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  • Author: Yiping Huang, Tingting Ge
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: When China began economic reform in 1978, it had only one financial institution, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), which, at that time, served as both the central bank and a commercial bank and accounted for 93 percent of the country’s total financial assets. This was primarily because, in a centrally planned economy, transfer of funds was arranged by the state and there was little demand for financial intermediation. Once economic reform started, the authorities moved very quickly to establish a very large number of financial institutions and to create various financial markets. Forty years later, China is already an important player in the global financial system, including in the banking sector, direct investment, and bond and equity markets. However, government intervention in the financial system remains widespread and serious. The PBOC still guides commercial banks’ setting of deposit and lending rates through “window guidance,” although the final restriction on deposit rates was removed in 2015. Industry and other policies still play important roles influencing allocation of financial resources by banks and capital markets. The PBOC intervenes in the foreign exchange markets from time to time, through directly buying or selling foreign exchanges, setting the central parity, and determining the daily trading band. The regulators tightly manage cross-border capital flows, and the state still controls majority shares of most large financial institutions.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, Reform, Financial Markets, Banks
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Ning Wang
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The ultimate success of China’s search for economic prosperity, cultural renaissance, and a “peaceful rise” depends, in large part, on whether a free market for ideas can reemerge and flourish in China. The concept of the “market for ideas” (sixian shichang) was first introduced to a Chinese audience by Ronald Coase and myself in How China Became Capitalist (Coase and Wang 2012, see also Coase 1974). It quickly won acceptance among academics and the media. China is the only leading economy where the production and communication of ideas remains under strict state control. Universities, the primary venue where new ideas are produced, are run by the state. Newspapers, radio and TV stations, and publishers are all controlled by the state; ideas unwelcome by the state have a hard time to see the light of day. Because the freedom to supply ideas, choose ideas, and criticize ideas is severely limited, the creativity of the Chinese people is underutilized and their innovative potential undertapped.
  • Topic: Economics, History, Freedom of Press
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Christine R. Guluzian
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: China’s New Silk Road initiative is a multistate commercial project as grandiose as it is ambitious. Comprised of an overland economic “belt” and a maritime transit component, it envisages the development of a trade network traversing numerous countries and continents. Major investments in infrastructure are to establish new commercial hubs along the route, linking regions together via railroads, ports, energy transit systems, and technology. A relatively novel concept introduced by China’s President Xi Jinping in 2013, several projects related to the New Silk Road initiative—also called “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR, or B&R)—are being planned, are under construction, or have been recently completed. The New Silk Road is a fluid concept in its formative stages: it encompasses a variety of projects and is all-inclusive in terms of countries welcomed to participate. For these reasons, it has been labeled an abstract or visionary project. However, those in the region can attest that the New Silk Road is a reality, backed by Chinese hard currency. Thus, while Washington continues to deliberate on an overarching policy toward Asia, Beijing is making inroads—literally and figuratively— across the region and beyond.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Soft Power, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: John Greenwood
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article provides an overview of the three episodes of quantitative easing (QE) pursued by the Bank of Japan (BOJ) since 2001. It begins with a brief account of the initial reluctant shift to unorthodox policies under BOJ Governors Hayami and Fukui in 2001–06 (here designated QE1) and then covers the equally reluctant adoption of QE by Governor Shirakawa in 2010–13 (QE2). The article then turns to an account of the attempt since April 2013 by the BOJ under Governor Kuroda, designated “quantitative and qualitative easing” (QQE), to revive the economy and achieve a 2 percent inflation target. None of these attempts at QE has been successful in raising the broad money growth rate for M2 sustainably above the 2–3 percent per annum range where it has languished for the past 25 years. Consequently, Japan’s attempts at QE have all failed to raise the equilibrium level of Japanese nominal GDP by any material magnitude, and so far, attainment of the 2 percent inflation target under QQE has remained elusive. At the time of writing (October 2016), the Japanese economy therefore continues to grow at a low rate with periodic lapses into deflation. After discussing the case of Japan, the article compares the experience of the United States in 1929–33, when there was no QE, and the experience of 2008–14, when the Fed conducted QE over three periods. The comparison is deliberately focused on the quantitative aspects of the policy, not its interest rate effects. Finally, the article explains that there are two brands of QE, and that the failure of QE in Japan is fundamentally due to the choice of the wrong brand of QE. Given the type of QE that the Japanese authorities have chosen, the policy cannot be expected to succeed, except under limited conditions.1 If QE were to be implemented according to a different design, the prospects of success would be much greater. In brief, the primary reason for the failure of BOJ-style QE or QQE derives from the habitual tendency to buy securities from banks instead of from nonbank private-sector entities (such as nonbank financial firms, nonfinancial firms, households, or foreigners). While QE policy in Japan boosts the monetary base, it does not increase broad money. But it is broad money that drives nominal GDP, not the monetary base.
  • Topic: History, Economy, Banks, Central Bank
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia
  • Author: Tain-Jy Chen, Ying-Hua Ku
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Against all odds, China has developed one of the most vibrant Internet industries in the world. According to Atomico (2015), which tracked venture capital (VC)-funded startups in the world, there were 156 Internet startups that had been founded in 2003–14 and that had become billion-dollar companies (based on market capitalization) by the end of 2014 after initial public offerings (IPOs). The United States leads the list with 86 companies, followed by China’s 30, and Sweden’s 5. All Chinese billion-dollar startups are consumer-related, while billion-dollar startups in other countries include business applications, games, and others. Similarly, the Wall Street Journal tracked unlisted VC-funded startups and identified 78 of them whose market valuation (measured by financing terms in the most recent round of funding) had exceeded one billion dollars in March 2015 (Table 1). The list includes startups in the Internet as well as other sectors. Again, the United States leads the list with 50 ventures, followed by China’s 8. All Chinese ventures are Internet-related, if Xiaomi, which tops the list of all startups and sells smartphones on the Internet, is also counted as an Internet company (Dow Jones Venture Source 2015). In short, Chinese startups are numerous, vigorous, and most successful in Internet-based consumer business.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Internet, Entrepreneurship, Business
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Chenggang Xu
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: After more than three decades of economic reform, China has transformed from being one of the poorest economies in the world to being the second-largest economy measured by nominal exchange rates, or the largest economy measured by purchasing power. As such, it is important to elucidate the determinants of China’s future development. This article will focus on China’s institutions. I argue that although the size of China’s economy is extremely important in terms of its impact on the global economy, it is misleading to ignore political and economic institutions. Indeed, forecasts based on extrapolating past trends could be erroneous (see Pritchett and Summers 2014). China was the largest economy in the world before the end of the 19th century but then lost ground to Western nations that established the rule of law and free trade. To understand China’s past and future development, one has to examine its institutions.
  • Topic: Economics, Reform, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Kam Hon Chu
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Many financial systems were plagued by bank runs or subject to the risk of contagion when the recent financial tsunami unfolded. The runs on the U.S. banks Countrywide and IndyMac, Britain's Northern Rock, and Hong Kong's Bank of East Asia, among others, occurred about a few years ago, but they are still vivid to us. These runs were, of course, the symptoms rather than the root cause of the financial tsunami. In response to the most severe systemic global financial crisis since the Great Depression, policymakers and regulators in many countries have implemented various drastic regulatory measures to rescue the financial systems from meltdowns and to avert deep economic downturns. Such measures vary from country to country, but generally speaking they include governments' takeovers of banks or capital injections, quantitative easing techniques, provisions of liquidity by lax lender-of-last-resort lending, lower discount rates, and more generous deposit insurance.
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, Hong Kong