Asia

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, admitted on Tuesday that his efforts to rebuild the country’s moribund economy have failed, as he opened his country’s biggest political event amid deepening economic trouble caused by the one-two punch of international sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Times reported. “Our five-year economic development plan has fallen greatly short of its goals in almost all sectors,” Mr. Kim said in his opening speech to the ruling Workers’ Party’s eighth congress that began in Pyongyang, the capital, on Tuesday. Mr.

Read more
Thailand's government says it is tightening restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus as the country logged another 527 new cases, the Associated Press reported. Officials said Tuesday that foreign migrant workers accounted for 439 of the new infections, while 82 were Thais infected locally and another six were new arrivals from abroad who tested positive in quarantine centers. Thailand on Monday reported 745 infections, the most since the pandemic began.
Read more
Even before Covid-19, the World Bank had lowered its projections for global growth in the 10 years that began in 2020. The pandemic is exacerbating that trend, raising the prospect of a “lost decade” ahead, the World Bank said Tuesday, as it also cut its forecasts for the coming year, the Wall Street Journal reported. The bank’s semiannual Global Economic Prospects report attributes the long-term downgrade to lower trade and investment caused by uncertainty over the pandemic, along with disruptions in education that will hamper gains in labor productivity.
Read more

While many have celebrated the start of the New Year filled with hope, one expert believes that 2021 will be difficult for directors, officers, and their advisers due to a projected increase in insolvency claims against them, Insurance Business Magazine reported. “The view from specialists across our network is that while legislative measures… have offered some protection to directors of companies facing financial difficulties, insolvency claims will be a strong driver of D&O risk in 2021,” said Simon Konsta, partner at Clyde & Co. London.

Read more
The New York Stock Exchange reversed its decision to delist China’s three largest telecommunications companies, after consulting with regulatory authorities about a recent U.S. investment ban, the Wall Street Journal reported. In a statement released Monday night, the Big Board said that “it no longer intends to move forward with the delisting action” on China Mobile Ltd., China Telecom Corp. and China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. The Hong Kong-listed shares of the three telecom majors surged on the news.
Read more

Indian courts may rule in coming months on cases involving billions of dollars in distressed assets, and the decisions could clarify what roles banks play in helping companies devastated by the pandemic, Bloomberg News reported. What may be among the first of the verdicts could also be one of the most important: the Supreme Court may decide within weeks on requests by big borrowers seeking relief on repayments and defaults, in what’s being called the loan moratorium case.

Read more
China is turning the screws on the nation’s companies as authorities seek to take advantage of the global pandemic to strengthen its industrial might, Bloomberg News reported. After letting inefficient firms survive for years, Beijing is now allowing them to fail. Bond defaults rose to a record $30 billion in 2020, including high-profile enterprises that had previously counted on the implicit guarantees of the state.
Read more

The authorities in Tokyo requested on Monday that restaurants and bars close by 8 p.m. to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, an announcement that came after the Japanese prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, said that the central government would consider declaring a state of emergency in the capital and in three surrounding prefectures for the first time since April, the New York Times reported.

Read more

Manufacturers across Europe ended 2020 on a high while Asian factory activity expanded moderately thanks to robust demand in regional giant China, surveys showed, but the prospect of tougher coronavirus curbs clouded the outlook for the recovery, Reuters reported. Despite hopes that vaccination programmes being rolled out will eventually quell the virus, a resurgence of infections is forcing many countries to reimpose strict controls on economic activity, possibly hurting large exporters such as China and Germany.

Read more