Tuesday, October 7, 2014

World Economies

Less we forget, while the headlines keep our minds and behavior focused on ebola and ISIS, the rest of the world continues.  Christine Lagarde, managing director for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), announced a cut to their projections citing "uneven recovery" of the financial markets.

Ukraine hasn't found any resolution to their conflict since the world has been worrying about ISIS and viruses.  Pro-Russian separatists and the Ukraine government aren't any closer to signing an agreement and this keeps financial markets worried a war could still erupt there.

The US has try to turn Russia into a pariah and levied economic sanctions against them.  While it has done nothing to improve the situation in Ukraine, it has made the Russian economy weaker.  Russia is depending more on China and less on Europe as a result.  What Obama has forgotten though is Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas.  The result has been a weakening German economy (which drives the economy of continental Europe) as investors grow nervous over Russian exports to Europe.

ISIS and Khorosan have replaced our attention but over the summer the US was all worried about Boko Haram, the Nigerian based group that kidnapped 200 school girls.  Those girls still have not been released (at least not that has been announced in the news).  As of Sep 20th, CNN was reporting negotiations for their release were still on-going.  Boko Haram was another group ignored by the Obama administration until their actions could no longer be ignored.  The US response to this crisis was especially anemic.

According to CNBC, "Standing at the new total of $510 billion, Nigeria's economic output exceeds that of South Africa, making it Africa's largest economy with approximately a fifth of the continent's entire GDP."  With Boko Haram remaining unchecked, the economy of Nigeria is at risk as well.

We already know of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.  Those airstrikes that Obama has authorized is not going anything to help markets feel better about that part of the world.  Don't forget, the violence in Gaza has only stopped after nearly seven weeks of violence.

China and Japan continue to squabble over the Senkaku (Japan)/Daiyo (China) islands.  The increased aggression of the Chinese economy and increased military spending, along with increased aggression towards US ally Japan, was the reason for the "pivot towards Asia" doctrine that all but a footnote now.

The protests for universal suffrage in Hong Kong continues for a second week without any signs of an end in sight.  Business and tourism in Hong Kong have begun to suffer and older residents fear civil unrest if the protests continue.  Retail sales plunged during the protests.

The ongoing protests, even if they end shortly, are likely to have a more visible impact on the city’s fourth-quarter growth, especially on retail and tourism,” Mole Hau, an economist with BNP Paribas SA, wrote in a note to investors. (Bloomberg)

The news has already forgotten about the political unrest in Egypt caused by first the overthrow of Mubarak.  Investors are still wary of Egypt's economy.

Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela all are undergoing recessions.  Cash injections by the Federal Reserve between 2009-13 have been halted. The effect has been to induce recessions.  Argentina defaulted on its loans back in July.  Argentine President Kirchner tried export levies on beef to protect consumers from higher prices.  It hasn't worked and only managed to take Argentine beef off the market.

Is it any wonder that we would rather be focused on a possible outbreak or dropping bombs on a renamed al-Qaeda group than trying to focus on much larger problems?

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