Daily Archives: Jan 21, 2013

Legend goes that El Dorado, the Lost City of Gold, was built from gold found in the hills and streams of what is known today as Colombia. For centuries, its fabled riches lured foreign conquistadors and other explorers.

They never found it. Fast-forward 500 years and most of Colombia’s mining potential is still relatively untapped. Since 2002, Bogotá has been trying to stimulate the industry, increasing the distribution of mining permits in the country and welcoming foreign explorers back.

But the government is wielding sticks as well as carrots. Read more

The trial of those accused of involvement in the mensalão, the scandal by which senior figures in the government of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva allegedly engaged in vote-buying in Congress, may be over. But the ruling Workers’ Party, several of whose leaders were convicted by the Supreme Court, is only now coming to terms with the question of who should pay, literally, for their crimes. Read more

Poland’s long-running reluctance to tackle a new law on renewable energy is starting to impose growing economic and political costs, as big energy companies freeze planned projects and smaller investors are driven to bankruptcy, all while ministries squabble over the future shape of the law. Read more

When the property market struggles, the marketing spin has a tendency to rise exponentially. Take this recent example about the sale of a “big format unit”:

“Cushman & Wakefield, the world’s largest privately-held commercial real estate services firm, has secured 200 sq m premium retail space for Skiny, the well-known, originally Austrian underwear retailer, at Market Central Ferihegy on behalf of the owner AIG/Lincoln.”

Er, 200 sq m? That is 0.45 per cent of the space in Market Central Ferihegy, a 44,000 sqm complex described as “one of the most successful” in Hungary.* Read more

Forget IQ. And while you’re at it: forget EQ as well. If you’re looking for an executive to lead your emerging market operations in 2013 and beyond, it’s all about CQ – the cultural quotient. Or so says Kevin Kelly, CEO of executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. He spoke to beyondbrics before heading to the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, where the issue of how to capitalise on the relative strength of emerging markets over developed ones will be a major theme. Read more

By Marcus Svedberg of East Capital

It became quite popular last year to question emerging markets in general and the Brics in particular. Analysts started to doubt the sustainability of their economic models following a deceleration in growth rates, even though the source of the problem was primarily to be found in developed economies.

This was perhaps a macro version of the irrational financial “flight to safety” that characterised most of 2011. Read more

Italian oil giant Eni SpA has confirmed a discovery of around 450m barrels at its Sankofa East field 50km off the coast of Ghana, boosting the west African nation’s overall oil reserves.

About 150m barrels of Eni’s find will be immediately recoverable, according to the company, which says the result “confirms the commercial standing” of its Ghanaian prospects. Plans for exploitation of the reserves are now underway. It’s small beans (relatively) for a company of Eni’s size, but big news for the budding Ghanaian oil industry. Read more

The Moscow Exchange is planning to float shares on its own platform in an initial public offering that will fly the flag for Russia’s principal stock trading venue.

By opting for an exclusively domestic listing, the exchange hopes to boost the appeal of Moscow as a financial center and encourage more Russian companies to forgo the attractions of the London Stock Exchange and go public at home. Read more

In India, there are just nine hospital beds for every 10,000 people; 626m people are forced to defecate in the open for want of sanitary facilities; and local investors are looking abroad to escape unpredictable regulation and unreliable infrastructure at home.

And yet, when religion and revelry are at stake, this same country can pull it together and host the 55-day Maha Kumbh Mela festival, where 9m pilgrims are provided with all the shelter and services they need. Read more

Was this what the central bank expected? Last Wednesday, Brazil’s monetary policy makers held their benchmark interest rate steady on the grounds that its current level (7.25 per cent a year) was the right one to keep inflation on a downward course.

On Monday, market economists surveyed by the bank showed what they thought of that: inflation expectations for 2013 are up, from an average of 5.53 per cent last week to 5.65 per cent today. Read more

It’s a spectacular video that has been watched across the world. During a party conference, a man leaps onto the stage and draws a gun at the leader’s head at point-blank range; the gun misfires and the speaker manages to knock it away; the gunman is dragged across the stage and subjected to a savage beating by besuited delegates.

But what does it tell us about Bulgaria’s reputation – and reality? Read more

At last, a breath of optimism on central and eastern Europe from one of the more cautious economic forecasters.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on Monday predicted that growth in the region would increase slightly from 2.6 per cent in 2012 to 3.1 per cent this year. More significantly, given the EBRD’s past warnings, the bank is saying that risks of the eurozone triggering another CEE financial crisis are declining. If the bank’s right, that’s good news. Read more

When times are tough, you don’t need good news to cheer investors – even an absence of bad news comes as a relief.

After weeks of concern around a possible sovereign downgrade for India, Moody’s has reaffirmed its government bond rating of BBA3, labelling it “stable”. Read more

* Huawei pledges openness to woo critics

* Moscow bourse to champion Russia with IPO

* Cheap stocks and reform hopes lift China Read more

Since a change of government just two years ago, Myanmar has thrown off its previous isolation to become a top regional tourist destination. Queues for visas at its embassy in Bangkok last week stretched down the street. “Do you know how many visas we issued today?” said a harried-looking consular official. “More than 1,200. It’s going crazy.” But the question that has remained unanswered is: where are these people going to stay? Read more

By Philippe de Pontet and Riccardo Fabiani of Eurasia Group

The investor and geopolitical impacts of the French-led intervention against Islamist militants in Mali will reverberate far beyond the country’s porous borders. Indeed they already have, as the grisly kidnapping of dozens of expatriates in BP’s southern Algerian gas field has shown.

Mali will continue to be the epicenter of combat, casualties, and French preoccupation, but the real risks to multinationals and foreign citizens will play out elsewhere in a vast region that spans North Africa, West Africa and the largely ungoverned Sahel which lies at crossroads of the two. Read more

Monday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: China’s slower pace of growth spells trouble for its smaller companies; the oil and gas industry takes stock of the Algerian hostage crisis, as Algeria takes stock of its reputational damage; slowing capital flows into Brazil create opportunities for private equity; and a visit by Standard Chartered to Myanmar highlights its growing economic importance. Read more

By Michael Beer of Citigroup

As Bloomberry Resorts‘ new $700m Solaire Resort and Casino nears completion, Manila Bay will finally showcase its potential within the regional gaming arena. Reflecting the heightened enthusiasm around the project launch as well as continued interest in gaming in east Asia, Bloomberry’s shares have risen over 30 per cent in just the past five months. Read more

Chinese equity markets rose again on Monday, extending their recent rally, thanks largely to widely-expected news that China Vanke, the country’s biggest developer by market value, would switch trading in its foreign-investor B shares from Shenzhen to Hong Kong.

Vanke, which had been suspended since late last month, surged by the 10-per-cent daily limit, pulling the Shenzhen B index of foreign-investor shares up by 4.7 per cent and triggering a 3.0 per cent jump in the Shanghai B-share index. There’s growing speculation that other companies will follow suit. Read more

Setting interest rates is one of the most important monetary policy tools a central bank can wield. But at the moment, emerging market policy makers don’t seem keen to use it.

Why? Chart of the week takes a look. Read more