Daily Archives: Oct 5, 2011

It takes a brave company to launch a share offering these days. But Tim Brasil, the Brazilian unit of Telecom Italia, has done just that.

The mobile phone company priced R$1.7bn ($910m) of new shares late on Tuesday in what is the country’s third largest offering so far this year, according to Dealogic.

Although set at a small discount (R$8.60 compared to Tuesday’s closing price of R$8.68), the deal is still impressive given that it comes amid a string of cancelled or suspended share salesRead more

A cartoon of Vladimir Putin as Leonid Brezhnev Getty imagesYou might think that you’d offend Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin with comparisons with Leonid Brezhnev, the long-serving Soviet leader usually associated with economic stagnation and (in later life) physical decrepitude.

Not a bit of it. Putin’s spokesman has gone on television to defend Brezhnev and has hit out at bloggers who’ve tried to do down Putin by comparing him to Brezhnev (see picture).  Dmitry Peskov  told the Russian internet station Dozhd: “Brezhnev was not a minus for the history of our country, he was a huge plus.” Read more

Every day Luis Castilla, Peru’s finance minister, says he lights a candle and “prays that China won’t crash”.

His prayers are echoed by many in a region that remains one of the world economy’s few bright spots. South America’s commodity-rich economies grew 5 per cent in the first half of this year. Last year, these new motors of the world economy added half a percentage point to global output.

But slowing Asian demand and plunging commodity prices have raised the spectre that South America, having largely escaped the 2008-09 Great Recession, may not be so lucky this time around.

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Luckily for this blog, monetary policy is no longer as “boring” as Sir Mervyn King would like.

Still, it remains predictable  enough that economists are rarely surprised by most decisions. Especially for those central banks that target a certain level of inflation. Recently, however, most have been getting it spectacularly wrong on some of the key emerging market votes, notably Turkey’s and Brazil’s rate cuts.

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Mehmet Simsek

The Turkish central bank is upping the stakes in its defence of the country’s currency, increasing the daily maximum of foreign currency it can sell to $1.35bn – more than it has sold for any day in five years.

The move came after the Turkish lira hit an all time low of 1.90 against the dollar on Monday, amid a global sell-off and continuing concerns about the sustainability of Ankara’s hefty current account deficit. Read more

At last. After nine months of weak-willed interest rate rises and even the odd misplaced reduction, Kenya’s central bank has finally hiked base rates by a figure worth writing home about: 400 basis points.

The move takes base rates to 11 per cent and is a belated effort to rescue the shilling, which has the dubious honour of world’s worst performing currency this year, having falling about 30 per cent. Last week, it fell beyond 100 shillings to the dollar, a painful psychological threshold, to an all-time low of 104.15. Read more

Russian language tourist banners in LimassolThe close financial ties between Cyprus and Russia got a bit closer on Wednesday when the Nicosia government approved a €2.5 billion loan from Moscow.

The money will help Cyprus navigate the storms of the crisis in the eurozone (to which it belongs), while Russia will ensure that Cyprus, which handles a lot of Russia’s offshore banking, will remain a loyal partner whatever happens in the crisis. Read more

With the forint touching Ft300 to the euro on Wednesday for the second day running, Hungarians can see the price they must pay for the government’s recent move to allow mortgage borrowers to offload some of their foreign exchange losses on to their banks.

While the eurozone crisis is partly responsible for the HUF’s travails, it’s not the whole story. The forint is down 9 per cent in a month, compared to a 5 per cent drop in the Polish zloty and 2 per cent in the Czech crown. And it may have further to fall. Read more

Later this year, a rogue cell within the CIA and a precocious young Belgian detective and his little white dog will make their way to India before they land in the US.

Blockbuster films featuring Ethan Hunt – Tom Cruise alter-ego and accomplisher of missions otherwise deemed impossible – and Tintin – boy wonder, case solver and lover of hair gel – will open in India prior to their US debuts. Read more

For weeks, bankers and analysts have been cautioning about how much money is flowing out of Russia. Now we know how much.

According to a report by the central bank, capital outflows reached $18.7bn last quarter and a whopping $13bn during the month of September alone. Read more

As if investors in Ukraine don’t have enough to worry about – here’s another news bombshell. The country’s central reserves of foreign currency and gold has plunged by a whopping 8.3 per cent to $35bn in September.

The news – revealed on Tuesday by Valeriy Lytvytskiy, chief adviser to the National Bank of Ukraine’s governors, and reported by Bloomberg – stunned a market that is already spooked by the effects a double-dip downturn could have on Ukraine, one of the worst-hit economies during the 2009 global recession. Read more

Hand-wringing over the eurozone crisis dominated the headlines as the International Monetary Fund published its regional report on Europe on Wednesday.

Inside the 110-page document are some salutary warnings for central and eastern Europe. Watch out for the trade, investment and financing links with crisis-hit western Europe, says the Fund. And don’t give up on fiscal prudence, banking sector stability or market-oriented reform. Read more

Anyone who thinks China’s money comes with no strings attached will be thinking again after the Dalai Lama cancelled his trip to South Africa this week.

Nobody can prove Chinese influence of course. But you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to wonder if South Africa’s biggest trading partner might have leant on Pretoria to stop it giving support to the Tibetan spiritual leader who is a walking condemnation of China’s record on human rights. Read more

* Bernanke criticises China over currency

* Cerberus in venture with Turkish bank

* Essar aims to raise $750m from IPO next year Read more

In Taiwan, Apple product launches are closely watched not just by technophiles eager for the latest gadget news but also by an entire supply chain whose fortunes depend on how well the final product sells.

For them and for the many investors who have bought into ‘Apple concept stocks’ in Taiwan in recent days, Tuesday’s unveiling of the iPhone 4S, rather than a revolutionary iPhone 5, was decidedly bad news. Read more