Soaring oil prices and peace in Asia

PROTESTS. An Indonesian protester shouts slogans during a rally against the government's plan to hike prices of fuel in Jakarta. Photo from AFP

Been there and done that. Skyrocketing oil prices have toppled leaders, including Suharto’s 32-year rule, while governments, like the Philippines’, face mounting pressure to maintain or grant new subsidies. The downside is a major political risk: upheavals. There are already protests going on in the streets of Malaysia and Indonesia, the 2 Asian countries that are trying to salvage their gaping budget deficit, no thanks to fuel subsidies that benefit mainly the middle class. The art of balancing the political and budgetary powers is in full display again.

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