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Vietnam economy is Asia's shining star during Covid – BBC News

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.css-14iz86j-BoldTextfont-weight:bold;Vietnam has minimised the economic damage from Covid-19 and is the only country in South East Asia on track for growth this year.

Its economy is expected to grow 2.4% this year, according to latest figures from the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF credited “decisive steps to contain the health and economic fallout from COVID-19” for the country’s success.

Vietnam has had only 1,288 Covid-19 cases and 35 deaths.

The IMF is predicting a strong economic recovery in 2021, with growth projected to strengthen to 6.5% “as normalisation of domestic and foreign economic activity continues.”

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Although Vietnam lacks the health infrastructure of many wealthier countries, it has been widely praised for its public health measures, which quickly brought numbers under control.

It was quick to develop testing kits, and used a combination of strategic testing, aggressive contact tracing to help control numbers.

The country has seen slower growth this year and its once-thriving tourism sector has taken a particularly bad hit, but it has avoided the worst economic effects of the pandemic.

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Work from home windfall

A number of factors have cushioned the blow, according to Michael Kokalari, chief economist for Vinacapital, a Vietnam-focused investment company.

Perhaps the most unexpected windfall has come from the huge increase in the number of people working from home globally.

“People have bought a new laptop computer or they’ve bought new office furniture, for both working and spending more time at home. Well, a lot of those products are made in Vietnam,” he told the BBC.

Vietnam’s exports to the US have increased by 23% in the first three quarters compared to the same period in 2019, with electronics exports up 26%.

Tariffs woes

Vietnam’s manufacturing sector has grown enormously over the past decade because businesses have started to look elsewhere as labour costs in China increased.

The ongoing US-China trade war has also made China a less attractive place to manufacture, with a number of tariffs in place on exports.

Many multinationals have started operating in Vietnam, including global technology leaders like Apple and Samsung.

Apple now has plans to manufacture its high-end Airpods studio earphone in Vietnam.

The pandemic has also prompted more companies to consider manufacturing there, because of the need to diversify their supply chains, said Mr Kokalari.

“When Covid comes, you thought you had a global supply chain, and you find out that you only have a China supply chain and you can’t produce.

Well that’s a much more urgent, emotionally catalysing problem,” he added.

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CIBC Economist Predicting Strong Second Half of 2021 for Canadian Economy – Toronto Storeys

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Now that we’re in the second wave of the pandemic, a Canadian economist has an optimistic outlook for Canada’s economic recovery and says that the second half of the new year will be “strong” for the country’s economy.


Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at CIBC, joined BNN Bloomberg earlier this month to discuss how Canada’s economy will recover in the months to come and said that Canadian businesses have pivoted and the country is significantly better prepared for the months ahead.

READ: 2020 Will Be ‘Banner Year’ for Canadian Housing Market: BMO

However, in light of this sense of optimism, Tal says he believes that the next few months are going to be challenging, especially for small businesses.

“Let’s be clear, it’s going to be a difficult winter,” said Tal, adding, “some small businesses won’t be able to survive… that’s almost a given.”

But there is light at the end of the tunnel as Tal says there are “positives in the negative” in the sense that Canada won’t shut down the economy completely like what we saw happen in March and April.

Tal noted that many businesses “will be able to do okay”  because they will be able to utilize what they’ve established over the past six months, which will help them ride out the winter months.

Looking ahead, Tal says that he believes the second-half of 2021 will be strong for the Canadian economy.

“I think stronger than what the market is currently anticipating,” says Tal, adding, “we have so many forces that will lead to this strong performance in the second half. Clearly, we’re going to have a vaccine and confidence will go up. We know that there’s a huge amount of pent up demand. People are dying to spend and guess what, they’ve got the cash.”

Tal said that as he’s previously discussed, “there is 90 billion dollars of excess cash is sitting on the sidelines, looking for direction. They will find something to do with this cash and it will be utilized in the economy leading to a significant increase in spending.”

“Overall, I believe that we can a significant improvement in the second half of the year because we have the potential to do so, the will to do so, and the ability to do so.”

READ: CIBC Deputy Chief Economist Warns that Housing Market Slowdown is Coming

Tal also said that he believes Canada’s economic recovery will outperform the US early in the new year.

“The prime minister made it very clear: ‘whatever it takes’, and if whatever it takes is more money then there will be more physical money,’ so, therefore, in this sense, we are leading the way, and that’s why I believe Canada will outperform the US early in 2021.”

Tal’s latest outlook follows his previous prediction that a Canadian housing market slowdown is looming.

“Even the governor of the Bank of Canada is telling us, listen, don’t expect any growth basically over the next six months. The party’s over. You can’t have a o% increase in the economy with the housing market continuing to boom,” said Tal.

Tal also added that another factor influencing his forecast is that the damage to the labour market will be “much more significant in terms of the impact of the economy and the impact on the economy.”

“Normally you would see more higher-wage jobs disappearing or at least you would have less job security there. And that’s very, very important,” explained Tal. “So, I believe that this optimism is not actually going to last for too long.”

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Biden Fills Yellen-Led Economy Team, Risks Clash on Budget Chief – BNN

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President-elect Joe Biden rolled out the first set of nominations for his economic team on Monday, formally announcing his selection of Janet Yellen to be Treasury secretary, Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget and Cecilia Rouse to head the Council of Economic Advisers.

Biden also announced his intent to nominate Adewale Adeyemo, a former senior adviser at BlackRock Inc., to be deputy Treasury secretary. Adeyemo is a Nigerian-born attorney and president of the Obama Foundation.

“As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,” Biden said in a statement.

If confirmed, the nominations of Yellen, Tanden and Rouse would be the first time the top three Senate-confirmed economic positions went to women. Tanden’s nomination already appeared to be in trouble with Senate Republican aides expressing opposition on Sunday even before it was formally announced.

Biden has also tapped two economic advisers from his presidential campaign, Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, to be members of the CEA.

Biden did not announce his pick for a key White House economic post, director of the National Economic Council. But Brian Deese, another BlackRock executive who served in the Obama administration, is likely to be offered the job, people familiar with the matter said.

Drew Brandewie, an aide to Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, said on Twitter that Tanden “stands zero chance of being confirmed.”

Another aide said Republicans in the Senate would certainly block Tanden, who’s viewed as too progressive even though she’s also had squabbles with some on the left.

The choices show Biden turning to experienced Washington hands as he begins building his economic team, with an eye toward racial and gender diversity.

The group of six nominees includes three women, two African Americans and an Indian American as Biden seeks to put women and minorities in jobs historically held by White men.

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Neera Tanden, president and chief executive officer of the Center for American Progress, speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.  (Bloomberg) 

He received some criticism from Representative Jim Clyburn, the most senior Black lawmaker in Congress, who is credited with helping Biden with the South Carolina primary, a win that sped his progress toward the nomination.

In an interview with Juan Williams for his column in The Hill newspaper, Clyburn indicated he was disappointed the president-elect had named just “one Black woman so far” to a senior position — Linda Thomas-Greenfield as United Nations ambassador.

“I want to see where the process leads to, what it produces,” Clyburn added. “But so far it’s not good.”

Tanden, an Indian-American who currently leads the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, worked on the Obama administration’s health-care reform and was a close adviser to Hillary Clinton.

Rouse also worked in the Obama administration as a member of the CEA and is currently dean of Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. If confirmed, she would be the first African American to chair the CEA.

Adeyemo would bring international economic experience to the Biden team, complementing Yellen’s more domestic focus over the course of her academic and government career. Adeyemo was deputy chief of staff to Jack Lew when he was Treasury secretary and was the first chief of staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Elizabeth Warren.

Bernstein and Boushey are well liked by progressives. Boushey, who runs the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, has advocated for paid parental leave and raising the minimum wage. Bernstein was Biden’s chief economic adviser in the White House during President Barack Obama’s first term.

Biden’s team will inherit a U.S. economy rocked this year by the coronavirus pandemic, and will have to try to sustain its revival. There’s already signs of increasing fragility as virus infection rates increase and states begin to lock down businesses again. That threatens the nascent recovery of the labor market, with jobless claims ticking up and payroll gains forecast to slow further in November.

–With assistance from Katia Dmitrieva, Catarina Saraiva and Erik Wasson.

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COVID-19 has sucked the oxygen out of the room on the climate economy – CBC.ca

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The Niagara Falls of news releases into any journalist’s in-box attest that there is always plenty of contention for the moving spotlight of media attention.

As early as March of this year, the Pew Research Institute, a think-tank that studies media trends, observed that people had become “immersed in COVID-19 news.”

And while other issues have occasionally nudged the pandemic and its economic impact off centre stage, it is hard to think of many subjects that have so consistently hogged the limelight for so many months in a row.

According to one of Canada’s leading environmental economists, that single-minded focus has both diverted and delayed attention on a subject that he expected in 2020 would finally get its moment in the sun: climate change.

Shut out by pandemic

“For two months or even three, people like me were shut right out because ministers were dealing with aspects of COVID in cabinet,” said Mark Jaccard, one of Canada’s foremost climate scientists who is often described as an architect of the pioneering carbon-pricing scheme introduced by the B.C. Liberals back in 2008.

With what may have turned out to be bad timing, the Simon Fraser University professor’s political manual, The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success, finally hit bookstores in February — just before the pandemic began to dominate the news agenda.

While inevitably disappointed, the longtime adviser to governments on practical climate economic policy remains philosophical. Jaccard’s biggest idea — one that some climate activists may find frustrating — is that the only realistic path to defeating climate change is political action to install “climate-sincere” politicians and governments and then hold their feet to the fire.

This was supposed to be a year of climate action in Canada, but Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, left, gets more recognition points than Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

While personal attempts to eat less meat, say, or buy an electric car make individuals feel good about themselves and may influence a few others, Jaccard insists that the short-term economic advantages of adding carbon to the atmosphere are so lucrative that they require concerted government action to push things the other way.

And putting political pressure on governments means garnering media and public attention, something harder to do when the whole world is worried about something that seems far more pressing — namely a deep economic recession caused by a deadly health crisis that just won’t go away.

“You have policy windows,” Jaccard said, referring to those moments such as after Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans and the surrounding area in 2005, or following the past year’s devastating forest fires in Australia and the U.S. west, when the public and politicians are forced to take climate issues seriously.

He said COVID-19 is just the 2020 version of a series of global events that have redirected attention away from the climate change issue just as it was beginning to take off.

‘We got really excited’

“We got really excited about the Kyoto Protocol in the late 1990s, and then along came 9/11 — and everyone got diverted with the U.S. wanting to invade countries in the Middle East,” Jaccard said, referring to terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

“And then you could say the same thing when we got excited about Hurricane Katrina, and you had Republicans and Democrats in the mid-2000s putting together policy … and China started to say, ‘Uh-oh we better get going.’ And then along came the [2008] financial crisis.”

As the world, and especially Canada, seemed to be getting the pandemic under control during the summer, climate advocates were hoping their issue would come to the top of the agenda. But subsequent waves of the disease once again pushed COVID-19 stories to the top of the “most read” columns, narrowing the news hole for climate coverage.

While political analysts were expecting a nod to green spending in Monday’s fiscal update, they say short-term allocations will mostly be diverted, quite reasonably, to bailing out parts of the Canadian economy devastated by a new round of pandemic lockdowns.

Farmers use fire to clear land in the Amazon basin. Economist Mark Jaccard says schemes to lock carbon in biological systems does not guarantee it will stay there for the long term. (Rickey Rogers/Reuters)

Jaccard says that has added to delays, as the latest government plan — to use post-pandemic economic recovery spending to advance the green agenda in a way that will finally put Canada on a path to Paris 2030 — has meant previous policy plans and spending have been deferred.

Despite the latest postponement, Jaccard remains hopeful. Conversations with conservatives have left him with the impression that even a change of government would not prevent Canada from moving forward on the climate change agenda.

And while he thinks the Trudeau government remains “climate-sincere,” he says media attention is essential to keep pressure on the Liberals not to spend too much money on political feel-good plans, such as tree planting, at the expense of real measures to cut carbon output. As The Economist reported recently, growing trees in one place doesn’t mean they aren’t being cut down elsewhere, and natural systems tend to return their carbon back to the atmosphere.

“If you’re allowing someone to keep polluting and then you’re sort of convincing yourself that you have offset that or compensated it,” Jaccard said, “the careful evidence doesn’t support that.”

Part of Jaccard’s continued optimism is due to the election of what looks like a climate-sincere Democratic government south of the border that — even without the support of a Republican Senate — can begin to make greenhouse gas-limiting regulations.

The election of a Joe Biden presidency may have created a new “policy window,” he said, as the U.S. moves toward existing Canadian schemes such as the coal phaseout regulation, where Canada is a leader. Meanwhile, Jaccard expects a U.S. push toward such things as the clean fuel standard, which will coax Canada into following suit as manufacturers insist on one set of rules for all of North America.

Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis

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