Labour may reap what it’s sown
After reading Ashis Ray’s article ‘Ascent of the South Asians’ (Asian Affairs, December edition), I felt Mr Ray could have expanded on his point that the UK Labour Party has ‘given the impression of being pro-Pakistan’ on the current Kashmir situation. This has angered many Indians in Britain, as not only did Labour seem to be supporting Pakistani propaganda regarding the revoking of Article 370, but it was involving itself in an issue that is entirely an internal matter for India. (The party has now been forced to backtrack as a result of pleas from its own British Asian MPs.)
I have long been a staunch Labour supporter, but this interference in India-Pakistan affairs is alienating some of the party’s most loyal South Asian base. If it loses seats to the Conservatives in the December 12 election as a result of voters switching allegiance over the issue, it will be a sad day for British politics, but to some extent deserved.
Interesting write-up by Trevor Grundy on the ‘Gandhi Must Fall’ movement. These ‘Stalinist censors’ really are hard of thinking. First of all, they do not allow for prevailing attitudes of past eras. Secondly, as Mary Elizabeth King suggests, it is unreasonable to expect even the most exemplary leaders to be infallible. Finally, even disregarding the first two statements, it is not possible, or desirable, to control how people think.
Japan should be cautious with its spending and debt
Re. Duncan Bartlett’s article in the December issue about the dangers facing East Asia’s economy, it was interesting to note Japan’s announcement of a large fiscal stimulus. This may become a trendsetter for slow-growing developed economies the world over which are experiencing slowing economies, in spite of ultra-loose monetary conditions.
The Bank of Japan has implemented quantitative (QE) easing over the last 20 years. It shifted towards more aggressive QE, in 2013, when Governor Haruhiko Kuroda became the central bank’s governor.
However, as the policy deepened in recent years, it imperilled Japan’s broader financial system, to the extent that its effects forced the country’s institutional investors, including giant pension and insurance funds, to shift away from investments in negative to near zero-yielding government bonds, into other assets.
Of course, some of the other reasons for the large fiscal boost are also connected with the need to improve and upgrade infrastructure in the wake of recent natural disasters, including many of the river systems and levees that were ravaged by typhoon Hagibis, not to mention supporting the prospects of PM Shinzo Abe’s ruling political party, the LDP, in upcoming lower house elections.
No doubt policy makers around the world will be watching how Japan fares in this switch towards fiscal spending away from an even heavier reliance on monetary easing.
The question for Japan, though, unlike most other developed countries, is not whether the country can afford such a huge fiscal expansion, given its current debt to GDP of 235%, but whether it will have any real and lasting positive outcomes.
Senior Research Fellow
Global Policy Institute