From Volume 4, Issue Number 36 of EIR Online, Published Sept. 6, 2005

World Economic News

Nearly 2 Billion in Asia Live on Less Than $2 a Day

Although poverty is slowly being reduced in the Asia-Pacific region, an estimated 1.85 billion people, or 57% of the region's population, still lived on less than two dollars a day in 2003, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has reported, according to Agence France Presse Aug. 30.

The number of people living in even the most extreme poverty —less than one dollar a day —was estimated at 621 million or 19.3% of the population, down from 688 million in 2002, the Manila-based organization said in a report.

"Much of the region's overall success in recent years is the result of a dramatic reduction in poverty in the PRC [People's Republic of China]," it said.

The new poverty estimates are contained in the ADB's Key Indicators 2005, an annual statistical compendium of economic, financial, and social indicators.

The data is based on figures for 2003, which, the ADB says, is the most recent year for which sufficient data is available to formulate estimates.

About 93% of the 621 million people living on less than a dollar a day in 2003 lived in India (327 million), China (173 million), and other South Asian countries (77 million).

"Although the percentage of South Asia's population living under extreme poverty declined to 29% in 2003, from 41.3% in 1990, relatively rapid population growth in South Asia meant the number of extremely poor fell by only about 45 million," the ADB said.

New Asian Currency Swap Arrangements Set

Japan, South Korea, and China have agreed to double their currency-swap arrangement with Indonesia. Originally set up under the ASEAN+3 agreements, the swaps are intended to share currency reserves to deal with speculative assaults, precisely like that now hitting Indonesia. The new agreement will double Japan's $3 billion, China's $1 billion, and South Korea's $1 billion, making $10 billion total now accessible to Jakarta to defend the rupiah.

Monetary solutions, however, will have little effect in the current hyperinflationary environment.

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