Earlier this month, Jack Ma announced that he was stepping down as executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the world’s largest e-commerce company. His decision caught many by surprise. At an economic forum in Russia, President Vladimir V. Putin reportedly asked him, “You are still so young. Why are you retiring?”
Maybe Mr. Ma, 54, knows something that Mr. Putin does not. Two of the three forces, globalization and marketization, that have propelled Alibaba to its current $500 billion valuation are dissipating. The third force, technology, is mired in the trade war between China and the United States, and its prospects in China are now uncertain.… Seguir leyendo »
La semana pasada, en una señal descarada de rechazo a las nuevas y duras sanciones de las Naciones Unidas, el régimen del líder norcoreano Kim Jong-un disparó un misil balístico sobre la isla japonesa de Hokkaido, ubicada al norte -su segundo lanzamiento sobre Japón en menos de tres semanas-. Pero, lejos de indicar que las sanciones no funcionan, el accionar de Kim demuestra que todavía no son lo suficientemente duras.
Las últimas sanciones limitan las importaciones de petróleo, prohíben las exportaciones textiles y penalizan a determinadas entidades de gobierno norcoreanas. Luego de la respuesta de Kim, las sanciones deberían endurecerse aún más, hasta interrumpir todo comercio con Corea del Norte, e inclusive frenar todas las importaciones de combustible.… Seguir leyendo »
In 1992, Bill Clinton came up with the famous formula that won him the White House: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Chinese leaders have taken this approach to a stratospheric level. They feel a need to deliver economic miracles at all times and under all circumstances. This insistence on appearing to be omnipotent is among the reasons why the Chinese government allowed a stock market bubble to form and why it is now trying desperately to prevent it from bursting.
Since mid-June, the Shanghai Stock Exchange Index has declined by about 30 percent. While a precipitous fall of share prices is worrisome, even after the recent market routs the Shanghai index is still some 65 percent higher than it was a year earlier, while the shares of China’s small- and medium-cap companies remain among the most expensive in the world.… Seguir leyendo »
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many western and Chinese analysts came to the conclusion that China was spared the same fate in 1989 because it did not liberalise its political system. This is a flawed reading of history. The reason why China did not collapse in 1989 has very little to do with lack of political reforms (China experimented with meaningful political reforms in the 1980s). The real reason China did not collapse was that its rural population was reasonably content.
As usual, the most astute observation of Chinese politics came from Deng Xiaoping. At the height of the Tiananmen turmoil, Deng reportedly made the following remarks to other Chinese leaders: “The economy is still the base; if we didn’t have that economic base, the farmers would have risen in rebellion after only 10 days of student protests – never mind a whole month.”
This is a lesson worth remembering as China is confronted with some of the most difficult economic circumstances during this global downturn.… Seguir leyendo »