Tuesday, 30 September 2008


The New York Times, September 30, 2008

The House of Representatives approved President Bush’s ill-conceived nuclear agreement with India last week, shrugging off concerns that the deal could make it even harder to rein in Iran’s (and others’) nuclear ambitions. We hope the Senate shows better judgment.

For 30 years, ever since India used its civilian nuclear program to produce a bomb, the world has been barred from selling any nuclear technology to India. The deal — pressed hard by American business and India’s lobbyists — would allow the United States to break that ban and open the way for the rest of the world to sell reactors and fuel to India as well.

President Bush and his aides were so eager for a foreign-policy success that they didn’t even try to get India to limit its weapons program in return. They got no promise from India to stop producing bombing-making material, no promise not to expand its arsenal and no promise not to resume nuclear testing.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee abdicated its oversight responsibilities. It held no public hearings and sent the deal straight to the floor without even a committee vote. We are befuddled as to how the committee’s chairman, Representative Howard Berman, could say he has “concerns about ambiguities in the agreement” and still vote for it.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Viola Gienger

Bloomberg, September 30, 2008

U.S. nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill visits North Korea this week as he seeks to break a deadlock in international disarmament talks and persuade the communist nation not to restart its Yongbyon reactor.

Hill arrives in South Korea late today before traveling to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, the State Department said. He will also go to Beijing and Tokyo during the Asian tour.

Kim Jong Il’s regime last month began reassembling parts of the Yongbyon reactor, the source of the country's weapons-grade plutonium, to protest delays in being removed from a U.S. terrorism blacklist. The Bush administration says it won't remove North Korea from the list without a credible way to verify the extent of the atomic program.

“The North Koreans invited Chris Hill to come, so we hope that there is some effort to address the verification protocol, because that's what we need,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters in New York yesterday.

North Korea signed an agreement with South Korea, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia in February 2007 to disable its nuclear programs in return for normalized diplomatic ties with the governments in Washington and Tokyo and fuel aid. It agreed to disable the five-megawatt reactor last October and blew up a cooling tower at the site in June.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 29 September 2008


The New York Times, September 29, 2008

The hard-won nuclear deal with North Korea seems to be unraveling after a hopeful period in which the North shuttered its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and dramatically blew up the cooling tower.

Workers stopped dismantling the complex last month, after the United States failed to take North Korea off the terrorism list — a step toward diplomatic rehabilitation. Now technicians at Yongbyon are preparing to restart a plant that makes weapons-grade plutonium.

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il, is notoriously erratic, and there are reports that he may be seriously ill, raising doubts about who is calling the shots. It has never been clear whether Pyongyang really meant to give up all of its weapons.
In this case, the Bush administration bears much of the blame.

Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration hard-liners have never wanted to negotiate with North Korea. For six years they managed to block any serious talks. During that time North Korea produced enough plutonium for at least four additional weapons and tested a nuclear weapon.

Over the past two years, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a competent team of diplomats have been running the show. But now it looks as if Mr. Cheney and Co. are back in charge. The administration is insisting that before it will remove North Korea from the terrorism list, Pyongyang must first accept a plan for verifying its nuclear programs that only a state vanquished in war might accept.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 28 September 2008


Shubha Ganesh

The Economic Times, September 28, 2008

After months of denial a consensus opinion is now emerging that we are in an economic slowdown. Periodically, leaders from all walks of financial markets have assured investors in the past that the economic problems were short-lived and linked to the crude oil prices. The sharp fall in the stock markets was supposed to be a temporary phenomenon and it was expected that we would see a resumption of the bull market soon as India would maintain a 9 per cent GDP growth.

However, eight months after the initial fall macroeconomic fundamental do not indicate a 'V-shaped' recovery in the stock markets. The global sub-prime problems just grew bigger, crude prices are choppy, inflation though steady is still over 12 per cent, and a new dimension in the form of weakening rupee was added to our worry basket. Finally, everybody is coming around to a consensus opinion that it will take some time for the stock markets to capture old highs, and probably there is some more pain left before we tread the road of slow recovery.

Crude versus dollar

A few months ago analysts felt that once crude prices fell, the markets will recover. With the benefit of hindsight we can now say that the direct correlation and perfect hedge set up between oil and the domestic stock markets seems very simplistic as no one foresaw the weakening of the rupee and its impact on the landed cost of oil in rupee terms. The fall in the price of crude was offset by the sharp depreciation in the rupee. Hence, exchange rate fluctuations kept crude prices high in rupee terms despite its fall in dollar terms.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Saturday, 27 September 2008


Jane Perlez

International Herald Tribune, September 27, 2008

Islamabad: A week after the bomb attack on the Marriott Hotel here, Pakistan is struggling to deal with a financial meltdown and a terrorism threat that has moved to the nation's heart and badly shaken confidence in the new government among Pakistanis, diplomats and investors alike. President Asif Ali Zardari met Friday in New York with representatives of a group of donor countries, including the United States and Saudi Arabia, who were trying to come up with $5 billion to prevent Pakistan from defaulting on its debt.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said afterward that the United States would work toward Pakistan's economic stability. But no decisions were made, according to participants, except that the donors would meet again in Abu Dhabi next month.

As the financial situation has deteriorated, diplomats here have become increasingly uneasy about the government's capacity to prevent further attacks on the scale of the hotel bombing, which killed at least 53 people and wounded more than 250 others.

"The cabinet in Islamabad is confronted with a general breakdown of the state," said an editorial in the Friday issue of The Daily Times, a newspaper that generally supports the government of Zardari.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 26 September 2008


Yitzhak Shichor

Asia Times, September 26, 2008

Over the past few weeks, Iran has amplified its threats that, if attacked, it would immediately close the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic chokepoint nestled between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Mohammad Ali Jafari has warned, in no uncertain terms, that if attacked "one of [Iran's] reactions will be to take control of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz". He added, "[our] capabilities in these crucial naval passages are so extensive that, in the case of an attack, not only the enemy but also all those who assist him will no doubt sustain [considerable] harm."

If Iran takes control of the Strait of Hormuz, the price of oil will spike considerably, said Jafari.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 25 September 2008


Bill Powell

Time, September 25, 2008

Negotiating styles can tell you a lot about the party you're sitting across from. Some people bang the table. Some get up and walk out. Some are passive-aggressive, staying at the table but never letting things move forward.

Not the North Koreans. When they're angry, they let you know about it in a very big way — as they did this week by reneging on a deal struck with five other nations to rid themselves of their nuclear weapons and their ability to make them.

Make no mistake: Pyongyang is pissed. In return for North Korea dismantling its nuclear program, the U.S. and its negotiating partners (South Korea, Japan, China and Russia) agreed to provide an array of diplomatic and economic benefits, including a proviso that North Korea be removed from Washington's list of state sponsors of terror. In late June, after the North finally forked over a long-delayed inventory of its nuclear materiel and bomb-making equipment, the U.S. indicated that it would reciprocate after a 45-day review. Those 45 days have come and gone, and still the North remains on the list.

The North is saying, in effect, what gives? And the fact is, they have a point, as even some U.S. State Department officials concede privately. U.S. President George W. Bush publicly held out the prospect of terror delisting as part of an "action for action" principle, the clear implication being that when Pyongyang turned over its declaration, delisting would follow. It hasn't, so yesterday, the North told inspectors for the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to remove its seals from the regime's reactor at Yongbyon — which provided the nuclear fuel with which the North has built its small arsenal of nukes. Inspectors have been barred from Yongbyon, and the regime told the IAEA that within a week it would restart the reactor, rendering all the diplomatic progress made by the six-party talks moot. "What they've done is trouble," Gregory L. Schulte, the U.S. representative to the IAEA, told reporters.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Willy Lam

Asia Times, September 25, 2008

The party is pretty much over for China's Hu Jintao-Wen Jiabao leadership. After the coming-out extravaganza of the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hoped to extend the festive mood through to late September for the launch of the country's third manned space flight, the Shenzhou VII, and then the week-long October 1 National Day celebrations.

Yet the Politburo under President Hu and Premier Wen will have to face the music during the third plenary session of the CCP Central Committee (CCPCC), which is due immediately after the National Day festivities. The Hu-Wen team's worst headache could come from CCPCC members from the regions, who will be lobbying aggressively for Beijing to loosen its tight monetary policy as well as to boost transfer payments and preferential policies for provinces and cities hard hit by economic doldrums, such as the closure of medium-sized factories and falling property prices.

Moreover, the "warlords" - a reference to resourceful regional party secretaries, governors and mayors - have continued to resist the central authorities' (zhongyang) decade-long objective of streamlining the grassroots bureaucracy.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 24 September 2008


Omar Waraich

Time, September 24, 2008

It was supposed to be a triumphant week for Asif Ali Zardari. Inaugurated as Pakistan's new President on Saturday, the sharp-suited, silver-tongued and often controversial widower of Benazir Bhutto was then to fly to New York City to make his debut on the world stage by addressing the United Nations General Assembly. Instead, he finds himself struggling to maintain his political footing in the face of contending pressures that threaten to knock him off balance.

Hours after his inauguration, "joy was turned into grief," as he put it, as a massive explosion ripped through the Marriott Hotel in the heart of his capital, killing 53 people and injuring over 250 in what local media dubbed "Pakistan's 9/11." The shock and anger provoked by the attack did spark a long-overdue debate on the increasingly lethal threat posed by al-Qaeda and Taliban militants sheltering in the mountainous tribal areas along the Afghan border and in the scenic Swat valley — not just to NATO forces in Afghanistan but also to Pakistan itself.

Still, Zardari finds himself precariously balancing, on the one hand, growing demands from Washington for more sustained and decisive action against the extremists, and on the other, widespread opposition at home to Pakistan's involvement in the Bush Administration's "war on terror." Former President Pervez Musharraf once described it as a delicate art of "tightrope walking"; the problem for Zardari is that the rope is fraying and the winds are growing fierce. According to a June poll conducted by the International Republican Institute, 71% of Pakistanis oppose Pakistan's cooperation with the U.S. against Islamist militants. For critics of the policy, it has always been "an American war" forced on an unwilling country, and they blame it for bringing the Afghan conflict over the border and encouraging a wave of terrorism in Pakistan's major cities.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 23 September 2008


Anil Varma

Bloomberg, September 23, 2008

India's central bank may cut benchmark interest rates in the first quarter of 2009 for the first time in more than five years as inflation and growth slow, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
The Reserve Bank of India will leave the overnight lending rate unchanged at a seven-year high for the rest of 2008 as it shifts focus to reviving growth from curbing inflation, Tushar Poddar, a Mumbai-based economist at the U.S. securities firm, wrote in a research note today. Declining commodity prices will help cool India's inflation from near a 16-year high, he said. The central bank has raised the rate by 3 percentage points since October 2004.

“We think the interest-rate cycle has peaked,'' Poddar wrote. “With commodity prices coming off, demand slowing and expectations that inflation will fall, the case for raising rates has weakened.''

India's benchmark 10-year bond yields, which reached a seven-year high of 9.55 percent in July, have fallen by more than a percentage point since then, suggesting investors are paring bets for rate increases. The five-year interest-rate swap rate has dropped almost 2 percentage points from a July peak of 10.46 percent.

The rate of inflation in Asia's third-largest economy tripled this year to 12.14 percent in the first week of this month. The rate touched 12.63 percent, the highest since 1992, in August.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 22 September 2008


In Focus (Credit Suisse), September 22, 2008

Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan were the destinations for a trip by a 40-strong Credit Suisse delegation in early September. The three countries could not be more different from each other, in terms of culture as well as economics. What they have in common is their determination to make the breakthrough into the globalized economy.

In about 100 B.C., the first camel trains embarked on the laborious journey westward from Chang’an (the former capital of China, now known as Xi’an) in order to carry what was probably the most sought-after product of the time all the way to the Mediterranean via Tehran and Baghdad. The Silk Road came into being. Transporting this precious material was nothing less than a masterpiece of logistics, given that the fearless traders not only had to traverse the Takla Makan desert and the 4000-meter-high passes in the Pamir Mountains, but also to ward off countless hostile attacks along the way.
The Stage is Set for Growth
Risks of a somewhat more modest nature were faced by the Credit Suisse delegation as they retraced the route of the Old Silk Road for six days at the start of September. This interactive field trip took potential investors to three countries in the heart of Central Asia: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. "The aim of our interactive field trips is to bring potential investors to markets that are still relatively unknown, but which also offer great potential," according to Arthur Vayloyan, Head of Investment Services & Products in the Private Banking Division, who also initiated the trip to Central Asia. Hard macroeconomic data bear out what Mr. Vayloyan says: since the turn of the millennium, all three of the countries visited report outstanding growth rates of between seven and ten percent (see the table). Direct investments in these former Soviet republics, which became independent in 1991, have also shown constantly upward trends over the last three years. At the same time, substantial differences separate the Central Asian countries. Kazakhstan, for instance, with its wealth of raw materials, reports a per capita income of USD 10,733; this is almost nine times higher than the figure of USD 1,257 for Tajikistan, which is relatively poor in raw materials; with USD 2,286, Uzbekistan is also lagging well behind its large northern neighbor.

(…) [artículo aquí]


Salman Masood

The New York Times
, September 22, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan continued Sunday to reel from the deadly truck bomb blast at the Marriott Hotel here on Saturday, as the government described the bombing as an attack on democracy.

“Our enemies don’t want to see democracy flourishing in the country,” Rehman Malik, a senior Interior Ministry official, said at a news conference here on Sunday, adding that the attack was meant to sabotage Pakistan’s integrity and economy.

The bombing, the most brazen yet apparently in a campaign by militants to destabilize Pakistan, came at a critical moment for the new president, Asif Ali Zardari. While he has pledged to continue fighting militants — now thriving in the tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan — it was unclear whether he would face political resistance making it more difficult to keep that promise.

There has always been a strong feeling in Pakistani society that using force against militants would cause them to retaliate against civilians. Although there has been no claim of responsibility for the hotel bombing, some Pakistanis say they believe it was in retribution for the military’s current campaign in Bajaur, in the tribal areas.

Mr. Zardari also faces pressure to avoid doing the bidding of the Bush administration, because Pakistanis are largely opposed to American policies in the region. That sentiment grew after reports that American Special Operations forces had entered Pakistan early this month. Mr. Zardari headed on Sunday to New York, where he will meet with President Bush this week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Sunday, 21 September 2008


Philip Bowring

International Herald Tribune, September 21, 2008

Forecasting what might happen should Kim Jong Il die or become incapacitated in the near future is mostly futile. The Pyongyang leadership is as secretive about its internal politics as the Kremlin or the Forbidden City was in the heyday of Stalin or Mao.

The vacuum of real information has enabled some of the wilder scenarios to flourish. One is that the death of the "Dear Leader" will be the end of the Kim Il Sung dynasty and that the government will collapse as quickly as the Ceaucescu regime in Romania in 1989. That will lead to the reunification of North and South, just as the collapse of the Berlin Wall quickly led to the reunification of Germany.

Desirable as this might be in principle, it would create devastating economic and social problems for the South, and upset the strategic balance in northeast Asia.

Alternatively, a collapse of the regime would cause a broad breakdown in governance, a collapse of institutions that would make North Korea a failed state in political as well as economic terms, creating huge humanitarian problems.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Friday, 19 September 2008


Francesco Sisci

Asia Times, September 19, 2008

BEIJING - Geography is destiny - perhaps the most inevitable of all. America's power projection throughout the world in the 20th century, after a period of splendid isolation, was first possible because of its borders. It had no enemies pressing on it. It was, and is, sandwiched between two geographically large countries whose economies and populations are tiny compared to those of the US.

Both of them, Canada to the north and Mexico to the south, are America's allies, integrated in a trade agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and with security treaties guaranteeing Washington's safety. They are de facto buffer states, shielding the US. At the time of the Cold War, the Soviet Union shared a small state line with the US, but it consisted of a scarcely populated area, Alaska, far removed from the American heartland. The only real border threat came from Cuba, which in the 1960s almost plunged the US and the USSR into a world war.

However, China is in a very different predicament. Embedded in the heart of Asia, it is bounded by nearly every other country on the continent, large and small. In fact, it is the Asian country with the greatest number of bordering neighbors. China has less than idyllic relations with all of them; it has open border disputes or only recently resolved ones with others. Many are unstable countries; others are ambitiously eyeing China's economic and political growth with fear and suspicion.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Thursday, 18 September 2008


Tariq Ali

Asia Times, September 18, 2008

The decision to make public a presidential order of July authorizing American strikes inside Pakistan without seeking the approval of the Pakistani government ends a long debate within, and on the periphery of, the George W Bush administration.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama, aware of this ongoing debate during his own long battle with Senator Hillary Clinton, tried to outflank her by supporting a policy of US strikes into Pakistan. Republican Senator John McCain and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin have now echoed this view and so it has become, by consensus, official US policy.

Its effects on Pakistan could be catastrophic, creating a severe crisis within the army and in the country at large. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are opposed to the US presence in the region, viewing it as the most serious threat to peace.

Why, then, has the US decided to destabilize a crucial ally? Within Pakistan, some analysts argue that this is a carefully coordinated move to weaken the Pakistani state yet further by creating a crisis that extends way beyond the badlands on the frontier with Afghanistan.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 17 September 2008


Chietigj Bajpaee

Asia Times, September 17, 2008

Most of Asia's democracies emerged after waves of "people's-power" struggles - which often led authoritarian regimes to yield power anyway - but it appears that these countries have now developed an over-reliance on protest as an engine for change, rather than trust being placed in the democratic process.

In Thailand, former prime minister Samak Sundaravej was last week forced to resign for accepting a trivial honorarium for appearing on a weekly cooking show. He had faced weeks of street protests by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) against his pledge to amend the military-drafted constitution, charges of electoral misconduct during the polls in December 2007 and claims that he and his People's Power Party (PPP) are puppets for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 16 September 2008


Politicians and extremists exploiting grievances to instigate violence could drive away foreign investors

Harsh V. Pant

YaleGlobal, September 15, 2008

Before summer of 2008, India and Pakistan were gradually normalizing relations and edging toward agreement on territorial claims in Kashmir. But the longstanding dispute, in play since Pakistan separated from India, remains a live issue for politicians and extremists in India and abroad, to exploit and throw a spanner in the works for the country’s global ambition, suggests Harsh V. Pant, professor and security analyst with King’s College London. India is 80 percent Hindu and 13 percent Muslim. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is the only one with a Muslim majority, and after years of supporting armed struggle, its Muslim citizens pose a novel challenge with a non-violent movement seeking independence form India and closer ties with Pakistan. Pant writes that granting Kashmir independence would fuel other separatist movements in the world’s largest multi-ethnic democracy, but attempts to suppress the demand by force might bring violent attacks in other parts of India, like the recent spate of bombings in major cities including ones in New Delhi on September 13. Pant concludes that “resolution of the problem that acknowledges aspirations of the Kashmiri people while sustaining the idea of India as a multicultural, multiethnic secular liberal democracy is vital not only for India’s global vision but also for a globalizing world order in search of a ‘dialogue among civilizations.’” – YaleGlobal

(…) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


Kosuke Takahashi

Asia Times, September 10, 2008

TOKYO - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's apparent no-show on Tuesday at celebrations to mark the nation's 60th anniversary has prompted intense speculation among Pyongyang watchers and intelligence communities worldwide. Experts are straining to figure out the whereabouts of the nation's leader and exactly what's going on in the world's most reclusive country.

According to South Korea's Yonhap news agency, there have been no North Korean media reports on the military parade as of 5pm on Tuesday. The Associated Press also reported that there had been no domestic news coverage of the event by Tuesday evening . According to the AP, North Korea's state news agency did carry an exhortation from the main Rodong Sinmun newspaper calling on the population to remain united around Kim.

North Korea's 60th anniversary comes at a time that international efforts to end Pyongyang's nuclear quest remain stalled. Former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage on Tuesday said Kim was unlikely to give up nuclear weapons and was likely to launch a missile again soon, the Japanese and South Korean media reported. Armitage spoke at an international seminar in Seoul.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 9 September 2008


Catherine Philip

The Times, September 10, 2008

Kim Jong Il, North Korea's reclusive and much lampooned leader, failed to attend a big military parade for the first time yesterday, as reports emerged that he may have suffered a crippling stroke.

The parade, traditionally a showpiece for North Korea's arsenal, was held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the impoverished communist state.

In place of the usual phalanx of tanks and missiles, a much reduced artillery display trailed through the streets under the eyes of North Korea's titular number two, Kim Yong Nam, while the regular army, navy and air force stayed away. It was the first major parade that Mr Kim had missed since becoming Commander-in-Chief in 1991.

The absence of the “Dear Leader”, North Korea's supreme dictator, came amid growing speculation that he was seriously ill; an unnerving development in an unstable and paranoid state with a penchant for nuclear technology but no clear plan for succession.

Mr Kim took over power from his father Kim Il Sung - the “Great Leader” - in 1994; the first dynastic succession in the communist world, although his father remains “Eternal President”, the only dead person to hold such office. The younger Mr Kim has three sons with two different mothers, Jong Nam, 37, Jong Cheol, 27, and Jong Woon, 25, but has never named or even hinted at a successor.

An American intelligence official said yesterday in Washington that Mr Kim was believed to have suffered a stroke in the past two weeks, while a respected South Korean newspaper reported that its country's Embassy in Beijing had been told by Chinese intelligence that Mr Kim collapsed on August 22.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Jim Rogers

Commodity Online, September 9, 2008

India is a land of contradictions. The country produces some of the world's brightest minds and the single most successful immigrant community in the United States. Yet roughly 50 per cent of its own population is illiterate. It's a country recognised by global leaders as a high-tech superpower. Still, I often couldn't make a local phone call. There's a lot of talk among those in power in India about how the Internet super-highway will speed them to prosperity. Meanwhile, endless traffic jams and a deteriorating national highway system kept us creeping along at a snail's pace as my wife and I traveled through countryside. Goods carrying trucks can only average about 10 miles an hour crossing the country and often can be held up for days by the bureaucracy just trying to cross state lines.

I came to India prepared to find a nation about to take over the world. China has long been my call as the coming superpower for the 21st century but I figured India might give it a run for its money. There are, after all, many similarities. Both countries have emerged after decades of restrictive political and economic systems. Both have motivated and sizeable workforces. Both are leaders in the new high-tech world. More importantly, though, leaders in both countries talk a lot about change. But while China has embraced economic reform and capitalism, rebuilding its infrastructure, India still hasn't quite made up its mind what it wants to be. As I drove through the cities and small villages and talked to politicians and local business people, I got the sense that it's a country that's still uncertain if it's ready to move beyond the protectionist and anti-foreign sentiment that drove it to the brink of bankruptcy just over a decade ago when it had only three weeks of foreign currency reserves in its coffers. We constantly ran into the holdover protectionist and anti-foreign practices during our trip. Of course, China has always had a bit of a lead on India. China began embracing a more free-market economy as early as 1979 while leadership in New Delhi only began abandoning their socialist system back in 1991. I last visited India in 1988 when the country was still following the protectionist and socialist policies. Communism around the world was collapsing and the Berlin Wall would fall the next year. Countries were opening up.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Monday, 8 September 2008


The Mainichi Daily News, September 8, 2008

The vote by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to approve a deal to allow nuclear trade with India, which possesses nuclear weapons but is not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), defies comprehension.

U.S. President George W. Bush reportedly personally campaigned to persuade nations that were holding out to the end to approve the deal. In the end all NSG members including Japan voted to approve nuclear trade with India. But after the vote was made in the closed session, there was no burst of applause, and silence descended on the meeting room.

The representatives of the NSG member nations may have had their misgivings that this vote would be the root of evil for future generations. We feel a strong sense of foreboding that U.S. pressure may have warped the international community's good sense with regard to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

The NSG had reinforced the nuclear nonproliferation system by adhering to the principle that nuclear fuel and nuclear technology would not be exported to nations which did not join the NPT. However, in a switch of policy, the U.S. decided to conclude a nuclear cooperation deal with India, and to open a path toward nuclear trade with India.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


By refusing to move on from its outdated approach to agriculture, India is condemning farmers to misery and impoverishing its own citizens

Salil Tripathi

Prospect Magazine, No. 150, September 2008

When the Doha global trade negotiations collapsed in July, many countries shared the blame. But one of the more surprising culprits was India. Indian consumers have suffered during the recent food crisis, with inflation over 12 per cent for some commodities. Removing agricultural trade barriers would surely have helped get cheaper food to India’s many millions of poor citizens.

Yet Indian trade minister Kamal Nath declined to open India further to farm imports, claiming he had to protect the "livelihood of millions of farmers" in India. What was behind this decision? Double-digit inflation often sounds the death knell for Indian governments. Elections are due by next May, and the governing coalition barely survived a recent confidence vote.

Essentially, India’s politicians fear that liberalising agriculture will expose their farmers to catastrophe if food prices collapse in the future. India has some efficient farmers who would gain from a boost in trade. But vast areas of the agricultural sector are hugely inefficient. Land holdings are small, productivity is low, mechanisation is minimal and big business faces restrictions in consolidating farming. And there is also a humanitarian problem. Over 100,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide in the past decade. Many reasons are cited for this: crop failure, bad monsoons, mounting debts and alcoholism. The government’s response has been to award 100,000 rupees compensation to the families of farmers who have taken their own lives.

In an effort to strengthen the agricultural sector earlier this year, India announced a major bailout for farmers, amounting to £7.5bn so far. The money will go towards granting fresh credit to farmers and writing off their old debts. But the bailout is a bad idea for several reasons. While a decade and a half of economic growth has created the illusion that India is a rich country, it is not and it cannot afford this package. And, as economists have argued, financial relief without strings will destroy India's emerging credit culture. It penalises those who repay loans on time and rewards those who do not.

(...) [artículo aquí]


Anand Giridharadas

The New York Times, September 3, 2008

MUMBAI, India — This country’s project to build the world’s cheapest car has driven into a quintessentially Indian ditch.

On Tuesday, the automaker Tata Motors said that political protests over land had compelled it to stop building the plant in eastern India for its much-awaited Nano model. The car was scheduled to go on sale next month for 100,000 rupees, or about $2,250, less than the cost of the optional surround sound system and DVD player on the Lexus LX 570 sport utility vehicle.

Late Tuesday, an executive with knowledge of Tata’s deliberations said the company would still begin making Nanos in October, under a backup plan to shift production to other sites. For the first two months, Tata will produce 10,000 cars a month instead of the planned 40,000, said the executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the company.

The Nano has been dogged from the beginning by one of India’s most wrenching problems: how to create space for industry by moving farmers off their land and compensating them adequately.
In a tale rich with incongruities, the Communist-run government of West Bengal State invited the Tata Group, a symbol of Indian capitalism, to set up its plant in an area called Singur. It acquired 1,000 acres from farmers on the company’s behalf.

(...) [artículo aquí]

Tuesday, 2 September 2008


With a recession looming, will Fukuda's surprise resignation set the stage for economic reform, or will it be more of the same?

Ian Rowley

Business Week, September 2, 2008

Yasuo Fukuda's surprise resignation was perhaps the most interesting thing about his 11-month stint as Japan's Prime Minister. A lot like the tenure of his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, who quit suddenly after barely a year in charge last September citing ill health, Fukuda's short-lived reign was characterized by a weakening economy, stumbling stock prices, and political deadlock. And Fukuda's response to reporters' questions following his resignation announcement highlighted the extent to which he, like Abe before him, lacked the common touch (BusinessWeek.com, 9/1/08).

At a time when Japan is edging toward its first recession in six years, will a new face make much of a difference? While the painful days of the "lost decade"—the period after the collapse of the Japanese bubble economy in 1989—are long gone, Japan could do with a jolt. Workers' confidence in the economy, which shrank 0.6% in the last quarter, is at an eight-year low according to government figures, and Japan came in last out of 23 countries in a recent international survey of employee ambition by British firm FDS International. Inflation, at 2.4%, is touching 10-year highs and wages are failing to keep pace.

The short-term prognosis is for more of the same. The hot favorite to succeed Fukuda is ruling Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Taro Aso. An internal LDP election will take place later this month. "I would not deny that I am fit for [the post]," Aso told reporters after Fukuda quit. At 67, four years younger than Fukuda, Aso isn't exactly a fresh face. Like Fukuda, he is a very experienced LDP campaigner whose previous roles include Minister of Foreign Affairs and a host of other cabinet posts.

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Seth Mydans and Thomas Fuller

International Herald Tribune, September 2, 2008

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej imposed a state of emergency Tuesday in Bangkok after groups of demonstrators clashed on the street, but he called it "the most gentle way to bring the country back to peace" and said it would be in force for only a short time.

The prime minister, who has been under pressure to resign from a weeklong occupation of the grounds of his office compound, imposed the emergency after a predawn street fight between pro-government and anti-government groups that left at least one person dead and dozens injured.

Shortly afterward, in another blow to the government, the Election Commission recommended that Samak's People Power Party be disbanded for electoral fraud.

The vote in the five-member commission was unanimous in recommending that the Supreme Court disband the party because of vote buying in last December's general election.

The ruling, which could bring down the government, could take months to make its way through the courts.

Samak ordered troops into the streets to reinforce riot police officers, but after quelling the violence, they withdrew and the area around the prime minister's office was calm in mid-morning.

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Monday, 1 September 2008


Martin Fackler

The New York Times, September 2, 2008

TOKYO — Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan abruptly announced his resignation on Monday, ending a short-lived and unpopular government marred by political paralysis.

Mr. Fukuda’s sudden departure, announced at a hastily called news conference on Monday night, seemed to catch his country by surprise. It also appeared to plunge the world’s second-largest economy into further political confusion, coming after the equally sudden resignation last year of Mr. Fukuda’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe.

Mr. Fukuda’s decision was particularly unexpected because he came to office last September as a veteran political insider widely counted on to bring stability after Mr. Abe’s hasty departure. In the end, Mr. Fukuda, 72, lasted about as long as Mr. Abe — roughly a year.

Mr. Fukuda explained his decision at the news conference by saying that Japan needed “a new team to carry out policies.” This was an apparent reference to his government’s inability to pass legislation in a divided parliament where the opposition party controls the upper house.

(...) [artículo aquí]