Laos’ debt woes worsen as bills for China-funded dams loom

BANGKOK — COVID-19 has rattled Laos’ debut in selling a U.S. dollar bond in international markets, adding pressure on a country whose “Wild West of dam building” splurge has put it in a precarious repayment situation, especially in regard to China, its leading lender.

Sources familiar with the banking system in Laos, one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries, say the government has adopted a “wait and see” stance before proceeding with the bond sale. “The central bank has still to confirm if the bond sale will go ahead this year,” one source said.

The country’s turn to international markets was

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Coronavirus and China loom over Tsai’s second term in Taiwan

TAIPEI — Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen will start her second and final term on Wednesday in a very different world to when she first came to power four years ago.

The economic challenges are huge, as the export-oriented economy has to contend with a global recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. She is also facing an ever more belligerent China, which is looking to further squeeze Taiwan’s international presence.

Her inauguration comes just days after Taiwan was excluded from the World Health Organization’s annual assembly under pressure from China. This is despite the island’s success in controlling the outbreak —

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China’s top chipmaker bullish as new US export rules loom

TAIPEI — China’s top contract chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Co. announced on Thursday it will sharply increase spending this year while insisting new U.S. export controls will not disrupt its operations.

SMIC said it will increase capital expenditure for 2020 by a further 30%, more than doubling last year’s spending, despite the coronavirus pandemic, while co-CEO Zhao Haijun addressed questions about Washington’s latest move to restrict technology exports.

“We have been committed to not [building] military-use [chips] from Day 1. That was 20 years back, and we are still the same,” Zhao said. “We have full commitment, full compliance. At

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Wealth taxes and financial repression loom as government debt spirals

If this really was a return to the Great Depression of the 1930s, stock markets would have suffered a much bigger reaction 

Just as things are never quite as good as they seem during a boom, nor are they generally as bad as they appear in the depths of a crisis. We therefore need to be a little bit careful with blood curdling warnings of a second Great Depression to come; if this were a real possibility, stock markets would have crashed far more than they have.

In fact, the FTSE All Share index is today no lower than

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