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N. Korean parliament to meet in Sept. over strained economy – 570 News

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea will convene its rubber-stamp parliament next month to discuss efforts to salvage an economy strained by pandemic border closures after decades of mismanagement and U.S.-led sanctions.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said Thursday the Supreme People’s Assembly will meet on Sept. 28 in Pyongyang to discuss economic development, youth education, government organizational matters and other issues. The report didn’t mention any plans for discussions on foreign policy.

Talks between the United States and North Korea have stalled since the collapse of a summit between former President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2019, when the Americans rejected the North’s demand for a major easing of economic sanctions in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.

Kim has since pledged to bolster his country’s nuclear deterrent while urging his people to stay resilient in a struggle for economic self-dependence in the face of U.S. pressure.

But experts say Kim is now facing perhaps his toughest moment as he approaches a decade in rule, with North Korea maintaining a border lockdown indefinitely to keep out the coronavirus and with no prospect in sight to end international sanctions.

Meetings of the full Supreme People’s Assembly are usually brief affairs intended to approve budgets, formalize personnel changes and rubber-stamp Kim’s policy priorities.

During its previous session in January, the Assembly passed decisions made during a rare congress of the ruling Workers’ Party earlier that month where Kim vowed to strengthen his nuclear arsenal and laid out economic development plans for the next five years. The congress came months after Kim during another political conference showed unusual candor by acknowledging that his plans to improve the economy weren’t succeeding.

Despite its economic troubles, the North has so far rejected the Biden administration’s overture to resume nuclear diplomacy, saying that Washington must discard its “hostile” policies first.

The Associated Press

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Five strange things that were up for rent in the ‘sharing economy’ – Maclean's

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There’s an Airbnb-type service for far more than home rentals these days

What happens when the “sharing economy” meets blistering real estate and rental markets? A world where the tiniest slices of one’s life can fetch a fee. Increasingly, if it’s bolted down, it can be had for a price. Some examples:

(Swimply)

(Swimply)

Swimming pool · $45/hour, St. Boniface, Man.

These homeowners have dubbed their backyard saltwater pool “Dabs Resort,” as an acronym for parents Darren and Andrea and two kids. Listed on Swimply, comes with tubloads of water toys.


Backyard & garden · $100/hour, Vancouver

Spacefy offers short-term venue rentals or film/photo locations like a grassy space off Cambie and King Edward with a vine-accented pergola and various chair-table setups. Complete with view of the laneway house.


(Spinlister)

(Spinlister)

Bicycle · $15/day, Musquodoboit Harbour, N.S.

You can rent out your bicycle on Spinlister, whether it’s a mountain bike for weekend warriors or a road ride like this Newport Cruiser. Catherine B. throws in a helmet and lock, plus a pannier bag if you’d like to picnic.


(SpaceiShare)

(SpaceiShare)

Backyard shed · $75/month, Laval, Que.

SpaceiShare lets out private parking stalls and storage spaces that go beyond condo lockers and include spare rooms, basements—and a 10-by-10-foot backyard structure. “Ideal for Christmas decorations and sports equipment,” the ad reads.


(Facebook)

(Facebook)

Penthouse balcony · $25/hour, Toronto

Well, maybe not everything can be rented. A tiny 60th-storey downtown balcony with an Instagram-worthy view of Dundas Square and Lake Ontario was offered for hourly lease, but the venture came to a quick end when the condo management firm received complaints.

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Five Lessons Evergrande Taught Us About The Chinese Economy – NPR

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Last week, global markets shook after a Chinese company named Evergrande fell into what looks like a downward spiral into oblivion. Evergrande is — or was — the second-largest real estate company in China. A couple years ago, it was the world’s most valuable real estate stock. It’s also been involved in an eclectic mix of other businesses, from mineral water to electric cars to pig farming. It even owns a professional soccer team. But recently it’s been having a really hard time repaying a mammoth amount of debt, a whopping $300 billion worth.

The Evergrande story is bigger than just one company. It’s about China’s unsustainable model of economic growth, which has relied on endless investment and a mad, debt-fueled development frenzy in recent years. That model helped China soar, but the country is now experiencing some turbulence. Last week, some alarmist observers were calling this China’s “Lehman moment” — a reference to the collapse of Lehman Brothers that preceded the 2008 financial crisis — but China-focused economists argue that’s overblown.

Nonetheless, given how interconnected the global economy is, investors remain worried about the future of the Chinese economy. It’s been a nuclear reactor powering the globe’s economic growth. Troubles there could have ripple effects around the world.

[Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money‘s newsletter. You can sign up here.]

We decided to put together a little listicle about what we’ve learned from the Evergrande story so far.

1) Real estate has been a huge part of China’s economic growth

This aerial photo taken on September 17, 2021 shows the halted under-construction Evergrande Cultural Tourism City, a mixed-used residential-retail-entertainment development, in Taicang, Suzhou city, in China’s eastern Jiangsu province. (Photo by Vivian LIN / AFP) (Photo by VIVIAN LIN/AFP via Getty Images)

VIVIAN LIN/AFP via Getty Images

VIVIAN LIN/AFP via Getty Images

China’s economic growth in recent years has been powered in large part by its roaring real estate market. The real estate industry, directly and indirectly, accounts for as much as 29 percent of China’s entire GDP. This growth has been fueled by a ginormous property bubble and mounting amounts of debt. For a while, China’s national and local governments used their massive powers of command-and-control over the economy to keep the bubble inflating. As is commonly the case in bubbles, investors and companies have taken on massive amounts of debt to capitalize on surging real estate prices. Evergrande itself amassed more than $300 billion in debt, to its banks, its bondholders, its suppliers, and its customers, many of whom pre-bought homes months, even years, before they were built.

2) China’s property bubble has created spooky “ghost cities” and “ghost apartments” throughout the nation

GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese property bubble, which observers have been talking about for years, has encouraged more and more speculation, with investors buying up properties with no intention of living in them. Unfinished and vacant buildings and apartments litter the provinces of China. Estimates vary, but around 20%of China’s total housing stock now sits unoccupied. The Financial Times saysthere is now enough vacant property in the nation to house more than 90 million people. That’s enough empty homes to fit the entire population of Canada. Or France. Or Germany.

In some cases, entire urban areas lie empty. These so-called “ghost cities” include replicas of Paris, Venice, and even Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

3) The Communist Party of China is now working to reduce financial risks and change its model for economic growth

BEIJING, CHINA – JUNE 28: Chinese President and Chairman of the Communist Party Xi Jinping appears on a large screen as performers dance during a mass gala marking the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party on June 28, 2021 at the Olympic Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing, China.

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

One of the main differences between Evergrande’s debt crunch and the collapse of Lehman Brothers is that this crunch was brought about on purpose. The Communist Party of China (CPC) has been aware of the dangers posed by its wild real estate market for some time. In 2017, President Xi Jinping began signaling he wanted to do something about it with a speech to the 19th Party Congress. He said, “Houses are built to be inhabited, not for speculation.”

Last year, the government followed up with a policy known as “three red lines,” which aims to reduce debt in the property market, crack down on reckless borrowing, and prevent a market correction from turning into a cataclysm. The historian Adam Tooze calls it “controlled demolition” of the real estate bubble.

More broadly, Xi has been pursuing radical new policies in the name of “common prosperity,” an effort to fight growing inequality in China and intervene more forcefully in private industries.

In July, Xi released an essay outlining his ambitions for China. He said he wants the country to focus on “pursuing genuine rather than inflated GDP growth and achieving high-quality, efficient, and sustainable development.” Evergrande, a poster child for excesses of the real estate market, apparently does not represent genuine economic growth. And government policies, which once boosted the company, are now strangling it.

4) Cronyism May Have Lulled Investors and Creditors Into Overconfidence In Evergrande

BEIJING, CHINA – MARCH 06: Xu Jiayin, Standing Committee Member of the 12th CPPCC National Committee and Chairman of the Board of EVERGRANDE Group speaks during a news conference on the sidelines of the fourth session of the 12th National People’s Congress, on March 6, 2016 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Etienne Oliveau/Getty Images)

Etienne Oliveau/Getty Images

Etienne Oliveau/Getty Images

Evergrande was founded by Xu Jiayin, who not that long ago was the richest man in China. Jiayin is well connected. He is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an elite group of advisers to the government. He’s also politically shrewd. For example, he reportedly got Evergrande to buy Guangzhou Football Club after President Xi Jinping said he wanted China to have a great soccer team. The company then sank millions buying some of the best soccer players in the world.

The New York Times suggests that Xu Jiayin’s connections gave investors and creditors confidence that the company could keep borrowing and get bailed out by the government if things went bad. They thought Evergrande was too big and too connected to fail. In August, however, as the company began to wobble, Xu resigned as chairman of Evergrande’s real estate arm, sending it tumbling further.

5) Evergrande may be just the tip of the iceberg

SHANGHAI, CHINA – AUGUST 29: Boats travel on the Huangpu River as the skyline of the city in the Pudong district is seen on August 29, 2020 in Shanghai, China.

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China’s growth in recent years has depended heavily on a gargantuan expansion of real estate and all its accoutrements — trains, bridges and sewers. China has been building and building and building, creating lots of economic activity in the country. With Evergrande, that type of growth is finally showing itself to be unsustainable — and the Chinese economy is in for a period of turbulence. The weird part is this seems to be, in part, by design. We still have questions. How forcefully will China act to contain the damage done by Evergrande? Will China be able to successfully shift its economic model away from real estate and endless development? How will this shift affect the broader global economy? We’ll be paying attention in future weeks.

Did you enjoy this newsletter segment? Well, it looks even better in your inbox! You can sign up here.

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U.S. Commerce chief to push investment in domestic economy – Reuters

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo listens to a question during an interview with Reuters at the Department of Commerce in Washington U.S., September 23, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (Reuters) – U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo plans to outline her vision for U.S. investment in its domestic economy and doing more to compete with China, in a speech on Tuesday.

“For America to compete globally, we must invest domestically − in American workers, American businesses, and American innovation,” Raimondo will say at the Washington Economic Club, according to excerpts from the speech.

Congress is considering awarding the Department of Commerce tens of billions of dollars to extend broadband services to areas lacking high-speed internet and $52 billion to boost U.S. semiconductor chip production.

Raimondo’s prepared excerpts say she will argue China’s R&D spending requires a response: “We must expand R&D investments and move innovations from the lab to the marketplace at 21st century speed.”

In a roundtable media interview Friday, Raimondo singled out China, saying it was dumping cheap steal and aluminum and not living up to a 2020 trade agreement to buy U.S. products.

“We are going to look to work with our allies to counteract China’s anticompetitive behavior,” Raimondo said. “That’s a big difference between the last administration’s approach and our administration’s approach.”

She said tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed by the Trump administration “worked” to increase U.S. production but said the national security tariffs imposed on allies was not “necessarily the right way to go…It was really irritating to Europeans and now we’ve got to, like, clean that up… The enemy of course isn’t Europeans. The enemy is excess supply of cheap steel being dumped by China into Europe.”

EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis said on Monday he was “moderately optimistic” that the U.S. and European Union could resolve their dispute over steel and aluminum tariffs.

Raimondo called efforts by the Trump administration to address data security issues surrounding TikTok “hamhanded and ineffective.”

In June, President Joe Biden withdrew executive orders issued by former President Donald Trump that unsuccessfully sought to ban new downloads of WeChat, TikTok and other Chinese-owned apps and directed the Commerce Department to make recommendations by early October on how to protect U.S. data accessible by companies controlled by foreign adversaries.

Raimondo said “we’re in the middle of the TikTok review” and added she was limited about what she could say.

She said the Biden administration is “very serious about protecting Americans’ data” and is working with allies. “That’s really hard work,” Raimondo said. “Doing some executive order that’s meaningless on TikTok is not the way to do it.”

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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