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Monday, 23 March 2015

Guest post: the west must show the Kremlin it means business in Ukraine | beyondbrics

Guest post: the west must show the Kremlin it means business in Ukraine | beyondbrics:

"Natalie Jaresko, Ukraine’s finance minister, is in London this week to drum up support for her country’s ailing economy. It is badly needed. The physical destruction of property, the loss of production and the disruption to trade and finance caused by Russia’s military intervention mean that Ukraine has lost around a fifth of its economy in the last year. Forecasts that it will contract by a further 5.5 per cent this year are widely seen as optimistic. With the value of the hryvnia down by 70 per cent, inflation at around 35 per cent and foreign currency reserves running low, the IMF’s recently agreed $17.5bn support package already looks like a sticking plaster solution for an economy that needs a blood transfusion.

Ukraine can withstand Russia’s onslaught if its economy recovers. The west’s unwillingness to provide military support makes the economic dimension more important still. With the Minsk ceasefire largely holding, financial markets are the new frontline in the struggle for Ukraine’s future. Sanctions on Russia are hurting, as Vladimir Putin acknowledged last week. Real wages have fallen by nearly 10 per cent and the country’s financial reserves are shrinking rapidly. Yet those driving Russian policy sense a lack of western resolve and seem to believe that time is on their side. If they can continue to destabilise Ukraine and raise the cost of supporting its government, Washington and Brussels will eventually give in. 

This basic calculation will not change unless clearer messages are sent. If the west is not prepared to outgun Putin, it must at least convince the Russian president that it is willing to outspend him. This should be seen as an investment in our own security. Success in Ukraine would simply enlarge Putin’s irredentist ambitions and move the line of confrontation further west. The long-term costs would be far greater than the sums needed to underwrite Ukraine’s survival today. It therefore makes no sense to approach this question with the mentality of a bank manager, quibbling over budget lines and repayment schedules. Western financial support should be of a scale and nature required to send an unmistakable signal of strategic intent."

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How Lee Kuan Yew transformed Singapore - YouTube

How Lee Kuan Yew transformed Singapore - YouTube: ""

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Protecting the message on petroleum | FT Alphaville

Protecting the message on petroleum | FT Alphaville:

"Fresh out of Riyadh…

Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Nuaimi Sunday proposed establishment of an association dedicated for petroleum media, which comprised of Gulf and Arab journalists covering energy affairs. Saudi Arabia is ready to support the establishment of this association with the objective of boosting transparency among GCC countries and prepare oil strategies of the Arab Gulf countries… 

Similar thoughts from Kuwait’s Minister of Oil, Dr Ali Al-Omair, speaking at the 2nd GCC Petroleum Media Forum:

Al-Omair, also Minister of State for parliament affairs, said media have been influencing economic policies including the oil ones. Media in the region should defend Gulf oil producers and defend their policies, said Al-Omair, but petroleum media should be “credible, transparent and influential.”"

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Secured creditors of Espirito Santo Dubai unit to get 82.7 pct payout | Reuters

Secured creditors of Espirito Santo Dubai unit to get 82.7 pct payout | Reuters:

"Liquidators for ES Bankers (Dubai) Ltd (ESBD) have estimated they will pay out 82.7 percent of the $93.5 million owed to depositors in the stricken bank, advisory firm Deloitte said on its website.

However, unsecured creditors of the Dubai arm of the Espirito Santo empire, which stumbled after accounting irregularities were identified at one of its holding companies earlier last year, will get none of the $14 million they are owed, the document added.

In October 2014, a Dubai judge approved an application to liquidate the local business following an earlier freezing of deposits to protect customers."

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Ukraine Unable to Repay Russian Debt - IMF / Sputnik International

Ukraine Unable to Repay Russian Debt - IMF / Sputnik International:

"Russia will not receive a $3 billion bond owed by Ukraine this year, as International Monetary Fund projections clearly indicate.

The Ukrainian government is squaring up to its international creditors over its plan to restructure the country’s $15 billion debt over the next four years, part of an IMF rescue plan to plug a $40 billion hole in the economically troubled country’s finances, the Financial Times reported.

Anna Gelpern, a law professor at Georgetown University who was previously with the US Treasury, calculated that the IMF has already determined that the bond owned by Russia will be included in the restructuring."

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MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai's Arabtec helps UAE outperform sluggish Gulf | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai's Arabtec helps UAE outperform sluggish Gulf | Reuters:

"A rebound by Dubai builder Arabtec lifted the mood of investors in the United Arab Emirates stock markets on Monday, while other bourses in the Middle East moved very little as oil once again halted its advance.

Brent oil slipped 0.2 percent and traded near $55 per barrel after Saudi Arabia indicated it was now pumping near a record high of 10 million barrels per day, adding to concerns about global oversupply.

Petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC), whose earnings are sensitive to oil prices, slipped 0.5 percent, but the kingdom's main stock index added 0.1 percent thanks to foodmakers Savola Group and Almarai ."

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Singapore after Lee Kuan Yew - YouTube

Singapore after Lee Kuan Yew - YouTube: ""

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Fewer hotel rooms booked in Dubai |

Fewer hotel rooms booked in Dubai |

"The popular attractions in Dubai, including the musical fountain, Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and other major landmarks are still attracting hundreds of visitors each month, but there aren’t as much tourists checking into hotel rooms as they used to be, analysts and hoteliers said.

Hoteliers contacted by Gulf News confirmed that although Dubai is still enjoying good weather, the occupancy rates in their properties last month dropped by as much as five per cent.

In a research note released on Sunday, Emirates NBD said Dubai’s hotel sector is currently facing headwinds, with the average hotel occupancy averaging at 86.2 per cent last February, which is two percentage points lower than in February 2014."

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Abu Dhabi’s Invest AD Shifts Funds to Egypt as Stability Returns - Bloomberg Business

Abu Dhabi’s Invest AD Shifts Funds to Egypt as Stability Returns - Bloomberg Business:

"Abu Dhabi asset manager Invest AD, part of Abu Dhabi Investment Council, said it’s boosting investments in Egypt on expectation that the country’s renewed political stability and economic reform will help drive growth.

The North African country now accounts for 35 percent of Invest AD’s $50 million Africa equity fund, up from 10 to 15 percent last year, portfolio manager Sherif Salem said in an interview. Nigeria is 5 percent, down from 30 to 35 percent.

“The market is already factoring in quite a positive outcome,” Salem said Sunday in Abu Dhabi. “The trigger was political stability. From an economic standpoint, it’s been reassuring in the past six to eight months, the implementation of economic policies and investments that have been promised.”"

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Full return of Iran’s oil is just a matter of time | The National

Full return of Iran’s oil is just a matter of time | The National:

"As 80 million people across Iran and around the world celebrate Nowruz – the Iranian new year – many are hoping for a new dawn for their oil industry, economy and relations with the world.

Referring to the continuing nuclear talks, the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted “May Nowrouz indeed usher for the world a new day”. But oil producers are watching with rather more trepidation.

Talks between Iran and six world powers over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme are to resume this week, with the goal of a framework agreement by March 30 and a full deal by June 30."

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Arabtec shares plunge nearly 10 per cent in Dubai after profit dives | The National

Arabtec shares plunge nearly 10 per cent in Dubai after profit dives | The National:

"Shares in Arabtec fell to their lowest price in more than 14 months on Sunday as investors reacted to the company’s surprise fourth-quarter loss.

The UAE’s largest listed contractor startled the market by revealing a Dh94.4 million loss for the final three months of 2014, compared with a Dh122.1m profit the same period a year prior, sending shares plummeting 9.92 per cent in trading to close at Dh2.36 each.

The shares of the Burj Khalifa builder are at their lowest level since 15 January 2014 – dropping below even their June low in the aftermath of the departure of the former chief executive Hasan Ismaik."

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Oil prices drop after Saudi Arabia says it will not cut output alone | Reuters

Oil prices drop after Saudi Arabia says it will not cut output alone | Reuters:

"Oil prices dropped over a percentage point on Monday after Saudi Arabia said over the weekend that the market defined prices and the kingdom would not unilaterally cut its output to defend prices.

Since oil prices started to fall in June 2014, many analysts have expected OPEC's biggest producer to eventually curb its output as it has done many times in the past to support prices.

Yet Riyadh has so far opted to keep its output stable to protect market share against non-OPEC producers such as the United States - where production has soared as a result of the shale exploration boom - and Russia."

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