“Bravo!” was Hugo Chávez’s swift response, following the central bank’s announcement of second quarter GDP figures today. “Look how inflation is falling and now GDP is growing again,” he tweeted gaily.
Certainly, facing presidential elections in less than two months’ time, Venezuela’s president has good reason to sound upbeat – there’s nothing like a feel-good economic factor to boost one’s chances of re-election.
And economic growth of 5.4 per cent in the second quarter of the year is nothing to be sniffed at, compared to the 2.6 per cent growth registered in the same quarter in 2011, and representing Venezuela’s seventh consecutive quarter of growth since coming out of a recession that coincided with a steep fall in Mr Chávez’s popularity.
On the face of it, there would appear to be little reason why foreign investors should worry much about Russia’s Pussy Riot court case.
So what if three young female punks have been jailed for two years, as they were on Friday, for hooliganism after a noisy performance in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral? After all, there are many western countries where such a provocative public display would also result in prosecution.
But that is to misunderstand Russia. In fact, the case should give even the most hard-headed international business people pause for thought.
A lot of ink has been spilled of late discussing the global impact of China’s slowing economic growth. But there has been little discussion however about how African economies will be affected.
Now, ratings agency Standard and Poor’s has stepped into the gap with a report published this week. It says, in short, that the China slow down may be bad for metal exporters, but opportunities should present themselves for African manufacturers.
Moutai, China’s most famous form of firewater, has been banned from some official banquets recently – but it clearly still has friends in high places.
Kweichow Moutai, the preferred tipple at government festivities, has passed the first hurdle to be declared China’s only “national liquor”. Not surprisingly, this has annoyed other distillers of firewater, who claim the decision is anti-competitive.
When Sierra Leone’s Petroleum Resources Unit (PRU) named provisional winners of eight offshore oil blocks last month, it teamed various bidders together for four of the blocks, telling them to move forward as partners in negotiations. The companies had no say in the matter.
“It is like a forced marriage,” said Adekunle King, legal officer for the PRU.
The ‘Ahrlac’ jet may not be an aircraft that you have heard of, but it has its place in aerospace history: it’s the first defence aircraft to be completely designed and manufactured in Africa.
Ivor Ichikowitz, founder and chief executive of its maker, Paramount Group, says proudly: “It’s 100-per-cent homegrown – it’s a big story for Africa, for realising that we don’t have to rely on the west to do things.”
A Moscow court has found the three women members of the punk band Pussy Riot guilty on charges of hooliganism and inciting religious hatred in a trial in Moscow that has become a defining moment in a gathering crackdown on Russia’s opposition movement.
The women face up to seven years in jail for performing a song entitled “Mother of God, Drive Putin Out!” in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral in February ahead of presidential elections the following month.
Data is out from EPFR Global for emerging market fund flows for the week ending August 15. The volumes are, as Barclays’ analysts put it, “chugging along”, with inflows pretty much the same as the previous week. A mid-August torpor appears to have descended, with no major market-bothering news to push investor risk appetite one way or the other.
China’s largest gold producer is already a force to be reckoned with. But if the visionary head of China National Gold Corporation gets his way, it’s going to be much, much bigger.
As the FT reported on Friday, the state-owned group is in talks to buy a majority stake in African Barrick Gold from its parent Barrick Gold, the world’s top gold miner.
For anyone seeking an insight into the thinking behind the deal, beyondbrics has translated a fascinating article by Sun Zhaoxue [pictured], president of China National.
* SA police kill more than 30 miners
* China said to order action by banks as developer loans sour
* India’s grid chief shifts blame for blackouts
The killing of more than 30 striking miners by South African police on Thursday has shocked the country and the industry and reverberated around the financial markets.
Shares in Lonmin, the platinum mining group at the centre of the dispute, plunged by 10 per cent in Johannesburg early on Friday as details of the shootings at the company’s Marikana mining complex near Rustenburg were revealed.
While shares in Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum, the two other big operators at Rustenburg, also fell, the wider South African market barely moved.
Perhaps, investors are still weighing their responses. They would be wise not to underestimate the potential impact of a tragedy that has South African commentators making comparisons with the worst excesses of the apartheid regime.
Friday’s picks from the BB team: Brazil does a China-lite stimulus – will bureaucracy limit its effectiveness? The violence at the Marikana platinum mines reflects a wider problem of legitimacy for mining companies in Africa; China’s PC maker Lenovo is expanding fast globally, but raising the bottom line is a tricky business; how to get your goods to consumers in emerging markets when modern infrastructure isn’t there; plus, the potential hidden benefit of China’s dodgy economic data.
“Isn’t MI2 so bloody cool?” With this question Lei Jun, China’s most prominent angel investor and founder of the country’s most ambitious homegrown smartphone brand Xiaomi, launched his new device this week.
If the fans screaming enthusiastically in response are any indication, Apple could face a new challenger in China. While the immediate worry is Samsung, Xiaomi too could become a real threat.
India’s prime ministerial economic advisers on Friday bowed to the inevitable and cut their forecast for GDP growth in the fiscal year to next March from 7.5-8 per cent to 6.7 per cent.
In the eyes of private sector economists that’s still too high, as they forecast only 5.5 per cent. But it’s a useful admission from New Delhi that the outlook isn’t as positive as was predicted. A more realistic growth forecast should allow for more realistic policymaking. But given India’s disappointing recent policy record, investors hoping for radical action shouldn’t set their expectations too high.
Egypt’s first elected civilian president, Mohamed Morsi, has forcibly resigned a number of senior military staff, marking a turning point in the country’s transition from the old regime of Hosni Mubarak. But what does the move mean for the army and are fears of President Morsi’s increasing powers well-founded? Seb Morton-Clark reports.