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Country Risk Climates:  Trends to Keep an Eye On

  • Ghana – the cedi has breached the 3:USD 1 “barrier”;
  • Madagascar – the US has ended all remaining restrictions on direct aid;
  • Niger – domestic unrest is exacerbating the threats from abroad;
  • Venezuela – sanction threats from the US House of Representatives;
  • Zambia – yet another record low for the kwacha.

CHILE:  The Bachelet government’s ambitious tax reform bill is now before the Senate, where it is likely to pass with minor modifications. This is the wrong scheme at the wrong time, but – as the “ins” would say – elections have consequences.

CHINA:  There are signs that the economy may be stabilizing, which may suggest that not much more is needed in the way of stimulatory measures than the gentle ones the authorities have so far applied. The housing sector is still a problem, however, as the authorities order interbank lending curbs to quell “shadow debt.”

COLOMBIA:  With the outcome of the presidential run-off still quite uncertain, there is little to worry about in the economic-policy arena. But the incumbent Santos, if re-elected, would push hard to clinch a peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas, while the opposing Zuluaga would likely ruin the negotiations.

EGYPT: As the army chief Sisi settles formally into the presidential job he has, in practice, held for some time, it will become increasingly clear that his answer to most of the nation’s problems is bigger government. He has yet to show the vision that is needed to address the country’s economic challenges in earnest.

INDIA: The business community and the markets welcomed the election victory of Narendra Modi. But he and his team will face a staggering task trying to meet the country’s soaring expectations. And there is at least an outside chance that his close ties to Hindu conservatives may prove to be a problem.

MALAWI: The election outcome is still unknown. The uncertainty does not please international aid donors, who are still withholding funds because of the government’s “cashgate” scandal. Nonetheless, economic growth has picked up and the results for 2014 will depend on the weather more than anything else.

SOUTH AFRICA:  While the country now needs bold action to transform the economy, it is questionable whether the new Cabinet of President Zuma will be up to the task. An early test will be its ability to put an end to the strike at the platinum mines, which has already done serious damage to the economy.

THAILAND:  For the time being, the new military rulers appear determined to focus on efforts to keep socio-political tensions from flaring up again and on steps to give the economy a much-needed boost.  At this point the short-term outlook is more confidence-inspiring than the longer one.

This page is provided by S.J. Rundt & Associates, Inc., specialists in country risk assessment, consultants to multinational companies & banks, and publishers of Rundt’s World Business Intelligence and The Financial Executive’s Country Risk Alert. To order a subscription or individual issues of these reports, in print or by e-mail, contact S.J. Rundt & Associates, P.O. Box 1572, Montclair, NJ 07042; Telephone: (973) 731-7502, Fax: (973) 731-7503; E-mail: [email protected]; Web site: www.rundtsintelligence.com.

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