Daily Archives: Feb 18, 2013

If Mexico’s strong economic recovery since the 2009 recession has been about manufacturing and exports, the latest data suggest that from now on it is going to be about consumption.

That is the message from figures for the last three months of 2012, which show that growth between October and December was 0.8 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms compared with the previous three months (in the third quarter, the figure was just 0.4 per cent). 

Evo Morales strikes again. On Monday, Bolivia’s president nationalised the operations of the country’s three largest airports – taking over the local unit of Barcelona-based Abertis Infrastructuras SA and AENA, Spain’s airport authority.

The seizure of the airport operations in La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba is Morales’ third expropriation in 10 months. In December, his government seized two electricity distribution companies owned by Spain’s Iberdrola. Six months earlier on May Day, it nationalised the assets of Spain’s Red Eléctrica. 

Most Venezuelans have probably lost count of how many times Hugo Chávez has triumphantly returned from Cuba after cancer treatment, having travelled between Caracas and Havana seemingly endlessly since first announcing he was ill in June 2011.

But this time was different: not a camera was in sight when he arrived in the dead of night, at 2.30am on Monday. 

Brazil’s problems with infrastructure are hardly news. The rise of a new lower middle class numbering more than 100m people is one source of the country’s recent economic miracle. But it has also led to crowded highways and packed flights. Last year, demand for flights increased 7.14 per cent, according to airlines, while the number of seats available rose less than half that. 

By György Barcza of Századvég Economic Research

Since taking power in a landslide election victory in the spring of 2010, the Hungarian government, led by Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party, has received much criticism regarding its economic policy – including the FT’s beyondbrics.

Yet in the main, critics have failed to offer any alternative, other than to return to the previous economic model of transition from centrally-planned communism. 

Chris Osborne, Head of Sberbank CIB USA, would be the first to admit that Russia has an image problem among American investors.

“Selling Russia can be a challenge,” he told beyondbrics. “For people who are not already investors in Russia, the image of the country is very negative.” 

Five workers were reported to have been shot by security guards on Monday at an Anglo American Platinum mine in South Africa. With relations between the world’s largest platinum miner, its workforce and the South African government already strained, the incident will have significant repercussions. 

Thailand has done it again – exceeding all expectations, even those of its own central bank. The government said on Monday that GDP grew 3.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2012, up 18.9 per cent on the same period in 2011 and bringing full-year growth to 6.6 per cent. The fourth quarter figure is the highest since records began in 1994 and was received as excellent news for the Kingdom – but has also fuelled concerns that a bubble is in the making. 

A hot topic of conversation this year has been the so-called ‘great rotation’: the idea that bonds have become over-expensive and we’re now due a mass switch by investors into equities. But on the whole, that’s less true of emerging markets than it is of developed ones.

Chart of the week takes a look at price to earnings ratios across the major emerging markets to see which EMs might or might not benefit. 

The Central Bank of India is on the hunt for business in Kenya. A government-controlled commercial bank whose branch network runs to 4,200, Mumbai-based CBI has become the east African country’s sixth foreign bank authorised to establish a representative office

* Ramphele party will challenge ANC

* Strong Thai GDP weakens government case for rate cut

* Bakrie supporter sells 10% stake in Bumi 

Just one week before Park Geun-hye (pictured) is sworn in as South Korea’s new president, she is still slogging through a fierce struggle over the make-up of her cabinet. Last month her first choice for prime minister had to withdraw after the parliamentary confirmation process brought fierce criticism over decades-old property deals. And some of Park’s other selections are also proving controversial. 

Further reading: why Xi Xinping wants Chinese officials to fight “tigers and flies at the same time”; the precedents of South Africa’s latest mining unrest; Tunisia’s nascent democracy under threat; Vietnam’s new business schools; “Mad dog fatty Kim” and North Korea’s nuclear world; plus, why does the former USSR lack romance? 

India’s IT companies are increasingly looking to underpenetrated markets in search of growth. And bang on trend, Mahindra Satyam, the Indian IT and business consulting services company, has bought a 51 per cent stake in Brazil’s Complex IT. 

Global squabbles over exchange rates have emerged as a key concern for South Korea, as policy makers struggle to battle strong headwinds from Japan’s expansionary monetary policy.

A Bank of Korea report on Monday showed conflicts over currencies listed for the first time among the top five risks facing the country’s financial system, while concerns about China’s economic hard-landing and a delayed recovery in the US economy have subsided.