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Be wary of WikiLeaks

WSJ: Hong Kong exploits its power to tax. LAT: Obama makes progress on Iran. Independent: Germany’s history affects its stance on the euro.

North Korea uses its biggest weakness to its advantage

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., a former US Assistant Secretary of Defense and a professor at Harvard University, writes in Project Syndicate that one of North Korea’s powers is its weakness. The threat that the nation could collapse gives it bargaining power with China.

QUOTE: China does not want a nuclear or belligerent North Korea, but it is even more concerned about a failed state collapsing on its border.  

America’s financial institutions remain too big to fail

Thomas M. Hoenig, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, writes in the New York Times that despite reforms, Americans are still angry with the government because they feel more must be done to address the banks that are too big to fail. This is partly because some large financial institutions have even more influence now than they did before the economic crisis.

QUOTE: After this round of bailouts, the five largest financial institutions are 20 percent larger than they were before the crisis. They control $8.6 trillion in financial assets — the equivalent of nearly 60 percent of gross domestic product. Like it or not, these firms remain too big to fail.

Political reform is coming to China, if the West lets it

James Zimmerman, a lawyer and former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, writes in the International Herald Tribune that despite its reputation abroad, China is allowing its residents much more political freedoms and the ability to express themselves than in the past. If the West continues to attack China on this issue, its efforts will only backfire.

QUOTE: Political reform is coming to China and Western politicians should avoid prolonging the process through strident remarks and posturing that only give ammunition to Chinese hard-liners.

Germany’s history affects its stance on the euro

Columnist Andreas Whittam Smith writes in London’s The Independent that Germany holds great power over the future of the euro. She argues that to understand Germany’s behavior, one should look at its history of feelings of victimhood.

QUOTE: We should understand the political imperative that confronts the German Chancellor: voters will not allow themselves to be cast as the dupes for other nations' profligacy. That is what the Germans would call an "iron rule."

Washington is in denial over the nation’s economic troubles

Columnist Matt Miller writes in the Washington Post that American lawmakers may finally acknowledge that the nation faces deep deficits, but they are still in denial over what it will take to make the economy healthy.

QUOTE: We won't make real strides until some new force - our Chinese overlords; a third-party movement; a release of truth serum into Washington's water supply - forces our "leaders" to get real.

Be wary of WikiLeaks information on China and North Korea

Columnist David Pilling writes in the Financial Times that big conclusions should not be drawn from the WikiLeaks information on China and North Korea. He argues that China is not likely to reverse its position on North Korea so easily.

QUOTE: One precondition of reunification – regime collapse – may be closer than we think. But that is a very far cry from saying that China would welcome it.

Hong Kong exploits its power to tax

Business Asia column editor Joseph Sternberg writes in the Wall Street Journal that Hong Kong’s government is using tax law to influence market behavior. He argues that businesses should be worried by this move.

QUOTE: If the government now appears willing to exploit its power to tax—which is also the power to destroy—to "fix" one market, what market will it tamper with next?

Obama’s weakening threatens global stability

Steve Clemons, founder and senior fellow of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation, writes in the Japan Times that the global community now questions if President Obama can deliver the promises he makes. Clemons argues this undermines global stability and security.

QUOTE: There is growing concern among America's key allies about the solvency of America's economic and strategic commitments and why a country like North Korea feels like it has little to lose by acting up and putting its neighbors and the world on edge.

Politics impact feel and energy of Asian cities

Guy Sorman, an advisor to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, writes in the Wall Street Journal that political conditions have a deep impact on how Asia’s new metropolises are developing. While Seoul reflects South Korea’s democratic ideals and energy, China’s big cities like Beijing show signs of authoritarian rule.

QUOTE: Democratization has helped transform Seoul into a more livable city in an extraordinarily short time.

Obama makes progress on Iran

Columnist Doyle McManus writes in the Los Angeles Times that despite the WikiLeaks coverage, the Obama administration’s policy of engagement with Iran is showing some signs of success.

QUOTE: The sanctions have had bite, and it was engagement that made the sanctions possible. The problem of Iran hasn't yet been solved, but the administration has made progress.