By Jan Dehn, Ashmore Group

As the Fed prepares to hike rates in 2015, the window of opportunity presented by hyper-easy monetary policies for developed economies to undertake deeper fundamental reforms is rapidly closing.

So far, hardly any progress has been made. President Obama’s tenure has not seen the country’s economic problems solved. US trend growth has halved since the 1960s, while the debt stock has doubled to more than 350 per cent of GDP (not counting the further 300 per cent of GDP in unfunded social care liabilities). Europe and Japan recently re-engaged in QE-type stimuli to defend their fundamentally challenged economies from the effects of higher US rates in the future. Read more

By Arthur Bastings of Millicom

Africa watchers frequently comment on how technological innovation on the continent is leap-frogging more developed markets. But now the market is more competitive than ever and companies have to look ahead to anticipate consumer needs and stay relevant. What’s next for Africa’s digital and mobile revolution? Read more

By Mohamed El-Erian

One of the main challenges facing emerging countries in 2015 will be dealing with increased economic and policy “divergence” within the advanced world. It is a challenge that will widen the gap between well- and poorly-managed economies. It is also one that will tax even the best-run economies. In turn, their response will influence the prospects for the advanced world. Read more

It’s a few minutes into Marion Akinyi Onginjo’s social studies lesson at Bridge International Academy Gicagi in Nairobi and the class 4 teacher is being drowned out by loud cheers next door.

Bridge International Academy Gicagi, Nairobi. Photo: Tosin Sulaiman

Class 4 finally gets its chance to make some noise when one student, Margaret, correctly answers a question about subsistence crops. After Onginjo tells the class, “let’s give Margaret the cowboy cheer,” they stand up, spin imaginary lassoes in the girl’s direction and yell, “One, two, three, four, five, yee-hah.” Read more

In the long-running battle between contagion and differentiation in emerging markets, contagion currently has the upper hand. That’s hardly surprising when you look at the size of the shock coming out of Russia and the failure of Monday night’s 650 basis point interest rate rise to deal with it. Nothing on this scale has been seen since 1998.

Rouble per US dollar, year to date. Source: Thomson Reuters

But contagion is not absolute and some EM currencies are bucking this month’s sharp falls, at least for now. Below, we present charts that show how the big EM currencies are faring in these times of extreme stress. Read more

** FT News **

* Oil falls further as IEA cuts 2015 forecast | Energy watchdog says rout in prices has not stimulated buying

* China water diversion starts to flow | Controversial $60bn project will irrigate the country’s arid north Read more

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, and Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, met in New Delhi on Thursday for the 15th Annual India-Russia summit. Although normally a low-key event, this year’s meeting was important, coming as both countries rethink their foreign policies. Russia’s isolation from Europe has intensified in recent months. Meanwhile Modi has been working hard to strengthen India’s ties with the rest of the world.

The meeting resulted in renewed promises between the two nations to cooperate on energy sharing, defence deals and the diamond trade. For context, here are three significant facets of the India-Russia relationship. Read more

Appearances – and doing the right thing – are very important in Mexico.

So the head of Pemex, the state oil company, looked rather conspicuous by his absence at the launch of the long-awaited tender terms for Mexico’s historic first bidding round, attended by all the other state heavyweights in the industry and a host of corporate executives. Read more

** FT News **

* Ukraine PM calls on west to help avert default as bond yields surge | Ukraine’s prime minister says his cash-strapped government needs $15bn in fresh aid

* Venezuela loses faith in government | Much-need reforms are being stalled by rampant corruption Read more

** FT News **

* Land deals boost Bahrain royals’ wealth | King’s companies developed projects on disputed plots

* Qataris appoints Ken Costa to Songbird board | City grandee to be director of Canary Wharf owner Read more

The World Economic Forum’s 2014 Global Gender Gap Report, released last month, presented some interesting findings about countries in the Asia Pacific region. Its Gender Gap Index measures progress in countries across four benchmarks: economic participation, education, health and political empowerment.

Despite political and cultural diversity across the region, there are definite signs the overall gender gap is shrinking. According to the report, 7 out of the 24 countries of Asia and the Pacific have closed over 70 per cent of the gap. In terms of economic participation, the Asean countries are now all above the world average. The Philippines, in particular, has closed the gap between male and female access to health and education and features in the list of top 10 countries worldwide.

Source: World Economic Forum, beyondbrics

 Read more

** FT News **

* Turkish GDP disappoints with 1.7% growth in third quarter | Exports fail to compensate fully for fall in domestic demand

* Hungary and Russia confirm nuclear deal | Budapest awards energy contracts without public tender Read more

** FT News **

* IMF warns Ukraine bailout at risk of collapse | Shortfall of $15bn needed within weeks

* Shanghai suffers biggest fall in 5 years | Late-in-the-day 8% slide ends bull run for mainland benchmark Read more

Economic growth across emerging markets is expected to reach an annual rate of 3.9 per cent in the final quarter of this year, slightly up on the estimated 3.7 per cent in the third quarter, according to the Institute of International Finance. But the IIF’s Coincident Indicator, based on 41 macroeconomic variables that it says are highly correlated to EM growth, shows growth is still well below the average rate of 4.5 per cent seen in 2012 and 2013.

 Read more

** FT News **

* Oil and dollar hammer emerging markets | Developing currencies fall to 14-year low

* Risk aversion rises as oil slides anew | A tumble in the oil price is viewed as a warning signal for the global economy Read more