Daily Archives: Feb 13, 2013

If you thought economic debates were dull, stolid affairs, then think again. Just take a look at the debate currently raging in Venezuela for a master class in how to jazz up your economic rhetoric, after the government announced a devaluation last Friday.

While on the one hand you have critics saying the move was a result of “ideological necrophilia”, on the other there are officials scolding Venezuelans for acting like “nymphomaniacs”. Read more

For international companies, Brazil’s oil and gas industry can be challenging. The national oil company, Petrobras, has been appointed the sole operator by government decree of new fields in the country’s giant new offshore reserves, known as “pre-salt”. This means all operators have to work with Petrobras, exposing them to the risk of having the same government-controlled company as a partner. They also must source certain percentages of equipment locally, potentially making field development costly.

But that hasn’t stopped foreign companies from rushing in. Read more

Investors have given Viktor Orbán the benefit of the doubt by backing the country’s $3.25bn bond issue, its first international offering in more than a year.

They’ll be hoping that the unpredictable Hungarian prime minister won’t let them down as he prepares for next year’s parliamentary election, with all its political and economic uncertainty. Is this a safe bet? Read more

Should independent Russian gas producers be allowed to sell their gas abroad? Or should state-owned Gazprom retain its monopoly status?

These are the questions Vladimir Putin’s presidential energy commission met to discuss on Wednesday – and will be discussing, it appears, for some time. Read more

Poland’s real estate sector has been a little lacklustre in recent years, but that has not not dissuaded investors from taking a flyer on PHN, a government controlled property holding which had its IPO on the Warsaw Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

Shares were up by 7.4 per cent to 23.62 zlotys ($7.67) on the WSE, valuing the company at just over 1bn zlotys. Read more

African Barrick Gold continues to fail to live up to expectations. The Tanzania-focused miner, which was spun off from Barrick Gold in 2010, disappointed investors again on Wednesday with guidance in its full-year results suggesting its gold production would be 540-600 thousand ounces in 2013.

This compares to 2012′s 626koz – 9 per cent less than 2011 – and suggests the company is once again heading for a decline in production. Read more

By Nicholas Watson of bne

The Albanian government has cancelled the winning bid from a consortium headed by a local businessman in the tender for state oil firm Albpetrol after it failed to come up with a down payment.

The decision ends what was rapidly becoming a national embarrassment for Albania, at a time when it is trying to convince the EU it is raising transparency standards. But, serious questions remain about the conduct of the winner of the tender, local tycoon Rezart Taci’s Vetro Energy, and of the government. Read more

Luxurious homes around the world, highly collectable cars, a stud farm, some very classy yachts famous for their “king sized parties”… Anyone would be happy to get their hands on Vijay Mallya’s assets.

Now that his creditors have run out of patience and are calling in loans to Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines, some of them bearing the billionaire tycoon’s personal guarantee, you’d think a few of these playthings might be about to change hands. Well, maybe just a few… Read more

Last year was supposed to represent the pivotal moment in which sukuk debt – Islamic versions of bonds – came into their own as a deep, mature and liquid source of funding.

Issuance data from January suggest the jury is still out. Read more

* Security concerns weigh on Opec supply

* Turkey’s current account: in better shape – for now

* India’s trade deficit widens Read more

South Korean banks’ outstanding loans to households posted the biggest monthly fall on record in January – seemingly good news for policy makers seeking to rein in the country’s huge household debt.

But the data highlight a dilemma for the authorities, because the falling household loans could also have a depressing effect on the country’s sluggish property market. Read more

Wednesday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: India needs a major banking shake-up, but the authorities are unlikely to deliver the goods; China must pressure North Korea over its nukes; LatAm politicians share Brazil’s currency concerns; plus, Africa’s problem with borders. Read more

China’s statistics are notoriously unreliable, and oil demand is no exception.

In its Oil Market Report for February, the International Energy Agency admits that measuring it is more of an art than a science, and has announced a new methodology. While this may sound a little on the wonkish side, there is an important point: China counts for around 10 per cent of the world’s oil consumption and 40 per cent of global oil demand growth. Getting this bit right (or less wrong) is crucial. Read more

It isn’t every day that a country cancels a plan to seek $1bn in emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund, just a few weeks after announcing it.

But having unveiled plans to go cap in hand for money earlier in the year, it seems this is just what Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is about to do, following a row with the IMF. So what exactly is going on? Read more

India’s trade deficit rose to $20bn in January, according to data published on Wednesday by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. This is up from a figure of $17.7bn in December. Read more

* Pyongyang raises stakes with third test

* Egypt sinks deeper into junk status

* Tehran house prices soar as rial plunges Read more

Michael PettisWill the new government in Beijing launch reforms to rebalance the Chinese economy – or not?

One way to find out is to scan the pronouncements of the Xi Jinping, the new Communist party leader, and his politburo. But that’s not easy, given the walls that surround China’s political elite.

Another way is to look for hints in the economic data. As China-watcher Michael Pettis told beyondbrics, the numbers could begin to reveal signs of change. Read more