Asia | timiacono.com - Part 3

Putin, the Arsonist

Along with some stern words from German Chancellor Angela Merkel both last week and again today, Der Spiegel came out with a number of reports and commentaries on Russia’s foray into Southern Ukraine that was accompanied by the cover image shown below.

Translation: The Arsonist: Who will stop Putin?

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All the Home Prices in China

Reuters reports that efforts to slow credit growth and other measures taken by the Chinese government have finally succeeded in slowing the rate of growth in property values as new home prices in 70 major cities rose 9.6 percent in January from a year ago, down from 9.9 percent the month prior and the slowest rate of appreciation since late-2012.

There’s a much bigger chart here showing all 70 cities for anyone who knows the difference between Xining and Tianjin. They still have a bit of a bubble on their hands, but, as Canada has proven in recent years, bubbly real estate markets can stay bubbly for a very long time.

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The Russians Have a Sense of Humor

We didn’t watch much of the 2014 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremonies last night but we did get to see the Russians poke fun at themselves for the glitch in the opening ceremonies that resulted in one of the five mechanical Olympic rings failing to expand.

This time, it was more than a hundred people on the ground who were instructed to temporarily mimic the mechanical glitch of the fifth ring as shown below.

Of course, the Russians probably aren’t laughing about what’s been going on in the Ukraine in recent days as the Putin-backed government was ousted over the weekend. The Russians won the medal count by a fairly wide margin over the U.S., Norway, and Canada, but the body count in Kiev overshadowed the games.

This Spiegel commentary looks back at the last two weeks and attempts to gauge the lasting impacts of the games in Sochi and the unrest in the Ukraine while noting that the Olympic games almost always involve politics somehow.

Mutual Fund Song

This is about the most ridiculous thing that I think I’ve ever come across when it comes to shaping opinions about investing. Straight from India, where there’s been a concerted effort to get people to invest in stocks, bonds, and other paper promises rather than gold, comes this rap video extolling the virtues of mutual funds.

Granted, there are some pretty big cultural differences between the U.S. and India (think Bollywood vs. Dollywood, vs. Hollywood), but, still…

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At Least They’re Trying in China

From this China Daily commentary on bubbly home prices comes the cartoon below that depict the results of the Chinese government’s efforts so far to cool the property markets that, along with their shadow banking system, has much of the rest of the world worried.

Author Zhu Ning, deputy director of the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance at Jiaotong University, dismisses some of the concerns of Yale economist and Nobel Prize Winner Robert Shiller when it comes to housing bubbles in general and the one in China in particular.

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