In spite of Mikhail Gorbachev’s warning this month that the world is on the brink of a new Cold War, it is Asia that we should be worrying about, says former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The region is home to seven flashpoints which, if they erupt, could end the greatest economic growth story of the 21st century.

“We face this remarkable set of circumstances where global growth will be driven from Asia,” Rudd told beyondbrics in a recent interview in Dubai.“But Asia from a political perspective is a potentially unstable region. So the world [should have] a deep interest in not just the future growth trajectory, but also the political and security circumstances which underpin that equation.” Read more

Can China innovate its way out of a prolonged economic growth slowdown? Shaun Rein, managing director of the China Market Research Group, believes so. In his new book, “The End of Copycat China – The Rise of Creativity, Innovation and Individualism in Asia”, he argues that China will start innovating now because it has to – and that it didn’t before simply because it didn’t need to. That’s an interesting theory, but is he right?

Rein first does battle with common perceptions that the Chinese political system or culture limits its ability to innovate. It’s not because China is a communist-led country with limited individual freedom, that it does not come up with corporate inventions, he says. Read more

After enduring 13 days of straight losses, Nigerian stocks have the questionable honour of being the world’s worst performing this year. Yet the man in charge of the stock market is not worried about a full-blown crisis. “I’m not expecting to see a sell-off, and indeed we haven’t seen a sell-off” said Oscar Onyema, chief executive of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, in an interview with beyondbrics. Rather, he says “the Nigerian stock market has adjusted downward, as you would expect in an OPEC country.” Read more

“We are waiting for you!” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told potential investors this week at the India Economic Summit in New Delhi. But the response among delegates in the conference hall may not have been the one he was hoping for.

“We are waiting for him too,” said one foreign investor, who declined to be identified, expressing impatience with the pace of reforms to make India more business-friendly. Some local industrialists struck a similar note: Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra, one of the largest industrial groups in India, couldn’t hide his anticipation: “The pressure is on [the government] to walk the talk, and see the talk become action.” Read more

International air travelers will recognise the tag line from the HSBC campaign in airports worldwide: “In the future, South-South trade will become norm, not novelty”. If it depends on the Mahindra group and other Indian conglomerates, that tag line could become reality with regards to Africa and India.

Taking optimism to a new level, a collection of African leaders and Indian industrialists dared to dream big during a closed session of the WEF India Economic Summit in Delhi, agreeing to an informal ambition of $500bn Indo-African trade by 2020. Read more

“Taj Palace? What is Taj Palace?” our tuk-tuk driver asks confusedly. Many Indians won’t know – and perhaps they wouldn’t care – but the splendid hotel in New Delhi’s diplomatic enclave is where the WEF India Economic Summit will be taking place this week, the first big face-off between the new government of Narendra Modi and Indian business owners.

Normally, the meeting serves as India’s annual warm-up to Davos and another round of shoulder-rubbing between India’s industrial who’s who. This year, it will be spiced up by the presence of several ministers in the new government (though not Modi himself), making it their most-high profile meeting with business leaders so far. What can we expect? Read more

India emerges from the latest World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report as the sickest member of the BRICs. It is ranked a lackluster 71st among 144 countries surveyed, down 11 places from last year and 22 places from five years ago. Moreover, it is ranked the lowest among its peers for the first time in years (China comes in 28th, Russia 53th, Brazil 57th).

The consequences of India’s lower GDP growth are also increasingly obvious: whereas India’s GDP per capita was higher than China’s only 15 years ago, it now stands at only a quarter of that of its Eastern neighbor.

So how come this all happened, and what can be done about it? Read more

“When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time”, US Army officer and Vietnam veteran Creighton Abrams once said.

In his new book, The Rise of the New East, Ben Simpfendorfer does just that. His elephant is “The East”, the group of almost 50 emerging markets ranging from Turkey to China that is home to well over half of the world population.

Simpfendorfer gives his topic a thorough treatment. While his insights seem logical and intuitive, taken together they give an impressive oversight of into key trends shaping the region. beyondbrics noted five insights that particularly stood out. Read more

For Chinese, Africa is the new El Dorado. An estimated 1m Chinese have moved to Africa in the last two decades in pursuit of a more prosperous life. They are opening shops, buying land, and exploiting mines. But how welcome are the Chinese in Africa? And is their arrival a force for good?

Looking for answers to these timely questions, Howard French, a former Shanghai bureau chief of the New York Times, undertook a grand voyage through the African continent. He met with a diverse array of Chinese merchants, entrepreneurs and business men and asked them about their practices, methods, and outcomes. Read more

The most significant threat to today’s emerging markets is hidden in plain sight. No, it’s not education, it’s not health and it’s not income inequality. The most ignored threat to EMs development is violence. That’s the main thesis of “The Locust Effect”, a new book about emerging markets. Read more

On Thursday, the publication “Vaccine” publishes a study that shows the mass vaccination in Africa does not require constant refrigeration in specific cases. To be precise, 155,000 people in Benin got a vaccination against meningitis, with a vaccine kept in temperatures of up to 39°C.

To a layman that may not sound like game-changing news in the fight against preventable diseases. But actually, it may be. “It’s a breakthrough, because it breaks a dogma,” Michel Zafran, the WHO coordinator on the project, told beyondbrics. Read more

You can bring a horse to water. But can you stop it from drinking (too much)? In the upcoming year of the horse, China’s leaders need to figure out exactly that, as its local governments thirst for debt threatens to derail the economy. Will they succeed?

Liu Mingkang, former chairman of China’s Banking Regulatory Commission (pictured), left no doubt about the government’s intention to stop the flood of lending: “The signal is clear cut,” he told beyondbrics in an exclusive interview. “The torrent [of local government debt] is becoming quite limited.” Read more

It would be exaggerated to call Davos the “money Oscars”, as Jon Stewart did on the Daily Show. But this year, WEF participants did like to think of countries as winners or losers, especially among emerging markets. In this last roundup, beyondbrics summarises who, to paraphrase the FT, “was hot – and who decidedly not.” Read more

What will the EMs next “black swan” be? With the crash of the Argentinian peso, the difficult Syrian peace talks in Montreux, and Iran’s nuclear situation, WEF participants last week had enough scenario’s to reflect on. But one fear of Davos participants about emerging markets was a rather unexpected one: the EM middle class.

Nouriel Roubini, in the CNN debate on Emerging Markets, was quick to point it out. “Paradoxically, it’s not the proletarians that are in the street in countries like Brazil, Chile, India, or Ukraine,” he said. “It’s the middle class. They’re becoming restless.” Read more

On Friday evening in Davos, Paul Kagame, Nouriel Roubini and Carlos Ghosn discussed the next steps for emerging markets. Do you want to know what their predictions were?

EM private equity investors don’t. “We don’t get our EM news here from public debates,” says Paul Fletcher, from PE firm Actis, at Davos. His former colleague Sev Vettivetpillai agrees agrees: “You need to be on the ground yourself to understand what’s happening.”

However, they didn’t mind sharing their view on EMs. Read more