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Daily Archives: Dec 20, 2012
After last month’s slap in the face when Brazil released shocking GDP data at only 0.6 per cent, Colombia followed suit on Thursday announcing surprisingly weak third-quarter growth. The Andean country’s economy grew just 2.1 per cent in the third quarter compared with the same period last year.
The drag was caused by an acute slowdown in the construction sector as well as sluggish manufacturing. The growth pace was not only much slower than the 7.5 per cent expansion in the same quarter last year, but it was also the weakest in three years.
It’s not a rush for the exit. But it’s rather more than a shuffle to the door. A noticeable number of European banks – Austria’s Erste being the latest – are giving up on Ukraine.
Like other European banks that are busy cleaning up troubled balance sheets back home, Erste announced on Thursday that it had agreed to sell its loss-making, 100 branch Ukrainian subsidiary to a domestic businessman. Domestic banker Oleksandr Adarich bought the business for a mere $83m.
After weeks of nods and winks, Hungary on Thursday announced plans to raise €4bn-€4.5bn in foreign currency bonds next year, in a move which suggests that Budapest is dropping plans for a financing programme with the International Monetary Fund any time soon.
Given prime minister Viktor Orban’s reluctance to deal with Fund in the first place, and the recent sharp drop in borrowing costs, the news comes as little surprise. But it will leave Budapest hostage to market sentiment. That could prove very risky.
By Ben Aris of bne
What’s the point of belonging to the emerging middle class if you don’t look good? That’s the idea behind KupiVIP, Russia’s leading online fashion store, which expects annual revenues to reach a billion dollars by the end of the decade.
January 2013 will mark the two year anniversary of the Egyptian uprisings which overthrew Hosni Mubarak. Amid the optimism which followed the transition to democracy, few serious analysts expected the path ahead for the country to be smooth, and indeed it has not been. An FT special report on Egypt highlights the challenges faced by the Arab world’s largest democracy.
The EM debt rally is pushing some countries into new territory. Nigeria’s public finances have received a boost on Wednesday with its borrowing costs at auction hitting record lows.
N30bn ($190m) of 10 year government bonds were sold with an 11.9 per cent yield, with investor inflows pushing the naira higher to build upon the strong gains made by the west African oil exporter’s currency this year.
With record flows into emerging market bonds you could be forgiven for thinking growth economies were awash with credit, and that they had avoided the fallout from the eurozone crisis.
Unfortunately this is not the case. The benefits of the boom in EM bonds have not been evenly spread. Not only is issuing bonds an option available uniquely to the very largest class of emerging market enterprises, but these bond issuers are generally concentrated within limited geographies like Brazil, China and Russia, and in the energy, mining and telecom sectors.
Resource nationalism isn’t just the expropriation of major companies or industries, like YPF in Argentina – it also takes subtler forms. James Smither, associate director at risk consultancy Maplecroft, explains to Rob Minto how shifts in commodity prices can undermine a country’s resource leverage and the more nuanced ways revenue can be retained within domestic borders.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky could walk free in 2014 following a decision by a Moscow court to reduce the tycoon’s jail sentence by two years. But Russia’s most famous prisoner is not going to kowtow to the authorities and thank the judiciary for any favours. As far as he’s concerned the charges against him are trumped up and he should not be in jail at all.
At the end of a lengthy appeals process, a Moscow court upheld the guilty verdict handed down at the second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2010, but reduced the sentence by two years citing amendments to Russian law.
It seems in every family there are secrets and lies.
On Wednesday afternoon, Pedro Delgado, the cousin of Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, and the Andean country’s central bank president, stepped down after confessing that he did not hold a university degree in economics.
Another cliff hanger in the long-running saga of Russia’s gas dispute with Ukraine. Viktor Yanukovich was expected to sign an agreement in Moscow this week that would have drawn Ukraine closer to the Russia-backed Customs Union in exchange for concessions on gas prices.
But the Ukrainian president backed out at the last minute. Did he get cold feet or is he playing a game? And will the drama affect Gazprom’s gas supplies to the European Union, most of which are piped across Ukraine?
When Slovene partisan fighters needed skis to battle the occupying Nazi forces in World War II, there was but one solution: make them themselves, secretly, from wood. Some 70 years later, as a result of this initial, brave determination, the village of Begunje, nestled in the Alpine foothills about 35 miles north-west of Ljubljana, is the unlikely setting for the world’s largest ski plant.
Elan, the Slovene winter-sports company, produces 500,000 pairs of skis annually in Begunje, roughly one in seven of all skis worldwide – with 300,000, or 8.5 per cent of the global market, under its own name.
Huge capital outflows have been a glaringly visible sign of Russian business people’s distrust of president Vladimir Putin’s rule. Worried about corruption, property rights and the rule of law, the rich have been funneling their money abroad. Right?
Wrong, actually. So says a study published this week which argues that Russian outflows are only half as big as officially reported, due to peculiarities in Russia’s statistics. The new analysis won’t be the last word on a complex subject – but it’s already prompted Russian officials to consider taking another look at the numbers.