Daily Archives: Nov 23, 2011

While Hugo Chávez may be rubbing his hands together with glee as he officially confirms on Wednesday plans to borrow $4bn from China, now by far Venezuela’s biggest foreign source of financing, state oil company PDVSA has less to celebrate.

For needless to say, the fact that China has lent more (now $32bn) to Venezuela than any other country in Latin America comes at a cost – and PDVSA is bearing the brunt of the burden. 

Just when we thought the two-speed element of Brazil’s economy was coming to an end, new credit numbers have come out that show the consumer is still racing along.

Even as industrial output has gone into reverse and the economy is showing signs of having recorded flat or even negative growth in the third quarter, credit demand remains resilient. 

Here comes more trouble for Hungary’s beleaguered banks. According to Bloomberg, seven of the country’s leading banks are being probed by the country’s competition watchdog over possible cartel activity in their mortgage lending.

The news comes hot on the heels of a controversial new law that will force the country’s lenders to share the burden of their customers’ foreign exchange losses and will no doubt heap further tension to the already strained relations between the government and the banking industry. 

Since 2003, Russians have been throwing back shots of Putinka vodka, a popular brand honouring the country’s favourite president-prime minister-president. Now, according to Russian media reports, they may be able to start paying homage to yet another political leader: Muammer Gaddafi.

As Kommersant FM and the online news site Marker.ru report on Wednesday, the company behind Putinka has set its sights on a new brand and registered the trademark for a liquor called Commendatore Muammer. 

Slowly but surely, inflation in South Africa is creeping up. Inflation rate in Africa’s largest economy reached 6 per cent in October, up from 5.7 per cent in September and hitting the upper limit of the band set out by the central bank.

The country’s inflationary pressures have created challenges for the monetary authorities at a time when growth is being downwardly revised, while high unemployment and poverty are at the forefront of the public discourse. And while the latest CPI figures came in slightly above the consensus forecast, don’t expect the central bank to intervene – yet. 

Just as Turkey’s central bank was starting to declare victory in its year-long battle to curb credit growth, there comes another catalyst for Turks to take out personal loans: new legislation that will allow men to buy exemption from military service.

The measures, outlined this week by prime minister Recep Tayyip Erodgan, will give men above the age of 30, who have not yet completed their compulsory service, the option to pay 30,000 lira ($16,325) instead. 

India’s English-language news channels broke into regularly scheduled programming and news websites splashed it as their top story: India’s most famous family-owned company had finally named a successor to 74-year-old chairman Ratan Tata, one of the country’s most respected industrialists.

The decision to appoint Cyrus Mistry, the 43-year-old son of construction billionaire Shapoorji Mistry, who is the largest single shareholder in the Tata grouping, came as a surprise to many. 

Not to Fitch's liking

Turkey received a heavy blow to its hope of getting an investment grade credit rating on Wednesday when Fitch Ratings revised the outlook on the country’s long-term foreign and domestic debt from “positive” to “stable”.

Fitch’s move, which kept Turkey’s rating at BB+, below investment grade, was a particular setback since some analysts identify it as the most “Turkey-friendly” of the three ratings agencies. 

Kibera, in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, is one of Africa’s largest slums, with an estimated population of anything up to 600,000 people. What is it like for the people who live there?Katrina Manson, the FT’s east Africa correspondent, reports.

Video after the break: 

By Gabriel Sterne, Economist, Exotix Limited

To say that frontier markets have become hostage to the eurozone crisis would be an understatement. Markets have perceived the inability of European policy makers to find a solution to the euro crisis as so momentous, so troublesome, that for the time being at least, the individual identities of frontier sovereigns have to some extent been suppressed.
Indeed, performance among frontier sovereigns has been very highly correlated  in the last couple of months. 

Not long ago, high EU-ownership in Croatia’s banking sector was cited as a big plus for the country’s macro-economic stability.

But with the eurozone shaken increasingly by sovereign-debt crises, the presence of foreign-direct investment – and the bankruptcy of a small bank this week – has taken on a distinctly blackish lining. 

Egypt’s economic outlook is bleak as protests against the country’s ruling military council intensify ahead of next week’s parliamentary elections. The country’s ever more precarious fiscal state may hasten its dash into the arms of the International Monetary Fund – if the IMF will have it, that is. 

The long search for a replacement for Ratan Tata, at the head of the Tata group has come to a surprise conclusion. Instead of the widely-tipped Noel, Ratan’s half-brother, India’s largest grouping have chosen a relative unknown.

As Jonathan Guthrie, FT city editor reports, Cyrus Mistry, a 42-year-old, educated at London Business School, will shadow Mr Tata, 73, for a year before taking over in late 2012.

Ever since Wen Jiabao, China’s premier, promised in October to “preemptively fine-tune policy at a suitable time and by an appropriate degree” markets have been waiting for monetary easing to begin. 

* Egypt’s generals pledge quick handover

* ONGC scraps $2bn secondary share sale

* Turkish exchanges plan combination

* German bond sale fails to attract buyers