Asia | timiacono.com - Part 3

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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Steady as She Goes for the Bank of Japan

As Abenomics enters its second year and with central bank policymakers now halfway toward their goal of 2 percent inflation, the Bank of Japan made no changes to monetary policy today, leaving in place an asset purchase program that requires monthly money printing of 60-70 trillion yen (more than $50 billion) amid signs of an improving economy.

A big sales tax hike in March is expected to temporarily slow growth and erase some of the consumer price gains. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda noted in a news conference, “Of course, there could be both upside and downside risks to the BOJ’s price forecast but such risks have not materialized, and if that’s the case, the current policy will continue.

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