Daily Archives: Mar 6, 2012

Someone’s not listening to Mexico’s message on tourism. For the past couple of years, officials from Latin America’s second-largest economy have been jetting around the world to talk to counterparts, tour operators and airlines to promote Mexico as a tourist destination.

The main message is that practically all of Mexico’s tourist destinations are safe places to spend your vacation. And almost all of them are a long way from the violence that has been rising as a consequence of the government’s crackdown on organised crime.

But on Tuesday, the state of Texas issued a blanket travel warning – for the third consecutive year – telling residents not to travel to Mexico during the upcoming spring break. Read more

Argentines revel in doing things criollo-style – that is, finding homespun, ingenious solutions to problems.

So when faced with the tricky situation of having to import vast amounts of liquefied natural gas, while at the same time trying to keep the amount of dollars flowing out of the economy to a minimum, the government has come up with a novel approach: pay for some of the fuel in kind, not cash. Read more

By Matthew Hulbert of Clingendael International Energy Programme

Quelle surprise: President Putin is back. But he has a problem – he isn’t very popular.

While eastern commentators are getting very excited about prospective reform packages, Putin is far more likely to revert to a far older method to sustain (and enhance) his tenure in the Kremlin: hydrocarbons. Like it or not, the relative success or failure of ‘Putin 2.0’ doesn’t depend on how far United Russia embraces political and economic reform, but where Russia stands as a global energy heavyweight in 2018. Read more

Vietnam’s central bank has announced plans to cut interest rates by one percentage point, signalling the government’s confidence that it is winning the battle against inflation and its desire to help struggling banks and businesses, writes Ben Bland in the FTRead more

Photo: Centamin

As mining workers in South Africa and Zambia returned to work this week following strikes over pay, news emerged on Tuesday of a new dispute at Egypt’s biggest gold mine.

Centamin, the London-listed operator of the Sukari mine in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, saw its shares plunge by as much as 14 per cent after it said “illegal worker unrest” had forced it to suspend operations. Shares recovered slightly to close 8.4 per cent down. People familiar with the company said strikes had taken place over the last two days, involving around 600-700 workers. Read more

Herbert Wirth, the chief executive of Polish copper miner KGHM, has completed the biggest transaction of his life, the $2.9bn acquisition of Canada’s Quadra FNX – and now he hopes that markets will appreciate his company’s new heft.

“KGHM is undervalued,” he complained during an interview following the announcement of the completion of the Quadra deal. Read more

One of the founders of X5, Russia’s top food retailer, has decided to leave his job after disappointing results and warnings that the days of dizzy sales growth are over.

X5, which has built a network of more than 3,000 food stores from scratch since 1998, like any highly successful start-up, has become just too big to continue growing so fast. But the slowdown is worrying investors who have seen X5 as one of the few non-resource companies in Russia worth putting their money in. Read more

Private equity in east Africa is punching below is weight. The region attracted nearly a third of the 66 private equity deals done in sub-Saharan Africa in 2011 – but their value was just $188m out of a total $3bn, or 6 per cent. Deals worth six times as much were done in west Africa. Read more

By Varun Bhandari

Election results in Uttar Pradesh, the crucial north west state, have proved a disappointment for the ruling Congress Party. The Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party is set to return to power after routing Kumari Mayawati, the incumbent lower caste leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party. The Congress, despite bringing out its lead campaigner and scion of the Gandhi family, Rahul Gandhi, has performed poorly and is likely to end up at the bottom in final count.

To get a pulse of the post-election mood, beyondbrics headed to Noida – the urban sprawl next to Delhi. Read more

Brazil’s economy grew by 2.7 per cent in 2011, short of the most recent government forecast of 3 per cent and much less than the 4.5 per cent it had targeted at the beginning of the year.

The government’s statistics institute said the economy grew by 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter compared with the previous quarter and by 1.4 per cent compared with the same quarter a year earlier. Read more

* India’s ruling party in bruising poll defeat

* China orders local govts to set up debt repayment funds

* Fairtrade group aims to certify African gold

* China ditches double-digit growth Read more

The president-elect’s honeymoon with the markets didn’t last long. After marking up Russian equities on Monday following Vladimir Putin’s victory in Sunday’s polls, investors on Tuesday sold them off with a vengeance.

The anti-Putin street protests on Monday evening, the heavy police reaction, the slew of international media criticism – all have undermined confidence. As has the global markets sell-off prompted by fears of slowing growth in China. On Tuesday, the RTS index was down 3.3 per cent at the time of writing. Read more

Tuesday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: Gideon Rachman on why authoritarians across the world feel compelled to feign democracy while decrying its flaws; why the World Bank must reinvent itself or fade into irrelevance; the role of trade in warming the relationship between India and Pakistan; and whether Syria’s leaders have misjudged how far Russia is willing to go to help them. Read more

January’s most eye-watering story involved South Korea’s customs officers detaining eight iron-willed gold smugglers.

According to the Associated Press, the Korea Customs Service said the men allegedly transformed $260,000 in gold bars into small beads and smuggled them in their rectums on two trips to Japan  in 2010 to avoid import taxes.

And just in case you still want to know more more about the pros and cons of smuggling gold out of Korea, the customs people have issued a slew of data which beyondbrics analyses below. Read more

It was a bad blow for India’s ruling Congress Party and its ruling Gandhi family – and for the chances of much-needed national reforms. That was the verdict as the results of elections in Uttar Pradesh, India’s biggest and most politically important state rolled in on Tuesday. Read more

Chinese stocks fell sharply on Tuesday, dragging down other emerging markets, as investors digested the implications of Beijing reducing its annual GDP growth forecast for the first time in eight years.

While premier Wen Jiaobao’s announcement on Monday of a 7.5 per cent 2012 target came as little surprise following multiple official signals, it seems to have prompted investors to look again at global growth prospects – and come to a distinctly cautious conclusion. Read more

China seems to have allowed a bit more flexibility in the renminbi’s trading band. But this has been accompanied by a weakening in the Chinese currency since the beginning of the year.  Does this signal an end to the appreciation of the Rmb against the dollar? James Mackinotosh considers the outlook for the redback.

* China ditches double-digit growth

* Police and protesters clash in Moscow

* Israel insists on right to defend itself

* Regulators consider Libor overhaul Read more

Doing business in partnership with Hugo Chávez does not usually go hand-in-hand with pleasing the market.

Yet investors piled into Chilean forestry and wood panel company, Masisa, on Monday after the Venezuelan president announced plans to create a joint-ventureRead more

The lesson that doing your homework, and doing it well, pays off has been somewhat of a theme for Mexico this month. That was the main message of Richard Fisher, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, when he used a recent visit to the country’s stock market to lavish praise on Mexico’s handling of its public finances.

And it was the underlying theme of Monday’s US$2bn dollar-denominated bond issue, Mexico’s second outing to the international markets this year. Read more