Category Archives: BUSINESS

New Zealand’s 2017 election prospects

Author: Stephen Levine, Victoria University of Wellington

John Key’s sudden announcement on 5 December 2016 to resign as New Zealand’s Prime Minister and leader of the National Party represented further proof that Key was no career politician. This was part of his appeal — he was a New Zealander from a modest background who went overseas, made good and decided to come back home ‘to make a contribution’. A New Zealand version of what Americans used to call a ‘Horatio Alger’ story.

By definition, his appeal was formed on personal narrative rather than policy, and not easily transferable to a successor. His success was grounded in an ability to connect with New Zealanders of virtually all ages and backgrounds with an approachable ‘common touch’. Key was a person New Zealanders enjoyed having their picture taken with. He represented the closest the country has come to celebrity obsession.

Key’s personal qualities, on display during parliamentary question time and televised leaders’ debates, likewise made him a stand-out performer, outshining less versatile opposition figures. Key’s dominance of New Zealand’s political scene, sustained over three general elections and in opinion polls stretching over at least eight years as New Zealanders’ ‘preferred prime minister’, brought the National Party three consecutive election victories.

Leaving office, Key noted three disappointments — the failure to persuade New Zealanders to adopt a new flag, the apparent collapse of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement as a result of the 2016 US elections and the delay in implementing a promised maritime reserve around the country’s Kermadec Islands due to Maori opposition. Only one of them, the initiative for a new flag, was the result of rejection by the electorate.

While that disappointment, more than any other, took energy and momentum away from Key, his willingness to voluntarily surrender power — not because of term limits …continue reading

    

Markets mixed as Trump inaugurated but face risk of “severe bear market”

Markets were mixed on Friday.

The S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent, the STOXX Europe 600 slipped 0.1 percent and the Nikkei 225 rose 0.3 percent.

While markets were mostly focused on Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States, David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial, noted that earnings “have been a mixed bag so far”.

“We’ll need to see some follow-through there in order to justify valuations,” Joy said. “But recent economic data has been encouraging, including here, in Europe, and in China.”

Indeed, Barbara Kollmeyer at MarketWatch writes that “this bull market will keep going, Trump angst or no.”

However, MarketWatch columnist Market Hulbert says that the “biggest danger facing stock investors now is a severe bear market”.

Invoking contrarian principles, he noted that at the World Economic Forum in Davos, “the possibility of a financial crisis doesn’t even make its list of top 10 global risks” whereas in early 2009, at the bottom of the 2007-2009 bear market and financial crisis, the Forum had identified “Asset Price Collapse” as the top global risk.

He concluded that “someday we will look back at the World Economic Forum’s current sanguine assessment of financial risks with the disdain that we today view its doom and gloom assessment from 2009”.

…continue reading

    

Russia can curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions

Author: Rensselaer Lee, Foreign Policy Research Institute and Artyom Lukin, Far Eastern Federal University

Russia is well-positioned to play a central role in managing the unrestrained acceleration of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. A larger role for Russia to deal with North Korea might yield some progress in scaling back Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions — a potential contribution that is seldom acknowledged in Western public discourse.

Why Russia? Russia shares a land border with North Korea and has a wealth of experience in dealing with the Kim dynasty, whose installation it directly supported some 70 years ago. History matters. The unique circumstances of North Korea’s founding have generally been a stabilising factor in DPRK–Russian relations. Moreover, Russia may one day be the only country of consequence with whom Pyongyang remains more or less on friendly terms. Although China is still North Korea’s treaty ally and by far its biggest trade partner, relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have recently been marked by growing distrust.

While Russia’s direct trade volume with the DPRK is small (roughly US$100 million per year), as much as one-third of Chinese exports to the DPRK may consist of Russian-origin products, mainly oil and fuel-related. Further, Russia hosts some 30,000 North Korean guest workers, whose earnings are estimated to provide Pyongyang with up to US$170 million in cash annually, according to research by a group of scholars from Moscow and Vladivostok. There is also an unestablished number of North Korean-owned businesses in the country.

Russia is one of the very few destinations for North Korean students, who mostly major in humanities, engineering, and sciences, even though the latter two may soon become off limits due to the latest round of sanctions. In terms of transportation links, Russia is the only country, apart from China, which maintains regular overland …continue reading

    

GPIF creates prize to advance pensions management thinking

Source: ijapicap.com

GPIF has instituted a prize to recognise the young academic researcher who it judges to have contributed most to advancing methods of pensions management. The first award will be made on the basis of papers published after April 2011 and the deadline for nominations is 10 February,

The winning entry will appear on the Fund’s web site and its author invited to give a lecture.

Intending entrants should read the Japanese-language anouncements here / as they give much more detail than those on the English-language side of the web site (but still give no definition of ‘young’).

© 2016 Japan Pensions Industry Database/Jo McBride. Reporting on, and analysis of, the secretive business of Japanese institutional investment takes big commitments of money and time. This blog is one of the products of such commitment. It may nonetheless be reproduced or used as a source without charge so long as (but only so long as) the use is credited to www.ijapicap.com and a link provided to the original text on that site.

This blog would not exist without the help and humour of Diane Stormont, 1959-2012

…continue reading

    

Japan-invested AMP infrastructure platform closes at US$2.4bn

Source: ijapicap.com

AMP Capital global infrastructure platform has closed at a final US$2.4bn with commitments from institutional investors in Japan, UK, US, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Middle East, Ireland Spain and Finland as well as Australia., AMP’s home base, according to I&PE Real Estate.

Since July the platform recently added four new assets to its portfolio, including Axion, a telecommunications infrastructure venture in Spain and an emergency rescue and response service in the European and UK offshore oil and gas and offshore wind industries. It has also invested in parking concessions outside Chicago.

© 2016 Japan Pensions Industry Database/Jo McBride. Reporting on, and analysis of, the secretive business of Japanese institutional investment takes big commitments of money and time. This blog is one of the products of such commitment. It may nonetheless be reproduced or used as a source without charge so long as (but only so long as) the use is credited to www.ijapicap.com and a link provided to the original text on that site.

This blog would not exist without the help and humour of Diane Stormont, 1959-2012

…continue reading