Insights

InsightsView our insights on current issues and the latest thinking on business in Asia.

Thailand – A Very Tough Sell

Posted by on 5:39 am in South East Asia | 0 comments

Thailand – A Very Tough Sell

The appointment of the former head of Thailand’s air force, Prajin Juntong, as the country’s economic czar was intended to provide outside investors with some confidence that the military junta, which took power in a coup in May, is heading in the right direction. It is hard to see how it could be. The Thai economy contracted 0.1% in the first half of 2014 and while there are some signs of improvement, the underlying fissures in society remain unchanged. The intention of this article is not to debate the rights and wrongs of the coup, but to...

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New Zealand’s Key Called It Right

Posted by on 5:49 am in North Asia, Region | 0 comments

New Zealand’s Key Called It Right

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key made news in New York last week when he stated that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement should be concluded without Japan if that nation continued to drag its feet on agricultural reform. He’s right. Japan was a late-comer to the negotiations primarily because of a very strongly protectionist agricultural industry. Acceding to this lobby’s demands would be tantamount to allowing them to sabotage the talks. Leaving aside the familiar arguments over taste, quality and uniqueness, the reality is that...

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Ethics 101 (?): The GSK Saga Continues

Posted by on 10:46 am in Greater China, Region | 0 comments

Ethics 101 (?): The GSK Saga Continues

Almost a year since the scandal broke, Chinese authorities have now directly accused GlaxoSmithKline’s head of China Operations (at the time) of direct involvement in the bribery and corruption case that has enmeshed GSK’s Chinese subsidiary. The UK national is accused of directly ordering bribery “on a large scale”. Our previous commentary has centered on issues of home office oversight and the importance of understanding culture and providing clear oversight, as well as ensuring that the message “sticks” with local staff. All of this is...

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Thailand will get messier before it gets better

Posted by on 4:51 am in South East Asia | 0 comments

Thailand will get messier before it gets better

While Friday’s decision by Thailand’s Constitutional Court to nullify the country’s February 2nd General Election was not entirely unexpected, it is a blow not just to the government of Yingluck Shinawatra, but also to the Thai economy. Earlier on Friday, the Bank of Thailand’s quarterly report had projected GDP growth at 2.7% in 2014 against growth of 2.9% in 2013. After the court’s ruling, a bank spokesman was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying that a downward revision in the bank’s projection was now more likely. And with good...

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When (and why) relying on your gut is dumb – and what to do about it

Posted by on 1:44 am in Greater China, North Asia, Region, Resources, South East Asia | 0 comments

When (and why) relying on your gut is dumb – and what to do about it

If you clicked on the link and have started reading this article, odds are you did because of a gut reaction – curiosity, agreement or, more likely, disagreement. For business people with appropriate intelligence, knowledge and experience, your gut is one of the most important tools you have. (I’m not going to argue with Henry Mintzberg.) It is accepted that your “gut” is effectively a sub-conscious reaction to patterns or situations based on your experience. Herbert Simon’s contention is a great summary: “Intuition and judgement are simply...

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Thailand: Proceed with Caution

Posted by on 8:12 am in South East Asia | 0 comments

Thailand: Proceed with Caution

While the spectacular shopping malls in Chidlom and other areas of Bangkok provide a vision of consumer spending in Thailand, the view is currently marred by protest marches, and the current crop of political unrest should be of more concern than usual to consumer goods companies selling into this market. Thailand has faced significant unrest for some time, and Yingluck Shinawatra’s miscalculation in presenting an amnesty bill that would have brought he brother home unpunished has ended the period of relative peace she had achieved. With an...

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Najib Razak’s Progress

Posted by on 12:19 am in South East Asia | 0 comments

Najib Razak’s Progress

Despite predictions that  reforms would stall following his coalition’s narrow general election victory earlier this year, and doubt that he would survive the ruling party’s national conference, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has managed to continue (albeit cautiously) down the path of reform that his country needs. PM Najib has won kudos from investors and analysts as he works to improve his government’s finances and the country’s economic footing. While Malaysia’s overall numbers don’t look too bad, with debt at just under 55% of GDP...

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Breakout Nations

Posted by on 3:50 am in Greater China, North Asia, Region, Resources, South East Asia | 0 comments

Breakout Nations

Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles, by Ruchir Sharma In reviewing  this book we step away from “what to do” globally, and look at “where to do it” – and Mr Sharma’s work is a thought-provoking look at the world’s markets and their prospects. Ruchir Sharma is the Head of the Emerging Market Equities Team at Morgan Stanley, and he has produced a well-reasoned guide to the strengths and weaknesses of  the countries which make up the world’s economy. His view reflects not only his role, but a very international perspective...

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Review: Being Global

Posted by on 5:25 am in Region, Resources | 0 comments

Review: Being Global

Being Global: How to Think, Act, and Lead in a Transformed World – Angel Cabrera and Gregory Unruh This is another book that should be on the list for anyone doing business across borders. Written by two of the faculty of Thunderbird School of Global Management, the book certainly has a Thunderbird feel. But given the subject matter, and Thunderbird’s reputation for embracing a more international outlook, that is no bad thing. Cabrera and Unruh discuss the importance of having a “Global Mindset”, which they define as “the ability to perceive...

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The Damage Is Done

Posted by on 9:57 am in Greater China, North Asia, Region, South East Asia | 0 comments

The Damage Is Done

The Damage Is Done With a measure passed that raises the debt ceiling and reopens the US Government (at least until mid-January), the current self-inflicted crisis is over. But the brinkmanship over the debt ceiling, in particular, will have lasting effects. Effectively, the US has brought into doubt its ability to repay debt and shown that a system that should work can be held to ransom at whim. What is of direct relevance to firms seeking to sell in Asia – and in particularly in China – is that pressure will grow from customers in the...

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