Daily Archives: Nov 21, 2012

It looks like the mighty real is on the march. After being confined in a “dirty float” of between R$2 and R$2.05 against the dollar for some months, Brazil’s currency closed at R$2.0985 on Wednesday, the lowest according to Bloomberg since May 2009.

There is now speculation the government could let the currency drift in a higher band, of say between R$2.05 and R$2.15 to the dollar after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff told a local newspaper, Valor Econômico, that the real is “over-valued”.

The government’s rationale for such a move would be simple. Brazilian industry is struggling to recuperate after a strong currency, rising labour costs, increased competition from imports and other factors eroded its competitiveness in recent years. Read more

Argentine civil servants in the central province of Córdoba have been given an early Christmas present: January off.

The idea is not exactly new – it was successfully employed in January this year, for example – but then neither is the cash crunch facing many Argentine provinces, which rely on the central government for key funds.

Córdoba, furthermore, is run by a governor, José Manuel de la Sota, with presidential aspirations in 2015, who has clashed in a high-profile fashion with Cristina Fernández, the president, and her government in recent months. Read more

For those in the room it seemed to be a case of expecting a party and getting a lecture instead.

Despite strenuous efforts by Moody’s Investors Service to point out that its annual credit risk conference on Turkey was planned months ago, it proved impossible to dampen expectations that the event would see the ratings agency deliver investment grade to Ankara, so letting loose billions of dollars of institutional funds on the country. (Fitch gave Turkey the palm earlier this month.)

Hence the undercurrent of disgruntlement in Istanbul’s Ciragan Palace on Wednesday, as Turkey’s rating remained where it was, at Ba1, a notch below investment grade, albeit with a positive outlook. Read more

While economists wait to see what effect the recent strikes in mining and other sectors have on Q3 GDP, indicators coming out of South Africa this week are a bit deceptive. They look pretty flat – but there are signs things are getting worse.

Inflation nudged up to 5.6 per cent from 5.5 per cent in September. And a business confidence index nudged down, from 47 to 46. It doesn’t leave the Reserve Bank much room for manoeuvre on rates. Read more

A bit of excitement for the Warsaw Stock Exchange in the final weeks of the year as Alior Bank, a small but fast-growing bank, on Wednesday announced the conditions for an initial public offering that could be valued as much as 2.5bn zlotys ($773m).

That would make it the largest IPO on the WSE
since last year and the largest-ever by a non-state Polish company, according to Bloomberg. Read more

MOL, the Hungarian oil group, is sticking to its guns. In a statement on Wednesday the company categorically rejected the findings of a Croatian court in which Croatia’s former prime minister Ivo Sanader was found guilty of corruption – including taking bribes from MOL. Read more

Ryanair, the bargain-basement Irish carrier, is cutting one in three of its routes to Budapest as a result of increases in landing and handling fees imposed by both Budapest Airport, the German-owned airport operator, and the state-controlled Hungarian Civil Aviation Authority, beyondbrics has learned from industry sources. Read more

If China’s 83m Communist party members formed a country, it would be the sixteenth largest in the world. So when the party’s most elite congress gathered this month, propaganda apparatchiks worked overtime to try to highlight the diversity of the assembly: the ethnic minorities (wearing traditional costumes), female party members (who composed 23 per cent of the congress delegates), and entrepreneurs, who were only welcomed into the party in recent decades.

But what exactly does it take to get admitted to the secretive Leninist organisation that runs the world’s second-biggest economy? Read more

With elections looming in Pakistan by summer 2013, prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has ordered officials from the ministry of petroleum and natural resources to make certain that there are no shortages of gas this winter.

Ashraf’s order follows some of the shortages of electricity earlier this year which prompted angry street protests. Any repeat of demonstrations over gas shortages as winter temperatures get near freezing in parts of Pakistan – as happened last year (pictured) – would hardly help the prospects of Ashraf’s ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) returning to rule the country for another five years. Read more

* Glencore-Xstrata to win EU clearance

* Standard Life revives Indian listing plan

* Asian stocks advance as US housing boosts export outlook Read more

Two of the biggest banks in the Philippines said on Wednesday they were in talks about a merger that would create the country’s biggest bank by assets.

The plan bodes well for the Philippines, which has one of the smallest banking sectors among its peers in south-east Asia. Read more

Migrant workers are doing overtime to keep the world economy going. One of the few pleasant surprises of the post-2008 global economic turmoil has been the strength of remittance flows to the developing world.

In a report this week the World Bank says remittances are expected to exceed earlier estimates and reach $406bn this year, an increase of 6.5 per cent over 2o11, with further gains in the next three years. The main impediment is the high cost of the transfers – a full 12.4 per cent for sub-Saharan Africa. Read more

Wednesday’s picks from the BB team: why belief in China Inc needs faith in the state; courts and corruption in Brazil; and Muddy vs Olam. Plus: how China stays competitive; how India is killing a telecom revolution; and is Putin’s Russia now one big Enron? Read more

Labour unions at GM’s Korean subsidiary are up in arms over the company’s plans to shed jobs and to move some production out of the country, as the carmaker launches a new early retirement programme for office workers.

It is GM’s second attempt so far this year to reduce its headcount as it tries to cut costs with European losses weighing on profits. Read more

The volume may be similar, but the names are changing. That’s likely to be the story of emerging market soveriegn debt in 2013, according to a report from Barclays, as lots of first time issuers look to tap the markets.

And rather than big benchmark issuers such as Turkey, South Africa and Russia driving the supply of hard-currency bonds, the biggest issuer next year may well be Indonesia. Read more

Lean times require mean valuations. And so it is with Chinese state-owned insurer PICC Group, which has cut back the proposed price tag on its Hong Kong IPO from an original estimate of up to $30.5bn to $15.4bn-$18.2bn.

The much-delayed sale would still raise up to $3.6bn in Hong Kong’s biggest offering since AIA (also an insurer) secured $20.5bn in 2010. With cornerstone investors headed by US insurer AIG and Chinese state companies pledging $1.85bn, the deal – at its new price level – finally seems set to reach the market. Read more

Retail rents remain buoyant in emerging markets as an expanding middle class attracts tenants despite the global economic slowdown.

Commercial property services company, Cushman and Wakefield, surveys its international offices annually to study retail rental performance. In the year to June 2012, rents increased 4.5 per cent globally, rising in 147 of 326 locations. Read more

* Asian stocks advance as US housing boosts export outlook

* Tensions run high as East Asia Summit ends

* PICC said to seek up to $3.6bn in Hong Kong initial offer Read more