The rise of sovereign wealth funds on the world’s financial markets has come with voluminous discussion on their implications for the economy, and particularly the potential for foreign governments to wield outsize influence. Recent research finds that sovereign wealth funds are much less savvy than is commonly believed.
ASEAN has proven itself to be a remarkably competitive and resilient region, and its growth is once again attracting interest from investors. Its growing working age population and large and competitive workforce make it a strong alternative to China, while its large and growing middle class make it a promising market.
Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Note was the world’s first commercially successful “phablet,” a phone whose screen size is between that of a phone and a full sized tablet. With its 5.3” screen, the Galaxy Note debuted to skeptical criticism about its size. The market soon proved doubters wrong, and the Galaxy Note became a global best seller.
2013 is bringing both a new President and a challenging new era for Korea’s consumers. This year in Korea will be characterized by slow growth, growing household debt, and pinched wallets amid movements to expand welfare, extend the retirement age, and increase social cohesion.
Some of the most successful companies only became and stayed so after a long list of failures. Rather than destroying careers, businesses need to learn how to make the most of failures and turn them into fuel for innovation. Doing so requires a culture where risk taking is encouraged and mistakes are tolerated and openly discussed.
Booming demand for oil is spurring firms to look further and further offshore, providing a new source of demand for Korea’s offshore platform builders. Higher safety standards and the rise of national oil companies are further shaping this industry. Korean firms hoping to profit from these changes will need new operating models as well as collaboration with researchers in academia.
SERI’s annual survey on the nation brands of 50 countries showed that most of the top ranked countries remained highly regarded. Korea, however, showed significant improvement in its ranking for technology and modern culture, on the back of pop cultural phenomena like “Gangnam Style,” and strong sales for Samsung smartphones.
North Korea’s long economic decline has sent the official economy to the margins, along with its official currency, and today North Koreans largely conduct business in private markets with foreign currency. State attempts to confiscate wealth have only accelerated the migration, and markets are set to take over almost all of the functions of the official economy.
Pyongyang’s successful third nuclear test has once again set the world on edge, posing a major challenge to the US and South Korea on one hand and China and Russia on the other. For North Korea however, the test has served to bolster its status in dealing with all of the foregoing countries, and provides insight as to how it will act in the future.
Michael Green on the New Leadership in Northeast Asia
SERI Quarterly spoke with Michael Green of the Center for Strategic and International Studies about North Korea, Asia’s new generation of leaders, and US policy toward the region. He expounded his views on the US-China rivalry in Asia, Korea’s diplomatic dilemmas, and the likely course to be taken by the Kim Jong-Un regime.