Poverty, growth and baseless anger

The economics of misplaced anger

Fast growing Asian countries have “eliminated” poverty at an astonishing speed, bringing people out of extreme poverty into mere gut-reaching poverty.

At first blush, the numbers are suggesting of a hopeful future. In 1990, about a third of the people in the world lived on less than US$1.90 a day. By 2013, it was just 10.7%. In actual numbers, that is 1.85 billion in 1990 compared to 767 million in 2013. A second glance puts in perspective the anger of many people in the world, and not in a good way.
In 1990, the bulk of global extreme poverty was in Asia, the most populous region in the world. Now it is in Africa, the most troubled region in the world.

We wrote about this with my colleagues in a series of stories in China Daily Asia Weekly last month to mark International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which falls on 17 October. The World Bank says the number of people living in extreme poverty is falling by 88 million per year.

Before we start celebrating, though, let’s go back to that US$1.90 a day, which adds up to US$57 for a 30 day month or a whopping US$693.50 a year. To meet the threshold, a family of four would have to earn US$2,774 per year or US$231 per month. It is hard to imagine any place in the world where that is anywhere near enough.

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2016 BOAO Forum for Asia

Looking to the future

This year’s BOAO Forum for Asia (BFA) has a theme of Asia’s New Future: New Dynamics, New Vision.

This time, the 17th annual gathering of leaders and industry professionals in Asia covers areas such as inclusive finance, disruptions of traditional business and economic models, new banking practices, regional cooperation and growing links through reforms and initiatives.

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Asian cities need sustainability

Environment, productivity and work hours are all big issues

Asia is home to some of the largest urban centres in the world.

Jakarta, in Indonesia, is home to some 25 million people. Manila is huge. Tokyo and Seoul are both large. Smaller Hong Kong and Singapore are large by any standard. High urbanisation rates are making these cities even larger, but not necessarily more sustainable.

As Cornelia Zou reports in China Daily Asia Pacific last week the challenges are quite significant, but so are the opportunities for Asian cities to start taking issues of sustainability seriously and make significant leapfrogs in terms of the environments, quality of life, education, even work hours and governance.

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Bitcoin in Hong Kong

While many see Hong Kong as ideally positioned to become a global hub for digital currencies and internet finance, the road forward seems far from clear.

There’s no doubt Hong Kong is one of the world’s financial centres. But when it comes to crypto currencies, will Hong Kong still be in a leading position?

Bitcoin, which gained massive global public attention at the beginning in 2014 followed by a spike in its value, first surfaced in 2009. It is a payment system invented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 and was introduced as open-source software one year later. It is a peer-to-peer (p2p) system where users can transact Bitcoins directly. Among other crypto currencies such as Litecoin (LTC) and Ripple, bastion remains the best-known and most widely used.

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HK protests impressive but status confusing

HONG KONG, China. Eight days into the protests that have shut down entire neighbourhoods of the city, things are looking… ah… complicated.

The government has been adamant that it wants work and school to resume on Monday. The protesters have said that they are ready to talk, or ready to keep protesting, or not ready to talk unless new demands are met, or keen to get back to the streets en masse. It is really hard to tell.

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Asia set to cash in on blockbuster movie business

No other place on earth can  compete China for enthusiasm for Hollywood movies. Proof is in how much audiences will pay out of pocket to go to the theatre to see blockbusters like Transformers or in how much super-rich investors are willing to shell out to get into the game of producing them. 

In just 11 days, Transformers: Age of Extinction earned US$212 million in Mainland China, 10 times more than the US$21 million the movie earned in South Korea and far, far higher than the US$6 million earned in Malaysia or the US$4 million it earned in Hong Kong, Singapore or Thailand.

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World Cup economics benefits are virtually nill

The World Cup is finished, much to the chagrin of our favorite Argentine team that came so close to taking a third cup only to see their chances vanish on a single but great German goal in overtime.

The World Cup is the most watched sporting event in the world. The governing body of football, FIFA, says something like 3.2 billion people watched at least a minute of the World Cup. It is a lot of people. Many of them are in Asia. And almost none of them see any economic benefits.

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