HONG KONG, July 24 (Reuters) - In September 2015, the U.S. Federal Reserve cited risks from China as a key reason for delaying its first interest rate hike in a decade. A wall of Chinese debt maturing in the next few years could jolt the country back into the U.S. central bank's policy deliberations. Two years ago, it was a collapse in Chinese stocks, a surprise yuan devaluation and shrinking foreign exchange reserves that roiled financial markets that delayed the Fed, but it did raise rates three months later and has tightened further since. Now, some see risks emerging in China's dollar-denominated bonds that could give the Fed greater pause for thought as it raises rates, even as other central banks signal a shift from ultra-easy policy. To be sure, Fed officials have not publicly flagged China's debt as a major risk in their policy discussions. However, debt analysts point to the possibility of another September 2015 moment in which the Fed takes its cues from concerns about China. "Back then, I said that U.S. monetary policy is not made in Washington, it's made in Beijing," said Joachim Fels, global economic advisor at bond giant PIMCO. "China does have a major impact on monetary policies elsewhere ... This year has been smooth sailing for global central banks because there were no shockwaves from China but I expect that to change if we think beyond the next few months." The outstanding amount of dollar bonds issued by Chinese entities has grown almost 20 times since the 2008-09 global financial crisis to just over half a trillion dollars, according to data from the Bank for International Settlements. Since September 2015, it has grown almost 50 percent. China's dollar bonds are now almost a third of the emerging market total dollar issuance, up from a quarter in September 2015 and less than 5 percent before the Fed first began printing money in December 2008. A fifth of China's dollar bonds mature within a year, according to BIS data. More than half are due in the next five, Thomson Reuters data show. If U.S. borrowing costs start rising as a result of the Fed's exit from its unconventional monetary policy, that debt would have to be rolled over at higher costs, chipping away at the real economy in China. Alternatively, Chinese companies might decide to refinance their debt in local currency, creating weakening pressure on the yuan. Either development would reverberate globally and create a major external challenge for Fed policy. FEEDBACK LOOP For its part, the Fed doesn't see any immediate dangers with China's dollar debt. "You'll find if you look at China they certainly have dollar-denominated debt but ... you'll see that they are not as reliant on external debt as people might have thought," Dallas Fed chief Robert Kaplan said in Mexico City on Friday. Also, a significant portion of Chinese dollar borrowing makes economic sense -- such as companies funding overseas investment projects. And if those dollars are converted into yuan, they could help ease any weakening pressure on the Chinese currency. For now, dollar borrowing conditions remain stable with 10-year benchmark U.S. yields still low by historical standards, despite four Fed rate hikes since September 2015. Broadly, the dollar is as strong now as it was back then. Indeed, the bigger risk focus for many analysts currently is not China's dollar bonds, but its local currency debt, which ratings agencies estimate to be almost three times the size of the economy. But analysts say that the longer China's rapid accumulation of dollar debt continues, the harsher the future adjustment for the economy will be, especially if lenders start repricing Chinese credit risk. "Regardless of how you cut your pie, you'll discover debt is a big problem. China has made a major contribution to global leverage since 2008," said Aidan Yao, senior emerging Asia economist at Axa Investment Managers. "When markets start to wobble, there's a feedback loop that has an impact on the Fed's trajectory. Policy normalisation is not going to be in a straight line." A forced deleveraging could renew weakening pressure on the yuan as dollars find their way out of the country, although capital controls help mitigate that risk. "While the market generally believes that money flows have stabilised and the worst of the yuan's slide is over, the reality may well be the opposite," said Kevin Lai, chief economist for Asia ex-Japan at Daiwa Capital Markets. "As more dollar debt has been taken up, the pressure on outflows is merely being delayed. Such pressure is also getting bigger, not smaller. This would eventually feed into even bigger downward pressure for the yuan."
TOKYO, July 24 (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his ratings sinking over a suspected cronyism scandal, said on Monday he had never instructed that preferential treatment be given to a long-time friend and that his friend had never lobbied for favours. Abe and his aides have repeatedly denied intervening to help Kake Gakuen (Kake Educational Institution) win approval for a veterinary school in a special economic zone. Its director, Kotaro Kake, is a friend of Abe. Abe acknowledged that Kake had been his friend since they were students and told a special session of parliament's lower house budget committee that Kake had "never once" sought favours. "There was no request or lobbying regarding the establishment of a new veterinary school," Abe said. Asked if he had intervened in the approval process, Abe said: "I have never issued instructions regarding specific cases." The scandal, and a perception among many voters that Abe's administration is taking them for granted, are encouraging rivals and casting doubt on Abe's hopes for a third three-year term as ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader. Several opinion polls have shown Abe's support has plunged below 30 percent and, while this does not immediately threaten his job, it does cloud the longer-term outlook. Abe was until recently seen as being on track to become Japan's longest-serving prime minister by winning a third three-year term when his current tenure ends in September 2018. Further pressure is likely to come from Sunday's victory by an opposition candidate in a mayoral election for the northern city of Sendai. That follows an historic defeat for the LDP in elections for the Tokyo assembly earlier this month, a devastating blow since much of Abe's clout has come from his record of leading the party to victories at the polls. A July 22-23 Mainichi newspaper poll published on Sunday showed Abe's support slipping 10 points to 26 percent from the previous survey in June. It also showed that 56 per cent of respondents did not back Abe's government, a 12 point rise. Also scheduled to appear at Monday's session are Abe's aide, Hiroto Izumi, and Kihei Maekawa, who resigned as the education ministry's top bureaucrat in January and has accused the government of distorting the approval process for the veterinary school. Abe is expected to reshuffle his cabinet early next month in an effort to repair his damaged ratings, a step often taken by beleaguered leaders but one that can backfire if novice ministers become embroiled in scandals or make gaffes. Also in trouble is Defence Minister Tomomi Inada, an Abe protege, who faces calls to resign over media reports of direct involvement in a ministry cover-up of documents about a sensitive peacekeeping operation. She denies the reports Opposition lawmakers are also expected to grill Abe about media reports that Inada allowed defence officials to conceal logs about the activities of the Self-Defense Forces, as Japan's military is known, in a U.N.-led peacekeeping operation in South Sudan.
There is no shortage of good watering holes in Kuala Lumpur, but what if all you want is a glass of great Japanese whiskey and nothing else? The beauty of going to specialist bars is not only in the range of choices you can get for a particular drink, but also the guaranteed quality of expertise you can expect to receive on a particular drink type. Whatever your poison of choice, these five bars are definitely worth a visit the next time you need a reason to raise a toast. JungleBird [caption id="attachment_354407" align="alignnone" width="960"] JungleBird's Facebook page[/caption] Specialty: Rum Where: 15, Plaza Damansara, Jalan Medan Setia 1, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur If the tropical flavours of rum are your thing, this bar at Bukit Damansara is a good bet. Although big palm trees and Hawaiian shirts make up the design of this place, its decor and presentation remains classy and unique. With a fun-but-not-too-crazy vibe, JungleBird is the kind of place you go to let your hair down and enjoy a couple of drinks with friends and colleagues. Claret Wine Bar [caption id="attachment_354409" align="alignnone" width="640"] Claret Wine Bar at Troika Sky Dining's Facebook page[/caption] Specialty: Wine Where: Level 23a, Tower B, The Troika, 19 Persiaran KLCC, 50450 Kuala Lumpur Perched on the 23rd floor of The Troika, Claret Wine Bar is the type of place you bring business associates you want to impress. The jazz music, luxe interior and breathtaking views make Claret undeniably one of the most elegant bars in KL today. Relaxing yet sophisticated, Claret offers an extensive selection of curated wines and other drinks that will leave you spoilt for choice. PS150 [caption id="attachment_354410" align="alignnone" width="960"] PS150's Facebook page[/caption] Specialty: Cocktails Where: 150 Ground Floor, Jalan Petaling, City Center, 50000 Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Probably one of KL’s hottest bars, PS150 is well known for its creative twists on familiar drinks. You can trust the bartenders here with your drinks for sure - co-founder and head bartender Angel Ng is one of KL’s most well known mixologists, taking the crown at last year’s Kuala Lumpur Gin Jubilee with her Cantabria Imperial, a gin & tonic made with hibiscus gin and flowers. The establishment itself has an alluring history - the pre-war shophouse it calls home is located in Chinatown and was once a brothel. Its entrance is hard to find and its opium den-inspired interiors give it an air of secrecy and mystery. If you’re looking to wow and surprise, this would be the place to bring your guest. Torii [caption id="attachment_354411" align="alignnone" width="960"] Torii's Facebook page[/caption] Specialty: Japanese whisky Where: 8, Jalan Batai, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur Simple and modern, this Jalan Datuk Sulaiman restaurant is all about two things - yakitori and whisky. The bar area is dedicated to Malaysia’s largest selection of Japanese whisky but also includes various types of Scotch from Speyside to Islay. This is the kind of place you go to when you feel like forgoing the pretense, and simply want to have a really great drink with friends and business associates. Plus, they don’t just serve meat skewers. The wagyu steaks (A3 to A5) are beautifully cooked and the perfect accompaniment to the premium whisky served here. Taps Beer Bar [caption id="attachment_354415" align="alignnone" width="780"] Taps Beer Bar Facebook page[/caption] Specialty: Beer Where: Jalan Nagasari, Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, It’s the weekend and the weather is hot and humid. The perfect cure, without a doubt, is a pint of ice cold beer and random banter with friends and family. Equipped with 15 beers on tap at the 1 Mont Kiara Mall branch, and 14 at Jalan Nagasari, Taps is a craft beer heaven for those who can appreciate a good ol' mug of frothy golden goodness. The decor is warm, friendly and perfect for just chilling out on a lazy Saturday night. And it doesn’t hurt to know that the food is pretty raved about too.
Days before Tesla is slated to begin deliveries of its new mass-market sedan, a Model 3 was seen in the wild in the Bay Area.
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National diver Cheong Jun Hoong won Malaysia's first-ever gold medal at the International Federation (Fina) World Championships in Budapest on Wednesday, beating 12 other top participants. Her win (397.50 points) upset the Chinese team in the women's 10m platform diving event, beating defending Olympic gold medalist Ren Qian (391.95) who took the bronze. Chinese Si Yajie (396.0 points) won the silver medal. Cheong, 27, who is from Perak, was ranked fourth after the first two dives but moved to the top spot in an unexpected comeback. She was ranked seventh in the final based on results from the semi-final stage. Cheong had already won a bronze medal at the event with team mate Pandelela Rinong in the synchronised platform event. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak joined Malaysians on Thursday (July 20) in celebrating her gold. He wrote in a Twitter post: "Congratulations @cheongjunhoong! First world champion #Negaraku in the women's platform event at #FINABudapest2017."