Daily Archives: Jun 18, 2012

By John Paul Rathbone, Jude Webber and Adam Thomson

At a lunch with businessfolk at the Council of the Americas last Friday, Cristina Fernández positively simpered as she recounted “the good news that Carlos Slim has bought 8 per cent of YPF”.

The reason for the Argentine president’s pleasure was clear. Fernandez wants it to be known that investment is still flowing into Argentina after her surprise nationalisation of YPF last month. What could be a better vote of confidence than a major investment by Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world?

The truth is quite different from the rosy official discourse

Bad news for Russia. In a new study by management consulting group, AT Kearney, Russia has fallen behind BRIC and other emerging market peers in terms of the countries’ attractiveness for investments in the retail sector.

On a list of 30 emerging markets, Russia ranks 26, down from 14th place a year ago. Brazil, China and India, by contrast, all rank in the top-5, placing first, third and fifth, respectively. So what is holding Russia back? 

Is ExxonMobil scared or smart?

That’s the question Polish shale gas enthusiasts are asking themselves after the US energy giant announced that it was halting work on looking for shale gas on its Polish concessions. 

In Hungarian, to “drag one’s feet” is “nyújtja mint a rétestésztát”, meaning to roll out the dough for top quality strudel, making it very long and thin. A time-consuming process.

If the current Hungarian government of Viktor Orbán ever entered an international strudel-making competition, it would surely win gold, judging by the time it is taking to meet the conditions set by the EU and International Monetary Fund for a new line of credit, needed to reduce borrowing costs and bolster market confidence after Hungary was downgraded to junk status last November

By Leif Eskesen of HSBC

The Reserve Bank of India’s decision to keep rates on hold on Monday may have come as a surprise but it was the right decision.

A rate cut at this juncture would have had little, if any, impact on lending rates as banks would have been reluctant to pass them on. Importantly, a cut would not have done much to support growth even if lending rates had been reduced by the full amount of the rate cut. 

Nicaragua may be a small and very poor country but its president, Daniel Ortega, certainly thinks big.

His latest proposal is to build a canal that would be similar to Panama’s at an estimated cost of $30bn – about four times as much as Nicaragua’s gross domestic product. The project is awaiting appraisal by the nation’s legislature. 

On Monday Fitch joined Standard & Poor’s to become the second major ratings agency to downgrade India’s outlook from stable to negative, affirming a BBB- rating – the lowest investment grade.

The outlook revision came on the same day the Reserve Bank of India held interest rates steady. Many economists and investors had hoped for a cut to jump start growth. Fitch noted a lack of government action as one of the key drivers of the outlook downgrade – the very same concern the RBI has highlighted in current and past policy reviews. 

Falling demand amid the eurozone crisis and increased production by Saudi Arabia have pushed down oil prices in recent weeks. But oil still averages over $100 a barrel for the past 18 months.  Oil is crucial to the world’s energy supply, representing a third of global energy consumption – the largest component.

So who produces it, who uses it, who has it? And how do emerging markets compare to developed economies? Chart of the week takes a look. 

Considering the state of the world economy, a labour shortage is the last thing you’d expect Chinese factory owners to have to worry about.

But finding workers in southern China is worse than last year, according to an annual survey conducted by the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong. 

Monday’s modest rally in Asian stocks on the Greek election result shouldn’t be taken as a sign of any serious recovery in optimism. With European shares flat in early trading, it is clear that the financial headwinds blowing from the old continent remain strong.

So does the economic downdraught. As brokerage CLSA warns in a report, Asia is seriously exposed to the European Union crisis through trade. And neither China nor the US weill save the day. The title “Asia trade – no go with EU down” says it all. 

There’s little doubt that Argentina’s economy is in trouble. Figures released late on Friday by Indec, the national statistics office, showed that it “ground to a virtual standstill” in April, with first quarter growth of 5.2 per cent year on year and just 0.9 per cent from the previous quarter. That is a further blow for president Cristina Fernández (pictured), whose popularity is already slipping.

But Capital Economics believes the situation is rather worse. In a note on Monday, it says the economy actually contracted in the first quarter. 

* India holds on rates amid pressure to cut

* Brotherhood claims victory in Egypt poll

* Emerging Stocks Rise To 5-Week High After Greek Elections 

By Barbara Stocking of Oxfam

World leaders will have much more on their plates than the traditional G20 banquet when they meet in Los Cabos this week.

For many, the G20’s job will have been done if economic meltdown in Europe is averted and the rest of the world spared the consequences. Oxfam – which was formed in 1942 in response to the hardship faced by Greeks during the wartime blockade – is anxious to see leaders take concerted action to reduce the suffering of people across the continent who bear no responsibility for the current crisis. 

Monday’s reading picks: problems in Egypt and Saudi Arabia; a French retailing king in Brazil; and foreigners dominate China’s booming dairy industry. Plus: Lex on why it’s time to sell Chinese minority stakes. 

Your move, Delhi.

That was the message, once again, in the Reserve Bank of India’s guidance on Monday after it ignored pressure from all corners to cut interest rates in order to boost lagging economic growth. Instead, the bank paused on rates, citing rising inflation – which hit 7.55 per cent last month, and likely to move higher – as its main concern.

Economists called the policy “sensible”, though many admitted they had been not just expecting, but hoping for a cut.