When employees of Indonesian zinc oxide producer Indo Lysaght went to pick up their export permits from the trade ministry last month they were shocked to be told by officials: “computer says no”.

Without the company’s prior knowledge, zinc oxide had been added to the list of mineral ores that were banned from being exported as of January 12 as part of a controversial plan to force mining companies to build smelters and refineries. Read more

On Wednesday, thousands of university students from Kiev and other cities returned to the Ukrainian capital’s main square in larger numbers one day after calling a strike.

Their arrival re-energised a seventh day of protests by activists, politicians and average Ukrainians against last week’s stunning government decision to back out of signing historic EU integration agreements at a Vilnius summit being held this Thursday and Friday. Read more

Has the Bank of Thailand blinked in the face of the country’s escalating protests? In a surprise move, the bank cut its policy interest rate on Wednesday by 25 basis points to 2.25 per cent a year, highlighting weaker than expected growth in the third quarter and the “ongoing political situation”.

Indeed, growth is expected to be weaker towards the end of 2013 and through 2014. But has the bank made the wrong call? Read more

Take two of Latin America’s most reform-minded governments, throw in a fractured political system, and what do you get? The answer is Mexico – where thousands of protesting teachers fanned out across the capital on Sunday – and Colombia, where 50,000 troops had to be shipped in over the weekend to calm down Bogotá after a rally in support of striking farmers got out of controlRead more

With violence on the streets of Egypt coming hot on the heels of the public protests in Brazil and Turkey, it takes a brave man to write a report entitled: “EM is not much riskier than DM”.

But Simon Quijano-Evans of Commerzbank has done just that – arguing that while young populations put emerging markets at greater risk of political upheavals they also provide the energy that will power developing economies into the future while the developed world is held by back by the burdens of debt and old age. It’s probably true in the long run, but for a leader like Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi it’s the next few days that matter. Read more

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil has promised a referendum “to authorize establishing a specific constituent process” on political reform, as one of five responses to mass demonstrations on city streets across the country over the past fortnight. In other words, voters will decide whether to call a constituent assembly charged with overhauling Brazil’s dysfunctional political system.

As Reuters reports, the process could take years. Plenty more will be said and written about it. For now, below is a translation provided by the government of Rousseff’s speech in full before state governors and mayors of state capitals in Brasília on Monday. Read more

By Christopher Garman and Alexander Kliment of Eurasia Group

The massive protests that have rocked Brazil and Turkey in recent weeks began with discrete local governance issues, but they reflect a larger trend in the emerging markets. Parties and leaders that have been comfortably in power for a decade or more now face unprecedented popular challenges to their legitimacy.

The nature of these challenges varies from country to country and, like Turkish PM Recep Erdogan and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, few leaders are in immediate danger of falling from power. But as growth slows and newly empowered middle classes begin to search for a political voice, a contentious new cycle of political upheaval in the EM world is under way. Read more

The world’s emerging markets are in the grip of an unprecedented wave of public protest. Today it’s Brazil. A few days ago it was Turkey. Before that there were Russia, Indonesia, India, and South Africa, all of which have seen big demonstrations in the past year. And before that there was Egypt and the Arab Spring. Read more

How much would you be willing to put on the line to protest against a 20 centavo (9 cent) increase in bus fares?

One protester arrested on Tuesday night in a violent demonstration on São Paulo’s main thoroughfare, Avenida Paulista, against a 6.6 per cent rise in metro and bus fares to R$3.20 per journey is reportedly being held on bail of R$20,000. That’s 100,000 times more than the savings on tickets he was fighting for. Read more

On Thursday night, the type of scenes normally associated with protests in other countries erupted in São Paulo as hundreds of people angry about a 6.6 per cent rise in metro and bus tickets set fire to garbage and broke into metro stations in Avenida Paulista, the city’s main thoroughfare. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. On Friday night, the students were out again, blocking the main road through the city’s banking district, Faria Lima, and causing some of the worst traffic congestion this year.

The protests are a potent reminder that Brazilians, normally a pretty peaceable lot, really do care about one thing – inflation. Read more

It was a balmy evening after a sweltering day. But the 300,000 Argentines, by some estimates, who took to the streets of Buenos Aires and other major cities on Thursday evening were not out for a stroll and an ice cream. They were thumping pots and pans, parading anti-government banners and venting their frustrations with the government of Cristina Fernández. Read more

South Africa’s mining industry is again confronted by labour unrest. Production at the Marikana platinum mining complex run by Lonmin PLC, the world’s third largest platinum producer, has been halted since August 10 by 3,000 striking rock drillers demanding higher wages. Read more

Rapid backtracking on a ski development law appears to be the latest incidence of the Bulgarian government’s tendency to make policy on the hoof. The impression that legislation is poorly conceived and executed is frustrating ordinary Bulgarians and investors alike. Read more

Is it 2008 all over again? Argentine farmers are on strike and global crisis is in the air.

Like in 2008, Cristina Fernández was early into her term. And just like in 2008, she faced mid-term elections the following year (in which the government fared poorly). This time, some commentators see her pulling out all the stops to do well in the mid-terms to pave the way for rewriting the constitution to stay on for a third term, despite economic slowdown and hints that she wants a new generation to take over. Read more

The Chilean government has declared a health emergency and temporarily shut down the world’s biggest pig farm.

Why? Locals raised a stink – about the stink. Read more

Bahrain, the Arab spring’s forgotten revolt, had fallen off the radar of the fickle global media. But thanks to Formula 1, the world has been at least been reminded this weekend of Bahrain’s scorched social fabric.

Now, 14 months since the island was rocked by the worst unrest in its history, the future of Bahrain’s economy also remains unclear. Read more

By Sarah Mishkin and Taufan Hidayat

Violent protests this week have pushed Indonesia’s opposition to reject the government’s plan to cut spending on subsidising fuel.

The subsidies accounted for 20 per cent of government total spending last year, and analysts have said that cutting is needed if the government wants to limit its deficit and make room for investing in long-term growth projects. But pushing the cuts though might be less simple than first thought. Read more

Panama City has been transformed in recent years into a “Dubai of the Americas”, complete with a Trump Tower – a real-estate boom fuelled by double-digit growth.

But the go-go economic policy of the nation’s president, Ricardo Martinelli, a supermarket tycoon, has suddenly hit trouble in the face of protests. Read more

There was a whiff of revolution and money in the air on Thursday as foreign investors flocked to the fifth annual Troika Dialog investment forum in Moscow, filling the city’s international house of music to the rafters to hear Vladimir Putin speak.

Just two days before opposition forces plan to take to the streets for a new protest against alleged vote rigging and Putin’s planned return to the presidency, Putin attempted to give his usual command performance, touting the economy’s 4.3 per cent growth and promising an improved legal and regulatory environment for investors. Read more

Wherever it turns, the Romanian government seems to run into trouble. On Friday, it was the constitutional court rejecting plans to delay local elections by a few months and hold them on the same day as parliamentary polls due in November.

Prime minister Emil Boc hoped postponing the local elections  might win a bit more time for the benefits of his tough IMF-backed austerity programme to come through, and recent public protests to lose momentum.

But the judges said no. So Boc’s only relief is the distraction generated by the snowstorms that have this week swept Romania, taking the edge off the anti-government demonstrations. But the snows will melt – the anti-government sentiment probably won’t. Read more