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** FT News **

* Disappearances on rise in east Ukraine | A city councillor’s death adds to a growing file of vigilante ‘arrests’ and disappearances blamed on armed separatists as law and order erode

* Obama says islands covered by Japan pact | The US president’s comments were designed to reassure anxious regional allies as he began an Asian trip, but they drew an angry response from China Continue reading »

By Rajeev Mantri, Navam Capital

Energy and clean technology investing has proven to be disastrous for venture capitalists. Capital allocated to clean tech fell to less than half in 2013 from the $3.7 billion invested in 2012, and new clean tech-focused funds were able to raise less than $1 billion last year, compared to $4.5 billion raised in 2012.

High-profile flameouts like Solyndra, A123 Systems, Konarka, Miasole, Better Place and Fisker Automotive have, appropriately enough, made investors very wary. Billions of dollars of equity has evaporated. Successes, such as Tesla Motors and Nest Labs, have been extremely rare. Continue reading »

By Iftekhar Zaman, Transparency International, Bangladesh

One year ago today, three thousand garment workers started a typical work day at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh.

Like many of the country’s 4m garment workers – over 80 per cent of whom are young women – they earned just over one dollar a day for up to 19 hours of work; went without water or toilets; and crucially were not protected by basic workplace safety standards. They walked up one staircase: the only way in and out of the building. Continue reading »

By Jan Dehn, Ashmore

China is in the midst of a storming change. Interest rate liberalisation is coming as China prepares to let the bond market play an ever-greater role in macroeconomic policy.

The export-led growth model of the past few decades is no longer fit for purpose. As the largest holder of foreign exchange reserves, China will be more impacted by the unwinding of global imbalances than any other country.

Quite simply, China is adapting to the world of tomorrow, instead of merely languishing in yesterday’s land of denial. Continue reading »

** FT News **

* China data damp market mood | Bourses open higher echoing a buoyant session in the US, but pare gains after HSBC ‘flash’ PMI suggests China factory activity still stalling

* Russian bank launches post-Crimea bond | The bond issue could indicate a thawing in Russia’s debt capital markets, largely put on hold as global political discord over Ukraine escalates Continue reading »

The “fragile five” – Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey and South Africa – have had a torrid time since Morgan Stanley identified them last year as countries particularly vulnerable to the “tapering” of US monetary stimulus because of their large and rising current account deficits.

But, over the last two months, the investor storm that drove currencies, bond prices and equities lower in these five countries has abated. The pariahs of only several weeks ago have become investor darlings.

The questions now are: how sustainable is this rally and to what extent does this investor rehabilitation result from the five countries’ hard work to repair economic frailties? As a guide, we present our own ranking – the beyondbrics “fragile five work/reward quotient” (see below). Continue reading »

** FT News **

* Owner of capsized South Korea ferry faces financial probes | The official death toll from last week’s ferry disaster topped 120 on Tuesday as the blame game began in South Korea, with probes being launched into the operator’s finances and tax position while politicians came under fire for insensitive behaviour

* Head of China’s car lobby warns foreign brands over R&D | The head of China’s powerful domestic car lobby has warned foreign car companies that their local joint ventures should not be reliant on them for technology but instead develop their own R&D capabilities – a strategy many multinational automakers have been slow to adopt Continue reading »

In the midst of one of the mostly closely fought elections in years, what is the Indian public looking for online? According to search engine giant, Google, politics is still behind Bollywood and cricket in the wider race for public interest.

In the last few days politicians and parties haven’t even made it into the top ‘hot searches’ on Google as Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rahul Gandhi, the unspoken candidate for the ruling Congress party, have been eclipsed by Bollywood starlet Preity Zinta and cricket hero Glenn Maxwell. It’s understandable given the protracted electoral race in India, spread over nine phases. Continue reading »

Virgilio A. F. Almeida, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Brazil

With three billion users worldwide, the Internet is today considered an essential tool in the life of almost every citizen and a key component of economies and governments around the world. The impact it has made in just two and a half decades on standards of living, work, education, entertainment, political participation and, above all, the way we interact with each other, is so profound, so fast, and so complete, that it has no parallel in the history of global civilization. Continue reading »

You cannot stay one day in Brazil without hearing someone complain about high taxes and poor public services. According to this narrative, the prices of everything from cars to beauty products are inflated by opaque taxes even as the nation struggles with sub-standard hospitals, inadequate public transport and other services.

Now a study from a consulting company, Brazilian Institute of Planning and Taxation (IBPT), seems to bear out the common perception about Brazil’s tax burden. It ranked Brazil last in a list of the 30 countries judged by taxation versus quality of services. Continue reading »

It has already been a long election campaign – India is not even half-way through the five-week process of electing a new government -and the strains of behaving sensibly are starting to show among those on the fringes of the country’s politics.

The most explosive comments reported thus far were attributed to Pravin Togadia, head of the Vishva Hindu Parishad or World Hindu Council, a right-wing organisation whose members overwhelmingly support the Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its controversial leader Narendra Modi. Continue reading »

** FT News **

* Asia stocks subdued in thin trade | Tensions in Ukraine fuel caution in equity markets, while yen retreats after data showing Japan posted its largest-ever trade deficit

* Anglo American plots exit from Rustenburg | Miner is determined to withdraw from its troublesome platinum mines and is in talks with South African officials to pave the way for such a step Continue reading »

By Paulo Vicente Alves of the Fundação Dom Cabral, Brazil

Long-range forecasts tend to fall into two categories: disaster or technological utopia. But a look back at past centuries shows real life to be a more complex combination of cycles.

Two historical theories based on cycles have evolved: hegemonic cycles and Kondratieff cycles. Our model is based on the hypothesis that these cycles will continue. Continue reading »

** FT News **

* Crunch time looms for Thailand | Thailand’s destructive political crisis is on the brink of its most dangerous phase yet as the prime minister’s opponents press for a “judicial coup” that critics claim risks tipping the country into dictatorship or even civil war

* Turkey eases way for mega-projects with state guarantee | Turkey has increased state guarantees to smooth the way for infrastructure mega-projects, while trying to choke off corruption allegations related to the building sector Continue reading »

** FT News **

* Geneva talks end with Ukraine agreement | Protesters in eastern Ukraine show no sign of backing down despite diplomatic breakthrough

* Russian debt and equity sales stall | There have so far been only two $1bn bond issues from Russian companies this year compared with nine deals raising $13.1bn at the same stage last year Continue reading »