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Asia Economy Last Updated: Aug 25, 2010 - 4:29:43 AM

IMF's Finance & Development: Asia is moving into a leadership role in the world economy
By Finfacts Team
Jun 16, 2010 - 4:15:37 AM

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The June issue of the IMF's publication F&D - - Finance & Development - - has the theme "Asia Leading the Way," which explores how the region is moving into a leadership role in the world economy.

The issue looks at Asia's biggest economy, China, which has relied heavily on exports to grow, and its need to increase domestic demand and to promote global integration if it is to continue to thrive. China is not the only Asian economy that heavily depends on exports and all of them might take some cues from the region's second-biggest economy, India, which has a highly developed services sector.

Min Zhu, the new Special Advisor to the IMF's Managing Director, talks about Asia in the global economy, the global financial crisis, correcting imbalances, and the IMF in Asia. And "People in Economics" profiles an Asian crusader for corporate governance, Korea's Jang Hasung. This issue of F&D also covers how best to reform central banking in the aftermath of the global economic crisis; the pernicious effects of derivatives trading on municipal government finances in Europe and the United States; and some ominous news for governments hoping to rely on better times to help them reduce their debt burdens.

Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of trillion-dollar bond fund PIMCO and a former member of the Fund's staff, argues that sovereign wealth funds are well-placed to navigate the new global economy that will emerge following the world wide recession. "Back to Basics" explains supply and demand. "Data Spotlight" explores the continuing weakness in bank credit. And "Picture This" focuses on the high, and growing, cost of energy subsidies.

Anoop Singh, Director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, writes that based on expected trends, within five years Asia’s economy (including Australia and New Zealand) will be about 50 per cent larger than it is today (in purchasing-power-parity terms), account for more than a third of global output, and be comparable in size to the economies of the United States and Europe. By 2030, Asian gross domestic product (GDP) will exceed that of the Group of Seven major industrial economies (G-7) (see Charts 1 and 2 below).

Singh says at least two notable features mark the ongoing global recovery from Asia’s perspective. First, unlike in previous global recessions, Asia is making a stronger contribution to the global recovery than any other region. Second, also in contrast to previous episodes, recovery in many Asian countries is being driven by two engines - - exports and strong domestic demand. Strong domestic demand reflects in part policy stimulus, but resilient private demand is also a factor. All this adds up to an impression that Asia is changing in key ways and that these changes have implications for the rest of the world.

The economist says that although there are still near-term risks in the outlook, in many ways, Asia is emerging from the recession with its standing in the world strengthened. The risks include Asia’s (and other regions’) vulnerability to renewed negative shocks to global growth and financial markets. Nonetheless, the possibility that Asia could become the world’s largest economic region by 2030 is not idle speculation. It seems very plausible, based on what Asia has already achieved in recent decades: emerging Asia’s share of world trade has doubled and of world GDP tripled in just the past two decades. In addition, the strengthened policy frameworks and institutions Asia has developed, particularly over the past decade, stood up well during the recession and provide a strong foundation for the future. Furthermore, in many countries in the region, populations are relatively young and will contribute to burgeoning workforces.

Stephen Bird, CEO for Asia Pacific at Citi, says if China wants to be a domestically driven economy, there needs to be higher wages for employees. He speaks to CNBC's Martin Soong, Karen Tso and Sri Jegarajah about China's missing middle class:

While Asia has made unprecedented progress in poverty reduction in recent decades, with China alone having pulled some several hundred million people out of poverty since the launch of its reforms in 1978. Nonetheless, a high proportion of the world’s poor still live in Asia, and 17 per cent of people in the east Asian and Pacific countries - - 40 percent in south Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka) - - live on less than $1.25 a day. Moreover, the financial crisis has slowed poverty reduction in the region. The World Bank estimates 14 million more people in Asia will be living in poverty in 2010 as a result of the crisis.

Discussing the chances of a double-dip, with 'Dr. Doom' Nouriel Roubini, RGEMonitor.com and NYU Stern School of Business professor:

SEE: Finfacts article, June 15, 2010: Global Economy: Double-dip discounted despite drumbeat of doomsayers

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