Uber Jumps On The Advertising Bandwagon, Leaving Consumers Behind

UBER'S APP - NurPhoto via Getty Images

Following in the footsteps of Netflix NFLX +8%, Disney, Amazon AMZN +3.5% and Instacart, Uber UBER +0.5% announced this week its intent to establish a corporate advertising division and the launch of Uber Journey Ads, which will allow brands to connect with consumers throughout the entire rideshare experience. The new business will join Uber Eats, which has been displaying in-app restaurant ads for two years.

Uber’s press release crowed about the potential to leverage its extensive first-party data across mobility and delivery interactions, presenting the world’s largest companies with a compelling opportunity to reach 122 million active users who make or order almost 2 billion trips per quarter on Uber’s platform.

At this scale, Uber’s new business does show promise in delivering much-needed high-margin revenue by selling targeted ads that exploit unique insights on customer lifetime travel behaviors and trip-specific destinations. Moreover, by controlling its own customer data and user app, Uber can sidestep Apple’s AAPL +2.7% and Google’s GOOG +0.9% growing restrictions on ad-tracking tactics.

But what about consumers? What makes Uber Journey Ads a good deal for them? Uber has always relied on convenience as its most compelling consumer value proposition, namely the ability to be whisked from any point A to B, at any time, with frictionless payment, all with the simple tap of a smartphone. While Uber initially was also cheaper — not just better — than traditional taxi service, over the past five years Uber has sharply raised prices, to the point where consumers now routinely pay premium prices for Uber’s service.

Uber’s rideshare trip growth has slowed from the heady era of price-subsidies, but there are still plenty of customers attracted by Uber’s convenience, and the company’s financial performance is actually better (or less bad, depending on your disposition) than it has ever been. But with in-app ads, Uber now expects rideshare customers to be comfortable with the need to continue paying premium prices, despite now being bombarded with what may be unwanted or possibly creepy ads. Remember, Uber knows who you are and where you’re going.

From a consumer perspective, Uber’s Journey Ads program would be analogous to Netflix announcing that they were introducing ads to everyone’s streaming feed, but keeping subscription prices the same. Uber’s new ad business chief, Mark Grether, claims that the addition of ads would ultimately make rides cheaper for consumers, but declined to say how much.

Really? Cheaper than what? Uber’s consumer pricing algorithms for ridesharing service are completely opaque to consumers. Fares used to be based on published rates per-mile and minute (similar to taxis), adjusted as necessary for supply/demand imbalances, expressed as an explicit “surge” multiple over base fares.

But in 2016, Uber switched to “Upfront Fares,” where the company abolished its rate card entirely, simply quoting passengers a flat fare at the time of a trip request, which passengers are free to accept or reject. In that respect, passengers may know upfront what any given trip will cost, but as to why prices can and do vary considerably from trip-to-trip, Uber isn’t upfront (as in transparent) at all.

Uber almost doubled its average rideshare prices nationwide between 2018 and 2021, and reports of extreme fare levels have increasingly surfaced, for example airport-to-city center Uber fares exceeding the passenger’s air fare.

Do large price swings from trip to trip simply reflect dynamically shifting surge conditions as always, or are different factors at play? Can different riders sometimes be charged different rates for exactly the same trip? If so, why? As passengers, we simply have no way to know what prices to expect when ordering an Uber rideshare service.

As such, Uber’s Journey Ad promise to reduce consumer rideshare fares by an unspecified amount sometime in the unspecified future rings hollow when compared to crystal clear price transparency in the streaming video market. For example, if you want to binge on Bridgerton to your heart’s content without pesky interruptions, Netflix’s standard monthly streaming rate is $15.49. If that price is a bridge too far, and you’re willing to accept ads, the monthly rate drops to $6.99, a 55% cut.

It’s also important to note that Uber’s mobility and delivery businesses are fundamentally different. Customers opening the Uber Eats app may not know exactly what restaurant to order from. That’s what makes ads on food apps (and Amazon.com for that matter) so devilishly effective. Most customers in these cases are definitely going to buy something, but can be influenced by ads in considering their alternative choices.

But for ridesharing, customers know precisely where they are going and why, so ads are far more likely to be viewed as an annoying distraction. That is, if they’re seen at all. It’s fair to assume that most customers don’t sit in their ridesharing vehicle staring at Uber’s app, as opposed to Netflix, where staring at a screen is the whole point of the service. As a result, Uber plans on hitting consumers with ads at all three journey stages — the waiting-for-pickup screen, enroute, and post-trip.

In fact, Uber plans to sell ad “blocks,” where advertisers willing to pay can gain exclusive access on display ads on Uber’s app at every journey stage. Consumers, this isn’t the way it used to be! For some customers of course, the final, and perhaps most concerning aspect of Uber Journey Ads is the potential creepiness of it all. To be sure, Uber has given strong assurances that it will not share or divulge personal information under its targeted ad program.

But regardless of the level of aggregation Uber may use in its algorithmic target market segmentation, there are four reasons for potential concern.

  1. Advertisers always value (as in more ads at higher CPM rates) more granularity in targeting prospective customers, so there are natural incentives favoring targeting accuracy over consumer privacy
  2. Location-specific tracking has always been a particularly sensitive privacy issue, which lies at the heart of Uber’s new mobility ad service
  3. This sensitivity was clearly on display in the widespread moral outrage following revelations in 2014 that Uber employees freely accessed a “God View” program to track individual customer movements. To settle the ensuing embarrassing government investigation, Uber agreed to submit third-party audits of its privacy practices to the Federal Trade Commission for 20 years
  4. As recently as last month, Uber suffered another serious data breach. A security engineer who corresponded with the person claiming responsibility for the hack reported, “They pretty much have full access to Uber; this is a total compromise, from what it looks like.” Such incidents add to lingering concerns with Uber’s trustworthiness and security in handling sensitive consumer data.

Uber has failed for years to create sufficient value to adequately reward all its stakeholders — consumers, drivers/couriers, restauranteurs, and company shareholders — forcing the company to play one off against another, in what has become a long-running pursuit of profitless growth.

The addition of Uber Journey Ads is a perfectly logical business initiative for a company under increasing pressure to produce attractive investor returns. But make no mistake about it:Uber’s advertising initiative is intended to extract value from consumers for the benefit of Uber’s shareholders and advertisers. Consumers, you’re being taken for a ride!

I am an Executive in Residence and Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School, teaching courses in business strategy and corporate

Source: Uber Jumps On The Advertising Bandwagon, Leaving Consumers Behind

Critics by Alexis Gebhardt

After a decade during which ultra-low interest rates and abundant market liquidity grew Uber and Lyft. into start-up giants and eventual IPOs, the rideshare model is under a great deal of stress.

Even with consumers bouncing back and ride numbers way up from pandemic lows, stocks of both companies are tanking after their latest earnings, and from wage inflation to unionization and gas prices, the current economy is not one that favors their business models.

In many respects, Uber and Lyft today are much more like big corporations than a reflection of any original definition of a local “rideshare” community, but one thing remains true: consumers do want alternatives to owning a car and traditional public transport options. Nearly 36% of U.S. adults say they have at one point used a ride-share app like Lyft and Uber, according to Pew Research.

If anything, the pressure on the top “rideshare” companies may leave room for additional models to make their case. Getaround is an example. Founded in 2009 and, along with Uber, an original CNBC Disruptor on the inaugural 2013 list, its mission has remained transitioning society away from every licensed driver in the world having a car: simply walk up to cars that are parked all over the street and tap an unlock button on your phone. 

The IPO market may not be receptive right now, but its executive team and investors are betting that the concept will continue to grow.

“What’s happening in transportation is a slow moving kind of shift from ownership to access, and that’s building momentum over time,” said Elliot Kroo, CTO and co-founder of Getaround. “More and more people are looking at alternative transportation options, realizing that car ownership is very expensive.”

The pandemic and the related global supply chain issues, as well as robust consumer demand, have led to steep increases in prices of both new and used cars. Kroo said that while more people use car-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, more people are also thinking about getting rid of their cars.

The pandemic and the related global supply chain issues, as well as robust consumer demand, have led to steep increases in prices of both new and used cars. Kroo said that while more people use car-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, more people are also thinking about getting rid of their cars….To be continued…

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Can Protein Powders Help Sarcopenia and Ageing Muscles?

Protein is a particularly important macronutrient for older adults. Studies show that, on average, people start to gradually lose muscle mass in their 30s and 40s, and that after the age of 60 this decline accelerates.When it gets severe enough, this loss of muscle mass with age, known as sarcopenia, can lead to serious health problems. Studies show that sarcopenia can increase the risk of falls, fractures and physical disabilities – all of which can hamper an older adult’s mobility, independence and quality of life. Sarcopenia can also lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to Type 2 diabetes.

But consuming an adequate amount of protein can help to slow or minimise this muscle loss with age. Whey protein powder can certainly help you meet your protein needs, experts say, but it’s not necessary if you make sure to get enough protein from your daily meals. Federal guidelines recommend that most healthy adults consume at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. However, this is the minimum amount you need to avoid becoming malnourished – and many experts say that for optimal health you should aim a little higher.

As you age, especially if you are 65 or older, you’ll need to consume more than the recommended dietary allowance to preserve your muscle, said Katie Dodd, a registered dietitian and founder of the Geriatric Dietitian blog.

“Research has shown that older adults do need a little more protein than younger adults,” she said. “A lot of that has to do with sarcopenia. They need it to protect their muscle mass. I talk a lot about protein because you need it in order to get the most out of your golden years.” Dodd recommends that generally healthy adults who are 65 or older consume at least 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a person who weighs 68 kilograms, this means incorporating about 68 to 82 grams of protein into your daily diet.

Dodd cautioned, however, that protein needs can vary depending on one’s circumstances. Older adults who have a wound or injury might need slightly more protein to help with their healing, she said, while people who have kidney disease might be advised to reduce their protein intake. Varying levels of physical activity may also change the calculation. It’s a good idea to consult with your health care provider before making any significant changes to your diet.

“The standard healthy adult who is eating a healthy diet does not need a protein supplement.”

Whether you get your protein from supplements or from whole foods, it’s best to spread your intake across the day, rather than consuming the bulk of your protein in one meal, so your body has time to absorb it. You should focus on getting your protein from whole foods like fish, dairy, meat, eggs and poultry, Dodd said. You can also get it from plant foods like nuts, beans and lentils. If you can’t get all the protein you need from whole foods, then it’s fine to boost your intake through protein supplements, Dodd said.

Whey protein is a particularly good source of protein because it’s rich in amino acids the building blocks of protein – and the body absorbs it nicely. It’s also been shown in studies to be particularly beneficial for muscle health when paired with exercise. But for people who are vegan, supplementing with soy, pea or hemp protein products can work as well. “The standard healthy adult who is eating a healthy diet does not need a protein supplement,” Dodd said. “But if they can’t get their protein needs through food, then that’s when supplements can be helpful.”

If you need help determining your daily protein needs, try visiting the protein intake calculator at Examine.com, a large and independent database of nutrition research. The calculator takes into account your sex, weight and activity level to help you figure out how much protein you need. If your goal is to minimise your risk of sarcopenia, then combining an adequate level of protein intake with regular physical activity will do a lot to protect your muscle mass as you age, said Bill Willis, a scientist who studies muscle protein synthesis at Ohio State University and a researcher at Examine.com.

Resistance exercises like pushups, squats and lifting weights or using resistance bands are best. But studies show that even low-intensity forms of physical activity like walking, gardening, lawn mowing and grocery shopping can help to offset the loss of muscle with age. “The take-home message for people 65 and up is that you should make sure you consume enough protein and, number two, be active,” Willis said. “Being sedentary seems to promote sarcopenia more than anything else.”

By Anahad O’Connor

Source: Can protein powders help sarcopenia and ageing muscles?

Critics by: Health Harvard

Adding protein powder to a glass of milk or a smoothie may seem like a simple way to boost your health. After, all, protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle, bone strength, and numerous body functions. And many older adults don’t consume enough protein because of a reduced appetite.

But be careful: a scoop of chocolate or vanilla protein powder can harbor health risks. “I don’t recommend using protein powders except in a few instances, and only with supervision,” says registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Protein powders are powdered forms of protein that come from plants (soybeans, peas, rice, potatoes, or hemp), eggs, or milk (casein or whey protein). The powders may include other ingredients such as added sugars, artificial flavoring, thickeners, vitamins, and minerals. The amount of protein per scoop can vary from 10 to 30 grams. Supplements used for building muscle contain relatively more protein, and supplements used for weight loss contain relatively less.

  • A protein powder is a dietary supplement. The FDA leaves it up to manufacturers to evaluate the safety and labeling of products. So, there’s no way to know if a protein powder contains what manufacturers claim.
  • We don’t know the long-term effects. “There are limited data on the possible side effects of high protein intake from supplements,” McManus says.
  • It may cause digestive distress. “People with dairy allergies or trouble digesting lactose [milk sugar] can experience gastrointestinal discomfort if they use a milk-based protein powder,” McManus points out.
  • It may be high in added sugars and calories. Some protein powders have little added sugar, and others have a lot (as much as 23 grams per scoop). Some protein powders wind up turning a glass of milk into a drink with more than 1,200 calories. The risk: weight gain and an unhealthy spike in blood sugar. The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 24 grams of added sugar per day for women and 36 grams for men.

Earlier this year, a nonprofit group called the Clean Label Project released a report about toxins in protein powders. Researchers screened 134 products for 130 types of toxins and found that many protein powders contained heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury), bisphenol-A (BPA, which is used to make plastic), pesticides, or other contaminants with links to cancer and other health conditions. Some toxins were present in significant quantities. For example, one protein powder contained 25 times the allowed limit of BPA.

How could protein powder contain so many contaminants? The Clean Label Project points to manufacturing processes or the existence of toxins in soil (absorbed by plants that are made into protein powders)…….

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Which Came First, The Electric Pickup or The Charging Station?

How rural communities will fare in the battle for electric vehicles funds comes down to a sort of chicken and egg scenario, officials said.

Without acceptance of electric vehicles (EVs) in rural areas, federal funding for charging stations will go elsewhere. But without the charging stations, fewer rural residents will buy electric vehicles.

David Adkins, executive director and CEO of the Council of State Governments, an organization that provides states with research focusing on public policy issues, said if his family in rural Kansas is any indication, electric vehicles are gaining traction in rural communities.

“I’m confident that rural America will increasingly prioritize the need for EV charging stations once the electrified Ford F 150 becomes the truck of choice for farmers and ranchers,” he said. “And Ford will only be able to sell those trucks if charging capacity is ubiquitous.”

Ford and startup Rivian are already selling electric pickups, and several manufacturers have plans to join the market. Cost will make deployment of charging options in urban centers happen first, but without a nationwide network it will be hard to get commercial EVs in widespread use, he said.

EV charging networks will be necessary for tomorrow’s rural America, he said.

“EV charging stations are the next chapter in rural connectivity,” he said. “Right now the focus is on broadband access which primarily benefits those living and working in rural America. Charging stations on the other hand benefit both local residents and those traveling through rural America.”

Recently, the Biden Administration released “Charging Forward: A Toolkit for Planning and Funding Rural Electric Mobility Infrastructure,” a guide for rural areas to get the most out of the federal funding for the electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Getting those charging stations into rural areas is important for widespread adoption of EVs, the administration said.

“In rural parts of the country—home to 20 % of Americans and almost 70 % of America’s road miles—EVs can be an especially attractive alternative to conventional vehicles,” the administration wrote in its toolkit. “Rural residents drive more than their urban counterparts, spend more on vehicle fuel and maintenance, and often have fewer alternatives to driving to meet their transportation needs. Over the long run, EVs will help residents of rural areas reduce those costs and minimize the environmental impact of transportation in their communities.”

Ensuring that those charging stations go to rural areas will be a challenge, said U.S. Representative David Scott (D-Georgia), chair of the House Agriculture Committee.

“We are witnessing a point of major research, investment, and adoption of electric vehicles across the country and the world, driven in large part in an effort to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” Scott said at a hearing in January. “As with so many other technological advancements like electrification, broadband, or telephone service, I want to see what can be done to make sure that rural America is not left behind. And to that point, I want to also ensure that the needs of agriculture and rural residents are being considered with these important developments.”

The U.S. DOT said priority in the electric-vehicle charging network will be given to federally designated alternative fuel corridors, primarily located along interstate highways. Nominated by state and local governments, the corridors are highway segments with the infrastructure to support electric-vehicle charging stations, as well as other alternative fuels. The program requires charging stations at 50-mile intervals.

Some states in the American West have expressed concerns about that requirement.

“Western states face a suite of challenges related to planning and siting EV infrastructure, including the unique needs of both underserved and rural communities, vast distances between communities, limited electric grid infrastructure in sparsely populated areas, and a patchwork of federal, state, and private lands ownership boundaries,” the Western Governors Association, comprised of 19 states in the region, wrote in a policy resolution submitted to federal transportation officials in December.

“A number of western states have experienced challenges in meeting these defined metrics due to lacking electric infrastructure and suitable charging locations in sparsely populated areas.”

Part of the same fuel corridor goes through Appalachia, said Janiene Bohannon, director of communications with the Appalachian Regional Council, in an interview with the Daily Yonder. A map of the Electric Vehicle Charging State Location shows all the current electric vehicle charging stations across the country plus the current and proposed charging station corridors.

The number of EV charging stations in Appalachia is growing, she said. More charging stations means more connectivity for Appalachian residents and visitors.

“Bringing EV charging stations to the Appalachian Region will help to reduce its isolation and promote economic growth,” Bohannon said. “Additional electric vehicle charging stations could encourage a greater population that would visit Appalachia.”

Rural communities will have to deal with other larger challenges in installing EV charging stations, Adkins said.

“Another challenge states face in making the conversion to EV vehicles is the way surface transportation is funded,” he said. “The gas tax is currently a primary source of federal and state funding for streets and highways. States will need to update these revenue formulas in order to have funds to pay for infrastructure.”

Picking a technology to install is another obstacle. Tesla, for instance, has a proprietary charger, creating a “VHS v. Betamax-like market-based obstacle,” Adkins said.

“Like with solar, I believe significant subsidies will need to be provided to private sector players in order to build out initial EV charging networks,” he said. “It will be fun to watch how innovation occurs as the number of electric vehicles grows in the next decade.”

Source: Which Came First, the Electric Pickup or the Charging Station? | The Daily Yonder


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Reducing Risk When Migrating Mission-Critical Applications To The Cloud

Over the last decade, significant strides have been made in cloud computing, and today’s enterprises have substantial data and application footprints in the cloud. Many organizations are moving toward implementing cloud-based operations for their most crucial business applications.

A cloud-first mindset is usually a given for new companies and continues to gain traction for established enterprises. Still, existing legacy infrastructures and large on-premise footprints that don’t map easily to cloud architectures are slowing and even blocking faster adoption.

Organizations are poised to prioritize cloud investments over the next five years, according to the results of IDC’s Future of Operations research. The appeal includes the potential for an improved experience for customers, employees and suppliers/partners, better development agility, improved time to market and increased operational efficiency across organizations.

Although a pivot to the cloud could complete the evolution of the business from an operational and capital perspective, significant barriers to broader adoption still exist.

Cloud spending is on track to surpass $1 trillion by 2024, partly due to urgent changes to business operations driven by the pandemic, which accelerated cloud adoption timelines for many companies. And the results of recent research find that optimizing cloud costs tops companies’ 2021 priorities for the fifth year in a row.

Increasingly ambitious migration timelines are driving important decisions about moving critical applications without fully understanding the risks. Organizations are addressing application and data migration with largely ineffective one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t always meet expectations, often causing more problems than they promise to solve.

Others are moving with extreme caution when deciding which applications to keep on-prem and which to move, migrate or refactor. Mission-critical apps remain on the legacy infrastructure to assure control over the foundational data and safely maintain business as usual.

Moving from massive, on-prem data centers to the cloud presents a future filled with possibilities but also a level of risk due to the various unknowns within this significant paradigm shift. After all, a mission-critical app can be essential to the immediate viability of an organization and fundamentally necessary for success.

Although moving to the cloud is the way forward for many modern companies, migration can prove time-consuming and highly challenging, often with incomplete or unacceptable results. Successful migration can further business opportunities, but the risk of failure is considerable, and the high visibility that accompanies these major initiatives increases the level of exposure and consequences of said failure.

Mission-critical initiatives often cross the length and breadth of organizations, across low-level operational groups up to the C-suite and beyond. But just as all data is not created equal, neither are clouds or migration strategies.

Data Mobility Matters

With increasing cloud investments comes a growing need for more accessible data mobility. As more data moves to the cloud and strategies expand to occasionally include multicloud environments, there’s an expectation that underlying cloud resources deliver about the same level of performance as on-prem. But, often, the required type and volume of cloud resources are not available and deployment is difficult or impossible.

Performance is instrumental in determining where a mission-critical application should live and drives myriad scaling considerations and challenges. Sometimes, particular features, functionality and capabilities are lacking.

Perhaps the data primarily resides in a private or hybrid cloud to engage in cloud bursting on the public cloud when capacity needs to balloon. Longtime legacy challenges of architecting for the peak versus the average persist. Still, cloud decisions have forced IT leaders to relinquish a level of control over the physical infrastructure, significantly increasing risk.

Managing data mobility is challenging. To increase success, plan an approach that minimizes workflow disruptions of critical processes while ensuring sufficient capacity to support expected workloads and providing enough scalability to handle unexpected workloads. Managing random workload fluctuations requires a solid plan and a scalable, flexible and agile architecture to avoid those black swan events that are all too threatening.

Cloud Migration Considerations

Successful migration is not easy, but for many applications, it’s pretty simple to migrate to a platform as a service (PaaS) or managed service and be up and running fairly quickly. But for those performance-sensitive vertical stack monolithic applications running on the most expensive hardware for decades, moving can prove challenging and even impossible.

Ideally, refactoring enhances an application without negatively modifying external behavior and improving the internal architecture, as well as perhaps gaining cost efficiencies, maintenance or performance. But not all mission-critical applications are a fit for a refactor. Complexity, cost and the risk of disrupting a mission-critical app that’s performing as expected are valid reasons to leave some apps on-prem.

Others are constrained by performance requirements that aren’t achievable in the cloud with current offerings. There are fundamental limitations to the types of applications and databases that can quickly move to the cloud, and overhauling those solutions introduces significant risk, possibly resulting in critical delays and higher costs.

Solving Migration Problems

The best plan to mitigate the risks and improve the odds for cloud migration is to eliminate silos between multiple clouds and on-prem — regardless of type or location — facilitating a free flow of information in a simple, resilient, well-understood fashion. The next truth can’t be overstated:

Data is the new oil and should be treated as such. Just as trained specialists are leveraged to find and extract oil, specialized experts should be utilized when performing high-risk, business-changing moves regarding mission-critical data and the application stacks that access it. Ideally, the team migrating mission-critical applications should be proficient in enabling data mobility across environments without refactoring to reduce risk.

The question of cloud migration in 2021 is often no longer “if” but “when and how.” The material risk of maintaining the status quo can be significant, and avoiding moving mission-critical applications to the cloud is often no longer an option. A wise man once said, “What’s dangerous is not to evolve,” and this truism fully applies to an organization’s journey to the cloud.

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Source: Reducing Risk When Migrating Mission-Critical Applications To The Cloud

Asia Becomes Epicenter of Market Fears Over Slowdown in Growth

Asia is emerging as the epicenter for investor worries over global growth and the spread of coronavirus variants. While their peers in the U.S. and Europe remain near record highs, Asian stocks have fallen back in recent months amid slowing Chinese economic growth and a glacial rollout of vaccines. The trend accelerated Friday with the benchmark MSCI Asia Pacific Index briefly erasing year-to-date gains for the second time in as many months.

“Asia was seen as the poster child in pandemic response last year, but this year the slow vaccination rollout in most countries combined with the arrival of the delta variant means another lost year,” said Mark Matthews, head of Asia research with Bank Julius Baer & Co. in Singapore. “I suspect Asia will continue to lag as long as vaccination rollouts remain at their relatively sluggish levels and high daily new Covid counts prevent them from lifting mobility restrictions.”

The growing jitters in the region comes as investor concerns shift from runaway inflation to an early withdrawal of stimulus by central banks. China’s authorities signaled earlier this week they may soon unleash more support for the economy, suggesting the world’s fastest-pandemic recovery may be weaker than it appears.

A fresh regulatory crackdown on Chinese tech stocks this week has also impacted investor sentiment in the region. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index fell briefly into a technical bear market Friday, led by weakness in the sector.

While Asia bore the brunt of the retreat in global equities, havens in other asset classes from Treasuries to the yen have rallied, and the rotation toward economically-sensitive cyclical stocks from their high-priced growth counterparts continued to unwind.

“It’s a sign of how challenging the reopening process is,” Marvin Loh, State Street senior global market strategist, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “What the PBOC is going through as well as these variants that keep popping up around the world shows it’s going to be an uneven process. Maybe a normalization tightening policy is not necessarily going to be as fluid.”

Covid Challenge

Covid 19 remains a key challenge. In Japan, Tokyo has declared a renewed state of emergency to combat the resurgent virus, banning spectators from the Olympics and pushing the Nikkei 225 Stock Average toward a correction. South Korea is intensifying social distancing measures in Seoul while Indonesia is battling a virus resurgence that has crippled its health system.

“Asian equities are being particularly impacted by the rebound in coronavirus cases in the region, fears about the impact of that on regional growth and concern that we may now have seen the best of the rebound globally,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy with AMP Capital Investors in Sydney. “Asian shares may have led the way on this but coronavirus concerns may also weigh on global shares generally.”

For the APAC region, recent trade deals will likely invigorate and deepen economic integration over the coming few years. In late 2020, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement after eight years of negotiation.

When fully implemented in 2022, RCEP will represent the world’s biggest trading bloc, covering about 30% of global GDP and trade. In addition, China concluded a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) with the EU on the last day of 2020. The EU is China’s second-largest trading partner and the CAI will cover broad market access, including to key sectors such as alternative energy vehicles and medical services.

Although these trade deals will not have an immediate economic impact, in the medium term the treaties should cement Asia as the world’s most dynamic economic bloc embracing free trade, investment and globalization. They should also help to counter the disruptive geopolitical tensions and encourage the post-pandemic economic recovery in Asia.

The economy of Asia comprises more than 4.5 billion people (60% of the world population) living in 49 different nations. Asia is the fastest growing economic region, as well as the largest continental economy by both GDP Nominal and PPP in the world. Moreover, Asia is the site of some of the world’s longest modern economic booms, starting from the Japanese economic miracle (1950–1990), Miracle on the Han River (1961–1996) in South Korea, economic boom (1978–2013) in China, Tiger Cub Economies (1990–present) in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam, and economic boom in India (1991–present).
As in all world regions, the wealth of Asia differs widely between, and within, states. This is due to its vast size, meaning a huge range of different cultures, environments, historical ties and government systems. The largest economies in Asia in terms of PPP gross domestic product (GDP) are China, India, Japan, Indonesia, Turkey, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Thailand and Taiwan and in terms of nominal gross domestic product (GDP) are China, Japan, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Taiwan, Thailand and Iran.
East Asian and ASEAN countries generally rely on manufacturing and trade (and then gradually upgrade to industry and commerce), and incrementally building on high-tech industry and financial industry for growth, countries in the Middle East depend more on engineering to overcome climate difficulties for economic growth and the production of commodities, principally Sweet crude oil.
Over the years, with rapid economic growth and large trade surplus with the rest of the world, Asia has accumulated over US$8.5 trillion of foreign exchange reserves – more than half of the world’s total, and adding tertiary and quaterny sectors to expand in the share of Asia‘s economy.







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