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Kopi Time podcast with Taimur Baig
37 minutes | Nov 30, 2022
Kopi Time E090 - Dr. Torbjörn Becker on Ukraine-Russia
Dr. Torbjörn Becker, Director of the Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics, joins Kopi Time to discuss the economic dimensions of the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict. We begin by going over Ukraine’s economic size and structure, followed by the depth of the economic and societal damage inflicted by this conflict. We then talk about the massive short- and medium-term funding needs for Ukraine’s sustainability and rebuilding. Dr. Becker’s institute has been exploring the various dimensions of funding Ukraine, from the appropriate distribution channels to governance concerns; he elaborates on them. We move on to the impact of sanctions and potential oil price cap on Russia. We then go over the economics of sanction and the state of Europe’s energy supply and policy response for this winter. As the most significant global security event of 2022, it is fitting that we conclude with Dr. Becker’s outlook for this conflict in 2023. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
31 minutes | Nov 16, 2022
Kopi Time E089 - Stuart Haber, Co-Inventor of Blockchain, on its Genesis and Current State
This podcast was recorded in early November, on the sidelines of the Singapore Fintech Festival 2022. It was fitting in the spirit of the event to have Stuart Haber join Kopi Time. Dr Haber, along with Scott Stornetta, co-invented the blockchain technique in 1990, which was later adopted by Satoshi Nakamoto as the basic mechanism for data integrity in Bitcoin. We begin the conversation travelling back over three decades, to understand the problem and motivation that drove Haber and Stornetta toward the blockchain. It is clear even as young coders and crypographers, their ambition was high and their goal was to have transformative and lasting impact on the way civilisation’s records are stored. We then talk about the seminal moment in 2008, when the Satoshi white paper came out, and Dr Haber’s take on it then (and now). We tackle the questions of a crypto bubble, Bitcoin’s adverse environmental impact (and possible solutions around it), proliferation of tech solutions looking for a problem, and the applications that appeal to him. Dr. Haber talks about his current research, and takes on my question on the potential impact of quantum computing on cryptograhy-based record authentication. A brilliant mind with outstanding insights. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
54 minutes | Nov 1, 2022
Kopi Time E088 - Dr. Lynn Loo on Decarbonising International Shipping
Dr. Lynn Loo, Professor in Engineering at Princeton University and head of Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) in Singapore, joins Kopi Time to talk about international shipping’s transition to a low-/zero-carbon future. Shipping accounts for 90% of global trade and is the sixth largest carbon emitter as a sector, hence the stakes are high. Dr Loo talks about the targets in place at the international level, as well as the current and frontier technologies that can take us toward zero-emission shipping in the long-term. We then move on to the issue carbon capture, which is tantalising in potential, but also comes with thorny issues like cost, storage, and disposal. We discuss the role of carbon taxes and broader regulations in facilitating green transition, some of the promising pilots and studies undertaken by GCMD (Biofuel, ammonia bunkering, retrofit solutions, and wind-assisted propulsion). We end with Dr. Loo’s pragmatic vision of a multi-fuel future. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10 minutes | Oct 17, 2022
Kopi Time E087 - Notes from IMF meetings in Washington
This 10-minute commentary summarises my key impressions from the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC. Held amid the background of rising interest rates, currency market volatility, developing country debt distress, great power rivalry, war in Ukraine, and risk of financial instability, the mood was largely grim during the meetings. Silver linings include relative resiliency of large emerging market economies, strong push for infrastructure investment, and an energised climate change agenda. But above all, it was about the US. The US society may have internal chasms, and some of its political institutions and processes may have weakened in recent years, but as far as the rest of the world is concerned, US monetary and financial market policy, US demand, US industrial policy, and US sanctions loom above just about all other considerations. To me, US assertiveness characterised these meetings. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
46 minutes | Oct 12, 2022
Kopi Time E086 - OMFIF’s David Marsh on the Sterling crisis and UK
David Marsh, Chairperson of Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) joins Kopi Time to go over the UK’s recent bout with extraordinary currency and rates volatility. Mincing no words, David provides a strong critique of the policy choices and communications that have pushed the UK economy on weak footing, leaving it vulnerable to financial stability risks. We talk about past cases of devaluation (especially the 1992 Sterling crisis that David has written about extensively) and consider the parallels and lessons. We then discuss the myriad of risks hovering over Europe, from war to energy insecurity to debt overhang among the peripheral economies. David has a sobering outlook for the global economy, with recession looming and global coordination largely absent. Not many silver linings, other than lessons learnt. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
52 minutes | Sep 28, 2022
Kopi Time E085 - Ila Patnaik on India’s Economy and the Politics of Welfare Delivery
Ila Patnaik, Chief Economist, Aditya Birla Group, joins Kopi Time to discuss a number of pertinent aspects of India’s economy. We talk about the current macro situation in the face of rising interest rates and tensions in the currency market. We then move on to India’s somewhat restrained policy response during the pandemic, and the expedited embrace of digital payments and service delivery. Ila is a realist on the frictional cost of economic formalisation, recognising that there will be losers. The challenge then becomes to ensure a minimal safety net for those being left behind. She is optimistic about the investment outlook but also cautious about absorptive capacity. From her perspective, 3-4% of GDP worth of FDI is fine, but more than that would be problematic to manage. We then discuss the state of financial sector reform, something Ila has been involved with for over a decade. We move on to discuss Ila’s book, co-written with union minister Bhupender Yadav, The Rise of the BJP: The Making of the World's Largest Political Party, which examines the politics of welfare payments. Ila points out the benefits that come from corruption-free, efficient social service delivery and frequent social audits, which is a valuable lesson for modern democratic parties. We end with Ila’s vision for India, which is highly promising to her due to a massive demographic advantage. This key to maintain a well-educated, healthy, and aspirational population. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
59 minutes | Sep 14, 2022
DBS Kopi Time E084 - The Woke Salaryman on Financial Literacy
Thewokesalaryman handle on Instagram has over 357k followers; on Telegram, it has nearly 37k subscribers. It is a highly popular social media platform on financial literacy, using original, witty cartoons to impart critical life lessons on career building, savings, investment, and just living worthy lives. He Ruiming and Goh Wei Choon, the creators, join Kopi Time to share their motivation, content generating process, the feedback loop between posting and follower response, their financial model, and the way forward. With a strong sense of the pulse of Singapore’s Gen Z population and beyond, Ruiming and Wei Choon are making truly valuable contribution to the overall well-being of the society. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
58 minutes | Aug 31, 2022
DBS Kopi Time E083 - Munib Madni on Climate Investing
Munib Madni, CEO of Singapore-based Panarchy Partners, returns to Kopi Time to talk about the fast growing world of climate investing. We go over the realities of climate change hitting home, numerous changes in the regulatory environment globally, and the deepening zeitgeist around investments in the context of climate mitigation. We then get into the thorny issue of how to deal with climate sceptics, including the dialogue around just transition. Munib then looks at various market failures, issues related to the term ESG and carbon pricing, Asia’s role in climate change and related investments, and financial returns coming from decarbonisation. Tons of inspirational takeaways for those feeling gloomy about our planet’s future. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
47 minutes | Aug 17, 2022
Kopi Time E082 - Carin Smaller on Global Food Security
Carin Smaller, Executive Director of the Shamba Centre for Food & Climate, joins Kopi Time to talk about global food security. As per the United Nations, after three decades of steady decline, the number of people who suffer from hunger began to increase again in 2015. Current estimates show that nearly 690 million people are hungry, or 8.9 percent of the world population. Compounding this trend is the high frequency incidences of natural disasters, pandemics, and wars that are pushing millions more into hunger. If recent trends continue, the number of people affected by hunger would surpass 840 million by 2030. Ms Smaller begins by going over the state of global food security for the remainder of this year and 2023, both with respect to the price and availability. She then sheds light on the various dimensions of structural food security, touching on income inequality, climate change, distributional bottlenecks, and insufficient global coordination. But there is some glimmer of hope, with initiatives like Ceres 2030 estimating the funds and work required to end global hunger by the end of this decade, galvanizing official donors, private philanthropies, and multilateral organisations. We go over promising technologies, recent developments in global trade rules, and state of resource mobilisation that reflect some degree of resolve to deal with this crisis. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
44 minutes | Aug 3, 2022
Kopi Time E081 - Prof Robert Dekle on recession risks and inflation
Robert Dekle, Professor of Economics at the University of Southern California, joins Kopi Time. Robert’s speciality is Japan, so we start there, going over his views on the yen’s rapid depreciation this year and the sustainability of yield curve control going forward. Robert thinks that there may still be some time left for BoJ to stay with its ultra-easy monetary policy stance, but the clock is ticking. For the longer-term, aging creates formidable headwind with respect to Japan’s domestic economic outlook, which is a major cautionary lesson for other parts of the world that are experiencing an adverse demographic shift. We then talk about the idea that aging and accompanying shrinking of the labour force could cause structural inflation. Robert thinks that between automation and the contribution from countries like India and Vietnam to the global labour pool, this fear may be overstated. We then move on to the US, talking about inflation. Robert sees a fairly long runway left for policy tightening, but also not a full resolution to the elevated inflation issue, with 2% inflation not being secured before 2025. The main reason for this, in Robert’s view, is that US fiscal/monetary policies will not become draconian enough. Robert sees high mortgage rates begin to cool the housing market, and some decline in pump prices being helpful, but worries about sticky food prices. He sees a US dollar peak around the corner as growth slowdown ensues, but at the same time sees lingering risk for emerging markets from high US rates and still-strong USD. We round up our discussion with inflation in the context of climate change and globalisation. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
64 minutes | Jul 6, 2022
Kopi Time 080 - Serey Chea on central banking and fintech for good
Serey Chea, Assistant Governor at the National Bank of Cambodia, joins to Kopi Time to provide an incisive view on central banking geared toward financial development and inclusion. She talks about the government’s role during the pandemic to support the population through a series of financial measures, including the tricky job of keeping ATMs going even as banknote sourcing faced global mobility restrictions. We then delve into Bakong, a blockchain-based peer to peer payment system for financial sector participants in Cambodia. Ms Chea talks about the genesis, use case, outcome, challenges, and potential with clarity and depth, flagging ideas that would be useful for many developing economies. She adds a human dimension to central banking by referring to her personal experience in seeing people struggle with lack of financial inclusion or financial literacy. Truly inspirational. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
50 minutes | Jun 23, 2022
Kopi Time E079 - Minister Grace Fu on green transition, energy & food security, climate finance
Ms. Grace Fu, Singapore’s Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, joins Kopi Time to go over the nation’s challenges and response regarding sustainability and climate. She lays out, in sobering detail, the issues associated with recalibrating the entire economy for green transition, with heightened focus on energy and food security. While cognizant of the steep hill to climb toward a mid-century net zero goal, Minister Fu is constructive about the work being done with public-private coordination and cooperation, as well as the myriad of financial and technological solutions available and under development. We go over Singapore’s plans for carbon tax, greening of the energy grid and overall infrastructure, the exciting area of urban agri tech, and the ongoing changes in global regulatory environment for decarbonisation. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
7 minutes | May 30, 2022
Kopi Time E078 - China slowdown and implications for Asean growth
Substantial trade linkage notwithstanding, Asean’s near-term outlook is not particularly vulnerable to the ongoing slowdown in China . Asia faces many macro risks, but a slowing China in not at the top of the list. Global inflation threat is a non-China factor Chinese tourists have been largely non-existent since 2020, hence there is no additional downside. Asean’s trade with China is a global demand beta that can withstand a domestic demand slowdown. US interest rates, global capital flows, and food/fuel prices matter more for Asean. Full commentary and analysis available here. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
34 minutes | May 20, 2022
Kopi Time E077 - Barry Eichengreen on War, Inflation, Crypto, Debt
Barry Eichengreen, professor at University of California at Berkeley, a foremost expert on economics and international finance, joins Kopi Time. We begin with the war in Ukraine, where he is calling for rebuilding to begin even before the conflict is over, led by a consortium that supersedes multilateral institutions like the IMF/World Bank. We also delve into the demonstration effect of the sanctions imposed on Russia on other potential antagonists. In relation to that, the reach and scope of the weaponisation of the USD is discussed. We then move on to the issues of the moment, global inflation spike direction of Fed policy, recession risks, and debt overhang, with an interlude on digital currencies. A tour de force. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
44 minutes | May 4, 2022
Kopi Time E076 - Gojek's CL Lien on Running an e-Services Platform
CL Lien, avid mountaineer and ultra-marathon runner, and Singapore General Manager of Gojek, an e-services platform, joins Kopi Time to discuss managing the business through a wide range of challenges and disruptions. We talk about the driver-partner model and the various dimensions around that. Lien sheds light on how Gojek managed through the pandemic and how the business is shaping up presently, especially in light of rising fuel prices and interest rates. We touch on the imperative to find green solutions to transportation and logistics, and the balance between embracing innovation and automating jobs away. Lien brings empathy and social realism to decision-making and strategy, a great leadership trait. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
45 minutes | Apr 20, 2022
Kopi Time E075: Tan Su Shan on banking through a pandemic, war, and digital disruption
Our guest to mark Kopi Time’s 75th episode is Tan Su Shan, Group Head of Institutional Banking at DBS. In a wide ranging chat, we talk about how her business is dealing with the various challenges associated with the conflict in Ukraine and the pandemic. Su Shan walks us through the approaches to managing credit risk and emergency measures deployed in these contexts. We then delve into the role of data and digitalisation in transforming banking and finance, especially in helping clients keep pace with a range of disruptions. We then talk about stakeholder accountability and green finance, especially the role technology can play in the latter. The looming topic of rising inflation and interest rates is discussed next, with the balance between rising rates helping the bottom line initially, but then those higher rates also manifesting in higher credit risks. Su Shan recognises that to deal with unavoidable complexity and volatility, the key is to have an agile team that thrives on open communication. It is this trust in her team that makes her optimistic about her business outlook. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
42 minutes | Apr 6, 2022
Kopi Time E074: EY's Sol Magaz on the Healthcare Sector through the Pandemic
Sol Magaz, Partner, Life Sciences and Healthcare in EY, joins Kopi Time to discuss her area of expertise. We begin by discussing how the sector reacted and adjusted to the pandemic, both in the West and here in Asia. Sol explains the disruptions and innovations through the use of advanced data analytics and practices that allowed for vaccines and therapeutics to be developed in record time. We focus on the digital legacy of this crisis, whether it is through tele-diagnostics or tele-therapeutics, or through synthetic trials. We then talk about other mega trends in the industry and the role of Asian countries in the global innovation space. We touch upon the leap-frog aspect of digital transformation in healthcare, where people in rural areas can get access to healthcare through their smartphones, care that was previously only provided when and if hospitals were built nearby. We end by discussing the soaring cost of healthcare and ways to address them from public and private angles. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
50 minutes | Mar 23, 2022
Kopi Time E073: Vulcan AI’s Manik Bhandari on new tech’s application and ethics
Manik Bhandari, CEO and Founder of Vulcan AI, an Artificial Intelligence company that focuses on building safety and productivity solutions, joins Kopi Time. He begins by providing an overview of the tech start-up scene in Singapore, describing how the public sector, through various initiatives, nudges entrepreneurs to develop profitable solutions that are good for the society. Manik’s firm’s focus is on deploying the power of big data and artificial intelligence in agriculture, transportation, workplace safety, elder care, etc. These are areas with room for innovation, but also entail deep ethical considerations on the line between profit and good. He offers his insights on the local talent pool, the best way to enhance tech skills, and the way entrepreneurs should use Singapore’s ecosystem as a launching pad for expanding in the region or globally. Manik points out that tech does not only mean coding and engineering, with numerous high value added jobs that require a much wider range of soft and hard skills. It’s a call to action to tech immersion, but with an ethical lens. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
45 minutes | Mar 9, 2022
Kopi Time E072: Energy market mayhem with Vandana Hari
Vandana Hari, Founder & CEO of Vanda Insights, a Singapore-based provider of global oil markets macro-analysis, returns to Kopi Time to shed light on the extraordinary volatility in the energy markets. She covers it all, from the current supply/demand dynamic to Russia’s role in the energy markets, from alternative source of supply to the various logistical and geopolitical constraints at play, the near term outlook, which is grim, and the legacy of this crisis. Critical insights. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
51 minutes | Feb 25, 2022
Kopi Time E071: Security expert Jonah Blank on Ukraine, Europe, China, US, Asia
Jonah Blank, senior visiting research fellow with the National University of Singapore, and formerly South and Southeast Asia Policy Director for Joe Biden in the US Senate, joins Kopi Time for a deep dive on contemporary geopolitics. We devote the first half of the podcast on Ukraine, spanning Putin’s motivation, risk of regional spillover, impact of sanctions, and possible end-game scenarios. Jonah makes astute observations on the complexities and historical context at play, while acknowledging the exceptional uncertainty that lies ahead. We then move on to Russia-China matters, including the intersection of strategic interests and cooperation on payments and energy/commodity trade. Jonah then offers a somewhat inside-the-beltway perspective on competition/rivalry between China and the US. We conclude by North and South East Asia’s dilemmas in this context. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
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