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China's currency under attack

Der Spiegel: Fear pushes the European Union to reform. WashPost: Could the US have prevented the financial crisis? Straits Times: China forges closer ties with Myanmar.

US policymakers must act against China

Columnist Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times that the United States must finally take action to stop China from manipulating its currency because this creates a trade surplus. He argues that the United States should not fear China selling its American bonds because that would only make U.S. exports cheaper.

QUOTE: Will US policy makers let themselves be spooked by financial phantoms and bullied by business intimidation? Will they continue to do nothing in the face of policies that benefit Chinese special interests at the expense of both Chinese and American workers? Or will they finally, finally act?

Kevin Rudd’s new role may be bad for Australia

John Lee, a foreign-policy fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney, writes in the Wall Street Journal that Australia probably should not have given former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a second chance by making him the new foreign minister. Rudd made numerous foreign policy mistakes with regards to China and India when he was prime minister.

QUOTE: Emboldened by the circumstances of his political return, Mr. Rudd's ambition for higher office at home may lead him to commit the same impetuous personal and policy mistakes that help bring him down as prime minister.

Despite some success, Americans view the stimulus as a failure

Columnist James Surowiecki writes in the New Yorker that Washington is treating the word “stimulus” as if it has a negative connotation. He argues that the 2009 stimulus package did have limited success, but Americans have not recognized the positive impacts it made on the economy.

QUOTE: In pushing through the stimulus plan, the Administration tied itself to the fate of the economy more tightly than if it had done nothing. It’s a harsh lesson: when Rome is burning, trying to put out the fire may cost you more than just sitting by and fiddling.

Ozawa, ‘dark side and all,’ is the right choice for Japan

Peter Tasker, a Tokyo-based analyst at Arcus Research, writes in the Financial Times that the Democratic Party of Japan should choose Ichiro Ozawa as its next leader. Ozawa, he argues, would implement the reforms and changes the party promised when it initially came to power.

QUOTE: According to a Japanese proverb, if water is too clean no fish can live in it. If Japan wants to carry on flopping around in clean, empty water, Mr [Naoto] Kan is the man. If it wants to adjust to the realities of the post-crisis world, the choice should be Mr Ozawa, dark side and all.

Fear pushes the European Union to reform

Hans-Jürgen Schlamp writes in Der Spiegel that the financial crisis forced the European Union to focus on the strength of the union rather than national self-interests and push through needed reforms.

QUOTE: The new enthusiasm for European solutions arises from sheer fear. "We have seen the abyss, and it has changed us," says Austrian Finance Minister Pröll.

The US must crack down on money-laundering

Robert Mazur, an author and former federal agent, writes in the New York Times that large banks have been able to get away with helping “enemy governments” move large sums of money. He argues that it is the responsibility of the U.S. law enforcement agencies to give prosecutors enough evidence to convict bankers.

QUOTE: Tracking and confiscating the fortunes of terrorist organizations, drug cartels and organized criminals is important for national security, and yet no single federal law enforcement agency systematically investigates the international bankers and businessmen who launder this money.

US Congress picks a fight over China’s currency, again

Alan Beattie writes in the Financial Times that the White House must control Congress’s repeated bursts of anger against China over its currency. But the administration of President Barack Obama appears to prefer avoiding confronting Congressional leaders or China on the issue.

QUOTE: There is more political capital to be gained out of continually making noise and threatening legislation than there is from enacting a potentially ineffective and counterproductive law.

Could the US have prevented the financial crisis?

Columnist Robert J. Samuelson analyzes in the Washington Post if the United States could have prevented the financial crisis by not allowing Lehman Brothers to fail two years ago. He argues that its failure had serious repercussions because it sent the message that the economy was out of control.

QUOTE: No one knew which financial institutions would be protected and which wouldn't; AIG soon received a massive loan. Uncertainty rose; panic followed.

Conference in North Korea leads to more questions

Journalist Donald Kirk writes in the Asia Times that the conference being held in North Korea was expected to be a so-called coming out party for Kim Jong-il’s son, but everything is now up in the air. The regime has veiled the meeting in secrecy.

QUOTE: The secrecy is so tight that it's reasonable to ask if the party conference is going to happen and, if so, if Kim Jong-eun will show up. Neither his name nor his picture have ever appeared in the North Korean media.

China forges closer ties with Myanmar

Ho Ai Li writes in the Straits Times that Myanmar has become increasingly important to China, which needs the rogue nation for its resources. China also wants to prevent the United States from having more influence in the region.

QUOTE: Just a year ago, Myanmar hardly seemed a priority in Beijing's books, with no Chinese top leader having visited the country since 2001. But this past year alone has seen a pair of top Chinese leaders — Wen and Vice-President Xi Jinping — go south to visit.