Daily Archives: Jan 8, 2013

As beyondbrics’ São Paulo team looks out from its office over a city darkened by Apocalypse-like walls of thunder clouds unleashing hail on the commuters below, the nation’s latest challenge seems bizarre to say the least.

A hot, apparently dry, summer is leading to speculation that the nation will have to resort to energy rationing for the first time since 2001. Scant rainfall is drying up the country’s hydropower plants, which provide the bulk of its energy, while increased use of air-conditioners to cope with the heat is sapping whatever output there is.

As a result, Brazil may have to increase usage of its fossil-fuel fired plants. Read more

“A great spirit of change is coursing through all of Mexico,” President Enrique Peña Nieto said in his New Year’s message to the Mexican nation on Monday night. And the very next morning, the national statistics agency confirmed his view.

Within a few weeks of Peña Nieto’s inauguration, the agency reported on Tuesday that consumer confidence in December was at its highest in five years – 99 points, up from the 90.8 points of the same month of 2011. The 100-point base of the index, by the way, was set in 2003. Read more

But don’t get too excited. Hugo Chavez isn’t relinquishing power. The government is just postponing the swearing in ceremony. Read more

As D-Day approaches (or I-Day – “I” for the “inauguration” of Hugo Chávez’s next presidential term, which looks increasingly like it won’t happen on Thursday as it’s supposed to), things are getting increasingly tense in Venezuela.

Intelligence officers are raiding the homes of people spreading rumours on Twitter about Chávez’s health, and the military is being called in to try to put a stop to worsening shortages of basic goodsRead more

Petr Kellner is the Czech Republic’s richest man and this week’s deal that has Italy’s Generali paying €2.5bn to buy out the 49 per cent of an insurance joint venture with Kellner’s PPF that it does not already own will make him even wealthier.

The deal gives Generali full control over the joint venture that has seen rapid growth since it was formed in 2007. Read more

Russian markets re-opened on Tuesday after the country’s nine-day New Year’s hibernation holiday, and got 2013 off to a good start.

Boosted by an improvement in global sentiment, the Micex index rose 2.7 per cent in its its biggest one-day gain since mid-September. The rouble appreciated 0.3 per cent against the dollar-euro basket. Read more

The growth of South Africa’s black middle class has been a dynamic boost for the economy, attracting local and foreign investment, and now the country’s consumer landscape could shift forward as another new emerging consumer segment takes shape in the lower social ranks.

According to Annabel Bishop, chief economist for the Investec Group in South Africa, and author of the report Investec SA’s Macro Economic Outlook 2013-17, people in South Africa’s lower class could progressively rise from being dependent on welfare and earning nothing to having a rise in income, forming a new consumer class. Read more

A senior IMF official visiting Egypt this week to discuss the country’s stalled $4.8bn loan agreement has said the organisation remains committed to helping Egypt through its financial difficulties.

Masood Ahmed, head of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department said the Egyptian government had expressed “firm commitment” to implementing a “macroeconomic program that enjoys broad support”. Read more

Zdjecie RybinskiThe fifth in our series of guest posts on the outlook for 2013 is by Krzysztof Rybinski of Vistula University

What will the deepening crisis in the eurozone in 2013 mean for the Central and Eastern Europe? I expect the eurozone crisis to intensify next year, so it will be a very tough year for the eurozone and for the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Read more

What do Narayana Murthy, the co-founder of Infosys, Rajat Gupta, the disgraced former chief executive of McKinsey, and Arvind Kejriwal, leader of India’s Aam Aadmi Party, have in common?

They all graduated from the renowned Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). But would these men have reached positions of power without an IIT education? And could they have enrolled if IIT’s tuition fees were significantly higher? Read more

Surprise, surprise. When it comes to words and actions of big companies, yet again we find that rhetoric belies reality – this time courtesy of The Economist Corporate Network.

The Economist group’s emerging markets advisory arm compiles an annual survey of leading corporate executives on their attitudes and investment patterns in Asia. In its report, Investing in an Accelerating Asia?, the group found that investment in Asia by global multinational corporations is lagging the expectations, forecasts and optimism voiced by their top executives. Read more

Another dose of bad news for Hungary on Tuesday as industrial production figures for November showed a much sharper contraction than expected. Output fell by 6.9 per cent year on year, much worse than the consensus 3.5 per cent contraction.

It leaves the country facing a deepening recession just as the government has thrown caution to the wind and decided it can do without the support of an IMF loan. The chances of an adequate response seem limited given the changes about to take place at the top of the central bank. Read more

The Thai government, known for its string of populist policies including rice and fuel subsidies, is delighting working class voters (those with a job, anyway) with the introduction of a national minimum wage, which kicked in on January 1.

The policy has already triggered fierce criticism in business circles and reports of job losses, particularly in rural provinces. Yet, some experts argue that despite short term pain, a hefty national minimum wage increase will raise both living standards and productivity. Read more

Shares in African Barrick Gold plummeted by over 20 per cent on Tuesday following news that China National Gold had pulled out of talks to buy a majority stake in the company from Barrick Gold.

In heavy trading the shares fell from 444p to reach 354p as of 11.00 GMT, down from the initial float price of 575p in 2010, but some way off their all time low of 310p reached in May. Read more

* HSBC’s exit from Ping An in jeopardy

* Egyptian central bank sells dollar as pound weakens

* Scuffles flare at liberal Chinese newspaper in protest over censorship Read more

Tuesday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: Brazilian consumers keep on spending, but for how much longer? Chinese celebrities weigh into the Southern Weekend censorship row; Kurdistan’s oil boom; all change at the top for Anglo; a new age of protest in India; plus, the Venezuelan power struggle developing in the absence of Chavez. Read more

What difference a new CEO makes – and how a good one leaving can hurt. Since the FT reported on Monday that Mark Cutifani of AngloGold Ashanti was set to take over the reins at Anglo American – and confirmed on Tuesday – investors have given their verdict. This week, Anglo American is up over 3.3 per cent; AngloGold is down 2.9 per cent.

Both companies have given the move their spin – “inspirational leadership” said AngloGold; a “seasoned miner” said Anglo American. But as Lex pointed out, it’s Cutifani’s ability to make asset disposals and foster good relations with governments that will be most valued in his new job.

You may have thought Jermyn Street was chalk to Colaba Causeway’s cheese: the London chap and Mumbai man are poles apart sartorially. But upmarket shirtmaker, TM Lewin, is looking to change all that.

The quintessentially British retailer has signed an exclusive franchise agreement with Brand Marketing India – the company that launched Calvin Klein Jeans and French Connection in the country – to market and distribute its products across the subcontinent. Read more

* Galaxy lifts Samsung profit to record

* Yum licking its wounds in China

* Brazil auto production falters Read more

Michael PettisThe fourth in our series of guest posts on the outlook for 2013 is by Michael Pettis of Peking University

Beijing’s new leaders have clearly signaled their intention to rebalance China’s economy away from investment and towards more consumption but this won’t be easy. It will require a reversal of the process by which, over the past three decades and especially the last decade, economic growth has disproportionately benefited the state sector at the expense of Chinese households. Read more