Daily Archives: Jun 5, 2012

Rock-bottom interest rates might be helping to shore up the big banks, but US savers have never had it so bad. So could Americans be better off saving in renminbi?

That is the question beyondbrics found itself asking after stumbling upon this CD rates promotion offered by Bank of China’s New York branch.

At 2.5 per cent, the annual yield on BoC’s special Rmb 1-year CD is more than twice as much as the going rates currently offered by the best standard dollar-denominated CDs. For example, HSBC’s 1-year CD yields only 0.2 per cent while its 4-year CD yields a slightly more generous 0.8 per cent. Read more

It’s unlikely that executives at Exxon Mobil would have too many kind words to say about Hugo Chávez and his government, locked as they are in a bitter legal battle over compensation for an expropriated oil project in the Orinoco Belt – but they must at least see the irony in this latest development.

By essentially ignoring the resumption of exploration in a block awarded to Exxon Mobil by the Guyanese government in territory also claimed by Venezuela, it looks like Chávez is doing what he would normally describe as dark agents of the US empire (or similar) something of a favour. Read more

After falling sharply against the dollar last week, the Russian rouble seems to be bouncing back from a three-year low point – posting its second day of gains against the greenback on Tuesday.

The rouble ended the trading day on Tuesday at 33.05 against the dollar – down from a new three-year inter-day trading low of 34.2 roubles against the dollar on Monday. Against Russia’s dollar-euro basket, the rouble recovered to 36.7 on Tuesday, versus a low of 37.7 against the basket on Monday morning. Read more

Bulgaria (and France) may have moratoriums on it, lawyers may make a mint on it, Gazprom chiefs may curse it, and wells may cost three times the US price to get at it – but shale gas development in central and eastern Europe is “inevitable” in the next decade.

So says KPMG in a recent report – highlighting Poland, Romania, Ukraine, and to a lesser extent, Lithuania, Hungary and Bulgaria – as the main countries set to benefit from what the professional services firm says are the “fantastic opportunities, lying beneath peoples’ feet.” Read more

YPF, the Argentine oil company, has a new owner (the Argentine state); a new logo (complete with the Argentine flag) and, as the pro-government Tiempo Argentina newspaper put it, a new “dream team” of savvy professionals to run it.

So the big question now is: what is the new plan? Read more

Shares in Telekom Austria jumped by nearly 10 per cent in Vienna on Tuesday after a local news magazine said Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecoms tycoon, had taken a 4.1 per cent stake in the company, Reuters reportsRead more

How do you bring dynamism to a small country that has relied for decades on oil and an autocratic leadership?

That was the big question facing Ali Bongo when he succeeded his father as president of Gabon a few years ago. On Tuesday, he lays out his ambitious answer in an FT Special Report. Will the audacious president be successful? Read more

It never rains but it pours. Brazil’s purchasing managers’ index, prepared by Markit and HSBC, suggests that business activity in the services sector slumped last month. The index fell from 54.4 in April to 49.7 in May – a vertiginous fall below the 50 line that denotes the difference between expansion and contraction, and the first reduction in nearly three years.

It follows the release of the Markit/HSBC PMI for Brazil’s manufacturing sector last week, which was stalled in negative territory at 49.3, and GDP figures confirming a sharp slowdown in the first quarter. No wonder economists are getting gloomyRead more

This is not 1991. That was the message India’s finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee (pictured), wanted to make plain on Monday to a meeting of his fellow top Congress Party members.

And he’s right, though there are some striking similarities: 1991 had Aung San Suu Kyi being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, 2012 has her accepting it; 1991 saw the whole world listening to Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”, 2012 sees every Indian bar playing the same song, in no way ironically, on a daily basis. Read more

When it comes to commodity exchanges, African countries are hoping it’s second time lucky. The continent’s first forays into the arena – mostly in the 1990s – weren’t much of a triumph. But several countries are now trying to fare better as they work to establish or revive their marketplaces.

The driving force behind renewed interest? The unexpected – and fairly significant – success of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange. Read more

* Syria tops agenda as Putin visit Beijing

* Russian court reopens $13bn BP suit

* Emerging Stocks Rise From Six-Month Low On Stimulus Speculation Read more

Perhaps it’s not all bad in the Indian economy. Sure, growth is at recent historic lows, inflation remains above 7 per cent, and the rupee seems to hit a new record low on a daily basis. But on Tuesday, as it was last Friday, India was thrown a lifeline by HSBC/Markit PMI data, this time for services. Read more

It’s Tuesday and beyondbrics notices the Brics are crumbling: China won’t be a superpower, Brazil won’t grow, and India’s government won’t invest. Elsewhere: Bedouins want to get in the UAE and the Balkans into the EU. Plus, an odd couple in Pakistan and an odd number in China.

 Read more

There is little question that Nigeria needs to produce more electricity. Now one state government is trying to take control of its energy crisis with the help of a California-based company.

Califco Group, a private company focused on land and infrastructure development, has joined a public private partnership with Ebonyi state in southeastern Nigeria to construct a 600-megawatt gas fired turbine power plant. Also on tap: a 1.5m tonne cement factory and a 50-megawatt diesel fired plant. Read more

Mention the word “timeshare” to many people and they will think of over-priced holiday homes in the Canary Islands or Florida and run-ins with aggressive salesmen.

But a group of prominent Indonesian tycoons is trying to take the concept upmarket in by launching a timeshare scheme for private planes, called Asian Jets. Read more

* Russian court reopens $13bn BP suit

* Repsol keeps seat on YPF board

* Brazilian central bank takes over lender Read more

Credit bubble and economic slowdown be damned. For Jim O’Neill, the Goldman Sachs economist who invented the Bric acronym, China is “still the beacon of light”.

In his latest Viewpoint note, O’Neill argues that fears of a China hard landing are misplaced and that the Chinese economy is more likely to see a “softer” landing. Read more

What does the latest poll on Mexico’s presidential elections tell us about voting trends? The first thing is that Enrique Peña Nieto still has a big, and probably unassailable lead.

Monday’s poll by Buendia & Laredo, and published in the country’s El Universal newspaper, puts EPN, as the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate is known, on 37.8 per cent. That is almost 14 points clear of second placed Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the charismatic leftwing leader, who is now on 23.9 per cent.

The second thing is that the 45-year-old PRI former state governor is going to have to tread carefully from here on in. Read more