The Road to War: The War For Manufacturing and Cold War 2.0

With TPP in the process of being ratified and the American presidential race well under way, focus has again returned to the war for manufacturing (and manufacturing jobs) and its future in America.  Boston Consulting Group released a remarkable survey a few weeks ago, which can be viewed here (pdf), here (slideshare) or here (scribd).  It's worth posting the executive summary here to see its significance:

The Road to War: The Trans-Pacific Partnership

In a continuation of my Road to War series, I turn to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal recently struck (but not yet ratified and executed) by the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.  Much has been written about how this deal will (or will not) benefit the participants, but that is not the focus of this post.  Instead, we turn to the strategic aspect of the TTP, and try to answer the question: is the TPP intended to contain China, or is it simply the extension of the Washington Consensus that drives the world towards greater openness and trade.

One Belt, One Road Promotion

I saw this commercial today while flipping through the football games.  Supposedly this commercial is sponsored by CLSA (aka Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia), but good luck sighting the CLSA brand anywhere.  For that matter, good luck spotting the fact that the One Belt, One Road initiative is sponsored by China.  Keep in mind that CLSA's parent company is CITIC Securities (China's largest brokerage).  I'm trying to figure out the angle here, but it eludes me.  It fails both as a brand promotion and as propaganda to highlight some positives about China.  Very strange.

The Plaza Accord, Revisited

The stagnation that Japan has experienced since its real estate bubble ended in 1991 has caused much anguish and speculation for how Japan can turn its economy around and recapture some of the dynamism it experienced in the 1980s.  Many observers blame the Plaza Accords, pinpointing it as a cause of Japan's decline as an economic power.  The Nikkei Asian Review has an interview with Toyoo Gyohten, the former chief of the International Finance Bureau at the Ministry of Finance, and an official who was involved in the negotiation of the Plaza Accord.  He takes a more balanced view of the genesis of the Plaza Accord, and the cause of Japan's subsequent stagnation:

One Belt, One Road: Not So Easy

While many in the West wring their hands and Chinese analysts exult over China's "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) initiative to invest in large-scale infrastructure construction and expand China's trade dominance overseas, this story from Caixin illustrates several reasons why OBOR may be harder to implement than is commonly assumed.

The story revolves around the construction of a gigantic luxury resort in the Bahamas, and the players include: China State Construction Engineering Corp. (CSCEC), a Chinese state-owned enterprise and one of the largest contractors in the world; the China Import-Export Bank, which financed the project to the tune of USD $2.34bn; thousands of Chinese workers, who were shipped overseas to work on the project; the government of the Bahamas; and Baha Mar Ltd., the project owner.