Daily Archives: Feb 15, 2013

By Matt Kennard

Ask your average political nerd to guess Noam Chomsky’s favourite newspaper and few would tender the Financial Times. But the emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at MIT, revered the world over by left-wing intellectuals and social activists, believes the pink ‘un is the only global newspaper “that tells the truth”. 

It was about time, too. So shrouded in secrecy is the Hugo Chávez cancer saga that rumours and theories had long since trespassed into the territory of the absurd – some had begun to suspect that he was actually in a cryogenic freezer, while others thought that he had just made the whole cancer thing up to get away from it all for a little while.

But no: he’s alive, he’s in Cuba, and by the looks of things he’s had a bruising battle with cancer over the last couple of months, if the photographs released today by the Venezuelan government are to be believed. 

What? Hulk no smash currency appreciation?

Just as other countries look like they are relaunching the global currency war – see Japan – it seems like Brazil may be tiring of its long-fought and ultimately unrewarding campaign.

After some inconsistent statements, Brazil’s finance minister, Guido Mantega, signalled on Friday that the government’s attention was swinging back to inflation. 

What’s up with the Mexican peso? So far this month, the currency has weakened a little, and on Friday it was trading at 12.67 to the US dollar compared with 12.61 at the start of the month. Could it be that the rally since last year is petering out?

Not likely. 

Having coffee on the fifth floor of a building in the northern part of Quito can be quite an experience. Your mug (and your chair) will tremble every twenty minutes or so. The reason is not earthquakes, but the roar jets of flights.

All that could change next week. Ecuador’s government is moving the airstrip to a new airport in Tababela, 18km outside the capital’s centre, via a public private partnership deal worth over $600m according to government officials 

Hot money are two words that would usually make central bankers cringe. Not in Nigeria though.

Even as foreign inflows into the country hit a two-year high in January, the central bank said it was not concerned about the risks arising from this potentially volatile influx – though that might change if flows continue to grow at their current pace. 

The Chilean central bank monetary policy meeting came and went again on Thursday, leaving its key interest rate at 5 per cent for the 13th month running.

But with renewed fears of currency wars ripping through the region region, will it ever be thus? 

Diamond miner De Beers plans to invest $2bn in a new mine in South Africa’s Limpopo province, providing a rare spot of good news for the country’s troubled mining industry.

The company, which is 85 per cent owned by mining giant Anglo American and 15 per cent by the government of Botswana, will dig beneath its existing open-pit Venetia Mine, extending the life of the complex up until 2042. 

The investment by China Investment Corporation in Friday’s flotation of the Moscow Exchange carries several messages for observers seeking to understand the investment approach of China’s sovereign wealth fund. 

Photo: Bloomberg

Russian initial public offerings have a tendency to flop. But not so that of the Moscow Exchange, the epicenter of the country’s financial markets.

Russia’s main stock market began trading on its own platform on Friday after raising Rbs15bn ($499m) in an IPO that organizers say was oversubscribed. Positive news and perfect timing: Vladimir Putin is hosting a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Moscow today where he will be flagging the merits of the Russian capital as a budding global financial center. 

Are the days of discerning investment returning as the risk-on, risk-off rollercoaster finally eases off? Larry Kantor, global head of research at Barclays suggests to Long View columnist John Authers that the opportunities now may be in European equities, and emerging market debt.

* Anglo American slumps to full-year loss

* Dividend hike puts Anglo American at top of FTSE

* G20 wrangles on forex, deficits at Moscow talks

* Moscow bourse raises $500m in IPO 

Despite the threat of fierce protectionism, challenging cultural barriers and major linguistic hurdles, the giants of Indian IT are looking to break into China’s previously closed software and outsourcing industry. 

Friday’s picks from the beyondbrics team; the atomic energy industry thinks small to broaden its appeal in emerging markets; Egypt’s thriving black market in dollars; India attracts Brit entrepreneurs; Sam Walsh promises better times for Rio Tinto’s shareholders; Russia’s grain pain; plus, the Middle Eastern bond oasis. 

Photo: Bloomberg

Today the world’s largest annual human migration – the lunar new year travel rush in China – will reach its culmination as millions of people hurry back to the office, where work officially begins tomorrow. They will be taking trains, planes, boats, buses and even bicycles to get back to that cubicle on time. But some will be coming home by a form of conveyance almost unthinkable even a few short years ago: by carpool.