|Asia News Digest
Wen Jiabao rips into "quantitative easing."
March 15Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, speaking at a press conference March 14, at the end of the National People's Congress, and on the eve of the Federal Reserve's next meeting, ripped into the Empire policy of "quantitative easing (QE)." "Some countries have pursued quantitative easing and that has caused drastic fluctuations in the exchange rates of some major currencies and in global commodities prices," Wen said.
The target was clearly the United States, but the warning was not heeded, as the March 15 FOMC meeting reconfirmed the ongoing QE bailout policy. The cost of that policy is now being felt in accelerating hyperinflation in commodity and food prices.
The issue of inflation and dealing with it was a key topic of discussion at the Congress, Wen noted, and has been "the top priority of the government" for the last year. "Inflation is like a tiger. Once it escapes, it is almost impossible to get it back into its cage."
Responding to questions, Wen also indicated that the government was willing to accept lower GDP growth for the sake of improving the quality and quantity of people's living conditions. Much of the continued economic stimulus package will be targeted this year to "people's livelihood," i.e., social security, medical insurance, education, with a corresponding expansion in employment in the service sector. There will also be a continued emphasis on promoting science and technology to advance economic development. Wen said, "It's time that we stop focusing on GDP. There are two figures that are even more important. They are the sums spent on science and technology and those spent on education."
Japan Points to 'Investment' (Speculation) Behind Inflation
March 6 (EIRNS)The Bank of Japan (BOJ), breaking from the Wall Street-London line, blames speculation for the ongoing inflationary surge. According to a Japanese Broadcasting Company (NHK) report, the BOJ says investor money has been flowing to raw materials and food more than to the stock market, pushing commodities prices higher.
Japan's central bank gives an analysis in its report of the recent upsurge in prices of commodities, including crude oil, metals, and wheat. The report says "investment" in commodities has grown sharply during the past several years. It says the value of commodities transactions on futures markets in the United States was 1.7 times that of shares in January.
The bank says the U.S. and other industrialized countries, including Japan itself, where interest rates quiver just above zero percent, eased their monetary policy after the financial crisis, and the huge influx of money into the market may have contributed to the rise in prices.
None of this is news, just reality, but that the BOJ is acknowledging reality is news. Now, are they going to do anything about it?
Chinese Conductor: Classical Music Is Universal
March 7 (EIRNS)"Imagination is more important than knowledge," said 82-year-old Zheng Xiaoying, China's famous first woman conductor for the opera and orchestra, quoting words from Albert Einstein. "I think music, especially the classic music, can inspire people's thinking abilities. It can make people feel their souls," she told Xinhua in an interview.
Zheng, who was also the first Chinese conductor to conduct in the Western theater, now works as the artistic director and principal conductor of the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra, performing both Western and Chinese classics. She has in the past been conductor of the China National Opera House, the Central Conservatory of Music, and was the Artistic Director of the Women's Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra.
A modern symphony, "The Resounding of the Earth Buildings," which Zheng was been championing, uses techniques that are very familiar in the West, while drawing on themes from Chinese folk songs from the Hakka ethnic group.