** FT News **
* Anti-Maidan movement creates fear in Moscow | Putin critics become targets for groups allied to Kremlin
By Kevin P. Gallagher and Margaret Myers
Despite the economic slowdown that is gripping Latin America, Chinese finance to the region rose to $22bn in 2014, a 71 per cent jump over 2013. These latest estimates from the China-Latin America Finance Database put 2014 as the second highest year on record for Chinese lending in Latin America and raise the stock of Chinese finance in the region to $119bn since 2005, when China’s banks started reaching out to the Americas.
This new finance couldn’t come at a better time. After a decade-long commodity boom, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that Latin America’s economic growth may only reach 2.2 per cent in 2015. As the economy cools, the region’s traditional sources of capital are turning to the United States, beckoned by faster growth and rising interest rates. Read more
This is the predicament faced by several leading European oil companies – including the Genel Energy, run by ex-BP boss Tony Hayward, Norway’s DNO and the UK’s Gulf Keystone – caught in the stand-off between the Iraq’s central administration in Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) over how the spoils of Kurdistan’s oil reserves should be shared. Read more
The intricacies of Venezuela’s bizarre economic policy apparatus long ago became a subject approached with confidence only by seasoned specialists. Undaunted, Caracas this month decided to make an already byzantine currency system even more complicated by introducing another official exchange rate to the two (plus the black market version) that already exist.
The move came after pressure from falling oil prices, which have hammered Venezuela’s exports and reduced its dollar earnings. Other countries with similar problems in recent years such as Iran (and to some extent, Argentina) have also taken the route of multiple exchange rates. Read more
What’s the connection between electricity and women? Electricity is an agent of empowerment, able to transform societies and economies in emerging markets. It paves the way to buying home appliances like electric cookers, refrigerators and washing machines, freeing up women from hours of daily housework. In our view, more access to electricity in developing countries will be a catalyst for more women to join the workforce, leading to huge changes in consumer spending patterns. Read more
Good news: After weeks of political gridlock, Mexico’s three main parties have agreed a framework for a new anti-corruption system. It should be put to a vote in the lower house of Congress this week.
But the devil is in the details. Does it go far enough? Will it get watered down before it comes to a vote? And, the biggest question of all, will it stop corruption?
The jury is out. But before taking a look about what’s good and what should be better, it is worth remembering why Mexico so urgently needs a serious anti-corruption strategy. Corruption has long been an accepted part of life in Mexico. If you start digging, you will find it, says one political analyst – much like how the missing bodies of 43 students in the state of Guerrero has turned up other undiscovered mass graves. Read more
For several years, now, Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest oil producing states have been working to create sovereign wealth funds (SWFs). But as oil prices and production decline, such funds may not be able to deliver the benefits they once promised.
Since 2007 Angola, Ghana, Nigeria and Mauritania have joined Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in the club of oil-producing countries with SWFs. Currently, four of sub-Saharan Africa’s five largest oil producers maintain some sort of SWF.
Attracted, perhaps, by the success of similar funds in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, sub-Saharan governments are looking to capture oil revenues in rainy day funds in order to smooth fiscal expenditures during suppressed commodity cycles. Read more
Electricity market regulations may sound dry and complex. But for César Hernández, Mexico’s electricity undersecretary, these regulations will “move us to the type of institutions our country deserves to have”.
The unspoken message: Take that, Alejandro González Iñárritu!
The Mexican director created a domestic storm with his Oscar acceptance speech on Sunday night, in which he said: “I pray that we can build the government we deserve.”
The comment generated a much lampooned response from the ruling PRI party (the tone was “but we already ARE, haven’t you noticed?”) and sparked much Twitter discussion about what Mexico needed and deserved from an unpopular government under fire from conflict-of-interest scandals. Read more
East–West nuclear rivalry is back. The Ukraine crisis threatens the emergence of a new Cold War, and with it the return to a standoff between nuclear-armed opponents. Meanwhile, nuclear rivalry is shaping up in another arena: exports of civil nuclear technology represent a new battleground in which Russia – and increasingly China – are significantly outgunning the West, with troubling implications for global nuclear governance.
Demand for nuclear energy is growing again after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. A 2014 report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts a 69 per cent expansion in nuclear capacity worldwide from 345GW in 2012 to 583GW by 2030. Furthermore, the International Energy Agency counts that more than three-quarters of nuclear reactors under construction are in non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. Read more
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