William Pesek

50 posts
William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist based in Tokyo and writes on economics, mar-kets and politics throughout the Asia-Pacific region. His journalism awards include the 2010 Society of American Business Editors and Writers prize for commentary. Since joining Bloom-berg in 2000, Pesek's columns have appeared in the International Herald Tribune, the Sydney Morning Herald, the New York Post, the Straits Times, the Japan Times and many other publica-tions around the world. Pesek began his journalism career writing for the American Banker and Bond Buyer newspapers. He also worked for Dow Jones Newswires, where he wrote the daily credit markets column for the Wall Street Journal. Pesek earned a bachelor's degree in business journalism from Bernard M. Baruch College-City University of New York.

Selling off the state in China

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewCHINA’S latest batch of ugly data offers a stark message to President Xi Jinping: Whatever he’s doing to prop up growth isn’t working. Even worse than the 5.5-percent drop in exports last month was the 13.8-percent plunge in imports, indicating that domestic demand is weaker than the external sector.

Indonesia needs a reboot

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewA little over a year ago, Joko Widodo swept to power in Indonesia, promising bold change and higher living stands. Voters enthusiastically bought into his everyman image: He’s Indonesia’s first president with no ties to the military, the country’s dynastic families or its sprawling party machinery.

Why not to worry about China (too much)

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewTHIS week’s holiday to commemorate the end of World War II couldn’t have come at a better time. For a global financial system traumatized by recent gyrations in China, the closure of mainland markets is a chance to take a breath and remember that the world is most likely not on the verge of another crisis.

China has lots of Treasuries, not much leverage

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewIn recent years, China’s relationship with the US has resembled nothing so much as a hostage situation. Beijing’s enormous holdings of Treasuries gave it immense leverage over Washington, which lived in perpetual fear of China choosing to not finance any new debt, or sell off its current holdings.

Asia should call truce on currency war

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewTHE finance secretary of the Philippines has a message for Asian policy-makers tempted to follow China’s lead by devaluing their currencies: Don’t do it. “We must be mindful of the trade-offs involved in using the exchange rate as a trade tool to boost competitiveness,” Cesar V. Purisima said on Sunday.

Japan exports its way to irrelevance

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewTHERE’S a difference between bad economic news and the devastating variety that Japan received on Monday. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might have been able to weather the second-quarter data showing a drop in Japanese consumption and a 1.6-percent decline in annualized growth. But it’s not clear his government can recover from the latest news about sputtering exports, which fell 4.4 percent from the previous quarter.

1990s come back to haunt Malaysia

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewMALAYSIA’S ongoing currency crash has many causes: a worsening global outlook, plunging commodity prices and, of course, the political scandal enveloping Prime Minister Najib Razak. But the real culprit is the year 1997.

What Europe should learn from Asia’s own crisis

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewASIAN leaders could be excused a degree of exasperation over the ongoing Greek mess. China’s slowdown and stock-market chaos are worry enough; the last thing the export-dependent region needs is a Europe in chaos. Worse, European leaders seem intent on misreading or ignoring lessons from Asia’s own brush with collapse.

Hong Kong, China’s real stock market, remains calm

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewNOT so long ago, Hong Kong was regularly dismissed as a financial backwater—not just internationally, but even within China. Many pundits started writing the city’s obituary when Jack Ma, CEO of China’s e-commerce giant  Alibaba, rejected listing his company in Hong Kong, in favor of New York. And as Shanghai’s stocks skyrocketed in recent months, it seemed to confirm Hong Kong’s obsolescence.

China’s illness is contagious for Asia

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewWhen the US sneezes, an old saying goes, the world catches a cold. That’s been nowhere more true than in Asia. But as China’s coughing fit grows louder, countries in the region are wondering whether their neighbor’s illness will also prove contagious.

China’s bull market in conspiracy theories

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewCHINA’S financial world has officially entered the paranoia zone. As the Shanghai stock market experiences its worst three-week rout since 1992—in defiance of government efforts to reverse the plunge—government officials are blaming shadowy conspiracies for the sell-off.

Corporate Japan thinks it’s 1985

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewTHE Japanese government’s newfound embrace of international corporate governance standards has the potential to be an epochal moment for the country’s economy. Shareholders are now being encouraged to challenge Japanese CEOs, and companies across the country find themselves under pressure to diversify their boards and increase accountability.

BRICS hit a wall

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewFOURTEEN years ago, Goldman Sachs presented a thesis that quickly gained traction among investors and policy- makers: Brazil, Russia, India and China (Bric), the bank claimed, would increasingly drive global growth, filling a void left by the West. Today the opposite case seems far more plausible. The so-called Bric nations are now threatening to drag down the rest of the world.

Hong Kong embraces China’s bubble

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewBILL GROSS of Janus Capital says his next great short trade may be Chinese stocks. With the Shenzhen and Shanghai markets up another 9 percent this week, it’s not hard to understand why. But the investment guru might want to consider betting against Hong Kong, too, given that city’s continued courting of high-volume traders from mainland China.

Japan’s Peter Pan problem

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewTHERE are plenty of people in Asia who believe Haruhiko Kuroda, governor of the Bank of Japan (BOJ), lives in Neverland. At the very least, economists on both sides of Japan’s deflation debate—those who worry Kuroda has weakened the yen too much, and those who believe he hasn’t done enough—think his policies have been out of touch.

Is China repeating Korea’s mistakes?

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewMANY observers assume that China is on a path to become the next Japan—a major economy mired in a multiyear deflationary funk that deflates its global clout. And it’s certainly true that the way that Beijing has been downplaying its debt problems is eerily reminiscent of Tokyo’s public-relations strategy from the 1990s.

Don’t trust Asia’s booming stock markets

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewCOULD a lack of liquidity soon cause Asia’s stock markets to crash? That question might seem fanciful at first glance. Central banks in Frankfurt, London, Tokyo and Washington, by keeping policy rates near or below zero, have been responsible for the arrival of unprecedented waves of cash on Asian financial markets. It’s no accident that Shanghai stocks are up 137 percent over the last 12 months even as the Chinese economy has slowed; that the Nikkei stock exchange is up 41-percent surge even as deflation returns to Japan; and that South Korea’s Kospi index is near record highs even as that country’s exports are slumping.

Stop calling China a currency manipulator

Christine Lagarde’s people say China’s currency is no longer undervalued. Jacob Lew’s argue it still is. There’s a lot at stake in the debate: The yuan can’t gain status as a global currency reserve if China is thought to be manipulating its value. So who should we believe, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the US treasury secretary?

No safe haven in Hong Kong

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewEVERYONE’S long known that China’s stock market is a rigged, nontransparent mess. That’s a problem for Beijing certainly, but it’s also now a problem for Hong Kong, once considered the gold standard for global financial hubs.

Takata is the real safety hazard

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewTHE dubious honor of triggering the largest consumer recall in US history—once held by Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol—now belongs to the Japanese auto-parts supplier Takata. Thirty-four million of the company’s airbags, having been determined to have caused at least six deaths and injured more than 100, will have to be replaced. But it’s not too late to hope some good can come from this misfortune. Ideally, it will serve as a wake-up call for the Japanese government and the global auto industry.

A report card for Asia’s ‘Axis of Reform’

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewONE year ago, after Narendra Modi’s election as prime minister of India, I explored how Asia’s biggest economies were suddenly in the hands of leaders pledging huge economic reforms. Like Modi, Japan’s Shinzo Abe and China’s Xi Jinping were promising to deliver big changes. How have things fared since then for Asia’s “Axis of Reform”?

Japan’s economy needs shock therapy

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewJAPAN has been conducting the most audacious monetary experiment in modern economic history, but there are plenty of signs the experiment has not been audacious enough. When Haruhiko Kuroda, governor of the Bank of Japan (BOJ), convenes the bank’s policy meeting this week, he will have to convince his colleagues that it’s time for another round of shock-and-awe.

China should let a hundred defaults bloom

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewTHIS week, Kaisa, a former poster child of China’s booming real-estate market, made history by becoming the first Chinese developer to renege on dollar loans. The immediate causes of Kaisa’s default are clear enough: plunging property values left it with excessive debt.

Asian stocks get all bubbly

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewIT’S only April, but 2015 already seems to be the year of the Asian stock bubble. In addition to mainland China’s bubbly markets, the region is dealing with two other equity booms that don’t jibe with economic fundamentals.

Debt could derail China’s ambitions

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewCHINA’S Xi Jinping made a lot of grand promises over the weekend, pledging a new order where China and Chinese-led institutions, such as the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), would promote prosperity across the region. But he was on shaky ground—literally. The Boao Forum where Xi spoke took place in Haikou, capital of China’s island-province of Hainan, whose local government, it seems, may not be able to pay its debt this year.

Why Manila wants to be Detroit

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewFOR a leader facing a plethora of challenges at home, Philippine President Benigno Aquino is thinking a lot about Detroit—in particular, how to steal the title “Detroit of Asia” away from his Southeast Asian neighbor Thailand.

Toyota’s measly $33 won’t save Japan

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewHARUHIKO KURODA can now give his troubles a name: Toyota. It’s hard to draw a kinder conclusion as the company that’s benefited most from the central bank governor’s easing policies offers its 63,000 union employees a measly $33 per month pay hike.

Can Asia survive a strong dollar?

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewCAN Asia beat the rising-dollar curse? The question is far from academic considering the central role that a strengthening US currency played in sparking the region’s 1997 crisis, as well as Latin America’s own financial woes a decade earlier. When the dollar slides, liquidity flows into emerging markets, pumping up growth and assets. As the dollar rallies, it can act like a gargantuan money magnet drawing much-needed investment away from the developing world.

Sony’s smart to think small

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewTHE future of Sony, a $32-billion giant, may turn on $50,000. That’s how much a crowdfunding initiative, championed by CEO Kazuo Hirai, had raised, as of Thursday, for a new technology that seeks to empower would-be inventors. The project—the brainchild of Sony engineer Takehiro Hagiwara—is part of an improbable effort by the Japan Inc. icon to come up with the next Walkman.

Is Chinese QE next?

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewOVER the weekend, China’s second rate move in three months made clear how concerned leaders in Beijing are about sliding growth. And Saturday’s quarter-percentage-point cut is probably only the beginning. As data on manufacturing, property and consumer prices take a dramatic turn toward contraction, there’s every reason to think China’s one-year deposit and lending rates—now 2.5 percent and 5.35 percent—could head toward zero, just as in neighboring Japan. After that, can quantitative easing (QE) with Chinese characteristics be far off?

China’s dangerous debt drag

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewFEW buzz phrases scare economists more than “new paradigm.” If such things existed, Japan would still dominate the world economy, risk would have been eliminated from Wall Street, and the euro would have spread boundless prosperity from Berlin to Athens.

Is Sony really back?

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewTHE exact moment of any corporate turnaround is almost impossible to pinpoint. But if Sony’s latest numbers truly do signal the revival of the Japanese icon—the company just posted its best quarterly profit in seven years—then the transformation may have begun last April, when Kenichiro Yoshida was promoted to CFO.

India’s swelling stash of dollars

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewRAGHURAM Rajan’s recent surprise rate cut was what central bankers call an “insurance move.” In a highly uncertain and deflationary world, the Reserve Bank of India governor decided he’d rather risk higher inflation in hopes of boosting growth. More quietly, Rajan is taking out another policy that could pay even bigger dividends in years to come. He’s hoarding dollars.

Cheap oil is rich opportunity for Asia

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewFOR China and India, 2015 should be a pivotal year. Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have for months been making grand pronouncements about structural change, while moving only timidly to fulfill them. With oil dropping below $50 a barrel, some of the urgency to implement those painful reforms is sure to fade away. So, too, however, will the excuses for not acting.

Give Kim the Castro treatment

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewBY restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba, Barack Obama clearly admitted that Washington’s five-decade-old strategy of isolating the Caribbean nation had failed. So why is the White House doubling down on a similar policy toward North Korea?

Bad loans could bust China

column-william pesek-bloomberg viewTHE risk of what Nobel laureate Paul Krugman calls “Japanification”—a semi-permanent economic funk—has haunted China for at least a couple of years now. Last week a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report again asked, “Will China Repeat Japan’s Experience?”