Daily Archives: Jan 19, 2012

sharp increase in the number of labour strikes in Vietnam, as reported by the FT on Thursday, has come just as manufacturers appear to be increasingly engaged in a battle for talent.

Prices of food and accommodation are rising faster than wages, making countryside dwellers reluctant to take factory jobs in far-away cities and industrial zones. That has led to a significant labour shortage in the electronics and garment making industries, according to the Vietnamese government. 

William Hague’s secret weapon in his charm offensive in Brazil this week? Prince Harry.

Speaking at the governor’s palace in the state of Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, Britain’s foreign secretary announced that the queen’s grandson would be visiting Rio in March. He will kick off the UK’s “Great” marketing campaign in Latin America’s largest economy on the top of the Sugar Loaf Mountain. 

Here’s yet more evidence of the growing importance of emerging markets in the brewing industry.

SAB Miller, the London-based owner of brands including Grolsch, Peroni and Pilsner, revealed third quarter sales figures on Thursday – and the divide between emerging and developed regions was stark. While mature markets like North America and Europe slumped, the world’s second largest brewer by revenues enjoyed buoyant growth in Latin America and Africa. 

photo: Bloomberg

When George Osborne, the UK chancellor, reached a deal this week aimed at making the City of London an offshore trading centre for the renminbi, it was met with a flurry of headlines – and a sobering dose of scepticism. After all, according to Swift, the money transfer cooperative, just 0.29 per cent of global payments last year were conducted in RMB. As the FT argued, a bigger role for the Chinese currency – and therefore for the City – depended on matters far beyond the chancellor’s control.

But other numbers from Swift suggest Osborne’s job is already half done. 

Shareholders in KGHM, Europe’s second largest copper miner, today rejected a share buyback that had been proposed by management, in what analysts see as a move to ensure that the government controlled company continues to be a cash cow.

KGHM’s fat dividends – likely to come to 3bn zlotys ($895m) this year -  and a nascent minerals tax are crucial elements of the government’s attempt to drive down the budget deficit and public debt this year as Poland scrambles to stay in the good graces of ratings agencies and investors. 

For many football fans the world over, half the fun of match day is having a beer with your mates.

In Brazil, that pleasure takes place some time before and after the action because alcohol may not be sold inside grounds. But with the football World Cup just around the corner, FIFA is putting its foot down and insisting the host of the 2014 championship do right by its sponsors and sell beers made by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest brewer, inside the 12 participating stadiums. 

Another interest rate cut, this time in the Philippines, highlights the rapid switch that emerging market central banks are making from fighting inflation to promoting growth.

The monetary authorities made their first cuts since 2009 – reducing by a quarter of a percentage point the rate on overnight deposits  to 4.25 per cent and on overnight loans to 6.25 per cent. The central bank left the reserve requirement for banks at 21 per cent. 

As well as bashing the US and the independent media in assaults on his critics, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin isn’t sparing big business.

In a meeting with media representatives on Wednesday, Putin berated Washington over missile defence and, as the FT reported, turned on the independent radio station Ekho Moskvy, accusing it of serving the interests of “foreign” countries.

And, along the way, he took a swipe at Russia’s oligarchs, accusing them of fuelling a “negative attitude to business”. Expect more of this in the run-up to the March presidential election where Putin’s challengers include oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov. This could be tricky time for business in Russia, including foreign investors. 

Much has been made of the recent precipitous fall in shipment to inventory ratios in Asia – a precursor, it is feared, of the kind of recessions last seen following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008-09 and the dotcom bubble burst of 2001, when inventory levels also fell off a cliff.

But Frederic Neumann of HSBC argues in a note on Thursday that the ratios are a coincident rather than leading indicator and that other factors, including advances in supply chain efficiency, are at play. A slowdown is on its way, he says, but on nothing like the scale seen before. 

India is, essentially, a one-sport country, and that sport is the generally genteel game of cricket. But that hasn’t deterred the creators of the country’s first mixed martial arts (MMA) league.

The Super Fight League, owned by Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt and businessman Raj Kundra, will feature two fighters battling in a circular ring surrounded by a chain-link fence. The results can be bloody, and are always violent. 

* IMF requests $500bn for bail-out loans

* Putin takes aim at independent media

* Pakistan PM rejects contempt accusations

* West dismisses Tehran talks claim 

Thursday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: Lex on why the Singapore stock exchange should protect its reputation and investors; why Russia needs to foster competitive elections; a brief history of Nepal’s relations with neighbours India and China; and Indian parents’ obsession with genetics when choosing spouses for their children. 

It was always going to be controversial. Removing Nigeria’s fuel subsidy sparked the predicted protests, violence and strikes. But what has it cost the country financially?

Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics has released its estimate, and it’s a lot. For six days of strikes: N207.4bn, or $1.3bn, the equivalent of around 0.6 per cent of 2010′s GDP. 

Over on the FT’s A-list, Yukon Huang (of Carnegie Endowment and a former World Bank country director for China) argues that the real challenge for China is to encourage less frugality among the Chinese, especially among migrant workers. He says: “policies must be designed to deal directly with the exceptionally high rates of saving by people and corporations. This would have big implications for the trade balance, a contentious issue with the west.” 

As technology manufacturers in China battle rising wages and labour unrest, it may give them some relief that things are expected to get no worse than last year – at least from a statistical point of view.