Transparency’s 2014 Corruptions Perceptions Index Shows US more corrupt than Japan…

… Singapore more corrupt than Scandinavia, and China at a nice round #100 out of 175.

Thanks to Curtis Chin for sharing!

Great Infographic from @EconomicTimes comparing India and China

China_v_India

Source: https://twitter.com/ETDefence/status/598815888737832960

The Basic Law of Hong Kong at 25 vs the Singapore Constitution at 50

This year there have been several ads around Hong Kong commemorating 25 years since the Basic Law was drafted in 1990.  In case the term sounds strange, the “Basic Law” is basically Hong Kong’s equivalent of a constitution, and is the foundation of the legal system here.  Unlike Singapore, which is a sovereign nation whose 1965 constitution turns 50 this year, Hong Kong is an undisputed territory of the People’s Republic of China and so has some differences in how government officials are elected/selected and how the military is financed, but in practice Hong Kong law seems far more similar to Singapore’s than to Shanghai’s.  The CIA WFB has a great list of constitutions by country here.

I might certainly show myself as a legal geek when I get excited talking about the Basic Law, or the current exhibit on its 25th anniversary at the Hong Kong History Museum, but I have written before on how to quantify the relative trust in legal systems by simply comparing Hong Kong property prices with those only a few meters across the border in Shenzhen.

The below video is one of the ones being shown at the exhibit, and the only one with over 1,000 views I found on YouTube when I searched for “Basic Law of Hong Kong”.  Happy Friday!

Flashback Friday: Jim Rogers on how to make money in 1990

A little over 25 years ago, about 15 years before Jim Rogers moved to Asia, he hosted this TV show called “The Profit Motive” – a nice nostalgic video while I’m finishing my reading of his latest book “Street Smarts”.

Happy Friday!

Remittances 29% of Nepal’s economy vs 10% of Philippines’ @WSJ

The most thought-provoking chart I saw over the weekend was this one from the WSJ.  Usually when I think “remittances” I think “Philippines”, seeing how they make up 10% of a $270 billion economy, but I was impressed to see that remittances are more than twice the share of Haiti’s GDP and almost 3x the share of Nepal’s GDP.

Nepal is not exactly a tiny country with 28 million people, but it is much poorer with a GDP of only about $19 billion or just under $700 per person.

WSJ_Nepal

Philippines borrows US$2bio at under 4% fixed for 25 years. This means (multiple choice):

512px-Fort_Santiaigo_in_Intramuros

A.) The market is rationally pricing in a “new normal” with low growth, high demand for long-term pension income, and relatively lower risk in low-cost / high-growth countries like Philippines vs. “entitlement expense”-burdened countries like Spain

B.) The bond bubble has reached an unsustainable peak, both in terms of long-term USD rates and credit spreads of EM sovereigns like the Philippines

C.) That financial institutions holding and managing USD for Filipino workers and HNW families (and so generally those that can easily take Phil sovereign risk) have more money than they know what to do with

D.) A and C

Story on bond issue: http://www.financeasia.com/News/393299,the-philippines-cuts-costs-with-2b-bond.aspx

Recent filing of a “run” of ROP US-registered bonds: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1030717/000119312515002159/d841577dfwp.htm

For comparison, Mexico’s borrowing costs seem slightly higher than Philippines': http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/101368/000119312515009571/d850652d424b2.htm

512px-Fort_Santiaigo_in_Intramuros

 

Friday Photo: China’s “Cape Canaveral” on Hainan Island

Hainan_space_launch_BW

I only recently heard of the new satellite launch center on China’s Hainan island, famous for tropical holiday spots 450 south-west of Hong Kong.  One of my new year’s resolutions is to watch out for launches here and, if allowed as a foreigner, to hopefully go see some of these launches.  I of course also like the retro space-race era look of this square cartoon showing its coordinates, but having missed our own Apollo launches by being a bit too young, this “Chinese Cape Canaveral” just might be where I see the next humans launched to the moon…?

Hainan_space_launch_BW

Rising rates predictions remind me of “Don’t worry, Fidel Castro will fall any minute now” – one of my favorite cartoons

Castro_cartoon

For the past two years, I have said that the talk about the imminent rise in G7 interest rates, but especially US interest rates, reminds me of one of my favorite cartoons which I first saw in the 1990s, and found on this tweet to share below.  There are of course many other examples of predictions which can end up being very expensive to wait for: a stock market crash, a recovery in the price of oil, a true debt crisis in the US, or the decline of the US dollar as a reserve currency.

In case you don’t recognize the faces in the cartoon, they are the US presidents Dwight Eisenhower (whose presidency started in 1953 and coincided with the Cuban revolution), JFK, LBJ, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, which at the time of the cartoon spanned just over 40 years of Castro in Cuba, and although Fidel passed the torch to his brother Raul in 2008, Fidel’s clock still seems to be ticking in 2015, roughly 60 years after Eisenhower.

Castro_cartoon

 

Surprisingly evenly growing ASEAN

The relative share of PPP GDP in ASEAN has been relatively even and mean-reverting compared with the dominant growth trend seen in the BRICs and Greater RICs.

ASEAN’s Facebook page occasionally posts statistics about how significant ASEAN as a bloc is in the scope of global emerging markets.  Collectively, ASEAN houses over 600 million people with a PPP GDP of US$6.6 trillion, roughly the size of Brazil and Russia combined.

Today’s chart shows that unlike the BRICS or the “Greater RICs” charted in the last two posts, growth since 1980 in ASEAN has not been dominated by any one member but instead has swung back and forth and overall been relatively even.  Visually, the Philippines has underperformed before the late 1990s and Thailand has underperformed since the late 1990s, with Vietnam and Myanmar doing a surprising catch-up in relative terms.

The relative share of PPP GDP in ASEAN has been relatively even and mean-reverting compared with the dominant growth trend seen in the BRICs and Greater RICs.
The relative share of PPP GDP in ASEAN has been relatively even and mean-reverting compared with the dominant growth trend seen in the BRICs and Greater RICs.

Source: IMF WEO Database

Beyond Greater China – the “Greater RICs” at the heart of BRICS

What could be called "Greater Russia" is better known as "the former Soviet Union", and is unique in that its largest state is underperforming its spin-offs.

The last post pointed out how China economically (and to a far lesser extend, demographically) dominates the BRICS even more than the US dominates the G8 or the Anglosphere.

These days many business people and economists refer to “Greater China” when talking about the greater trading zone of the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau without getting debating the politically correct names of each part.

While rarely talked about, one major similarity Russia and India share with China is that all three countries are simply the largest part of what, within the past century, was an even larger country.  While no one calls it “Greater India”, one could think of the four countries that split off from the colony of British India (after it had already split off British Burma) as having just as much in common with each other as Xinjiang has with Tainan.  Similarly, I don’t know anyone who calls the CIS / former Soviet states “Greater Russia”, but these many countries, for better or worse, still enjoy some benefits from being part of a larger Russian-speaking world (even if as a common second language) and inheriting, among other things, the USSR’s tax and other treaties.

Some notable numbers and observations:

There are many more comparisons, tables and numbers that can be pulled form here, but this should be yet another wonderful piece of numerical perspective to begin your outlook for 2015…

"Greater China" often refers to the combination of the PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau
“Greater China” often refers to the combination of the PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau
While not referred to as "Greater India", the countries formerly composing British India are slightly less dominated by the ROI than Greater China by the PRC.
While not referred to as “Greater India”, the countries formerly composing British India are slightly less dominated by the ROI than Greater China by the PRC.
What could be called "Greater Russia" is better known as "the former Soviet Union", and is unique in that its largest state is underperforming its spin-offs.
What could be called “Greater Russia” is better known as “the former Soviet Union”, and is unique in that its largest state is underperforming its spin-offs.

Source: IMF WEO Database