I recently spent some time chatting to the Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti. We have talked, on camera, in the past and he is always candid and sometimes surprisingly honest in his interviews.
He has admitted to having some sort of post-traumatic stress syndrome after enduring years of brutality and imprisonment by the Mugabe regime. In the past two years, he and his party, the MDC, have been in a ‘unity government’ with Mugabe’s ZANU PF. It is, he says, a bit like "supping with the devil" or engaging in some sort of "unholy alliance." But he and his peers have persevered, he says.
Biti’s job has been to try to stabilize the Zimbabwean economy; he says his first task was to bring down hyperinflation, which he did by stopping the printing presses, which were churning out Zimbabwean dollars. By implementing what he calls ‘commonsense policies’ there has been a slow normalization of the economy.
However, foreign investors, multilateral institutions and states are still very wary of investing in Zimbabwe. The fact that President Robert Mugabe is still a player makes many people concerned about the levels of political risk in Zimbabwe. The degree of uncertainty is just too volatile for many.
Hong Kong (CNN) – Behind the pomp and pageantry of Wednesday night’s state dinner in Washington for Chinese President Hu Jintao was the undercurrent of rancor foaming in the U.S. over China’s economic rise.
There is a perception of a zero-sum relationship between the world’s two largest economic powers – that China’s rise comes at the expense of the U.S. economy. That perception was heightened right about the time the apple pie was being served at the White House, when back in Beijing, China released data that showed the economy grew 10.3% in 2010. Meanwhile, the latest unemployment figures in the U.S. show nearly one in 10 Americans are out of work.
China’s ascent stands in stark contrast to the anemic economic recovery in the U.S., and has ratcheted pressure from Washington for Beijing to let the value of its currency rise, saying it is being kept far below its actual worth, thereby giving Chinese exports an unfair cost advantage. Beijing has argued that everyone – especially U.S. consumers – would be hurt if the value of yuan suddenly skyrocketed, sending up prices of the vast amount of Chinese goods sold in the U.S.
But for American business interests in China, the current currency battle is a short-term sideshow to the real issue that threatens to dog U.S.-Sino relations in the years to come: Access.
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