Daily Archives: Jan 7, 2013

Patriotic Brazilians look away now: Brazil is no longer the world’s sixth-biggest economy.

According to recent forecasts from the IMF and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), the UK regained its place as the world’s sixth-biggest economy last year, shunting Brazil back down to seventh place. Read more

ChavezVenezuelan sovereign debt has started 2013 just as it behaved in 2012 – with prices climbing higher.

The rally is powered by speculation that an end to Hugo Chávez’s reign is looking increasingly likely, and, it would seem logical to suppose, so are the chances of a more market-friendly government replacing him.

Is that a fair assumption, though? Read more

Your correspondent

Walking around the Uyuni salt flats, all you see is a dry and crusty white nothingness stretching to the horizon. But underneath this almost-lunar landscape in Bolivia’s Andean plateau is half the world’s lithium – the lightest metal on the planet, used in the batteries that drive a host of modern gadgetry and a potential power source for electric vehicles.

Now Bolivia wants to cash in on the value to be added to this precious resource, with the opening of the country’s first lithium processing plantRead more

Turkey might not be a country that tops the freedom of the press list. As a recent report on Turkey by the Committee to Protect Journalists suggests, the country does still have “issues” regarding the reporting of activities of Kurdish opposition groups in particular.

But that should be no excuse for the wholesale misreporting of the country’s new Capital Markets Law, complete with dire warnings that it contains clauses criminalising acts such as sloppy reporting or analysis and that journalists and analysts who provide “wrong or untruthful information” could face jail sentences of up to five years. Read more

A female student stands in a burnt classroom at Maiduguri Experimental School, a private nursery, primary and secondary school burnt by the Islamist group Boko Haram to keep children away from school in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria  May 12, 2012.Nigeria has been so repeatedly afflicted by acts of violence by sectarian groups, as well as Islamist movement Boko Haram, that pouring through news reports, it’s hard to get a handle on the situation. Which regions are worst affected? Who is responsible? And is the problem getting worse?

Helpfully, the Council on Foreign Relations has released it’s Nigeria Security Tracker, which sheds light on the problem. Read more

With the US wobbling atop its fiscal cliff, the European Union struggling to control the eurozone crisis and Japan seemingly sunk into permanent stagnation, it would be easy to conclude that the biggest global risks of 2013 come from the developed world.

Not so, says Eurasia, the political risk consultancy. In its predictions for 2013, the group puts emerging markets at the top of the risk rankings. That’s because the advanced economies have proved in recent years that they can manage crises. Emerging markets will struggle to cope with the world’s growing political pressures. Read more

Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi arrived in office pledging to deal with the country’s chronic power problems but – like his long-ruling predecessor Hosni Mubarak – he has instead been confounded by a continuing crisis, writes Dina Salah Eldin.

The nation’s creaking electricity network has groaned ever louder as fuel supply shortages have triggered repeated outages, while political turmoil has kept foreign investors at bay and left Egyptian officials chary about signing off deals and opening themselves to possible corruption allegations. Read more

The National Bank of Romania (BNR) kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 5.25 per cent on Monday, as policy makers juggled with the conflicting demands of meeting inflation targets and stimulating a flailing economy.

The Romanian leu strenthened slightly against the euro, to 4.40 lei to the euro after opening at about 4.42. Read more

A senior IMF official was meeting with the Egyptian government on Monday to discuss a stalled $4.8bn loan deal, as renewed political turmoil pushed the country closer to economic crisis.

Top of the mission’s mind will be whether the government still has the capacity to implement economic reform as the central bank struggles to run a managed devaluation of the Egyptian pound that risks slipping out of control. Read more

The New Year has brought more bad news for the moribund Czech economy – new figures released on Monday show industrial production declining in November by even more than analysts expected, dropping by an annual 3.9 per cent (the consensus forecast had been for a decline of only 1.2 per cent).

While that was bad news, when adjusted for working days, the figures were even worse, showing a fall in industrial production of 6.2 per cent compared to a 3.2 per cent decline in October. Read more

After a tumultuous 2012 of strikes and unrest, South African mining stocks are on the up. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange main index briefly hit a new all-time high on Monday, and miners have joined the recent rally.

But not everyone is participating in the upswing. Harmony Gold, the country’s third largest producer, on Monday announced the suspension of operations at one of its main mines, and warned it may even close the site for good. The shares were down around 5 per cent. Read more

thai farmer plants riceAfter more than 30 years at the top, Thailand has lost its spot to India as the world’s number one rice exporter, slipping to third place last year due largely to a controversial government farm subsidy policy.

Now some critics say that as well as disrupting exports, the policy could undermine the food security because the government’s radical intervention could make supplies less stable in the future. Read more

Cyrus Mistry - TATACyrus Mistry is stepping into big shoes – and he’s begun flexing his toes, announcing an ambitious investment plan. Read more

A bit of a climbdown by the Chinese government on its yellow traffic light rule, which made running a yellow light as bad as running a red one.

Beijing, it seems, is increasingly ready to give ground on some issues prompting popular protest – unless the issues are really big ones. Read more

* Media censorship sparks protests in China

* Risk assets slip from multi-month high

* CIC said to be in talks on Daimler stake Read more

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC continues its struggle in an increasing competitive market. The company announced that income was down 91 per cent for the fourth quarter of last year.

It’s more bad news, after profits in the third quarter were down nearly 80 per cent. Investors seem to be getting used to it – shares on Monday were up slightly at 0.35 per cent, but have fallen hard over the past year. Read more

Monday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: Turkish businesses head into the unknown to get a piece of the action in Africa; China’s intellectuals debate its political and economic model; meet the new head of the EBRD; steps towards a new era for Asian capital markets; plus, Mexican gangs find mining to be more lucrative than drugs. Read more

Investors appear to be pretty comfortable with China’s economic recovery story. After closing up 0.5 per cent on Monday, the CSI 300, which includes stocks listed in both Shanghai and Shenzhen, are now in bull market territory, having risen 20 per cent from its low at the start of December. After 3 years of funk, Chinese equities are back with a bang.

Economists, meanwhile, are already issuing words of caution. Yes, they say, Chinese growth is accelerating again – but keep an eye on the data. Read more

The third in our series of guest posts on the outlook for the new year is by Andy Xie

China has enjoyed a decade of rapid growth because it reformed to join the WTO and invested in infrastructure. Foreign investment poured in and made China the largest export economy in the world. As money kept rolling in with exports and foreign investment, the system went off the track and made bubbles to subsidize investment and enrich the establishment on the side. Now the export machine is stagnating and the foreign investment tide receding. The costs from the inefficient bubble activities are exposed and holding back growth. To move the economy forward, China needs to reform again to cut out the deadweight losses from the system’s inefficiencies. Unfortunately, as in the past, the reform zeal is still rhetorical. Read more

* Bankruptcy regime for nations urged

* Assad “peace plan” greeted with scorn by foes

* Lenovo China smartphone profit to fund emerging market push Read more