Happy days are here again - or are they?

THIS could have been the theme song of the recent annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Washington where officials went out of their way to project optimism.

Root of Kobe Steel scandal unknown, but judgment is swift

JAPAN - and its media especially - are indulging in an orgy of self-flagellation or "Japan bashing" over the Kobe Steel affair, in which self-confessed lapses in product quality by the country's third-largest steelmaker are being treated as a cause for national shame...

One belt, one road, one world

THEY might be called the "odd couple", but German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping do have things in common beyond their image as strong and stable world leaders at a time of political turmoil elsewhere. Something less well known is their common vision of a united...

IMF and World Bank meetings? Don't bother

IF you want to know how the global economy is doing, what the risks to the financial system are, or whether stocks and bonds are poised for a crash, don't bother going for this week's annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in Washington - or at least,...

Japan continues to lack an overall regional vision

THE Chinese Embassy in Tokyo (like the Russian Embassy) is often subjected to screaming assaults from Japanese nationalists riding around in "sound trucks" that sometimes have to be intercepted by police. But there was a very different kind of demonstration at the Chinese Embassy here...

Abe may well end up joining 'losing leaders' with election gamble

ELECTION outcomes are proving to be capable of producing shocks - witness, for example, Theresa May's effective defeat in the UK and Angela Merkel's setback in Germany. Japan could well be next to see its leader, Shinzo Abe, emerge from an election significantly weaker than he goes into...

Rounds of 'cheap' money over, now worry about the huge debt

THE US Federal Reserve has finally "pressed the button" on ending its massive monetary easing, but the action has created remarkably little market alarm so far. However, this calm is likely to last only until shock waves begin spreading out across the sea of liquidity that the Fed has...

Abe's snap election bid could either bruise or bolster

JAPAN'S Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is poised to "do a Mrs May" by calling a snap general election in a bid to bolster his hold on power at a crucial political moment in much the same way Britain's Theresa May did, following her elevation to power after the Brexit vote...

Why Asian markets seem blind to the North's missiles

IMAGINE for a moment that, say, Norway were to retreat into isolation, arm itself with nuclear weapons and then begin firing ballistic missiles across Britain and the Atlantic Ocean towards the United States. You would expect European financial markets to get into a lather about it.

Ex-wrestler is voice of reason in Japan- N Korea crisis

AMID all the angry grandstanding, heated rhetoric and threats of mutual destruction accompanying the North Korea crisis, a voice of reason has been heard this week in the person of Antonio Inoki, a member of Japan's Upper House of Parliament, who has just returned hotfoot from Pyongyang. ...

Time to take an objective look at East Asian realities

A CERTAIN professor of dentistry at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland was, it seems, in the habit of sticking a postage stamp to the roof of his mouth before asking his students to examine and comment on the state of his teeth. He would then ask them what they could see.

Ills of rising corporate debt will show when liquidity dries up

PLACES as far apart as Texas and Mumbai can only gasp with relief as devastating floods subside, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake. But there is another engulfing tide which we can only hope will be slow to recede, for fear of what it will expose.

US corporate debt reaches record levels

CORPORATE America is deeply in debt, with the number of "stressed firms" - smaller capitalised companies especially - rising to worrying levels as interest rates begin to rise, according to a new report which is likely to raise concerns among equity investors...

Japanese firms urge transparency over Brexit deal

BRITAIN'S prime minister Theresa May said on Thursday that she intends to take UK trade and investment with Japan to a "whole new level" after Britain quits the European Union. But her trip to Japan has served to underline the deep uncertainty surrounding the Brexit process...

Theresa May to try to allay Japan's fears on trade with UK post-Brexit

BRITAIN'S prime minister Theresa May arrived in Japan on Wednesday to carry out what some say is currently almost a "mission impossible" - to convince Japan that the UK will be as attractive an economic partner once it is outside the European Union (EU) as it is at present within it. ...

North Korea raises the stakes by firing missile over Japan

GLOBAL financial markets began to take the threat of a new Korean conflict more seriously on Tuesday, after North Korea fired a missile over Japan's northern island of Hokkaido and into the North Pacific Ocean in a move seen to have raised the threat level in north-east Asia significantly...

Japan becomes prisoner of weak yen in prison of its own making

THERE is no such thing as a free lunch, it is said, and likewise there is no such thing as a "free ride". There is always a price to be paid. Yet, Japan has been "free-riding" on the back of a weak yen for some time and the price or fare that will have to be paid eventually...

Toshiba's partner-swapping saga enters new round

THE seemingly never ending saga of Japanese electronics giant Toshiba and its attempts to stave off bankruptcy - a story that mirrors major past problems in the Japanese electrical and electronics industry - is set to enter yet another chapter in the coming days.

Never mind the snakes, watch out for stray missiles instead

THE Western Pacific island of Guam is reputed to be "infested with snakes", a charge that the US territory's Lieutenant-Governor Raymond Tenorio strenuously denies. But tourists who have lately been having second thoughts about visiting Guam have bigger concerns on their mind than...

Banking on a new way forward for East Asia

EAST Asia is sorely in need of good news as it tries to pull back from the brink of threatened nuclear confrontation centring on North Korea. Such good news could just possibly take the form of an agreement by the US and Japan to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Asian steel looking strong as China cuts excess capacity

THE trade friction between Beijing and Washington caused by China's alleged dumping of cheap steel in US markets could well be cooling off, analysts have said. ...

Post-Bannon Trump administration could take harder line on trade

THE firing by US President Donald Trump of his chief strategist Steve Bannon, a fierce opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in which Japan has invested heavily, has sparked hopes in Tokyo of a softer Washington line on the TPP and other US trade accords important to the country.

May makes Tokyo dash to woo Japanese investors

BRITAIN'S Prime Minister Theresa May will make an official visit to Japan at the end of this month in what is seen as an attempt by her to persuade Japanese investors not to give up on Britain. ...

Japan's Q2 growth better than expected

THE Japanese economy powered ahead at a rate that was much faster than expected in the second quarter, as domestic demand took over from exports as the main driver of growth.

N-E Asia tensions: markets wise to show nervousness

FINANCIAL markets are supposed to be smart at pricing in risk, so how come they have been sleepwalking towards disaster in North-east Asia for so long? It took US President Donald Trump's rant about "fire and fury" and a hot-headed threat by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un of a...