Daily Archives: Feb 22, 2013

Here we go again: Colombia’s central bank cut the Andean country’s benchmark rate for a fourth straight month. Policymakers trimmed a quarter point to 3.75 per cent – the lowest in Latin America.

In the longest easing cycle in over four years, starting in July last year, the very orthodox Banco de la República has chopped 150 basis points off its overnight lending rate in an attempt to reignite a slowing economy. Read more

Brazilians often say they can organize a party like no one else. And there is some truth in it, just take a look at carnival, the biggest street party in the world. Millions of people get together in cities all over the country without invitation or advertisement. They dance, have fun, get drunk and go home… or back to their hotels, that is, if they were fortunate enough to find one. Read more

Argentina’s debt management is going to be firmly in the spotlight next Wednesday, when it squares off against so-called “vulture funds” in a New York appeals court in the pari passu case that, in the worst-case scenario, could spell a fresh default.

That’s a story for another day. But while we’re on the subject of Argentina’s debt policy, Luis Secco, an independent economist, has had a closer squint at the government’s record on debt reduction – a key tenet of government policy. Read more

The problem may have gone largely unnoticed in Caracas, where everyone is fixated by the ongoing Hugo Chávez drama, but Venezuelans living in the provinces are getting fed up with blackouts that inconvenience their everyday life.

If Hugo Chávez really is as ill as many fear and has to step down from power soon, his designated successor Nicolás Maduro should be worried about this, since electricity failures tend not to play in the ruling party’s favour at elections. Read more

Mikhail Prokhorov is slimming down his business empire in a move that has Moscow gossips wondering if the Russian billionaire has finally decided to focus on politics.

After selling his $3.6bn stake in Polyus Gold, Russia’s biggest gold miner, this week, Prokhorov is in talks to divest his electricity assets. Read more

Sometimes, you shouldn’t read too much into what a politician says on television with voters watching closely. A televised question-answer session with citizens held on Friday by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich is a case in point. Read more

2012 was a great year for frontier-market hard-currency bonds, and Angola hopes to get in on the action in 2013. The oil producer announced on Friday plans to raise $1bn from a debut eurobond issue later this year. Read more

Normally the announcement of a small find of natural gas by a small independent oil company wouldn’t rate much media coverage.

But the announcement by Turkey’s Merty Energy that a well it has drilled in Turkey’s European province of Thrace has tested positive for commercial quantities of natural gas made headlines in the local media. Read more

With European stores looking empty, commercial real estate investors have turned to Russia where shoppers are still out in force.

After splashing out more than $1bn to buy a mall in Saint Petersburg last year, Morgan Stanley has returned to the Russian market to buy an even more expensive retail outlet in Moscow. Read more

Multinationals are never slow to spot a branding opportunity. Everywhere from the local supermarket to the Olympic Games has become familiar territory. But India has managed to come up with a new possibility – the wedding reception.

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General Motors’ South Korean subsidiary, acquired in 2002, has become one of the US company’s most successful foreign operations. But it has been a difficult ride, with the company plagued by strikes and speculation that it may reduce its presence in Korea, or pull out altogether.

These concerns may be eased by GM’s announcement on Friday of a Won8tn ($7.3bn) five-year investment plan, aimed at expanding research and production. Read more

The First Philippine Industrial Park, some 50km south of Manila, is already a whopper, accounting for about 3 per cent of the country’s total exports. Which is why it is notable that Sumitomo Corporation, the Japanese trading house that owns 30 per cent of it, wants to make it even bigger. Read more

* Bank of England plans renminbi swap line

* China’s stocks post biggest weekly loss in 20 months on property

* Egyptian elections to start in April Read more

When New Delhi decided last September to permit foreign airlines to own up to 49 per cent of domestic Indian carriers, the aim was to encourage an infusion of foreign capital to help its heavily-indebted incumbent airlines strengthen their weak balance sheets – and expand their services.

But instead of a foreign lifeline, India’s air carriers are now confronting the prospect of intensified competition, after AirAsia, the Malaysian low-cost carrier, announced plans to set up a brand-new, start-up Indian carrier, with financial backing from India’s Tata Group. Read more

Is it party time again for Chinese distillers? It has been a rough few months for the makers of China’s fiery baijiu spirits. Their sales and stock prices slumped after Xi Jinping, the incoming president, railed against corruption and banned the boozy banquets loved by officials across the country.

But like a passed-out drinker getting a second wind, the distillers picked themselves off the floor in rousing fashion to end the week. The share prices of many of China’s biggest brands – Kweichou Moutai, Wuliangye and Jiugui – leaped 4-10 per cent over the last three days of the week, while the broader Chinese stock market fell 5 per cent, its worst week since mid-2011. Read more

The Bank of England on Friday threw its weight behind efforts to develop London as an offshore renminbi centre with a declaration that it’s ready to enter into a foreign exchange swap agreement with China’s central bank.

The UK would join a growing number of countries with swap arrangements, including Russia, India, Brazil and Japan. Britain would be the first developed western nation on the list – but others won’t be far behind. Read more

Friday’s picks from the beyondbrics team: London must demand higher corporate governance standards after Bumi affair; three reasons to be wary of América Móvil; Mexico’s answer to Chris Huhne; plus, East Africa’s eurobond dream. Read more

Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s Islamist president, has called parliamentary elections to start on April 27 and to be held over four stages, culminating in late June.

Mr Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group are hoping the poll will help restore stability and arrest economic deterioration in a turbulent country rocked by protests and periodic violence.

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Hot on the heels of Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao’s call this week for curbs in the over-heated housing market, comes official data showing China’s new home prices rose in January for the third month in a row

The National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday that, on a month-to-month basis, prices rose in 53 of the 70 cities covered in its survey, with striking increases in Beijing and Shanghai. No wonder the authorities are worried. Or that equity investors have taken fright, with the Shanghai Composite index falling this week by 4.9 per cent, its biggest weekly drop since mid-2011. Read more

Rolls RoyceWhat would a Hindustani Rolls Royce look like? A sleek Phantom with a multi-coloured sign on the boot: “Horn Ok Please”? Or a stylish Ghost, with strings of marigolds decorating the windscreen? Read more