Tag: Asia

How Big is Our GDP? How Big Do You Want It To Be?

I am Hal’s complete lack of surprise:

Baseline Chinese economic data is unreliable. Taking published National Bureau of Statistics China data on the components of consumer price inflation, I attempt to reconcile the official data to third party data … To correct for these manipulative practices, I use third party and related NBSC data to better estimate the change in consumer prices in China between 2000 and 2011. I find that using conservative assumptions about price increases the annual CPI in China should be adjusted upwards by approximately 1%. This reduces real Chinese GDP by 8-12% or more than $1 trillion in PPP terms.

This is just one paper, of course. But it’s also not the first time I’ve heard this.

Argentina does the same thing, incidentally. Economists who aren’t named Paul Krugman have decided to just ignore any economic data coming out of Argentina, since it is all officially washed and dry-cleaned by the Kirchner regime. The old Soviet Union also did this, massively overstating their GDP (in part because presenting realistic numbers to authorities was a good way for a factory manager or local ruler to end up in Siberia).

(Our own measures of inflation are controversial, but they have one thing that China lacks: transparency. It’s quite easy for people to use the data to build alternative estimates of inflation and many have.)

China’s economy is in for a rough time in the decades ahead. They’ve basically picked all the low-hanging economic fruit. They will now have to deal with massive rural poverty, problematic infrastructure, absurd levels of pollution and, thanks to their one-child policy, a population that’s going to get older faster than any country in history. So expect more deception out of their government on. And expect people like Thomas Friedman to eat it right up.

Kim III Rattles the Nukes

Just in case you still harbored any hopes that the new Kim was less crazy than the old Kim:

North Korea has accused the United States of using military drills in South Korea as a launch pad for a nuclear war and has scrapped the armistice with Washington that ended hostilities in the 1950-53 Korean War.

A North Korean general said on Tuesday that Pyongyang was scrapping the armistice. But the two sides remain technically at war as the civil war did not end with a treaty.

North Korea threatens the United States and its “puppet,” South Korea, on an almost daily basis.

“Since the United States is about to ignite a nuclear war, we will be exercising our right to preemptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the aggressor in order to protect our supreme interest,” the North’s foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

North Korea is poor, starving and increasingly politically isolated (China is introducing the new sanctions). Is this just saber rattling? Or is it possible that they are so delusional they think they could start a war? I’m betting on the former right now. But it probably behooves us to move some Patriots into Japan and South Korea and station some Aegis cruisers nearby.

Just in case they really are crazy.

Norks. In. Spaaaaaaaace

Just in case you had any delusions that the new leader of North korea was any different:

North Korea successfully launched a rocket on Wednesday, boosting the credentials of its new leader and stepping up the threat the isolated and impoverished state poses to opponents.

The rocket, which North Korea says put a weather satellite into orbit, has been labeled by the United States, South Korea and Japan as a test of technology that could one day deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting targets as far away as the continental United States.

At this point, it’s hard to know what else we can do. We’ve tried sanctions and angry letters. We’ve tried negotiations. Military options are likely off the table given China’s proximity and support. I suspect we are developing or now have the ability to shoot down any missiles that threaten us. Other than that, there’s really not a lot.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Everyone loves to tell us how much they hate America, how dumb they think we are, how we are imperialistic, and so on and on and on, but when given a choice, well..

Global Power: Much is being made of China’s unease at President Obama’s initiative this week to raise the U.S. presence in the Pacific Rim. The real story is Asia’s unease with China’s expansionism. It wants America back. Beijing was taken by surprise at the U.S. president’s newfound interest in making America a presence again in the Pacific. But in reality it was a sign that Asian states prefer a U.S.-centric Pacific over a China-centric one. On his visit to Hawaii, Bali and Australia, Obama announced that 2,500 U.S. troops would be stationed in northern Australia, a move welcomed with open arms not just by Australia but across the Pacific.

I had this conversation with several foreign fiends before. They all have a laundry lists of complaints about how the US gets it all wrong. Some blamed America for every problem. Then you would ask them, in earnest whom they would prefer by the world’s super power, and without exception not a single one of them wanted anyone else. The old USSR? No way. China then or now? Hell no! The only ones that resulted in some interesting talks where India or Brazil. Yeah, they – and especially the Europeans I talked to – scratched Europe off the list because they understood it would mean the end of the nanny state and since the percentage of the population that was sucking at the teat was larger than those producing, this was never going to fly.

See the Asians might have gotten angry with us, but just a meager does of where China would take the world, they are all doubling back. That’s because for all their complaining, some of it might even be justified, the fact remains that “evil imperialistic America” keeping the wolves at bay has been why we have the last century of progress. That it all is about to cave in because we let the left take us in the wrong direction though makes them even more afraid and determined to ensure we stay around to keep the wolves away.

Steamrolling Hama … And The UN

Remember when Bill Clinton bombed Iraq because he wanted to do it before Ramadan in order to not offend Muslim sensibilities? (Muslim sensibilities apparently being fine with having Ramadan amidst the rubble). Well, yeah, funny story. Turns out the evil slimeballs running Syria don’t have that rule and are rolling through Hama, slaughtering civilians left, right and center. We’re not doing anything about it and, even if we could, we probably shouldn’t. Apart from putting a smart bomb up Assad’s ass — which might not be the worst idea — I don’t see that we can do anything other than burn money and kill people for no readily explained reason.

But, the UN has now moved into action and announced that will not take this lying down!

In its first substantive action on the uprising in Syria, the UN security council has condemned human rights violations and use of force against civilians by Syrian authorities.

Prompted by an intensification of the three-month-old bloody crackdown against anti-government protests, the statement was agreed after three days of hard bargaining. It ‘condemns widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities’. Syria’s neighbour Lebanon has dissociated itself from the text.

What’s notable is what the UN decided not to do. They didn’t call for a weapons embargo or for Assad to step down. They didn’t call for outside intervention. They just said they didn’t like what was going on. It’s like Assad used the wrong fork at dinner.

My UN sources inform me that if Assad does not stop greasing the treads of his tanks with children, they will be very very angry with him and will write him a letter telling him how angry they are.