By Fareed Zakaria
“There are signs of disapproval by the ruling elite in Kazakhstan regarding the Russian military involvement in Ukraine,” write Peter Elstov and Klaus Larres in the New Republic. “Putin’s longtime supporter President Nursultan Nazarbayev is cautiously silent, but spontaneous protests in front of the Russian Consulate in Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, have not been disbanded by the police. This should not be surprising: Russians in Kazakhstan constitute about 24 percent of the population – more than 3 million people. In northern Kazakhstan, almost 50 percent of the population is Russian, with some areas having a majority of Russians. It is not inconceivable – following the logic behind the annexation of Crimea by the Russian army – that Putin may, at some point, want to return parts of northern Kazakhstan to the Russian orbit, particularly if this country becomes politically unstable.”
“Only when the 2004 Orange Revolution, the 2008 Russia-Georgia war and gas disputes with Russia in 2006 and 2009 kept dragging it on to the west’s foreign-policy radar did Brussels and Washington start to see Ukraine’s significance as a buffer between Europe and Russia,” writes Julian Evans in The New Statesman. “Yet even then they viewed it as no more than a commodity: a strategic chess piece, a prize of influence, a resource-rich target of western expansionism.”
“The result of this psychically toxic mixture of abuse, neglect, condescension and exploitation? The Ukrainian people, ethnic Ukrainians (78 percent), ethnic Russians (17 percent) and others, had a nation but did not – until 31 November last – start to have the confidence of nationhood.”
“In recent years, China’s current-account surpluses have fueled its prodigious money-supply growth within a largely pegged currency,” argues Craig Stephen for Market Watch. “As foreign exchange piled up, the People’s Bank of China would print more yuan. According to some estimates, China’s banking system has grown from $10 trillion to $24 trillion since 2008.”
“Authorities could now face a very different dynamic. Instead the reverse will be now true, where if the yuan weakens, the central bank will effectively have to buy its own currency using foreign reserves to maintain its peg. This would mean the external trade position would now lead the central bank to shrink – rather than expand – domestic money supply.
“If this is the case, Beijing will need to get used to the market forcing deleveraging and slower growth, no matter what it targets. The unwind of China’s giant credit spree could be painful.”