Archive for November 8th, 2012

Is Mexico the new China?

| November 8th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

BY RESHMA KAPADIA

There’s a new acronym making its way around emerging-market investing circles: MIST, as in Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey.

It’s natural to wonder if there is any linkage between the countries other than that they make a catchy acronym. After all, some investors don’t even consider South Korea an emerging market. Its gross domestic product per capita, a common measure of wealth, is seven times that of Indonesia. But there is at least one commonality: Strategists say these markets are part of the next group of important emerging-market players bubbling up in the shadow of Brazil, Russia, India, and China—the BRICs.

The recent buzz around the MISTs is undoubtedly driven by concerns surrounding the BRICs. That, and stock performance. While the MSCI BRIC Index is down 2% this year, MSCI Turkey is up 36%. Much of that difference can be chalked up to sector composition, says Kathryn Koch, Goldman ... Read More

Will Latin America become a higher priority during second Obama term?

| November 8th, 2012 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY MIMI WHITEFIELD & TIM JOHNSON

MEXICO CITY – There’s agreement across the region that Latin America wasn’t a priority during the first term of President Barack Obama but analysts say there are issues that might raise the profile of Latin America and the Caribbean during the president’s second term.

Among them: trade, potential political change in the region, the potent voting bloc U.S. Hispanics have become, immigration, changing U.S. attitudes toward drug policy and security.

But, in general, regional expectations for meaningful change in U.S. Latin American and Caribbean policy during Obama’s second term were muted.

The campaigns of both Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney “proved that Latin America is not a priority for the United States,’’ said Simon Pachano, a political science professor at the Latin American Faculty for Social Sciences in Ecuador. “Latin America existed when they were looking for Hispanic votes, but it wasn’t present in their foreign policy proposals.”

Anthony ... Read More

Argentines prepare for huge anti-government march

| November 8th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

BY ALMUDENA CALATRAVA & DAMIAN PACHTER

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Thousands of people are using social networks to mobilize a huge march Thursday night against President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, organizing what they hope will be the country’s biggest anti-government protest in more than a decade.

Angered by rising inflation, violent crime and high-profile corruption, and afraid Fernandez will try to hold onto power indefinitely by ending constitutional term limits, the protesters plan to bang pots and march on the iconic obelisk in Argentina’s capital. Protests also are planned in plazas nationwide and outside Argentine embassies and consulates around the world.

The protests known as cacerolazos hold deep symbolism for Argentines, who recall all too well the country’s economic debacle of a decade ago. The “throw them all out” chants of that era’s pot-banging marches forced presidents from office and left Argentina practically ungovernable until Fernandez’s late husband, Nestor Kirchner, assumed the presidency ... Read More

Mexico’s new gov to review pot fight after US vote

| November 8th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

BY E. EDUARDO CASTILLO & MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN

MEXICO CITY — The legalization of recreational marijuana in the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado will force Mexico to rethink its efforts to halt marijuana smuggling across the border, the main adviser to Mexico’s president-elect said Wednesday.

Luis Videgaray, head of incoming President Enrique Pena Nieto‘s transition team, told Radio Formula that the Mexican administration taking power in three weeks remains opposed to drug legalization. But he said the votes in the two states complicate his country’s commitment to quashing the growing and smuggling of a plant now seen by many as legal in part of the U.S.

“Obviously we can’t handle a product that is illegal in Mexico, trying to stop its transfer to the United States, when in the United States, at least in part of the United States, it now has a different status,” Videgaray said. “I believe this obliges us to think the ... Read More

Argentine judge embargoes Chevron assets on spill

| November 8th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — An Argentine judge embargoed Chevron Corp.’s assets in Argentina to carry out an Ecuadorean court order that awarded $19 billion to plaintiffs in an environmental damage lawsuit in the Amazon, a lawyer said Wednesday.

Judge Adrian Elcuj Miranda ordered the freezing of Chevron’s assets in Argentina as plaintiffs try to collect the judgment won in Ecuador last year, Argentine lawyer Enrique Bruchou told reporters in a conference call.

The order states that all the cash flows from sales and bank deposits be frozen until the $19 billion is collected, Bruchou said. The order applies to 100 percent of Chevron’s capital stock in Argentina, 100 percent of its dividends and its entire minority stake in Oleoductos del Valle. It also includes 40 percent of any current or future money that Chevron Argentina holds as well as 40 percent of all its crude sales.

Bruchou said the decision in the largest ... Read More

Weary Venezuela voters gear up for their next election

| November 8th, 2012 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

BY JUAN NAGEL

After an intense political season culminating in Hugo Chávez’s reelection last month, Venezuela’s voters are now set to head back to the polls on December 16 to elect state governors and state legislatures. Many voters seem to be wondering, though, whether the whole thing matters.

Venezuela is, in theory, a federal state. All state and local authorities are elected. State and local governments have their own legislatures that pass their own budgets.

Federalism, however, has its limits — some imposed by the constitution, and some imposed by Hugo Chávez.

The Venezuelan Constitution mandates that twenty percent of the federal budget should go to state governments, who then must hand over twenty percent of their income to local governments. Budgets are roughly distributed across states according to their population, which means the relative size of a state determines the size of the budget the governor is in charge of.

In spite of this ... Read More

Obama’s win a relief for Hugo Chavez’s supporters and others in Latin America

| November 8th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela — From Caracas to Havana to La Paz, President Barack Obama’s reelection victory was welcomed with a sigh of relief by many on Latin America’s left, though others cautioned that the U.S. leader had not made the region a priority during his crisis-buffeted first term and was unlikely to do so in a second.

In Cuba, state-run news website CubaSi called the outcome a victory for the lesser of two evils, saying: “U.S. elections: the worst one did not win.”

“The news of Barack Obama’s triumph in yesterday’s general elections in the United States was received with some relief and without great optimism,” CubaSi wrote.

On the streets of Caracas, some said they worried that a Romney win would have brought a much harder line against leftist leaders such as their own President Hugo Chavez, and that they hoped another four-year term for Obama would bring relatively peaceful U.S.-Latin American ties.

“The ... Read More

Venezuela repays nearly half of $36 bln in Chinese loans

| November 8th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY MARIANNA PARRAGA

Venezuela has repaid close to half of $36 billion borrowed from China through oil-for-financing agreements, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Wednesday.

The government of President Hugo Chavez has increasingly relied on China for financing because its borrowing costs in international capital markets are among the highest in the world.

“We’ve received $36 billion through credits with China … and of that, we’ve paid $17.9 billion,” Ramirez said during a congressional hearing.

A 2007 agreement allowed the Andean nation to borrow $4 billion at a time from China Development Bank, which state oil company PDVSA pays off in oil and fuel. The agreement was expanded this year to $8 billion.

A separate agreement provided a $20 billion credit line, also repayable in oil. Part of those funds are used to buy goods and services from Chinese businesses.

Venezuela and PDVSA last year issued a combined total of almost $18 billion in global bonds. Nearly all of this year’s government ... Read More

Obama Re-Election Thrusts Attention to Latin America

| November 8th, 2012 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

BY ANDREW O’REILLY

During the U.S.’s lengthy presidential campaign season there were many topics debated in depth. From health care to the economy to social issues, the newly re-elected President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney went back and forth on a number of issues.

When it came to foreign policy, Obama and Romney discussed Afghanistan, Iraq, the September 11 attacks in Libya, the Israeli-Palestinian relation and the civil conflict in Syria. One region of the world, however, was glaringly missing from the foreign policy debate this campaign season: Latin America.

With a continuing drug war in Mexico and Central America, a newly re-elected Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, the ever-present issue of Cuba and the continuing growth of Brazil, Latin America promises to remain a strategic and important area right in the U.S.’s backyard.

“Latin America as a whole is growing twice as fast as the United States, and many countries want and deserve a ... Read More