Friday, May 09, 2003
I've attemted to put a new Calvin picture on the page. Hope it works, it should be a picture of Stupendous Man looking his coolest in red (goes faster).
A big THANKS to all the supportive comments I got and good suggestions. I was amazed to find I had a readership larger than originally suspected.
Amidst the continuing sluggish growth in the world economy and the persistence of SARS, Morgan Stanley has downgraded Korea's economic forecast to a low 3%. This is below government estimates which are aiming just under 4%. Last year estimates were still ranging around the 5% mark which indicates how rapidly things are falling. A supplementary budget is also in the planning stage but since the government finds an excuse to do a supplementary every year that is not much concern. I don't have figures to compare at present but might consider that for the next blog...if time/interest permits. I think one of the most notable signs of the economic downturn in Korea is the talk on the street. I was chatting to some Koreans on Monday and they mentioned the economic situation and I got a sudden de ja vu of when I was in Korea in early 1997 just before the crisis hit. The tone and sentiment is almost identical.
While the microeconomic fundamentals of the Korean economy might be in better shape now than pre-crisis, the reform process in all four key sectors is not complete and still vulnerable to shocks. The fragile recovery of US economy, outbreak of SARS and particularly its effect of exports to affected countries could hit Korea hard. Still it's woes seem comparable to those of most nations and is doing better than some.
Yesterday for Buddha's b'day I went with a Korean family to see Swan Lake at the Seoul Arts Centre performed by the Korea National Ballet. It was absolutely fantastic. It was everything a ballet should be; elaborate props, fancy costumes, brilliant music - the orchestra was superb - and high flying dancers. The court jester had springs in his legs!!