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There is no doubt that emerging market (EM) investors have cheered up considerably of late. Following a torrid January and February, virtually all asset classes in the EM universe appear – on aggregate at least – to be gaining in value.

The bellwether stock index, the MSCI EM index, is up 9.6 per cent from its low on February 5. EM sovereign bonds are yielding an average of 5.51 per cent, down 0.37 per cent since January 1. Local currency bonds are, in many cases, producing stellar returns sharpened by windfall currency gains. Indeed, some EM currencies are among the world’s best performers, with the Indonesian rupiah rising 7.81 per cent, the Brazilian real gaining 7.3 per cent and the Indian rupee climbing 2.8 per cent so far this year. Continue reading »

The Pacific Alliance is all the rage in Latin America. As today’s FT special report shows, the members of this newly-formed free trade pact include some of the region’s best-managed and most reform-minded economies: Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. These countries do not represent some kind of Platonic ideal. They suffer problems aplenty. But their governments do pride themselves on hard-nosed business dealing rather than gassy ideology. That being the case, is there a way for portfolio investors to actually trade the idea? Continue reading »

Montezuma’s revenge is now no longer just for tourists visiting Mexico. The nation’s pig industry has caught it, too.

The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus, or PEDv, which has ripped through hog herds in the US and hiked Chicago pork prices, has already shown up in most pork producing states in Mexico. Continue reading »

Infonavit, the Mexican agency that is Latin America’s biggest mortgage lender, is catching the Fibra fever.

Fibras are the wildly-successful real estate investment trusts that powered some of Mexico’s record equity market activity last year. Infonavit, which takes a 5 per cent payroll tax from Mexican workers which they can use for mortgages, but is expanding its remit under a new can-do chief, Alejandro Murat, wants to get in on the action. Continue reading »

That was then

Back in 2008, President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva boasted that the tsunami of the global financial crisis would register barely a ripple, uma marolinha, in Brazil. Bar Mexico, this was true for the rest of the region too. Today, though, Latin America is more vulnerable to a devastating “sudden stop” in international capital flows.

As Agustin Carstens, the head of the Mexican central bank, warned last week, such an event could be triggered by higher US interest rates. Or, more worryingly, it could follow a sudden collapse of commodity prices should China’s economy slow abruptly. But how much more vulnerable is Latin America today? About 20 per cent more, according to the Inter-American Development Bank. Continue reading »

A cartoon in a Mexican newspaper last week said it all: there are Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden, gazing wistfully at the forbidden fruit. But it’s not an apple. It’s a lime.

Just about everything to eat in Mexico gets served with a wedge of lime, but buying them lately has been tricky. At one recent Sunday market in Mexico City, stallholders rolled their eyes when asked for what is normally the most ubiquitous of fruit. “No, too expensive,” was the answer rolled out at stall after stall. Continue reading »

By Dr Assimakis Komninos of University College, London and Professor Anne Perrot of University Paris I Pantheon – Sorbonne

It will come as a surprise to many companies doing business in Mexico to learn that they may soon become subject to a controversial competition law, with consequences from price regulation to forced divestitures of their assets even when they have not engaged in anti-competitive behaviour. Today, a bill was sent to Congress that would substantially amend Mexican competition law, creating one of the most sweeping competition regimes in the world. Continue reading »

Sweet news for Mexico’s sugar exporters: the government’s anti-obesity campaigns mean exports are booming.

According to data from the government’s sugar development committee, Conadesuca, exports reached nearly 866,000 tonnes between October and January. By any measure, that’s a huge leap from the previous year – the highest for that period in the previous five years was 366,000, and in the same period in 2013, it was 365,165. Continue reading »

This was supposed to be the year when Mexican growth got better, after last year’s dismal 1.1 per cent. Yet economists at Banamex have chopped a half-point off their 2014 forecast. What’s going on?

Let’s blame it on the weather. Literally. Here’s Banamex:

The main factor behind this revision is the effect that the exceptionally adverse weather conditions will have on activity in the US.

 Continue reading »

Never mind all that “three amigos” stuff. A potential energy pipeline from Canada to the US could help those two Nafta members, but not the other, Mexico.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline could spell bad news for Mexican oil company Pemex, which is losing its monopoly at home and is currently the third biggest crude exporter to the US. Continue reading »

Oil companies hoping that by March 21 they might have clues as to which oil and gasfields may be up for grabs in Mexico should not get their hopes up too high.

Pemex, the state company which is having its 75-year-old monopoly opened up to private competition in a historic reform, will face a new competitive environment. And that means learning to keep corporate secrets, it says. Continue reading »

Consumerism seems rife in Mexico – stores bustle with shoppers and promotions designed to lure customers and keep them hooked are legion. So it’s no surprise that retail sales rose in December, on an annual basis, more strongly than expected.

But compared with November, which was a strong month for retail sales because of the success of the annual “Good Weekend” sales spree, the picture was not so pretty. Continue reading »

One step forward, one step . . . well, if not exactly backwards, sort of sideways?

Mexican inflation data for the first fortnight of February looked a lot brighter than a month ago, when the impact of new taxes, including on fizzy drinks and junk food, pushed consumer prices to an eight-month high. Continue reading »

The Mexican economy grew by 1.1 per cent in 2013, its slowest rate since the 2009 recession and well short of the 3.5 per cent that President Enrique Peña Nieto initially expected during his first year in office.

In the fourth quarter, GDP expanded 0.2 per cent seasonally adjusted, due to slower growth in industrial sectors. The pace of expansion was significantly below market expectations for 0.6 per cent growth, leading to concerns over the health of the North American economy. Barclays Capital said the weak growth was probably the result of slow US imports and a “still fragile domestic consumer”. Continue reading »

What happens when you put together three countries which account for nearly a quarter of the world economy, with trade exchanges worth $1tn a year? Ever greater competitiveness, prosperity and dynamism – that, at least, was the message from the leaders of the US, Canada and Mexico at their annual summit.

And Barack Obama, Stephen Harper and Enrique Peña Nieto – the “Three Amigos” – stuck relentlessly to the script, highlighting trade flows, the prospect for cooperation in security, competitiveness, greater educational and science exchanges, deeper integrated manufacturing supply chains. Continue reading »