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Daily Dispatches – Rosy outlook for Asia-Pacific

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Central bank heads of Asia-Pacific nations are confident that the region will be the driver of global economic growth, with country governors agreeing to coordinate monetary policy to support the regional economy, reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Governors of the central banks of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines were joined by their counterparts from Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand at a get-together in Kuala Lumpur last week. Many countries in region have avoided the problems with volatility that beset countries in the West in recent years. The region’s resilience has been attributed to a shift to intra-regional trading and away from weak economies in Europe and North America, as well to as the stable banking environment.

But central bankers warn that there are still risks, and they have agreed to beef up surveillance to ensure early detection of strains in the financial markets.

Relaxing the RMB

The Financial Times reports that China is considering a dramatic relaxing of capital controls in the coming years to make its currency, the renminbi, freely tradeable. China has long been criticised by the US for manipulating its currency to make Chinese exports cheap. The FT says that there is growing speculation about when China will fully open its capital account. “This reform would allow businesses, investors and individuals to trade the renminbi across China’s borders with no significant barriers, a liberalisation necessary for the Chinese currency to emerge as a global rival to the dollar.”

Hong Kong set for 9 Chinse commercial bank IPOs

Asian Banking and Finance reports that nine commrcial banks from mainland China have applied to the Hong Kong exchange to list either H or A shares. The banks are Bank of Shanghai; Harbin Bank; Bank of Chongqing; Huishang Bank; Bank of Dalian; Bank of Dongguan; Bank of Chengdu; Bank of Nanchang and Longjiang Bank.

MAS gets tough

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has taken civil action against a shareholder of Fuji Offset Plates Manufacturing for using other people’s  accounts to trade for his own benefit. The Business Times reports that Oh Kian Guan had employed “manipulative and deceptive devices”, thus contravening a section of the Securities and Futures Act, according to a MAS statement.

Cost of compliance

More than half of Singapore’s banks and financial services companies have increased their budgets to stay in line with new regulations governing the sector. The Business Times reports results from a survey by recruitment firm, Robert Half, which notes that the budget increases are substantial. “About 22% of the respondents are increasing their 2013 expenditure on compliance by more than 20% compared to 2012. The remaining 78% expects budget increases of between 1% and 20%.”  Stella Tang, a director of Robert Half Singapore says the new regulations mean more work and that work has to be done by somebody. “Where existing teams are unable to cope, companies are hiring more employees to ensure the work gets done so they remain compliant.”

People moves

Lloyds of London’s longest serving CEO Richard Ward will step down in December after eight years in the job, Bloomberg reports.   No replacement has been named.

Thomas Joyce, executive chairman of Knight Capital Group, resigned yesterday. Bloomberg reports that Joyce presided over highs – significant revenue growth – and lows, being CEO when a computer malfunction caused the company to lose more than USD$450 million on a single day in August last year. Knight survived by the skin of its teeth, and was sold in December to Getco for about USD$1.4 billion.

Bank of New York Mellon has appointed Albert Yeh as MD, based in Hong Kong,

No laughing matter

An off-the-cuff attempt at humour by the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Governor, Glenn Stevens, had economists in a tizz this week. Stevens said that the central bank had deliberated for a “very long time” about its decision to keep interest rates on hold. His deadpan delivery had ANZ economists rushing to revise forecasts, and predicting that the RBA would cut rates next month and again in November.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Stevens’ comments were meant to be in jest, and not a commentary about what actually happened during the bank’s Tuesday board meeting. ANZ was forced to recant its rate forecast in a statement today, saying it was reviewing its decision and would issue an update later on Thursday. “Given this information has been shown to be false, we should revert to our view of the day before yesterday that the RBA will cut rates again, but probably not until slightly later in the year.”

The Financial Times’ Sydney correspondent quipped in a short piece: “Central bankers can do many things but they should never, ever attempt humour”.

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