11 cryptocurrency exchanges as part of a scheme that some believe positions Japan as one of the world's most cryptocurrency-friendly countries.

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Real dangers for international trade

by David Skilling in Singapore | Fri 17 Nov 2017

There is room for some confidence on international trade in the light of the progress made on deals like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. But there are real dangers. A worsening in the relationship between China and the US and the spectre of military conflict – in North Korea and, increasingly, the Middle East – could quickly lead to problems for the global economy. To date the global trading system has survived the abdication of the US. But further forward momentum is required.

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ESM expands into dollar market

by Kalin Anev Janse in Luxembourg | Thu 16 Nov 2017

Investor appetite for Europe has surged in 2017. With the US and UK facing political challenges, Europe has emerged as a safe haven. The economy is expanding sturdily, and many non-European investors are interested in increasing their exposure to the region. The European Stability Mechanism is the only blended euro credit available – now also in dollars. In October the ESM celebrated its fifth anniversary and raised $3bn with its debut bond issuance in the dollar market, diversifying the mechanism's investor base.

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Buoyed by disunity

by David Marsh in London | Wed 15 Nov 2017

Theresa May seems to be battling on all fronts over Britain's European Union exit. The British prime minister's position looks parlous. Yet, beyond her multiple parliamentary and diplomatic battles, she is suspended in Downing Street by an uncanny equilibrium of opposing forces. The scale of her adversity keeps May in power. Her rivals are stymied by fear that removing the prime minister could provide an opening for Jeremy Corbyn, the far-left leader of the opposition Labour party, who did unexpectedly well in the general election five months ago.

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Siemens backs UK in single market

by Denis Macshane in Liverpool | Wed 15 Nov 2017

In the Brexit debate, the voice of engineering and manufacturing is all but silent. The BBC should find time for Jürgen Maier, UK chief executive for Siemens, one of Germany's top engineering companies, to make the case that walking out of the single market and customs union may not be the answer to Britain's economic problems. Speaking at a conference in Liverpool organised by the German-British Forum, Maeir rebutted the position of James Dyson, the UK's foremost innovator and British industry's best-known supporter of Brexit.

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Paradise Papers reveal lack of reform

by Vicky Pryce in London | Tue 14 Nov 2017

Revelations from the 'Paradise Papers' affair are raising controversy about the extent of potentially questionable dealings in offshore financial centres. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that tax evasion linked with such centres could amount to between €100bn-€240bn per year, and is leading efforts to confront what many see as aggressive tax-planning by multinationals. The latest revelations – which follow April 2016's equally revelatory 'Panama Papers' – suggest change is overdue.

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Overcoming ECB politicisation

by John Nugée in London | Mon 13 Nov 2017

Leadership of the Federal Reserve, ECB and Bank of England will change in the next two years. The next governors will have a freer hand in unwinding policies. Nowhere will this be more visible than at the ECB. Among the frontrunners for Mario Draghi's position is Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann. One person worthy of the EU's consideration is Sweden's Stefan Ingves. Sweden's non-membership of the euro area could be a great advantage. Ingves could help the ECB overcome politicisation and defuse national rivalries.

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Merkel will make her influence felt

by Michael Stürmer in Berlin | Fri 10 Nov 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's manoeuvring room reduced significantly after she suffered major losses in September's elections. She will have to manage a brittle alliance of politicians who are unused to working with each other. More agonising will have to be displayed to sate voters' hunger for drama before the new coalition is approved. After that, towards the end of November, Merkel will make her influence felt. The battle cry for the next government, and especially for the chancellor, will be a resounding, 'There is no alternative!'

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A 'very special' relationship

by Adam Cotter in Singapore | Fri 10 Nov 2017

There is an atmosphere of imperialism around China's reception of Donald Trump, who is visiting the country as part of his 12-day tour of Asia. Beijing matched Trump's effusive language for China and for President Xi Jinping, who he called 'a very special man'. The Chinese administration billed the trip as a 'state visit-plus', emphasising the two leaders' 'personal relations'. After touting anti-China rhetoric during last year's presidential campaign, Trump has since made clear that he blames his predecessors, not Beijing, for the trade imbalance.

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May's troubles

by Joergen Oerstroem Moeller in Singapore | Thu 9 Nov 2017

In early 2017 few people would have predicted a stalemate in Britain's exit negotiations with the European Union juxtaposed with a parliamentary debacle possibly culminating with a radical left-winger moving into 10 Downing Street. But the coming-to-power of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour party opposition leader, is a distinct possibility. Brexit, the Autumn Budget, scandals and uncertainty about Theresa May's minority government may create the opportunity for Labour to topple the prime minister.

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