A day on tenterhooks

There’s something for everyone to await with trepidation or anticipation today.

The Bank of Japan will announce what, if any, new monetary stimulus to introduce. It might cut interest rates, which are already negative, or buy up bonds or other assets – even REITs and ETFs. They’ll be knocking at citizens’ doors and buying their TVs and cars next.

The idea is to stop the Yen from rising (though that would boost Japanese people’s purchasing power), to increase the inflation rate (which does the opposite) and to induce businesses to invest and citizens to spend, even though they have no need or desire to. Obviously, there is a rationale to avoiding deflation, but there is no logic to endlessly flogging a dead horse. (It does seem endless. How long ago was it that Japanese policymakers were toying with putting expiry dates on cash to force people to spend – 15, 20 years?)

Anyway – the big unknown is the implications of a weaker Yen/stronger US Dollar for China and the world. These range from potentially greater capital flight from the Mainland scmp-chasingto a boost for Donald Trump, who is mightily vexed by China’s ‘currency manipulation’, news of which has only recently reached him.

The South China Morning Post has an op-ed article by Niall Ferguson, saying that life might not be so bad under President Trump after all, give or take various cataclysmic horrors too terrifying to mention. As you would expect of a revisionist historian specializing in restoring the British Empire’s coolness, Ferguson is a professional troll of self-righteous trendies (nice work if you can get it) and no doubt being provocative. But then there’s Hillary – and the unthinkable suddenly sounds less far-fetched. We can only hope those Japanese central bankers know what they’re doing.

We are also looking forward today to learning the fate of young Hong Kong radical student leaders Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow. As part of the government’s vendetta against Occupy/Umbrella movement participants, the three were prosecuted for unlawful assembly and incitement. A magistrate with (perhaps) a maternal soft spot for idealistic youths sentenced them to community service. The government is now appealing and demanding that the three be sent to prison with hard labour, bread-and-water, transportation for life. The verdict is due today.

The government’s unseemly pursuit of the trio arises of course from the Liaison Office-directed campaign against subversives, dissenters and localists – a campaign that backfired so wonderfully in the Legislative Council election a few weeks back. We now (or soon will) have a directly elected representative known as the Hon Nathan Law. (Talking recently to a member of Hong Kong’s establishment, I casually mentioned that I voted for Nathan. Blood drained from cheeks.) The Liaison Office has crawled off to lick its wounds for a while. If the court jails Joshua and Co, the government looks vindictive and alienates much of the public, even more, again. If the court rejects the appeal, the government ends up looking plain ridiculous.

stan-mudslingExcept, maybe, it will be too busy looking stupid for something else – this afternoon’s press conference on the Wang Chau land/Heung Yee Kuk/triads/collusion disaster. Chief Executive CY Leung looks icily self-possessed when executing Liaison Office orders to intimidate kids who have minds of their own; he comes across as a panicky loser when trying to shift blame for the Wang Chau mess onto the Financial Secretary.

Whatever happens with the Bank of Japan, the Joshua Wong appeal or the CY-John Tsang hands-in-cookie-jar, dog-ate-my-homework, buck-passing extravaganza, the world will be a different place by the end of the day.

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7 Responses to A day on tenterhooks

  1. WTF says:

    Anyone know if Hong Kong Government’s Export Insurance Co is going to hit the wall over the Hanjin Bankruptcy? Be interesting if all of this bad news and a property bubble popping hit Lufsig in the middle of trying to cover up his corruption.

  2. Des Espoir says:

    On the matter of Government-HYK collusion, one of the best cases is the siting of the proposed incinerator. Even the Government’s own studies showed that the logical place to put it was near Tuen Mun. However, that would have impacted the value of the property portfolio of one Lau Wong Fat (remember..? the properties he “forgot to mention” in his Declaration of Interests…?). So, the Government decided to ignore the conclusions of its own studies and site the incinerator on an island south of Lantau – costing the taxpayer 30% more, lumbering us with much higher running costs for ever more, all to preserve the property values of “rural interests”…

  3. old git says:

    According to the HK Govt’s own Prosecution Code:

    19.3 Criminal prosecution should only be pursued when the relevant conduct exceeds sensible proportions or the bounds of reasonableness (Yeung May-wan v HKSAR (2005) 8 HKCFAR 137). Cases in relation to public order events require the striking of a balance between the interest of society in maintaining public order and the right of a person lawfully and peacefully to exercise his or her rights.

  4. Laguna Lurker says:

    Invest in popcorn and settle back.

  5. FOARP says:

    Having lived and worked in Japan 2009-10 I have zero optimism that this kind of policy will work. Hard as it is for a Tory like myself to admit, the problems with Japan as it is right now are mainly down to things that the left typically offers solutions for:

    1) Immigration is too low. More young people with skills are needed, and Japan doesn’t attract enough of them from overseas or do enough to keep the ones it receives.

    2) Japan has the worst working culture I have ever seen in any country. People at the office I worked at spent 14-15 hours a day, six days a week staring dead-eyed at their computer monitors working at a snail’s pace, waiting for 10-11pm to roll around to ask the boss for permission to leave. Holidays were not taken: you were expected to “sacrifice them for the company”. Productivity and innovation of the kind needed to grow Japan out of its 26-year perma-crisis won’t happen in that kind of environment. Worker’s rights need to be expanded and better protected.

    3) The low birthrate needs to be addressed in a serious way that no Japanese government thus far (except maybe Hatoyama’s, but they weren’t really serious) has even attempted to do. If you live in Japan the causes aren’t hard to grasp – families come dead-last in the priorities of the average OL or Salaryman, who instead barely spends any time at home due to the requirements of their job. The failure to do anything about the low birth-rate seriously dooms Japan to demographic decline, likely permanently. Policies giving people more time with their families, benefits given to stay-home parents, additional benefits for additional children etc. are the only way Japan is ever going to really have of turning this around.

  6. Diane Butler says:

    With 15 hours in the office there ain’t much time left for whoopy. Wilf can’t get it up anymore but I still have got my Giant Gladiator (which plays Jingle Bells when you crank it up to level 10).

  7. Chinese Netizen says:

    @FOARP: You forget…holidays are only to be taken WITH the entire office and boss. Fun fun fun…

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