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Asia's Scissor Crisis

The crises in Europe and the US get most of the ink, but Asia faces a dangerous double threat to its growth and stability that in the long run may have greater implications for the global picture.

As the Asia Development Bank notes in a recent report, inflation is rising across Asia.  Currency manipulation (pegging currencies to the weak US dollar) makes things worse, but rising food, energy and commodity prices are the real cause.  Food and energy prices hit consumers in the wallet; high commodity prices raise costs for Asian manufacturers, cutting into profits and threatening growth.

That’s the lower blade of the scissors.  The upper blade is the economic crisis in the west.  With the EU and the US looking at slow growth for the indefinite future, Asia’s export markets will be weak.  That forces manufacturers to keep prices low — which threatens their profitability and reduces the incentives for growth.

To sum it up: Asians face rising prices for what they buy and falling or stagnant prices for what they sell.  Not good, and not easy to fix.

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