Singapore Bonds Decline to Become Second-Worst Debt Market in the World

Singapore Bonds Decline to Become Second-Worst Debt Market

By Kenneth Foo  Jun 12, 2013

Singapore bonds fell for a fourth day, making their loss for the past three months the second-biggest in the world, as investors gird for the possibility that the U.S. Federal Reserve could slow bond purchases. The price of Singapore’s 3.125 percent note due in September 2022 tumbled to S$107.30 as of 3:27 p.m. local time from S$108.24 yesterday, based on data compiled by Bloomberg and the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The yield rose 10 basis points, or 0.1 percentage point, to 2.24 percent, a level not seen since July 2011. “The only reason for this is the speculation of Fed tapering,” said Michael Wan, an economist at Credit Suisse Group AG in Singapore. “There’s pretty much a sell-off across all countries and markets.” The Bloomberg Singapore Sovereign Bond Index (BSIN) has declined 2.4 percent over three months. The only other sovereign index among 33 tracked by Bloomberg that fell more was Slovenia’s with a 4.3 percent decline. The Bloomberg U.S. Treasury Bond Index fell 0.2 percent. The Fed buys $85 billion of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities each month to support the economy by putting downward pressure on borrowing costs. It will probably reduce its purchases to $65 billion a month at its Oct. 29-30 meeting, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 59 economists last week. To contact the reporter on this story: Kenneth Foo in Singapore at

Asia’s ticking time bonds; Time to cut and run?

Asia’s ticking time bonds; Time to cut and run?

1:28am EDT

By Saikat Chatterjee and Umesh Desai

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Efforts to make the global financial system safer could be making Asia more – not less – vulnerable to any credit market shocks, leaving bond traders worried that a sharp selloff since late May could turn into a rout. Low global interest rates have made it easier than ever to sell new bonds denominated in dollars, euros or yen, resulting in a boom in issuance that has made Asia and its companies ever more dependent on debt. But the market for trading those bonds is slowly drying up, leaving it susceptible to a sharper selloff if holders of these so-called G3 bonds decide it is time to head for the exit. “The issue is that if any of them choose to sell their holdings, the market may not have the capacity to absorb these flows. If we reach a stage like that then liquidity could dry up very quickly and that can have a spiraling effect,” said Dhimant Shah, a fund manager at Mackenzie Investments in Singapore. Read more of this post

A business owner fleeing 800 million yuan in debt from China’s Jiangsu highlights financial transparency issues the city is having

Company Head Flees 800 Million Yuan Debt – Economic Observer Online 

By Jing Tian (景天)
Issue 623, June 10, 2013

Xu Cailiang (许才良), owner of Rong Tai Oil Technology Ltd. (融泰石油科技股份有限公司), fled to the U.S. last month leaving behind 800 million yuan in debt. A source at the local financing office said that the company was founded in 2007 in Jiangyin (江阴), Jiangsu and has been losing money ever since. It’s been able to receive loans from banks because of its close relationship with Jiangyin City Construction and Comprehensive Development Ltd. (江阴市城镇建设综合开发有限公司), also known as City Constriction. “The owner of Rong Tai and the owner of City Constriction are the same person: Xu Cailiang,” the source said. The state-run City Construction was founded in 1984 and Xu became its CEO in 1998. Then in 2007, he bought it for 20 million yuan in cash and became the company’s sole shareholder. Xu was also a supervisor in Jiangyin Agricultural Bank, one of Rong Tai’s investors. City Construction provided 470 million yuan to Rong Tai as a loan guarantee on top of a 3.2 million yuan deposit and a mortgage guarantee allegedly worth 763 million yuan. However, according to a source in a local bank, the mortgage written in the loan application was much higher than the actual value. Two similar cases have happened in Jiangyin within the past six months. A local official said that the economic environment of Jiangsu is much less transparent than that of its neighbor, Zhejiang, making problems like these less likely to be discovered before it’s too late. Jiangyin, a town with 34 public corporations, has been held up as a model for economic development in recent years. However, it’s likely that the city’s economy isn’t as healthy as it appears on the surface.

China microlenders get death threats as they try to recover bad loans; “Some of the borrowers are steel traders, toy makers, or plain loan sharks. Everything is fine when the economy grows robustly and liquidity is plentiful.”

China microlenders get death threats as they try to recover bad loans

Saturday, 08 June, 2013, 12:00am

Jane Cai in Beijing

Threatening messages are routine for Miao Qiang these days.

“A killer from Beijing will take your life if you don’t withdraw the lawsuit,” a message on his mobile phone reads.

Miao, co-owner of a microcredit company in Jiangsu province, laughs helplessly. He has brought a dozen companies and individuals to court since the beginning of the year as loan defaults surged. But little of the money has been collected. Read more of this post

If you can’t buy them, bankrupt them; Private Equity Capitalizes on Chinese Firms’ Depressed Shares

JUNE 11, 2013, 9:10 AM

Private Equity Capitalizes on Chinese Firms’ Depressed Shares


HONG KONG – If you can’t buy them, bankrupt them.

Three months ago, Ambow Education Holding, a troubled operator of tutoring centers in China that was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, was the target of a $108 million privatization bid by Baring Private Equity Asia.

On Monday, Baring emerged as one of several big shareholders that had succeeded in pushing Ambow into provisional liquidation by a court in the Cayman Islands, where the company is registered, after a dispute with management over an investigation into possible financial misconduct. Read more of this post

India’s Small-Change Problem; Ever been given a candy instead of a rupee for change? Here’s why.

June 12, 2013, 11:02 AM

India’s Small-Change Problem

Top of Form

By Anant Vijay Kala

If you’ve shopped in India you likely know the problem. You go to a store to buy a few things and when it’s time to pay, you hand over the cash. But the cashier’s run out of change. Instead of the few rupees you’re owed, the cashier gives you one or two candies, or a stick of chewing gum, to make up the shortfall. You want those coins, the exchange doesn’t feel quite fair – and it’s bad for your teeth – but you’re reluctant to make a fuss. And so you walk out, feeling a little short-changed. If this chimes with you, then you’re not alone. A survey conducted in 2012 by the Reserve Bank of India, in response to complaints from the public, found that 44% of people in 12 Indian cities had the same experience; candies instead of coins for change. Read more of this post

Becoming ‘Asia Literate’: Learn Chinese, but Don’t Stop There

JUNE 11, 2013, 2:20 AM

Becoming ‘Asia Literate’: Learn Chinese, but Don’t Stop There


BEIJING — While studying abroad at Peking University in Beijing, Andrew Stead didn’t expect to find a job at Burton, one of the top snow boarding brands in the world.

“In my spare time on exchange, I would go skateboarding around Beijing with friends, including one who worked at Burton. A few months later, I was offered a job at their Beijing office because of my interest in snowboarding and China,” said Mr. Stead, 23, who is majoring in engineering and finance and speaks solid Chinese. He plans to return to Beijing after he graduates soon from an Australian university.

Governments are increasingly recognizing the opportunities that exist for people like Mr. Stead who are able to marry technical skills or hobbies with “Asian literacy.” Also called “global competence,” it represents an understanding of other cultures and languages; but China isn’t the only nation in Asia and people should also be looking more broadly, to Japan, India and Indonesia, to name just three other places, according to some experts. Read more of this post

China Audit Office Shines Light On Local Government Debt

June 11, 2013, 5:56 PM

Audit Office Shines Light On Local Government Debt

In recent years, China’s local governments have borrowed trillions of yuan from banks, the bond market andshadow lenders in order to build infrastructure, housing, and improve government services. That spending has helped prop up economic growth, but little is known about the quality of debt and the local governments’ ability to repay it.

On Monday, the National Audit Office of the People’s Republic of China posted on its website the highlights of an audit into the debt holdings of 36 local governments at the end of 2012, providing rare insight into one of the greater challenges facing China’s financial system. Read more of this post

Fake Fake Drugs From China: What’s Stopping a Cure for Malaria in Africa?

Fake Fake Drugs From China: What’s Stopping a Cure for Malaria in Africa?

By Kathleen McLaughlin

In 1967, as the United States sank into war in the jungles of Vietnam and China descended into the cataclysm of the Cultural Revolution, Chinese soldiers secretly fighting alongside the North Vietnamese also battled swarms of malarial mosquitoes. Showing remarkable foresight, Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong amassed a secret team of top scientists with one mission: find a cure for malaria.

As China — then a poor country, barely recovered from a devastating famine — added insult to injury by dismantling its scientific, medical, and educational institutions under Mao’s misguided program of political cleansing, the scientists labored on with clear purpose. Within a decade, some 500 researchers, many of whom were persecuted politically along the way, developed an ingenious drug called artemisinin, pulling off a medical marvel against the odds. Read more of this post

GSK fires China research head over ‘misrepresented’ data

GSK fires China research head over ‘misrepresented’ data

Tue, Jun 11 2013

LONDON (Reuters) – British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: QuoteProfileResearchStock Buzz) has fired its head of research and development in China after discovering that a study by some of its Chinese scientists contained misrepresentation of data. A company spokesman said on Tuesday that Jiangwu Zang had been dismissed and three other individuals had been placed on administrative leave, while a further employee had resigned. The decision follows an investigation into concerns about a scientific paper published in the journal Nature Medicine in 2010 involving pre-clinical research into multiple sclerosis. Zang was one of the authors of the paper. “Regretfully, our investigation has established that certain data in the paper were indeed misrepresented,” Britain’s biggest drugs group said in a statement. Read more of this post

Norway’s biggest bank is warning investors not to underestimate the risks lurking in Scandinavia’s largest junk bond market

Bankers Spot Cracks in Norway High Risk Bond Boom: Nordic Credit

Norway’s biggest bank is warning investors not to underestimate the risks lurking in Scandinavia’s largest junk bond market.

Magnus Piene, DNB ASA (DNB)’s global head of offshore, says surplus liquidity flowing into Western Europe’s biggest oil producer may lead to a repeat of the spate of defaults Norway saw at the height of the financial crisis in 2009.

“I see early signs of this coming up again and it’s merely a function of excess liquidity,” Piene said in an interview in Oslo. “Instead of putting money into a bank with poor-yielding deposits, you put them into these high risk projects that you may consider low risk — wrongly in some cases, I would say. All that liquidity is pushing people to do things they shouldn’t be doing.” Read more of this post

Former Politicians as Corporate Directors: Good for Business?

Former Politicians as Corporate Directors: Good for Business?

Stephen Gray University of Queensland – Business School; Duke University – Fuqua School of Business; Financial Research Network (FIRN)

Iman Harymawan Airlangga University

John Nowland City University of Hong Kong

May 27, 2013

International studies suggest that directors with political connections provide significant benefits to shareholders. Yet, whether this is the case in the political and business environment in Australia is unknown. In this study, we examine the prevalence of former politicians as non-executive directors in ASX-listed companies and the market reaction to their appointment. In our sample of 1,561 companies in 2007, we find that former federal, state, local and foreign politicians hold directorships in 5.32% of firms. Our event study of new director appointments shows that the market reaction to the appointment of former politicians is significantly lower than non-politicians. This indicates that shareholders do not value the expertise that former politicians bring to corporate boards in Australia, particularly when their political parties are not in power and when they have less political and director experience. In summary, we find no evidence that former politician directors possess valuable political connections in Australia.

Crazy Eddie fraudster says SEC can’t keep up; Corporate audits don’t work, give investors false sense of security

June 7, 2013, 6:01 a.m. EDT

Crazy Eddie fraudster says SEC can’t keep up

Corporate audits don’t work, give investors false sense of security

By Ronald D. Orol, MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Securities regulators are overwhelmed by the volume of fraud and insider-trading violations and don’t have the resources to pursue criminals effectively.


Former Crazy Eddie CFO Sam Antar.

So says Sam Antar, a felon and former chief financial officer of Crazy Eddie Inc., a well-known criminal enterprise from the 1980s that cost many people their life savings and was even featured on “Saturday Night Live.”

Antar, 56, now teaches FBI agents and Justice Department officials about white-collar crime and how to spot it. He spoke to MarketWatch about the economics of white-collar crime; why he thinks “audit” is a fraudulent term; and why short sellers, along with well-compensated whistleblowers, are best at ferreting out fraud.

Here’s what he had to say:

MarketWatch: You were the CFO of Crazy Eddie, a criminal enterprise passing itself off as a New York electronics retailer in the 1980s. Can you tell me about It?

Sam Antar: It was an 18-year fraud with two parts. As a private company we understated income by skimming money to steal the sales tax and evade income taxes. As a public company we did the opposite: We overstated our income to sell stock at inflated prices. The reason you do that is because as a public company you get a bigger bang for the buck by overstating income and overstating your taxes than understating income and understating taxes. That’s because as a private company you are not trading stock. As a public company your stock trades at a multiple of earnings. Let’s say I understate income by a million dollars, I may save $400,000 in taxes. But if I overstate my income by the same million dollars and overpay taxes by $400,000; that $600,000 in overstated net income, if the stock is trading at 30 times earnings, increases the value of the company by $18 million. It is the economics of white-collar crime: Overpaying taxes and overstating income is better as a public company.

MW: As CFO of Crazy Eddie, you were involved in a lot of the accounting fraud. Do you think auditors are equipped to find fraud?

S.A.: I do not believe that most auditors are adequately trained to find fraud and do battle with fraudsters of my former caliber. Documents don’t commit fraud; the people controlling the documents commit fraud. For example, most auditors are not taught fraud psychology — the behavioral dynamics of fraud. Auditors are rarely taught about emotional manipulation and misdirection used by fraudsters to manipulate their behavior during audits and successfully carry out their crimes. They are unprepared for the psychological games played by fraudsters. Read more of this post

Fears of coronavirus mount as pilgrimage to Mecca nears; The deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS) has potential to cause pandemic: WHO

June 11, 2013 1:34 pm

Fears of coronavirus mount as pilgrimage to Mecca nears

By Michael Peel and Abeer Allam in Abu Dhabi and Andrew Jack in London

Global health experts have stepped up warnings to the more than a million foreign pilgrims on their way to Saudi Arabia of the risks there from a deadly Sars-like virusthat has killed more than 30 people worldwide.

As vast numbers of Saudi and non-Saudi Muslims prepare to travel to Mecca next month for the peak of the Umrah pilgrimage, public health officials fear the virus may be circulating more widely than thought.

The influx of visitors to Saudi Arabia increases the chances of both domestic and international transmission of the coronavirus dubbed Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which has killed more than 20 people in the kingdom. Read more of this post

Buffett’s 28-Year-Old Go-To Executive Tracy Britt

June 11, 2013, 2:59 p.m. ET

A Rising Star Emerges at Berkshire



When Tracy Britt arrived in Omaha, Neb., in 2009 to meet with Warren Buffett, she brought a Harvard M.B.A., a glittering resume and a boatload of ambition. But she also brought the famed investor a gift to highlight their shared Midwestern roots: a bushel of corn and a batch of tomatoes.

The seed Ms. Britt planted that day yielded quick results: a job for Ms. Britt as Mr. Buffett’s financial assistant at Berkshire Hathaway Inc. BRKB -1.42% Almost four years later, it has blossomed further, with Ms. Britt emerging as one of Mr. Buffett’s top lieutenants and even serving as chairman of four companies within his $284 billion conglomerate.

Ms. Britt, now 28 years old and more than five decades younger than her boss, occupies a role unlike any other within Berkshire. With an office next to Mr. Buffett’s at Berkshire’s headquarters, Ms. Britt helps with financial research, accompanies Mr. Buffett to meetings and occasionally drives him around town. The billionaire gradually tacked on additional responsibilities. Read more of this post

Founders find it tough to choose someone to run their business

June 11, 2013 4:58 pm

Let the right one in

By Emma Jacobs

Kenny Wilson had a blunt conversation with Cath Kidston, founder of the eponymous floral home furnishings and fashion business, before he took over two years ago as chief executive. “I said ‘If you don’t want a CEO then don’t hire me’,” he says.

Stating the obvious? Perhaps. But Mr Wilson knew all too well that many entrepreneurs who appoint someone else as chief executive are incapable of actually ceding control. John Mullins, as­sociate professor of management practice at London Business School, ob­serves: “Founders let go with difficulty. People’s identity is subsumed by the business.” Read more of this post

The wrongs that write a business plan; What to avoid if you want to raise finance

June 11, 2013 4:36 pm

The wrongs that write a business plan

By Luke Johnson

What to avoid if you want to raise finance

Iread two or three business plans a week. I’ve developed a checklist of irritating elements that entrepreneurs are best advised to avoid if they want to succeed in raising finance.

● Complicated and aggressive non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements There is often an inverse relationship between the length of the NDA and the scale of the project. While entrepreneurs should try to protect their intellectual property, these contracts are really more of a ritual than of any practical use.

● Advisers taking a disproportionate fee Investors don’t want to see a material amount of their money going to pay corporate financiers. I was presented with a plan last year where the adviser stood to collect 20 per cent of the funds raised. It put me off the proposition. Read more of this post

Traders Said to Rig Currency Rates to Profit Off Clients; Employees have been front-running client orders and rigging WM/Reuters rates by pushing through trades before and during the 60-second windows when the benchmarks are set

Traders Said to Rig Currency Rates to Profit Off Clients

Traders at some of the world’s biggest banks manipulated benchmark foreign-exchange rates used to set the value of trillions of dollars of investments, according to five dealers with knowledge of the practice.

Employees have been front-running client orders and rigging WM/Reuters rates by pushing through trades before and during the 60-second windows when the benchmarks are set, said the current and former traders, who requested anonymity because the practice is controversial. Dealers colluded with counterparts to boost chances of moving the rates, said two of the people, who worked in the industry for a total of more than 20 years. Read more of this post

The US Treasury will have to pay a positive real interest rate on new 10-year borrowing for the first time in 18 months; TIPS inflation-adjusted or “real” Treasury yield pushed above zero from minus 0.75 per cent as recently as April

June 11, 2013 6:53 pm

Fears of QE3 slowdown drive Treasury rates up

By Michael MacKenzie in New York and Robin Harding in Washington

The US Treasury will have to pay a positive real interest rate on new 10-year borrowing for the first time in 18 months as investors get cold feet about a possible slowing of the Federal Reserve’s bond buying programme.

Bond investors are ditching Treasury inflation-protected securities, or Tips, pushing the inflation-adjusted or “real” Treasury yield above zero. It was minus 0.75 per cent as recently as April. Read more of this post

Apple $17 billion bonds lose 9% in six weeks. Will Apple’s $17bn debt sale in April turn out to be the “AOL buys Time Warner”moment of the three-decade bond market bull run?

June 11, 2013 9:53 am

Apple bonds lose 9% in six weeks

By Stephen Foley and Michael Mackenzie in New York

Investors are nursing losses of up to 9 per cent on Apple’s record-breaking $17bn bond offering, less than six weeks after the securities landed in their portfolios.

The technology giant tapped the white-hot bond market for the largest debt fundraising to date on April 30, but a sharp turn in interest rates has caused a sell-off in corporate bonds and wiped hundreds of millions of dollars off the value of the offering.

Apple sold $3bn of bonds maturing in 2043, locking in a low interest rate of 3.9 per cent for the next 30 years, but the market price of these bonds had fallen to 90.36 per cent of face value in late trading on Monday, according to Trace data. Read more of this post

An exodus from emerging markets threatens to hurt the financing and growth prospects of developing economies that have come to rely on large inflows of foreign capital in the wake of the global financial crisis

Updated June 11, 2013, 6:05 p.m. ET

Money Flows Out of Emerging Markets



Money streamed out of emerging markets, destabilizing currencies, sinking stocks and creating headaches for policy makers already worried about faltering growth.

In the latest signs of turmoil, highflying stock markets fell in Asia, while currencies in India, Thailand and Indonesia reeled in the face of a surging U.S. dollar.

Some emerging-market currencies rebounded in New York trading hours but others remained weaker on the day. The volatile trading reflected the difficulties investors face in trying to predict when developed-world banks might start to withdraw stimulus and how such moves would ripple across global markets. Read more of this post

Across China, local governments are pushing ambitious spending projects that add to concerns about wasteful capital investment and rising debts

June 11, 2013, 1:30 p.m. ET

Across China, the Itch to Spend Is Strong


BEIJING—As leaders in Beijing remain cautious about stimulating China’s economy out of a slowdown, local governments are taking no chances, pushing ambitious spending projects that add to concerns about wasteful capital investment and rising debts.

It isn’t clear how many of these undertakings—which include everything from highways to subways—will end up with funding. But the push illustrates Beijing’s challenge as it attempts to rebalance the world’s No. 2 economy to make it less dependent on such massive investment plans.

A total of 16 provinces and two municipalities representing more than 60% of China’s gross domestic product have issued statements since the start of the second quarter proclaiming the importance of investment projects in driving growth and urging lower levels of government to use all means to accelerate plans in the months ahead. Read more of this post

UPS is expanding its health-care shipping services in China, as it pursues a larger foothold in a lucrative market with limited access to foreign delivery companies; The largest distributors in the U.S. control approximately 90% of the health-care logistics market

June 11, 2013, 12:36 p.m. ET

UPS Bulks Up in China

Delivery Firm Seeks Deals to Broaden Health-Care Shipping Efforts


SHANGHAI—United Parcel Service Inc. UPS -0.81% is expanding its health-care shipping services in China, as it pursues a larger foothold in a lucrative market with limited access to foreign delivery companies.

Atlanta-based UPS is seeking acquisitions to broaden its health-care supply chain in China, enabling it to transport medical devices and pharmaceuticals in China to companies such as drug maker Merck & Co., said Jim Barber, the president of UPS International. The company operates a facility in Shanghai as well as a new 237,000-square-foot storage and distribution center in the coastal city of Hangzhou, China. Read more of this post

Chinese local governments are padding their balance sheets with billions in fake assets

Chinese local governments are padding their balance sheets with billions in fake assets

By Gwynn Guilford @sinoceros 10 hours ago

Even China’s most prominent cities and provinces are increasingly relying on high-risk and murky forms of borrowing. That’s according to a new report from China’s National Audit Office on the finances of 36 provincial and municipal governments(link in Chinese). The report covered the governments of cities including Shanghai, Chongqing and Tianjin, and the provincial governments of Guangdong, Jiangsu and others. Here’s a roundup of the most notable numbers:

Local government debt hasn’t gone up much recently… or so it might seem. At the end of 2012, those 36 local governments had racked up $628 billion in debt, a 12.9% increase on what they’d amassed by the end of 2010. That’s not exactly shocking. But there are hints that the debt of some local governments may be threatening to spiral out of control: 12 of them saw their debts rise 20% or more. Plus, as China Real Time estimates, the report probably only covers 25-30% of total local government debt.

A sizable part of some local governments’ debt is dubious “shadow lending.” Nearly 16% of the total debt accrued by 13 local governments since 2010—$36 billion—came from trust loans and other sketchy financing, which channels lending off bank balance sheets. That could be higher—the report said financing through these channels is easy to conceal. It also noted that these are especially risky since rates tend to be much higher than those of banks—up to 17.5% annually.  Read more of this post

The price of love: Dowry map of China goes viral

The price of love: Dowry map of China goes viral

Staff Reporter



The map shows the different amounts of dowry money expected in different parts of the country. (Internet photo)

In traditional Chinese culture, a man must first provide a dowry to his wife’s family before getting married. The practice has persisted into the present day, and a map showing the average amount required in different parts of China has gone viral online, with many internet users saying that they cannot afford a wife, reports the Henan-based news website Dahe.

The Dowry Map of China divides the country into five zones in terms of the amount expected by a bride’s family — 1 million yuan (US$163,000), 500,000 yuan (US$80,750), 100,000 yuan (US$16,300), and 10,000 yuan (US$1,600), and zero yuan. Read more of this post

Tamil Nadu: Can eccentric politics continue to deliver prosperity? Why are so many Tamil politicians ex-film stars?

Tamil Nadu

A successful show begins to pall

Can eccentric politics continue to deliver prosperity?

Jun 8th 2013 | CHENNAI |From the print edition


IMAGINE a place run by film stars—vain, power-hungry, paranoid, adored. Imagine they had been in charge not for the duration of a reality television series but for decades in a territory containing 72m people and one of the world’s largest cities. It would be a disaster zone, wouldn’t it? Think again, and welcome to Tamil Nadu, one of India’s great success stories—and a state run by actors. It is the ultimate celebrity experiment.

Tycoons and foreign bosses are infatuated by Gujarat, a hard-charging western state where the trains run on time. Policy wonks admire Bihar, an eastern badland that is getting its act together. But India’s most consistent economic performer is in its deep south (see chart). Tamil Nadu has the third-biggest GDP of any state and has grown faster and richer than most.

It is as industrialised as Gujarat—Hyundai, Ford and Renault, among others, churn out a third of all cars made in India there, while the state’s looms dominate the national textile industry. It is also as socially progressive as famously lefty states like Kerala. Compared with the Indian average, more people can read, fewer babies die, and fewer folk are poor in Tamil Nadu. Read more of this post

After two years of relentless buying overseas, Japanese companies are taking a breather in mergers and acquisitions

Jun 11, 2013

Japanese M&A Takes a Step Back

By Isabella Steger

After two years of relentless buying overseas, Japanese companies are taking a breather in mergers and acquisitions.


Japanese outbound M&A has dropped 67% this year from a year earlier, according to data provider Dealogic, with just $11.9 billion in announced deal volume, the lowest level since 2009. In the same period in 2012, $35.3 billion in deals had been announced.

Deal sizes have also become noticeably smaller this year. In the same period last year, the biggest deal was the $5 billion acquisition by advertising giant Dentsu Inc. 4324.TO -2.38% of U.K.-based Aegis PLC, followed by a string of multibillion-dollar deals. Only two transactions announced this year by Japanese companies were valued at more than $1 billion—the biggest being the $2.6 billion acquisition by Orix Corp. 8591.TO -4.34% for Dutch asset manager Robeco Group ROBA.AE -1.02% from Rabobank in February. Read more of this post

Nintendo Chief Defends Console Strategy; Company Sticks to Games for Its Hardware, Resisting Lure of Mobile Devices

Updated June 11, 2013, 5:45 p.m. ET

Nintendo Chief Defends Console Strategy

Company Sticks to Games for Its Hardware, Resisting Lure of Mobile Devices



Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, shown with a Wii U controller, says the company will stick with a strategy of making games for its own hardware.

LOS ANGELES—Game apps for smartphones and tablet computers are selling at a rapid pace, much faster than the market for console games. But Satoru Iwata isn’t succumbing to their allure.

The president of Nintendo Co.7974.OK -1.47% is determined to stick to its three-decades-old strategy of making games only for its own hardware, despite pressures to exploit its popular software more widely.

In an interview, Mr. Iwata said the short-term benefits of going after the mobile-apps market wouldn’t be worth the potential harm to the company’s strategy of combining hardware and software in ways that make Nintendo’s offerings unique. Read more of this post

Fast Retailing, operator of the casual clothing chain Uniqlo, has become the unlikely symbol of volatility in Japanese stocks

June 11, 2013, 2:23 p.m. ET

Fast Retailing: The Stock That Wags the Nikkei



TOKYO—Fast Retailing Co., 9983.TO -1.44% operator of the casual clothing chain Uniqlo, has become the unlikely symbol of volatility in Japanese stocks, pulling with it the Nikkei Stock Average in its incandescent rise and sudden drop.

Shares in Fast Retailing, headed by Japan’s richest billionaire, Tadashi Yanai, more than doubled in 2013 to an all-time high of ¥44,400 before shedding 33% as Japanese equities markets underwent a severe correction stretching from late May to early June. Shares closed Tuesday at ¥31,250, down about 30%, and off 2.5% for the day, compared with a 1.45% loss for the overall Nikkei.

Neither the rise nor fall had much to do with the business performance of the maker of T-shirts and thermal underwear. The key was Fast Retailing’s 9.4% weighting on the Nikkei average—the highest of all 225 stocks in the index and more than the combined weighting of Japan’s four biggest companies by market capitalization. Read more of this post

S Korean women struggle in workforce; Only about 10 per cent of all managerial positions are held by women, and the gender pay gap is 39 per cent, making it the highest in the OECD

June 11, 2013 9:20 am

S Korean women struggle in workforce

By Song Jung-a

Mrs Kim has been thinking about quitting her job at a Seoul brokerage for a while, as she finds it hard to juggle her career and two pre-school children.

Like many South Korean office workers, Mrs Kim leaves home before 7am and returns after 7pm. While long work days are common in Korea – which has the longest working hours in the OECD – they are tough for mothers with young children.

“Sometimes days pass by without even saying ‘hi’ to my children when I get too busy,” says the 38-year-old. “Then I become more sceptical about continuing my work.”

She is not alone. Korean women have to overcome many obstacles at work after marriage and child birth. On top of the long hours, the lack of childcare and the male-dominated business culture force many to leave the workforce. Read more of this post

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