Daily Archives: Aug 17, 2011

Talk to an economist about Brazil and sooner or later the same old cliché will pop up: ‘the rise of the middle classes’.

This stock phrase has become the go-to explanation for pretty much everything in Brazil; from why the country’s retailers are posting record profits, to why traffic is so bad in São Paulo, and why Chinese manufacturers are lining up to invest in local factories.

But who are these new middle classes, the C class that now includes 95m Brazilians and makes up just over half of the country’s population? Read more

By Gabriel Gaspar Tapia

Why are Chileans protesting? Isn’t Chile a promising emerging market?

University and middle school students have been demonstrating for two months, demanding quality public education and protesting about the predominance of profits in the Chilean education system, which has been privatised to the hilt.

The student protest has thrown the government of Sebastián Piñera on the ropes. The latest opinion poll put his approval rating at just 26 per cent compared with 60 per cent rejection. He is the most unpopular ruler Chile has ever had (surpassing even General Pinochet, the dictator who ruled Chile from 1973-90). Read more

How much does it cost to be fat? To get an idea, just cast a glance at Mexico’s rapidly growing waistline.

Latin America’s second-biggest economy now has the world’s second-highest level of obesity, at a staggering 24.2 per cent of the population. Add that fact to the number of people considered overweight, and Mexico shoots to the top of the world ranking with more than 70 per cent of the adult population suffering weight problems. Read more

India washingWhat is it with emerging markets and cleaning products? On Wednesday, two of the world’s leading retailers in the detergent and soap sector made seemingly important announcements about expanding their operations in emerging markets.  Read more

If Tudou (TUDO:NMQ), a Chinese YouTube knockoff, was a bellweather of sorts for the prospects of Chinese companies listing in the US and for IPOs more generally, its debut performance in morning trading on Wednesday does not bode well.

Tudou’s share price opened on Wednesday at $25.11, 13 per cent below its offer price of $29. Read more

Lucian AnghelBy Lucian Anghel of BCR

Few people know that Romania used to be the ‘granary of Europe’ before World War II, the second largest cereals producer after France. The situation has changed since then, for the worse unfortunately, and Romania is currently reporting significant deficits in the food product balance, of more than €1bn even in good agricultural years.

This is embarrassingly low for a country that could feed  around 80m people – four times Romania’s population. The answer lies in investment, including foreign investment. But first the authorities need to implement serious land reforms to make local agriculture more competitive. Read more

corruptionBy beyondbrics India

An embattled ruling Congress party has hurled as much abuse as it could in one sentence against anti-corruption protests led by activist Anna Hazare filling India’s streets. Manish Tiwari, a Congress party spokesman, may yet live to regret his statement that the protesters numbered fascists, Maoists, anarchists, and right-wingers, and was backed by foreign donors.

Among those taking to the streets in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore are well-spoken, English-speaking professionals, business people and students. Read more

August has been an unusually quiet month for Russia, with fires, coups and wars conspicuously absent. In fact, the only area that is seeing the usual August excitement is the country’s currency market.

Since the start of the month, the rouble has managed to lose all of its 2011 gains and then, just as easily, post its biggest three-day advance in over two years.

While the rouble’s quick descent earlier this month has created a great deal of uncertainty on the market, analysts have been quick to point out how the volatility actually shows the positive evolution of the central bank’s monetary policy. Read more

Mukesh AmbaniTough times for India’s richest man. On Wednesday Mukesh Ambani’s family-run conglomerate Reliance Industries lost its prime spot of India’s largest company by market cap for the first time in over a decade, in the latest sign investors have lost faith in the billionaire.

Reliance, which saw its shares shrink by 0.55 per cent in Mumbai trading on Wednesday – valuing the company at $54.4bn, has been overtaken by state-owned Coal India, the world largest coal miner, which rose 2.6 per cent – lifting the group’s market cap to $55.3bn. Read more

Is Malaysia set for sustained economic growth this year, or exposed to serious potential problems if wobbles in the West turn into another slowdown? It depends who you ask.

The central bank is in no doubt that growth will continue, in spite of a fall in the annual pace of growth from 4.9 per cent in the first quarter to 4 per cent in the second. Read more

Brics and mortarIf proof were needed that China’s people are more obsessed with property than perhaps anywhere else in the world, a new ruling from its supreme court on Saturday underlines this. The Supreme People’s Court issued a new interpretation of the country’s marriage laws that aims to overturn the weight would-be spouses place on whether their partner has property or not.

The court ruled that if a couple divorced, the wife would not get a share of the apartment if it had been bought by the husband’s parents. Read more

* China’s Baidu may face tougher rules after state media criticism‎

* Singh defends police over Hazare arrest

* Beijing expands support for Hong Kong

*HTC files fresh lawsuit against Apple

*Overrun by Chinese rivals, U.S. solar company falters

 Read more

Looking for a statistical measure of the effects of globalisation on the Indian consumer? You could do worse than palm oil imports.

Rising palm oil imports – up around 10 per cent this year – reflect a switch in taste away from traditional sugary sweets to western-style fatty confectionery and snacks. While that may not do much for Indian waistlines, it highlights shoppers’ growing interest in what can be found in the global pantry just when they start stocking up for the country’s peak holiday season. Read more

By Javier Santiso

Since 2000, the global economy has undergone a huge rebalancing towards the emerging countries. Trade and financial flows shifted in the direction of the emerging countries. Not only did investors in developed countries rush to raise their stakes in emerging markets. South-south investment also blossomed, with emerging multinationals from Brazil, China, India and Russia bursting on to the world scene.

Now other countries are jumping on to the bandwagon. In Latin America in particular, the international expansion of companies from Mexico, Brazil and Argentina is being followed by groups from Chile, Colombia and Peru. Read more

Wednesday’s best picks from the beyondbrics team: looking at Karachi’s struggle for control of its polarised commercial capital, and Manmohan’s final challenge on graft. Niall Ferguson asks whether China’s recent gloating at US misfortunes might just prove a tad premature. And the quote of the year goes to Bolivia’s Evo Morales…

“China is such a big country that I imagine in only a short time the United States will be a colony of China.” Read more

*HTC files fresh lawsuit against Apple

*Overrun by Chinese rivals, U.S. solar company falters

*China pledges $3.1bn quota for Hong Kong investors

*Asia inflation may rise with Thai rice price Read more

Geoff LuntBy Geoff Lunt of HSBC Global Asset Management

Those of us with an interest in Asia know about the great fundamentals in the region and the upside potential of Asian currencies. But in previous bouts of global market turmoil, they have not fared well, suffering in general flights to safety.

But this time things look different. Asian currencies are holding up well and are themselves beginning to look like a safety haven. What’s more, by any standards, they are cheap. Read more