The strong showing by Poland’s economy in the third quarter of this year includes encouraging news for Poland bulls: domestic demand is an increasingly important factor in an economy that has been largely sustained by export growth.

New details on the economy come from the government’s statists agency, which took a closer look at earlier released flash GDP numbers. Those showed the economy expanding by an annual 1.9 per cent in the third quarter, up from 0.8 per cent in the second quarter. Read more

Aside from some dynastic billionaires, until recently new wealth was viewed with suspicion in Colombia, being a possible result of drug trafficking.

But times seem to have changed. Although drug kingpins still exist, they are less conspicuous – gone are the times of Pablo Escobar’s hippos and Rasguño’s Ferraris – while legitimate fortunes appear to be on the rise. That’s according to WealthInsight, a research company, that claims that in recent times Colombia has created millionaires quicker than Brazil and Mexico. Read more

Tinto (essentially, black coffee) and arepa, (flatbread made of maize flour) have long been the staples of a traditional Colombian breakfast.

But if Krispy Kreme, the US-based donut maker, has its way, Colombians would soon be munching on deep-fried, sugary doughs as well. Read more

“A developed country is not one where the poor have cars, it is one where the rich use public transport.” That is a phrase often used by officials in Bogotá. But as Colombia develops, reality is turning out to be a bit different.

Despite the sometimes dismal quality of the country’s roads, Colombia’s rising middle classes have been keen to get their hands on new cars, often helped by new access to credit, as our video shows. Read more

Multinationals are never slow to spot a branding opportunity. Everywhere from the local supermarket to the Olympic Games has become familiar territory. But India has managed to come up with a new possibility – the wedding reception.

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China consumes 43 per cent of the world’s instant noodles, runs 61 per cent of its toll roads and produces 90 per cent of its PCs. But with 19 per cent of the global population, its share of health spending is only 6 per cent.

These and other fascinating facts are collated in a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report out this week. And behind the gee-whiz numbers, there’s a serious purpose: to see how China might change over the next decade or so. Read more

Photo: Bloomberg

Anyone ever stuck in Bangkok traffic is probably thrilled that Thai car sales are set to fall steeply this year but, perhaps surprisingly, car executives are still bullish on the country.

Why? Not because they think they can convince locals to keep buying cars for their slow commutes but because the country, despite devastating floods in 2011, is still an attractive manufacturing base for exports to the rest of the fast-growing Asean region. Read more

“Not for all the tea in China,” is a handy way to express extreme unwillingness to do something in the English language – because China is synonymous with tea.

But the way China is latching onto coffee culture these days, China’s relationship with tea may never be the same again. Read more

There is no doubt that Korean companies are gloomy about their business outlook. But it is sluggish domestic consumption rather than slowing exports that worries them the most, as debt-laden consumers show no signs of opening their wallets. Read more

Rebalancing the economy by boosting domestic demand has been a long-term goal for Korean policymakers. It is drawing more attention in this election season, with presidential front-runners pledging to boost small and mid-sized enterprises and increase social spending to drive growth in the export-driven economy. Read more

Taiwan’s economy bounced back in Q3, growing 1 per cent compared to a slight contraction in Q2. But that increase fell short of expectations.

In a reversal of the recent emerging market narrative, this time is was weakness at home among Taiwanese consumers that dented growth, despite a pickup in demand from the US and Europe. Read more

A nice surprise from Brazil, in the form of an economic stimulus that has actually had some effect.

As reported on Thursday, retail sales jumped in June by 9.5 per cent year-on-year,  compared with predictions of a 6.5 per cent drop, and 8.3 per cent increase in May.  It’s just one month’s figure, so don’t expect a sudden turnaround in the whole Brazilian economy or even in consumption. But the figures show policy moves can work, which is good news in a week when president Dilma Rousseff has announced a separate economic package to boost infrastructure spending. Read more

Amid a rocky outlook for the export markets that drive its economy, South Korea’s policy makers might have hoped domestic demand might pick up some of the slack. But the wishful thinking in any such expectations was demonstrated by Tuesday’s ugly news from the retail sector.

Sales in the country’s department stores fell by 0.9 per cent in July, following a 2 per cent fall in June, the ministry of strategy and finance said in its monthly economic report. “A recovery in consumer sentiment has been delayed,” the ministry said, blaming uncertainty about the global and domestic economy, thanks largely to the eurozone debt crisis. Read more

Is there no stopping the Indonesian consumer? Second quarter GDP figures out on Monday showed the economy growing 6.4 per cent year on year, up from 6.3 per cent in the previous quarter and a healthy chunk more than the Bloomberg consensus of 6.1 per cent.

With most of the world gripped by recession or fear of recession, Indonesia’s consumers are carrying on regardless. Household spending was up 5 per cent year on year, up from 4.9 per cent in Q1. All that demand is driving a surge in investment. Read more

Bono said it, Ban Ki-Moon said it, Thabo Mbeki said it: the 21st century will be the African century.

But as funds single out investments in the continent and multinational companies battle for their share of the pie, a crucial question remains: which Africa are we talking about? Read more

With sales growth of 14 per cent to €197 bn euros in 2011, one would think the luxury boom was destined to slow down. Not a bit of it, according to CLSA’s Aaron Fischer, who has been bullish – and right – on the sector for the past few years. In a report released Tuesday, CLSA unveils a host of seemingly trivial details that add up to big sales and bumper profits for the world’s luxury brands for the foreseeable future.

For example: More than 50 per cent of global luxury spending in cities like London, Paris and Hong Kong is by travellers. Read more

Good news from Nigeria, if growth is your thing. The economy grew by 7.68 per cent in the last quarter of 2011, according to the national bureau of statistics. Of the 46 countries that have published Q4 GDP figures to date, only two, Mongolia and China, reported higher growth, says the NBS report. It concluded that Africa’s most populous country remains on track to be among the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020.

So how do ordinary Nigerians feel about this? Perplexed, most likely. For while the economy is growing, so too is poverty. Read more

Young urban Chinese are profligate at the best of times, often spending beyond their means in a way that challenges traditional notions of Asian frugality. But when it comes to Valentine’s Day – perhaps the mainland’s most popular Western holiday – they take extravagance to heights worthy of the most debt-laden Westerner. Read more

There has been little to cheer about on world financial markets in recent months but in the past week South African equities have been able to claim an all-time record.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange, by far Africa’s largest, has hit record highs with its benchmark All-Share Index closing on Monday at 33,940 points following six straight days on the way up. But there’s a snag: that’s only in local currency terms. For international investors it’s a different story, with the rand’s weakness cancelling most of the gain – though the market is still up, just. Read more

It’s a slow week on Asian stock exchanges with many markets closed for the Chinese New Year, so you’d expect some wild price movements on the few exchanges trading in low liquidity. Unilever Indonesia is a case in point: its shares soared by nearly 20 per cent in early trading on Tuesday before falling back to a more modest gain of about 5 per cent.

Even so, that’s not a bad profit for one day. And it brings the stock’s gain to a stellar 43 per cent from its most recent low in mid September. What is driving Unilever upwards? Read more