Archive for December 4th, 2012

Brazil Economy Not What It Once Was

| December 4th, 2012 | No Comments »
Forbes

BY KENNETH RAPOZA

Brazil‘s economy is not the growth machine it was just three short years ago. In fact, the country that survived the biggest worldwide credit crisis in modern times is growing less than the U.S, the economy that basically started the crisis in the first place.

Gone are the days of fast and easy money. The core economies are still suffering, and that’s taken a bite out of Brazilian exports. China is slowing, and that’s Brazil’s biggest market.

Yet, Brazil is not an export driven economy. It’s a consumer economy, and a middle class one.  Some 52 percent of the country are considered middle income by Brazilian census standards. But that doesn’t mean Brazil’s middle class live like a European middle class.  Per capita income there is around $12,000 a year.  Even with that, they love to spend. They’re doing so, though  not as much as the government had hoped. Consumer spending rose ... Read More

U.S.: Trading Alan Gross for Cuban spies is unlikely

| December 4th, 2012 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY JUAN O. TAMAYO

Cuba’s offer to swap U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross for five Cuban spies convicted in Miami is not at all acceptable to Washington, a senior State Department official affirmed Monday on the third anniversary of Gross’ arrest.

“We reject the notion of linkage,” said the official, who met with several journalists in Miami but asked for anonymity under State Department procedures. “There is no parallel between the two cases.”

Gross’ continued detention in Havana has become a powerful roadblock in efforts to improve U.S.-Cuba relations, with the Obama administration holding off talks on migration, drug and people smuggling and other issues until he returns home.

The official noted that while the administration will continue its policy of helping the Cuban people — it lifted most restrictions on Cuban-American travel and remittances — it is “very hard to see us making progress in bilateral relations while he is in jail.”

U.S. officials ... Read More

Repsol seeks $10.5bn from Argentina

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Financial Times

BY JUDE WEBBER

Repsol, the Spanish oil company, has filed a suit at the World Bank’s arbitration tribunal seeking $10.5bn from Argentina for its expropriation of 51 per cent of YPF in May.

The latest legal action follows other lawsuits in Argentina, Spain and the US but the suit at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID, argues that Argentina violated a bilateral investment protection treaty dating back to 1991.

The government of Cristina Fernández, Argentine president, seized administrative control of YPF, the country’s biggest energy company, in April and Congress approved the nationalisation – which Repsol calls a confiscation – the following month. The government argues that under Repsol’s management, YPF was “hollowed out” with dividends sent abroad, and that investment and production at home waned.

Repsol rejects the claims, highlighting that it discovered 22m barrels of oil, equivalent of shale resources in the Vaca Muerta (Dead Cow) formation in western Argentina.

Argentina last year ... Read More

Argentina Default Swaps Traders Lose 81% as Risk Recedes

| December 4th, 2012 | No Comments »

BY KATIA PORZECANSKI & CAMILA RUSSO

Traders who bought three-month protection against an Argentine default lost 81 percent of their money in the two days after a U.S. court delayed a ruling that could have blocked payments to bondholders.

The cost to insure $10 million of Argentine debt against non-payment through March has plunged to $651,389 from $3.5 million on Nov. 28, according to SW Asset Management LLC. The selloff came after a U.S. federal appeals court stayed District Judge Thomas Griesa’s decision that would have forced the country to pay so-called holdout creditors from its $95 billion default in 2001 before holders of its restructured bonds.

Speculation that Argentina would opt to default for a second time in 11 years rather than settle with the holdouts caused the nation’s bonds to tumble by the most in emerging markets last month. While President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner says her country will pay its performing debt, she has vowed never ... Read More

Enrique Peña Nieto’s ‘economy first’ strategy for Mexico would also help US

| December 4th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor

BY LUIS RUBIO

MEXICO CITY

Mexico confounds. If one watches the news, either here or in the United States, most of what comes out about this country is violence among the drug cartels. But if one looks at its economy, Mexico has become the largest trading partner of almost 30 US states.

President Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office on Saturday, wants to change that mismatch by putting the economy first, which will require addressing the onslaught of the narco mafia in a very different way from his predecessor. This new approach has great potential, including improved public safety, and is one that Mexico’s northern neighbor should also embrace.

Opinion: Peña Nieto on 5 solutions for Mexico’s drug violence and security challenges

Mexico’s economy grew more than 4 percent each of the past two years and is on course to do the same in this one. More jobs were created in 2011 than ever before. Twenty years ... Read More

Julian Assange in his labyrinth

| December 4th, 2012 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

Wikileaks renegade Julian Assange seems to be genetically incapable of staying out of trouble. Holed up now for some five months in the Ecuadorean embassy in London to evade police questioning on sexual assault charges, the self-styled paladin of transparency and free expression appeared on CNN for an interview with host Erin Burnett and wound up insulting his Ecuadorean hosts.

Fumbling about to answer an obvious question on how he reconciled his seeking the political protection of a country whose president, Rafael Correa, has one of the worst track records against a free press in the hemisphere, Assange asserted he did not want to talk about “little things in small countries,” and, when Burnett persisted, dismissed the situation of press freedom in Ecuador, because it is “not a significant world player.”

Yet even as Assange strained mightily to change the subject from his hypocritical embrace of the Correa government, the latter is showing no ... Read More

Coast Guardsman dies as suspected drug smugglers creep farther up California coast from Mexico

| December 4th, 2012 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

SAN DIEGO — Drug smugglers from Mexico have been creeping farther north along the California coast in an attempt to evade authorities, and it appears the cat-and-mouse game was behind the death of a U.S. Coast Guardsman.

Two Mexican nationals — Jose Meija Leyva and Manuel Beltran Higuera — were charged Monday in Los Angeles with killing a federal officer while the officer was on duty.

Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne, 34, died Sunday after he was struck in the head by the suspects’ vessel, believed to be laden with drugs, near the Channel Islands, west of Los Angeles and about 180 miles northwest of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Horne is the first law enforcement official to die off California since a spike in illegal activity began several years ago, said Ralph DeSio, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman.

At least six people aboard suspected smuggling vessels have been killed since the 2010 fiscal ... Read More

Amid slowdown, Brazil turns inward

| December 4th, 2012 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

HOWARD SCHNEIDER

SAO PAULO — When the Brazilian economy began to stall last year, officials in Latin America’s largest country started pulling pages from the playbook of another major developing nation: China.

They hiked tariffs on dozens of industrial products, limited imports of auto parts, and capped how many automobiles could come into the country from Mexico — an indirect slap at the U.S. companies that assemble many vehicles there.

A large state-funded bank grew larger, steering cheap money to projects that rely on locally made goods and equipment rather than imports. Other rules and tax breaks for local products proliferated under President Dilma Rousseff’s “Bigger Brazil Program.” The latest statistics show continued sluggishness, with Brazil growing at an annual rate of about 2.4 percent, less than the United States.

The country’s slowdown and the government’s response to it is a growing concern among U.S. officials worried that Brazil may be charting an aggressive new course — ... Read More

Ecuador’s Correa getting Argentine media award

| December 4th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa is receiving a free speech award from an Argentine university’s journalism department despite criticism that the leader has tried to muzzle his nation’s press.

The honor from the University of La Plata was previously awarded to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales, among other Latin American leftists. The university’s faculty said Correa is getting the Rodolfo Walsh award Tuesday because of his efforts to give marginalized citizens a voice by “democratizing access to the media” in Ecuador.

Correa’s critics say that rather than promote free speech in Ecuador, the president has constantly attacked opposition media and even won a criminal defamation judgment against a leading newspaper that called him a “dictator.” Correa later pardoned three of the newspaper’s executives and an editorial writer who had received prison sentences and stiff fines.

Click here for original ... Read More

Chavez will travel to Brazil for summit: ambassador

| December 4th, 2012 | No Comments »
Chicago Tribune

DEISY BUITRAGO

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez will travel to Brazil for a regional summit at the end of this week despite cancer-related medical treatment in Cuba, Brazil’s ambassador said on Monday.

If confirmed, the 58-year-old Chavez’s presence at the Mercosur trade bloc meeting would indicate his latest health scare is not as bad as some are speculating.

Venezuelan officials would not immediately confirm the ambassador’s statement. Chavez was in Cuba on Monday and it was unknown if he would return home first if he should decide to go on to Brazil.

Having won re-election in October for a new six-year term, Chavez has made scant appearances since then and not been seen in public since November 15.

Last week, he left for Cuba, saying in a letter he was to receive “hyperbaric oxygenation” – a treatment used to alleviate bone decay caused by radiation therapy. The president has undergone three cancer operations ... Read More