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Gulzar Ahmed is one small link in the human bridge between Dharavi, one of India’s largest shanty towns, and the fashion boutiques of Milan.
The master tailor in a small workshop run by Italian designer Viola Parrocchetti, Ahmed is one of thousands of skilled craftsmen that live and work in Dharavi, providing tailoring and embroidering services to India’s thriving fashion industry, much of it destined for export. Read more
For all the attention given to the fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk, it is clear that Ukraine cannot solve its problems by military means alone. If there is a route to national salvation it lies in the field of domestic reform and the quest to find a new model of internal development. It is only by emulating the achievement of neighbouring Poland and becoming a well-governed country with a strong, dynamic economy that Ukraine can hope to escape from its current predicament. As a ‘Slavic tiger’ it could provide a source of attraction strong enough to regain eventual control over the territories it has lost and perhaps even become a catalyst for change in Russia itself. Stuck in a post-Soviet rut of dysfunctional institutions and economic stagnation, it will remain weak and vulnerable to Putin’s policy of divide and rule. Read more
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The Turkish government’s decision last month to ban a metalworkers’ strike on the grounds that it endangered national security is part of an familiar pattern in the country. At least nine other strikes have been similarly stopped since the year 2000.
This time, though, the Turkish government outdid itself in explaining how the labour action could be considered an issue of national security. It said that the strike by Birleşik Metal-İş (United Metal-Work), a union representing just two per cent of Turkey’s million-plus metal workers, would jeopardise production of the Turkish police’s water cannon trucks – the very vehicles that are used to suppress labour unrest and other protests. Read more
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
With food prices in Russia surging by more than 20 per cent, you might expect parliament to debate the merits of tit for tat sanctions that bar imports of fresh produce from the west. But a group of independent lawmakers who demanded an end to the embargo on Thursday got a frosty response from their colleagues in the Duma and were even branded as traitors. 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
Is it time to quit as central bank governor if the president of your country suggests you could be a foreign agent? The answer to this not necessarily run-of-the-mill question may well help determine Turkey’s economic prospects.
On Wednesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan all but accused Erdem Basci, the central bank chief, of working for Turkey’s enemies. Read more
Three years after its last International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal was suspended over its budgetary profligacy, Serbia at last has a new €1.2bn package from the Fund, intended to stiffen resolve for a wave of privatisation and fiscal consolidation.
That is likely to prove the hard part, and investors are awaiting full details of promised reforms. Nevertheless, the Serbian government has repeatedly avowed its determination, and some of the assets coming up for sale should attract international interest. Read more
For centuries, street vendors across southeast Asia have hacked open fresh coconuts, selling their refreshing water to thirsty passers-by to drink through a straw. For just as long, teenage girls have doused their hair in the coconut’s fortifying oil.
More recently, western consumers have discovered the benefits of coconut products thanks to diet fads and celebrity endorsements — but will those benefits extend to producing countries? 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
So much is going wrong in Brazil that it is hard to keep up. For years, critics have accused the government of incompetence. Now its actions are looking catastrophic – so much so that there are good reasons to think President Dilma Rousseff, who began a second four-year term only on January 1, may not last much longer.
Here is our list of 10 things that threaten to bring her down. Read more
Narendra Modi, India’s pro-business prime minister, swept to power last year offering a new efficient form of government and a crackdown on the high-level corruption that has weighed on growth for decades.
But in a new report, analysts at Ambit Capital, a Mumbai-based brokerage, suggest that this otherwise positive shift may be negative for India’s rural economy – if only in the short-term. Read more
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