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Cryptocurrencies interesting but too small to move mountains

By Alfred Romann

Cryptocurrencies continue to fuel debate among regulators and users. 

The total value market capitalization of cryptocurrencies as of Oct. 28 was almost US$210 billion. Take out Bitcoin, the grandmother of crypto, and that drops to US$97 billion. The current market cap of cryptocurrencies is down to about a third of the peaks hit in January.

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Tariffs Notwithstanding, Globalization Alive and Well in Healthcare

By Alfred Romann

The backlash against global trade and the resurgence of protectionism is increasingly evident, mostly out of the U.S. This push flies in the face of decades of increasingly fluent globalization.

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South Korea takes steps to lower pharma prices

New measures put pressure on drug makers, importers and distributors

South Korea’s latest moves to make drugs more affordable are slowing down the growth of the pharma market in the country and maybe hurting sales of new and innovative drugs.

BMI Research predicts South Korean pharmaceutical will grow at 2.4% for the next 10 years, 1% less than expected. Elise Mak wrote about the changes in BioWorld (paywall) on May 4.

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China’s pivot to America could overshadow the US’s pivot to Asia

Not so much a shift in policy but a growing trend

There has been so much discussion of the United States pivot to Asia that few people have stopped to consider the implications or the success of China’s own pivot to America.

China already wields enormous influence in Asia through its size and its adroitness at negotiating, buying or bullying its way to goodwill among its partners – much like every other player on the geopolitical landscape. It has or is part of free trade agreements that include just about every country in the region.

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A China-US trade war is not likely to be

The “man on the street” will be the biggest loser

All the talk that has erupted in the past couple of weeks about possible trade wars between the United States and China has been interesting in the way that a soap opera is interesting: lots of drama with little link to reality.

Sure, it is easy to use China as a scapegoat. A place that is conveniently far away and too big to understand. It is easy to say “look, it is China’s fault and we will put the hurt on them and things will be lovely all around”. If only that were true.

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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.

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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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Indonesia’s FDI troubles

Largest ASEAN economy claims economic prowess but foreign investors remain unconvinced

When Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) rejected some 6,541 foreign investment permits last month, it underscored a problem Indonesia has been facing for a couple of years. Investors are looking at the country. They are scouting deals. They are searching for opportunities. They are not always investing, though.

Last year Indonesia attracted around US$24 billion in foreign investment but that is about a quarter of the total investment that China attracts and less than half of what Brazil receives, reports MNI’s Asia Insight. For the country to maintain levels of economic growth of close to 6% per year, it will need a lot more investment.

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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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