Asia

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet approved a record initial budget for the 2019 fiscal year that offers plenty of help for consumers facing a higher sales tax while increasing the nation’s debt load, at least for now, Bloomberg News reported. The budget will top 100 trillion yen ($890 billion) for the first time, highlighting the government’s push to head off a potential economic downturn when the levy rises in October. The broad outline of the plans were revealed earlier in the week in draft documents.

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After sending two pesky central bank governors packing in a little over two years, Indian bureaucrats have turned their attention to unwinding the monetary authority’s autonomy, a Bloomberg View reported. Their first move, unveiled Thursday, is an innocuous – even laudable – infusion of 410 billion rupees ($5.9 billion) into troubled state-run lenders, bumping up this fiscal year’s outlay for bank recapitalization by 63 percent to 1.06 trillion rupees. The fresh capital partially replaces a shortfall in the  2.11 trillion rupee bank recap announced in October last year.

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A group of Turkey’s major banks took control of Turk Telekom AS, the nation’s largest phone company, setting it up for a likely sale after previous owner Otas defaulted on a multi-billion-dollar loan, Bloomberg News reported. Akbank TAS will hold 35.6 percent of the special purpose vehicle set up to take on Otas’s 55 percent controlling stake, Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS will have 22.1 percent of that entity, and Turkiye Is Bankasi AS’s share is 11.6 percent, according to filings Saturday.

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The Asian dollar bond market is finishing its worst year since 2013. But strong fundamentals in many sectors and expectations for support from policy makers next year mean there are pockets of value, more investors are saying. Debt buyers are closely watching for any additional credit easing in China, which could reduce funding pressures for some borrowers from the nation, the biggest issuer of the securities, Bloomberg News reported. Average yield premiums on Asian U.S. currency high-yield bonds rose last month to the highest since March 2016, according to a Bloomberg Barclays index.

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Markets, to paraphrase Nobel prize-winning economist Thomas Schelling, often forget that they keep forgetting. That’s especially true when it comes to the intractable challenges posed by global debt, Bloomberg News reported. Since 2008, governments around the world have looked for relatively painless ways to lower high debt levels, a central cause of the last crisis. Cutting interest rates to zero or below made borrowing easier to service. Quantitative easing and central bank support made it easier to buy debt.

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Ofo, the Alibaba-backed bike-sharing service, has “immense” cash flow problems and has considered applying for bankruptcy, according to the company’s founder, the Financial Times reported. Dockless bike-sharing companies, including Ofo and its main rival Mobike, have rolled out more than 20 million bikes in the past two years in China and abroad. With its yellow dockless bikes, Ofo — which has raised more than $2.2bn since it was founded in 2014 — exemplified the Chinese start-up model of growing quickly by raising money and burning through cash.

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Toys “R” Us outlets are closed in the U.S., but the brand’s stores are still a popular destination for Shanghai resident Pan Wei. A 35-year-old manager for an entertainment company, Pan does most of his shopping online but prefers physical shops when buying toys for his daughter, Bloomberg News reported. "When it comes to products for kids, we want to make sure it’s safe, so we prefer going to toy stores," he said.

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Five months ago, Carlos Ghosn, a multimillionaire executive credited with reviving Nissan Motors, hosted the wedding of his daughter Caroline on Naoshima, a rarefied island enclave of art and sculpture. Now, Ghosn is living in a Tokyo jail cell, unable to communicate with his daughter or any family member, as investigators explore possible financial wrongdoing related to his nearly 20-year career at Nissan, the New York Times reported.

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Essar Steel Asia Holding, the holding company of the bankrupt Essar Steel that was controlled by the Ruias, on Monday told the Ahmedabad bench of NCLT that it was "highly unusual" for lenders to not even consider its debt settlement proposal which was higher than its rival offer, BloombergQuint reported. The Essar Steel Asia Holding had proposed to the committee of creditors, led by State Bank of India, to pay an upfront Rs 54,389 crore to retake the management of Essar Steel, but approached the National Company Law Tribunal after not receiving any reply from creditors.

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Embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya's legal troubles continue to mount as he is set to face bankruptcy proceedings in the U.K. high court next year, brought by a consortium of Indian banks in their attempt to recoup of unpaid debt worth nearly 1.145 billion pounds, the Times of India reported.

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