On the homepage of Banco do Brasil, Brazil’s largest bank, you can take out a loan to buy a car, renovate your house or buy electronics and home appliances. Indeed, never before in Brazil has it been so easy to borrow money from a bank. Record-low interest rates are expected to make things even more attractive for borrowers.
Tipping things even further in favour of borrowers is a push by President Dilma Rousseff to encourage banks, all of them but especially those controlled by the government like Banco do Brasil, to reduce borrowing costs to further fuel lending and get the economy moving. Read more
Argentina has an impressive ability, it seems, to bite the hand that feeds it: farming.
It’s an impression reinforced by Rabobank’s latest Argentine agribusiness outlook. Argentina’s farming sector, which makes up nearly 60 per cent of total exports ($47bn in 2012, and that was a bad year because of drought), is a key economic breadwinner, bringing home the dollars that are essential to an economically choppy country still with debt in default and cut off from international capital markets. Read more
Mobile phones have transformed banking in Africa and now they might do the same for insurance. That’s the hope of BIMA, a micro-insurance company providing low-price cover via mobile networks to 4m customers in Africa and Asia, and adding 400,000 new subscribers a month.
Founded 18 months ago, the Swedish company on Thursday announced $4.25m of new investment from the Mauritius-headquartered LeapFrog Investments, which calls itself the world’s largest investor in insurance for emerging market consumers. Read more
While Rosneft is busy raising billions of dollars to pay for the take over of TNK-BP, the Anglo-Russian oil major is carrying on in its own sweet way and planning, among other things, a five-fold increase in production from foreign oil projects. Don’t expect any objections from Rosneft. Russia’s state oil company has its own far greater global ambitions. Read more
In 2005 Henry Lin, a young professor at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, was working with a scientist from mobile maker Nokia when they discovered something unusual. It was malware, on the Symbian platform that powered most of Nokia’s smartphones at the time; the first known instance of malicious software appearing on a smartphone. And to Lin, it was an opportunity.
Lin, his colleague Vincent Shi and five graduate students cobbled together $15,000 from their families and set up NQ Mobile on the premise that mobile phone security was going to become every bit as important as personal computer security. Eight years on, the company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and has 242m users in 150 countries. Read more
It is the second day of a bandh, a general strike in India triggered by rising prices and economic reforms that are seen as “anti-labour”.
And in the middle of all this, new data has been released predicting that wage growth in 2013 will be the slowest India has seen in a decade – excluding 2009, the height of the sub-prime crisis. Read more
Bulgaria took a step into the political unknown on Thursday as parliament confirmed the resignation of the government. A caretaker administration will probably be formed following constitutional niceties, and hotly-contested early elections are expected within three months.
On Thursday, parliamentarians from the ruling GERB party voted to accept their own government’s offer to quit, announced on television the previous day by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Read more
It’s been billed Africa’s “best airline” for a good ten years running now but South Africa’s troubled SA Airways (SAA) has little to celebrate nowadays, with news that it could slash more flight routes to save money. Read more
* Biggest emerging stock slump in seven months wipes out 2013 gain
* Bulgarian parliament accepts government’s resignation
* Fed comments rattle markets Read more
Bulgaria’s parliament accepted the resignation on Thursday of right-of-centre Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s government, which stepped down after a series of nationwide protests over high energy prices turned violent. Read more
Is Ashmore running out of road? The emerging markets fund manager, which on Thursday posted a 7.4 per cent drop in interim pre-tax profits, says not. But investors aren’t so sure. The shares dipped 1 per cent the news, which is nothing given the general flight out of EMs on the day.
But after doubling in 2009-10, in the recovery from the 2008 crisis, Ashmore shares have gained very little in the past two years. Clearly, investors need to be convinced that the group can find new ways of profiting from EM in the face of growing low-cost competition from index-tracking rivals. Read more
Thursday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: new mining bosses have more modest ambitions; could Apple take on HTC and Huawei in the cheap smartphone market? Vietnam’s zombie economy; Egypt’s policing problems; plus, weighing up the impacts of shale gas. Read more
Gold jewellery has a special place in Indian culture – it plays a part in weddings, in prayer and – most importantly – in general social exhibition. But does anyone know where their shiny yellow metal actually comes from?
On Wednesday, India’s trade ministry recommended that gold jewellery should be excluded from the country’s free trade agreement with Thailand, amid concerns that neighbouring countries are routing their trade through Thailand to dodge duties. Read more
By Otilia Simkova, Europe analyst, Eurasia Group
Bulgaria faces snap elections after Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s 20 February resignation spurred by ten days of protests against electricity bills, which in January averaged €100. That is a significant portion of monthly income in a country where average monthly wages are just €387 and the average pension is just €150. Despite Borisov’s decision to step down, protestors will not be appeased and are likely to turn the heat up on the energy sector. Read more
With concerns about the US Federal Reserve possibly cutting its stimulus programme hitting American markets, it was little surprise to see Asian risk assets getting a battering on Thursday.
But the impact was compounded by unexpected moves from the Chinese authorities to curb the property market and reduce to reduce liquidity. As a result the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index slumped by 1.8 per cent, with China leading the way and Shanghai closing down 3 per cent. Read more
* Brazil drops criminal charges over spill
* AB InBev delays suit over Modelo deal
* Bulgaria faces early election Read more
It’s well known that loose credit has played a big role in driving Chinese growth, but the rest of Asia could have a debt problem too. So says HSBC’s Frederic Neumann, who warns that bank credit to GDP in Asia (excluding Japan) is now running at levels higher than in the 1997-8 Asian financial crisis. Read more