Paul Tierno

Analyst – South Korea, ASEAN

Paul Tierno is an analyst in the Country Analysis Unit within the Financial Institution Supervision and Credit (FISC) Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. In that capacity, he researches Asian financial and economic issues and produces analyses of Asian foreign banking organizations. In addition, he monitors financial, regulatory, and economic developments in Asia, with a focus on South Korea and Southeast Asia. His research interests include economic and financial reform and financial sector developments.

Before joining the Federal Reserve, Mr. Tierno was an Asia analyst at the Trans-National Research Corporation, an emerging markets macroeconomic and political research consultancy, where he advised clients with portfolio investments across Asia. Prior to that, he wrote on economic issues at the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt.

Mr. Tierno received a master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Political Affairs, with a concentration in International Economic Policy. Mr. Tierno also holds a bachelor’s degree in History from New York University.

Contact Paul Tierno

Pacific Exchange Blog Entries

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Can Korea Move Beyond Government-Backed Small Business Lending?

Posted July 15, 2019

Korea has some of the most supportive policies for startups and small businesses, including an abundant supply of government-backed loans, due to their role as an employment engine. Support for small businesses is poised to remain strong as the country undergoes a strategic shift toward inclusive and innovation led growth. However, critics point to data suggesting government programs enable poor performance among companies. In response, policymakers have introduced measures to diversify financing, increase the role of capital markets, and improve productivity.

Asia’s Emerging Virtual Banks

Posted October 9, 2018

Several Asian regulators are amending existing rules to allow technology firms to own and run virtual banks, which will likely result in a number of new digital lenders. This has triggered debate and discussion about licensing requirements, risk management, and consumer protection.

Testing Time for Emerging Market Resilience

Posted August 30, 2018

Indonesia’s economic fundamentals have improved considerably since the “taper tantrum”, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and ratings agencies sanguine about its performance. But as global financial conditions tightened this year, volatility seems to be on the rise again putting the resilience of emerging markets to the test.

Regulating Initial Coin Offerings and Cryptocurrency Exchanges across Asia

Posted February 13, 2018

Asian regulators clarified their stances on initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency exchanges this past year as public interest in both has skyrocketed. Some of the same qualities that attract investors to cryptocurrencies make them susceptible to money laundering and fraud. Regulators have acted to protect investors and their financial systems in steps ranging from banning ICOs and cryptocurrency exchanges to implementing licensing requirements ensuring new currencies and products face the same scrutiny as existing ones.

Emerging Asia’s Efforts to Deal with Increasing Debt

Posted October 23, 2017

Asian economies have been borrowing more in recent years. Despite concerns that increased external and dollar-denominated debt leave Asia susceptible to destabilizing outflows, other economic and financial metrics depict a region more resilient than when it experienced the Asian Financial Crisis 20 years ago. Prudential policy and regulation have played an important role in improving the region’s financial resilience, though some efforts may run counter to the goal of developing deep local bond markets.

South Korea’s Efforts to Contain Debt and Housing Prices Take Shape

Posted September 29, 2017

Earlier attempts to halt Korea’s dramatic increase in household debt missed the mark but recent regulations have succeeded in limiting credit growth and housing price increases. While household loan quality is performing well the earlier parallel rise in home prices and household debt have left lingering fears that the debt burden will be a drag on economic growth, and that a major fall in home prices could create asset quality issues for the country’s banks.

Korean Shipping Industry Sinks as Exports Lag

Posted December 21, 2016

Korea’s Hanjin Shipping entered receivership in August 2016 after creditors refused it much-needed support. Hanjin is the most prominent casualty of the recent global shipping downturn. Yet, woes in the industry are not specific to Korea: three Japanese shippers have merged, and Taiwan announced a $1.9 billion bailout for its shipping industry since Hanjin’s episode. Korea and other export-oriented Asian economies will remain vulnerable to persistent shipping weakness as global trade and China’s slowdown persist.

(Re)Classifying Frontier Markets

Posted July 28, 2016

Pakistan’s recent MSCI upgrade highlights one path for frontier financial market development. While stock index categorization may serve to legitimize a market and bestow prestige, it is not necessarily the best indicator for investor sentiment. Global investors consider a broad range of indicators in considering where to deploy their capital. For frontier and emerging markets conducting financial market reform, the challenge is more complex than an index upgrade might imply.

Pacific Exchanges Podcasts

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Posted September 10, 2019

In this episode of Rethinking Asia, we spoke with Chad Bown, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Chad is an expert on trade, having worked on the issue at the World Bank, the White House Council of Economic Advisors, and the World Trade Organization. We discussed the recent trade disagreement between South Korea and Japan. While, rooted in the countries’ deep historical, political, and social tensions dating back to the early 20th century, the attitudes and tactics adopted in the dispute reflect broader global tensions surrounding trade.

Posted May 31, 2019

In this episode of Rethinking Asia, Brad Setser, a senior fellow for International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, discussed the evolution and recent trends in capital flows across Asia. In the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, flows were driven by current account surplus countries. Recent divergence in global interest rates, economic developments, and a search for yield have spawned a complex web of flows across the Pacific.

Posted May 2, 2019

We continued our series on fintech in Asia with Toshio Taki, the co-founder of Money Forward, a Japanese fintech firm, and director of an association that promotes open APIs in Japan. Toshio talked about the open banking and API landscapes in Japan, comparing Japan to global peers. Toshio is pushing for greater adoption and integration of financial technology services among Japanese clients, and looking to shift Japan from its reliance on cash.

Posted April 2, 2019

In this episode, we continue our ongoing Rethinking Asia series with Louis Kuijs, the head of Asia Economics at Oxford Economics. Louis’ career has focused on banking, macroeconomic, and policy issues in China. We spoke to Louis about the trade U.S.-China trade tiff. He shared his thoughts on economic and structural effects of evolving international trade patterns, China’s path to further integrating into the global financial system, and broader consequences for the U.S.-China relationship.

Posted March 6, 2019

In this episode of our series Rethinking Asia, we spoke with Ken Hokugo, head of Corporate Governance and the director of Hedge Fund Investments at Japan’s Pension Fund Association, with more than $120 billion in assets under management. Ken is a strong advocate for Japanese corporate governance reform. Ken discussed the challenges Japan faces implementing corporate governance reform. Ken showed how cross-shareholdings and lack of independent directors are rooted in historic and structural factors and dampen enthusiasm for Japanese stocks.

Posted January 14, 2019

In this next episode of our series Rethinking Asia, we pick up where we left off last episode looking at the role of debt in China’s economy. We spoke with Charlene Chu, a senior partner for China macro-financial research at Autonomous Research, an independent research firm. Well known for her analysis of China’s shadow banking industry, Charlene previously was a senior director covering Chinese financial institutions at Fitch Ratings.

Posted December 18, 2018

In the next two episodes of our series Rethinking Asia, we look at the issue of China’s rising debt. In this first episode, we spoke with Yukon Huang, a senior fellow with the Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Yukon walked us through the recent growth and composition of China’s debt, and why he is more worried about the structural issues behind the debt than the overall level.

Posted November 23, 2018

In this episode of Rethinking Asia, we spoke with Frederic Neumann, Managing Director and Co-Head of Asian Economic Research at HSBC. Our exchange began with the complex economic dynamics at play between China and ASEAN members. We learned why intra-Asian trade is expected to increase as more trade agreements are signed within Asia, and how Belt and Road investment can best help Southeast Asian economies.

Posted September 24, 2018

In this episode, we interviewed Simone di Castri, the Managing Director of the RegTech for Regulators Accelerator (R²A). R²A is a new initiative to help financial authorities harness innovative technologies and advance promising RegTech solutions. Simone described R²A’s collaboration with financial authorities in Mexico and the Philippines is helping central banks better understand markets and customer needs in data-rich environments.

Posted September 10, 2018

In this episode, we interviewed David Hardoon, the Chief Data Officer of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. We spoke with him about the innovative uses of machine learning and big data among banks and the financial system. We covered why regulators and institutions must be concerned with the ethical use of data in new AI applications, and how algorithms can help or hinder financial inclusion.

Posted August 27, 2018

In this episode, we interviewed our colleague Sean Creehan, a senior analyst in the Country Analysis Unit. We asked him about a recent paper he wrote on the role of small businesses in Asia. We covered why SMEs receive a disproportionately small share of credit from the financial system, and how fintech and new innovations can boost SME financial access and overall economic growth.

Posted August 10, 2018

In the fourth episode of Rethinking Asia, we interviewed Matthew Goodman, the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). At CSIS, he leads the Reconnecting Asia program, which tracks how infrastructure is shaping economic and geopolitical realities in Asia. Our discussion touched on Asia’s huge demand for new infrastructure, the complex geopolitical tensions among regional and multilateral actors, and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Posted July 23, 2018

In the second episode of our series Rethinking Asia, we spoke with Manoj Pradhan of Talking Heads Macro in London. He’s an expert in the relationship between demographics and capital markets, looking at how aging and labor force changes impact everything from global interest rates and wages to inequality. Prior to his current role, he worked as a macroeconomist at Morgan Stanley.

Posted June 29, 2018

Today we launch a new series, Rethinking Asia, as we consider noteworthy and unusual trends in Asian finance and economics. In our first episode, we sat down with Jesper Koll, head of Japan at WisdomTree, a global asset manager. In our conversation, Jesper discusses in depth the history and forces behind Japan’s distinction as a safe haven for global investors. He explains why assets like the yen and Japanese government bonds rally during periods of regional or global turmoil.

Posted September 18, 2017

Continuing our series on the Asian financial crisis, we spoke with Changyong Rhee, Director of Asia Pacific Department at the International Monetary Fund. He provides a unique perspective on how the Asian financial crisis impacted South Korea and how Asian economies have evolved since the crisis.