Mexico matters. In addition to being our southern neighbor, Mexico is our third largest trading partner, after China and Canada. It is ranked as the 15th largest economy in the world. On Sunday the country experienced a seismic change in leadership. Fueled by anger at violence and corruption, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the 64-year old populist center left candidate best known as AMLO, was elected by a clear majority in all but one state and a simple majority in both houses. He had promised to Make Mexico Great Again.
I agree with a Twitter commentator today who said that US-China trade relations was giving him whiplash after President Trump’s volte-face on ZTE. For context, I recommend two new books with a longer view on the changes taking place in China. The first, “The End of an Era” by Carl Minzer is truly a must-read for any China watcher. Devin Stewart at the Carnegie Council conducted a wonderful interview with Prof Minzer, which I’ve included below.
Spring has been a bit tardy this year in the US, and I hear many other places, but not in Asia. The title of a recent Brookings meeting at Northwestern University was “Japan, the United States, and the Future of Asia” but the topic was Korea. I posed the question of whether or not we are experiencing a false spring. Talks between the two Koreas, the US and China are certainly a hopeful development, but do they mask fundamental and growing divisions between the major powers in the Pacific? Together, these countries comprise half of global GDP.
In January, 2018, the Chinese government issued new regulations to facilitate the issuing of R visas for overseas talent. In the future, foreign experts including top scientists, international entrepreneurs and other talents whose skills are in urgent demand will be allowed to stay in China for up to 180 days at a time, with multiple entries on a visa valid from 5 to 10 years. Their spouse and children can also apply similar visas.
The recent removal of term limits for the presidency from the Chinese Constitution represents a further tightening of President Xi JiPing’s grip on power. While he was not up for reelection until 2019, term limits were an obstacle to his grandiose plans for establishing China as a major economic, military and political superpower over the next few years or even decades. While the rise of China as a global power was inevitable, it has been facilitated by the vacuum left by the rapid decline of the U.S. global position under President Trump.
In my last newsletter, I said that global economic fundamentals seem to be positive, and in spite of market turmoil in the interim I am going to reiterate that statement. Volatility has returned, which will bring opportunities for those who are not faint of heart. This is an exciting time, never dull, never boring.
What a week it was! Equity markets and cryptocurrencies, both of which appeared to defy the laws of gravity, and the US dollar took a dive. However, the story of synchronized global growth does not seem to have changed. Have we finally escaped the long dark shadow cast in 2008? Renowned Japanese economy expert Takatoshi Ito thinks that things are changing at the Bank of Japan, the institution that invented and led the world in quantitative easing. This could be a signal of things to come in a new global monetary policy environment.