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Asia Pacific Financial News from John Lothian News – October 3, 2017

Lead Stories

Urban inequality a growing risk in Asia: World Bank
Financial Express
Widening inequality in Asia’s teeming cities could lead to potentially risky social divisions, the World Bank warned today, urging governments to do more to help the urban poor.

Southeast Asia is world’s hotspot for land disputes: report; Most companies involved incur losses
Businesses in Southeast Asia are increasingly counting the cost of land grabs, more than half of which result in delayed projects and nearly three-quarters of which lead to lawsuits, according to a wide-ranging research report.

Eight critical questions you must ask finance recruiters in Asia
by Simon Mortlock – eFinancialCareers
Eight crucial questions that finance professionals in Asia must always ask recruiters
Over the next few weeks finance recruiters in Singapore and Hong Kong will be meeting candidates for jobs starting in the post-bonus season early next year. If you’re meeting a recruiter yourself, you need to come armed with a list of pertinent questions about the job, the bank and the boss. Here’s what to ask.

FinTech News

Blockchain: The buzzword in Singapore Fintech
Blockchain is becoming an increasingly common buzzword locally, particularly within Singapore’s Fintech industry. As Singapore banks positively support the rise of blockchain, what are the applications and will the trend last to attract more investors to our shores?

Regulatory News

World Investor Week Brings Together Securities Regulators on Six Continents to Promote Investor Education and Protection; Joint Investor Bulletin Issued With CFTC, FINRA and NASAA on Tips for Smart Investing
The Securities and Exchange Commission, along with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), is leading efforts in the U.S. to raise awareness about the importance of investor education and protection as part of a global effort. World Investor Week, promoted by the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), takes place October 2-8, 2017, marking the first time securities regulators on six continents are joining together to highlight what it means to be a smart investor as well as ways to avoid fraud.

Investing News

PBOC’s Stock Bullseye
Shuli Ren – Bloomberg
The Xi Jinping put is alive and well.Late Saturday, the People’s Bank of China said it will reduce the amount of cash reserves required for banks that engage in “inclusive financing,” a new phrase for Beijing that refers to loans issued to farmers, small businesses, students and poverty-alleviation programs.

Haven currencies are not always a safe bet; Carry trade behaviour often a better explanation for currency moves
Roger Blitz – FT
When North Korea launched missiles over Japan in recent months the currency market quickly bought the yen. Such seemingly perverse behaviour has analysts having to explain to investors the rudiments of that peculiar foreign exchange conundrum, the haven currency.

SE Asia Stocks-Most rise; Philippines, Indonesia hit record closes
Sumeet Gaikwad – Reuters
Most Southeast Asian stock markets edged
higher on Tuesday drawing confidence from overnight records on
Wall Street, with the Philippine and Indonesian indexes hitting
fresh closing highs.


Japan rules out intercepting North Korean missile tests; Defence minister’s comments highlight sensitivities imposed by pacifist constitution
Robin Harding in Tokyo – FT
Japan will not seek to shoot down North Korean missile tests unless they threaten its territory, the country’s defence minister has signalled in an interview with the Financial Times.

North Korea threatens Japan with nuclear destruction
Financial Express
North Korea on Tuesday threatened Japan with nuclear destructions in response to Tokyo’s attempts to convince the international community to reject dialogue in favour of applying more pressure on Pyongyang.

New entrants flock to Tokyo’s cutting-edge technology trade show
A robot, remote controlled by motion capture, moves in perfect sync with a person in the distance. A device passes an infrared scan over some food and supplies complete nutritional information about the fare. These are among the array of cutting-edge technologies on display as Japan’s largest electronics trade show kicked off Tuesday.

Japan nuclear stocks lukewarm after Tokyo governor denies parliament run
Hudson Lockett
Japanese nuclear power companies were making only minor gains on Tuesday after the Tokyo governor who has called for phasing out nuclear energy by 2030 said she was “100 per cent” not running in the upcoming election.

Mainland China

Compliance a big challenge for internationalising Chinese banks, say analysts; One-tenth of international banks’ costs are spent on compliance showing the challenge for the Chinese banks
Alun John – South China Morning Post
As Chinese banks continue to internationalise, ensuring that they are compliant with the ever changing international regulatory framework is a growing challenge, said analysts.

The curious career paths of China’s public-sector bosses; As long as party prerogatives reign, state-sector reforms unlikely to succeed
Tom Mitchell in Beijing – FT
The official heroes of China’s state-sector reform programme range from dedicated anti-graft investigators, who have purged dozens of allegedly corrupt executives over recent years, to strategically minded administrators determined to create a stable of disciplined, world-beating multinationals.

New force behind China’s shifting economic landscape
Is there any connection between a mass of bikes crowding a suburban subway exit and the smell of money in the heart of the financial market?

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Government approves sandbox initiatives by three financial regulators to facilitate FinTech development
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority would enhance its current FinTech Supervisory Sandbox, while the Securities & Futures Commission and the Insurance Authority launched the Regulatory and the Insurtech sandboxes respectively.

Chinese bowl auctioned for record US$37.7m in Hong Kong; buyer of rare 11th century piece unknown
South China Morning Post
Bidding for brush washer from 11th century Ru imperial kiln began at HK$80 million, and 30 bids were made before it was sold; amid speculation over who the buyer is, inquiry to Chinese collector Liu Yiqian draws a polite non-answer


Indonesia: Why everybody loves Pak Tiko
By: Eric Ellis – Euromoney
Over a 20-year career, the still youthful Kartika Wirjoatmodjo has built a reputation as Indonesia’s financial Mr Fixit. Now, the popular banker has a new challenge – to build Bank Mandiri into a domestic leader with aspirations across southeast Asia. Is it his biggest challenge yet?

Indonesia: New banks, same old owners…
By: Eric Ellis – Euromoney
Though the banking battleground in fast-modernizing Indonesia is new, the combatants include some of its oldest and most controversial business clans.


OCBC, HSBC, Mitsubishi UFJ in Singapore blockchain tie-up; System to speed customer verification, lower compliance costs
Three major banks are joining forces in Singapore to build a customer identification and verification system using blockchain technology, potentially lowering compliance costs as lenders step up efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

Forget the past as Singapore escapes the economic trough in 2017
It can be difficult to let go of the past and look forward to the future.

By Caroline Bowler, Managing Director of Bowlah
Slush, the startup and tech event, originated in Helsinki in 2008, landing on Asian shores in 2015. September 19th saw the second year of their Singapore iteration and the organisers are proud of their success: 3000 attendees, 360 startups, 250 investors, 200 students and 90 speakers. Its self-described purpose is to “help the next generation of great, world-conquering companies.”


A Salve for Vietnam’s Financial Troubles
Restructuring Vietnam’s state economy has been a recurring theme over the past three decades. Yet despite the country’s many impressive economic achievements, reform is still largely a work in progress.

Fintech start-ups poised to develop in Vietnam
Speaking on the sidelines of the Investor Summit-Deal Day Roadshow, which was organised by UOB, Toong and Ernst & Young in HCM City on last Saturday, Duong Do, Toong’s founder and CEO, said that as part of UOB and Toong co-operation agreement, UOB will bring its Finlab into Viet Nam to support members working under Toong’s network nationwide.


Thaksin’s son calls for an end to Thai money-laundering probe
Reuters Staff
The only son of fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Tuesday asked for a money-laundering investigation against him to be dropped, saying it was politically motivated.

Thaksin Shinawatra: the Thai Berlusconi
Asher Schechter –
For much of the last two decades, Thaksin Shinawatra has haunted Thailand’s political system. haksin, who served as Thailand’s prime minister between 2001 and 2006, was overthrown in a military coup and has since been living in self-imposed exile to avoid imprisonment for corruption. Yet he continues to wield significant influence over the country’s politics. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, became Thailand’s first female prime minister in 2011 thanks to her brother’s popularity, before she was overthrown in a military coup herself and fled the country to avoid imprisonment. (She was convicted of negligence and sentenced to five years in prison in absentia last week.)


Perng Fai-nan on how Taiwan has eluded crisis for 20 years
Christopher Jeffery –
What do you view as the main causes of the global financial crisis? How was the Taiwanese financial and monetary system directly affected?

South Korea

South Korea’s looming crisis
Twenty years after the Asian financial crisis, South Korea seems to have learned its lesson, having taken great pains to strengthen its economic resilience. But now the country is confronting a new set of internal and external risks, which may foreshadow another major economic crisis – or worse. Given the ongoing nuclear crisis with North Korea, a new bout of economic tumult is the last thing the country needs.

South Korea Phones the North Twice a Day. No One Answers
Every day, South Korea’s Unification Ministry sends officials to the border village of Panmunjom to call North Korea at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. For more than 18 months, the North hasn’t picked up.


Visa launches interactive financial literacy-themed play
By Joann Villanueva, Philippine News Agency
International digital payments provider Visa launched on Monday its financial literacy program Lukot-lukot, Bilog-bilog (Crumpled, rounded), a theatrical play targeted to teach students the importance of informed financial decisions.


Financial education crucial to plan for the future, says BNM deputy governor
The Star
Financial education is crucial to encourage consumers to better manage their finances, plan for the future and manage risks associated to financial matters, says Bank Negara Malaysia deputy governor Abdul Rasheed Ghaffour .

iSelect takes control of iMoney, one of Southeast Asia’s top financial comparison
Judith Balea – Tech Asia
Australian Securities Exchange-listed iSelect has boosted its stake in Malaysia-based financial comparison service iMoney, giving it majority ownership of the company.

Islamic finance must expand into fintech, says Sultan Nazrin
Islamic finance should venture into financial technology (fintech) in tandem with the global financing requirements, said the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah.


Floods in central India have tripled since 1950, says study
Financial Express
Violent floods in central India have tripled since 1950, according to researchers who warned today of worse to come while offering hope for predicting them better in future.

Has Mumbai become India’s most unliveable city?
A deadly stampede at a busy Mumbai station that killed 23 people last Friday has caused anger, not only because it could have been avoided, but because residents feel that it is yet another example of the city suffering due to officials’ apathy, writes the BBC’s Ayeshea Perera.

India equity issuances at 10-year high: report
Indian companies raised a total of $17.2 billion in the first nine months of 2017 by selling equity and equity-linked securities, a 138% increase compared to the same period last year, a Thomson Reuters report has said


Australian debt binge to drag on growth, jobs, IMF warns
by Jacob Greber – AFR
The growing dead weight of Australia’s five-year debt binge has only just started to drag on economic growth and jobs, according to modelling by the International Monetary Fund that further highlights the increasing financial vulnerability of households.

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Lothian is executive chairman and CEO of John J. Lothian & Co. and editor of the John Lothian Newsletter. He publishes,,, and three industry newsletters.