Andres Schipani

Andres Schipani is the Andes correspondent for the Financial Times, covering Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela. Before moving to Bogotá he was Miami correspondent and spent a period in New York. A native of Buenos Aires, he was educated in London, Cardiff, and Oxford. He was also a fellow in business, economics and financial journalism at Columbia University.

Colombia’s economy may have suffered a hiccup, but it continues to outperform its regional peers amid a slowing of the commodities boom.

The national statistics agency said on Tuesday that gross domestic product grew 4.3 per cent in the second quarter of the year, below analysts expectations. Continue reading »

In less than 24 hours Peru’s economy – once feted as Latin America’s star and now struggling with a slowdown – suffered two blows. First, on Sunday evening, the surprising loss of its respected finance minister, Luis Miguel Castilla. Then, on Monday morning, the announcement that the Andean country’s gross domestic product grew below expectations in July.

Peru’s national statistics institute said the economy accelerated a meagre 1.16 per cent from the same month last year. This still means 60 months of continuous growth and an improvement from June, when Peru’s GDP growth nearly came to a halt, expanding just 0.3 per cent compared with a year earlier. Continue reading »

Sometimes it’s hard to worry about Venezuela’s bondholders even as the possibility is raised of default. After all, the country’s citizens still have to deal with one of the world’s highest rates of inflation when they go to the shops.

This week, after some months of silence on the subject, the central bank reported that Venezuela’s annualised inflation rate hit 63.4 per cent in August. Continue reading »

Colombia’s proposed higher wealth tax has been seen by some as vindication of Thomas Pikketty’s best-seller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. But others, including some within the Colombian government, say the move to raise taxes on the rich simply brings an existing tax up to date.

Still, certain government insiders say Piketty’s writings have been much seen on the desks of senior officials in recent months. In his book, Piketty argues that inequality is a central feature of capitalism that can only be reversed through state intervention. Colombia, in spite of some recent advances, is still one of the world’s most unequal societies. Continue reading »

For more than 50 years, citizens of Communist Cuba have been assured access to basic foodstuffs by the libreta, or ration book. But the subsidised system in increasingly controversial and last year Raúl Castro, the country’s president, rubbished it as “paternalistic, irrational and unsustainable”.

Nevertheless, across the Caribbean, Castro’s friend and colleague Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela is planning a similar system in a bid to combat the shortages that are ravaging the home of 21st century socialism. Maduro said his government would introduce a rationing system using mandatory fingerprinting in supermarkets, calling it “perfect” and an “anti-fraud blessing”Continue reading »

Is Bolivia ready to improve its image among foreign direct investors? A settlement with one claimant and an order to pay another at the end of last week suggest now would be a good time to do so – especially as the country tries to diversify away from its reliance on commodity exports and as President Evo Morales (pictured) prepares to seek re-election for a third term in October. Continue reading »

Peru’s economy is in the spotlight, going through its worst time since the global financial crisis. But Julio Velarde, Peru’s central bank chief, told beyondbrics on his way to the annual meeting of financial policymakers at Jackson Hole in the United States that this is simply, “a rough patch.”

Maybe more like a pothole, some may say, as the economy expanded just 0.3 per cent in June compared with a year earlier. Growth in Peru’s economy, once feted as a star inSouth America, slowed to 3.3 per cent in the first half of 2014.

A drop in investments and tumbling earnings from mineral exports caused by weaker prices and softer demand from Asia took a heavy toll. Lower mining output in the world’s third largest copper producer was also caused by issues at large mines. Continue reading »

Everyone loves the biblical story of the prodigal son. On Wednesday that tale received a touch of market realism when Standard & Poor’s, the credit ratings agency, decided to raise the rating by a notch of a serial defaulter which has been recently welcomed back by the debt markets: Ecuador.

S&P raised the Andean country’s long-term sovereign credit rating to B+ from B, with a stable outlook. While the new rating still leaves the country below investment grade Ecuador’s leftist President, Rafael Correa, is gaining some praise when it comes to economic management. Continue reading »

Colombia’s Banco de la República, the central bank, raised the benchmark rate a quarter point to 4.25 per cent on Thursday. This is the fourth consecutive hike, as the bank has been withdrawing monetary stimulus, amid faster growth in the fastest growing of the major Latin American economiesContinue reading »

The sale this month of the Caracas-based newspaper El Universal to a little known Spanish private equity firm raised concerns that it may turn out to be yet another example of the dwindling space for government critics in the Venezuelan media.

The culling of some of the newspaper’s regular columnists this week has brought those fears back into the spotlight. Continue reading »

Moody’s Investors Service, the credit rating agency, on Monday raised Colombia’s sovereign rating one notch to Baa2 from Baa3. This puts the Andean country in the same rating league as Brazil. The outlook is stable.

Colombia has been reaping the benefits of an improved security situation, macroeconomic credibility, and the country’s debt secured investment grade status from the major credit-rating firms. Continue reading »

There has been an outpouring of bitter comments under the hashtag #GuisoChino – “Chinese Stew”, slang for fraud and corruption – in Venezuela sparked by this week’s visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping, who granted more financial support to the cratering economy of president Nicolás Maduro.

China has granted some $50bn in loans to Venezuela in recent years according to the Inter-American Dialogue/Boston University China-Latin America Finance Database, far more than to any other country in the region. Venezuela, after all, has the world’s biggest oil reserves. Continue reading »

Is one of Latin America’s stars losing some of its shine? Amid worsening terms of trade and expected weaker output in mining and fisheries, Peru’s central bank appears to think so, at least for now.

In its latest quarterly report, the BCRP cut its outlook for GDP growth this year to 4.4 per cent from its previous estimate of 5.5 per cent. Next year’s outlook was also revised downwards, to 6 per cent from 6.7 per cent. Continue reading »

Juan Valdéz, the moustached embodiment for Colombia’s coffee industry (along with his loyal donkey), may be grinning from the sidelines. After sourcing coffee from the Andean country for 43 years, Seattle-based Starbucks opened its first store here on Wednesday.

The three-story store is the first of 50 the company plans to open here in the next five years. But to the joy of proud Colombians (even Señor Valdéz), this will be the only country in the world to serve exclusively locally-sourced Starbucks coffee. Continue reading »

Recently re-elected Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos starts his second term in less than a month. As he won the election partly thanks to backing from an array of political actors – from leftists, to conservatives, to liberals – many think he may have some expensive favours to repay.

But foreign investors will probably be relieved that on Monday afternoon he gave his finance minister, Mauricio Cárdenas, a vote of confidence and reappointed him in the post. Continue reading »