Daily Archives: Sep 13, 2011

Every now and again Hugo Chávez likes to thumb his nose at the international community, often for interfering in some way or another with Venezuela’s sovereignty.

Most recently, he is apparently considering withdrawing from the World Bank’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) – probably because if Venezuela loses all of the 18 pending cases it has there thanks to Chavez’s nationalisation craze, it might have to shell out more than $40bn. Read more

Think of Mexico these days and you’re likely to think not of mariachis, tequila or sunshine but of drugs, shoot-outs and beheadings.

Over the last five years, the murder rate has jumped from 10 per 100,000 people to more than 22, according to the government statistics agency, fuelled by a drugs war that appears to have no end. Cartels and their enforcer gangs regularly extort small and medium-sized businesses. Many have closed down, their owners fleeing to the US in search of safety.

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If policymakers in the US were already irked by China’s growing influence in a region they traditionally considered their “backyard”, news on Monday will only have contributed to their unease.

Caribbean countries, however, will be delighted that the state-run China Development Bank is to lend them some $1bn to finance infrastructure projects, given that economic troubles in their traditional sources of investment like the US and Europe are hampering growth. Read more

With the Warsaw Stock Exchange’s broad WiG index falling by 8.3 per cent since the end of August, the mood in the bourse’s headquarters is no better than at just about any other exchange in the world – but that isn’t stopping CEO Ludwik Sobolewski from continuing to push his programme of attracting listing from across the regionRead more

It is probably too early to call it the next “Scramble for Africa” but it seems like one retailer after another is announcing expansion plans for the continent.

Hot on the heels of US giant Walmart’s entry into the African market, Woolworths, a South African clothes and food retailer, has laid out plans to double its presence on the continent over the next three years. Read more

As election fever grips Russia, associated government spending is cranking up.

Russians, for example, had been braced for a sharp rise in government-regulated domestic energy tariffs that usually go up on January 1 each year. However, Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, announced a reprieve this week, saying the price hikes would be delayed by six months until July 2012. Read more

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, last year sharply improved its annualised rate of return measured over a 20-year period, writes FT’s Camilla Hall in Abu Dhabi.

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Update intellectual property laws: check. Build vast new subway system: check. Start internationalising the renminbi: check. Teach more English to graduates: check. Modernise stock market: check. Increase taxes on foreigners so that expatriates in China can enjoy Chinese healthcare and pensions: hey, wait a minute. Read more

Guido Mantega, Brazil’s finance minister, had some words of comfort on Tuesday for eurozone policy makers wondering how to get themselves out of their present mess.

“We’re going to meet next week in Washington and we’re going to talk about what to do to help the European Union get out of this situation,” he told reporters, referring to a meeting to be held on September 22 between the finance ministers and central bank governors of the Bric nations – Brazil, Russia, India China, plus South Africa. Read more

“We’re going to meet next week in Washington and we’re going to talk about what to do to help the European Union get out of this situation.” That’s what Guido Mantega, Brazil’s finance minister, told reporters in Brasília on Tuesday following a report in Valor Econômica, a business daily, that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa were considering a plan to switch part of their foreign currency reserves into euro-denominated assets. Read more

Toyota Kijang (Source: Company)This next bit of news won’t please traffic-weary commuters in Jakarta, the grid-locked Indonesian capital, but it is still a good indicator of where the country’s car market is headed.

Daihatsu and Toyota are to invest more than $700m to increase production capacity by a combined 150,000 cars per year to keep pace with record auto sales in Asia’s third largest consumer market. Read more

Agustin Carstens, central bank governor of MexicoHow serious is the eurozone crisis for emerging markets? Very serious, says Agustin Carstens, Mexico’s central bank governor and runner-up in the recent contest to head the International Monetary Fund. European leaders have to act fast to bolster financial stability – or face the consequences.

“We  have reached a point where this is very important for all the global economy,” said Carstens at a meeting with FT journalists on Tuesday. “We can’t say any longer that emerging markets are decoupled…Even very strong emerging markets will suffer if Europe isn’t stabilised very soon.” Read more

Alexandre Tombini, president of Brazil’s central bank, has mounted a media campaign in recent days to counter criticism over a surprise decision on the last day of August to cut the benchmark Selic interest rate. Last week, he appeared on Globo television and on Monday morning in the Valor Econômico business newspaper making the argument for the cut.

In spite of the suddenness of the decision – the 50-basis point cut came without any pause after consistent increases in rates this year – he insisted the central bank’s target remained inflation and only inflation. Read more

* Italy turns to China for help in debt crisis

* Nakheel wrote down real estate assets by $21bn

* Beijing puts monetary moves on hold

* Vodafone in India pays $830m tax ‘under protest’

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It has been an eventful month for the renminbi.

From Lagos, Nigeria, where the central bank announced plans to diversify as much as 10 per cent of its $35bn foreign reserves into renminbi, to London, where banks are looking to transform the city into an offshore trading hub for the Chinese currency, the redback is finding a growing chorus of supporters.

While few expect it to replace the greenback anytime soon, there’s no denying that China’s drive to internationalise its currency is steaming ahead much faster than forecast. Read more

mail.ruLast week saw the biggest venture-capital fundraising yet in Russia’s fast-growing e-commerce market. But even with $100m in its coffers, how long can Ozon.ru – the “Amazon.com of Russia” – fend off Amazon itself? Read more

Tuesday’s top picks from the beyondbrics team: what makes the Chinese currency one of the safest bets,  Russian pre-election government reshuffle, and why do Indian women drop out of the workforce? Read more

Ratan Tata, chairman Tata SonsThree years after it was kicked out of West Bengal over a land dispute, the Tata Group has once again become embroiled in an argument over land with the Indian bureaucracy, this time in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

On this occasion, the company and the local authorities seem set to settle a row that threatened plans for a $212m aerospace plant.  But the case highlights how easy it is for investors to get into trouble with officialdom – and how badly India needs land reform. Read more

China factoryWilliam Fung of the Hong Kong based sourcing company for US retailers like Walmart Stores predicted in January that Chinese-led deflation in consumer goods was over. He predicted rising wages in China would feed through to consumers in the west if suppliers like his company, which sources more than half its production from China, could pass on their  cost increases.

It turns out they can. Research by New York Fed economists Mary Amiti and Mark Choi shows the cost of consumer goods imported to the US  from China rose by 7 percent between the second half of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011. The double-digit wage increases for workers in south China are starting to flow through to western consumers. Read more

Louis Vuitton’s handbags have gone from a phenomenon in Korea to a bit of a joke. They are called the “three-second bags” or “five-second bags” because that’s how often you see one in the hands of fashion-conscious women (and their boyfriends who have to carry the handbag on a date).

McKinsey’s latest report on luxury goods concludes that there’s now an important shift in the fashion-savvy Korean market, which was worth $4.5bn last year. Read more