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Russia, China and India are now setting the global capitalist agenda PDF Yazdır E-Posta
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Yazar Edmond Warner   
From: Ahmet Cetinbudaklar

To the point: Russia, China and India are now setting the global capitalist agenda

By Edmond Warner
Last Updated: 10:43pm GMT 27/12/2006

Emerging markets often seem like Peter Pan, financial children destined never to grow up. Just when they seem to reach maturity, a shock, a scandal or a crisis blows up like the temper tantrum that is the indelible mark of infancy. Some, though, are now coming of age, and with all the swagger of young adults.

As is typical in a global bull market, the strongest performing stock markets in 2006 have been in the secondary and tertiary financial centres. Robust economic growth and low interest rates around the world have encouraged a surge of investment capital into markets in Latin America, Asia and eastern Europe.

Such investment is, of course, replete with risks. It is the nature of a bull market, though, that these risks are swept into a darkened corner. The frenzied beating of hearts prevents cool reflection as surely as a neighbour's New Year rave.

The past year has been framed by reminders of the dangers of immature financial systems. In January, Iceland's markets plummeted as investors awoke to the risks of overheating in this heavily indebted, tiny economy. Mysteriously, Icelandic businesses had found the wherewithal to make very substantial acquisitions overseas, notably in Britain.

In December, a military coup in Thailand — brushed aside at the time as a near irrelevance — came back to bite investors. Panic measures by the new regime to restrict currency flows (ironically, because the Thai baht was so strong) sliced 20pc from the stock market in an instant. In confirmation of the regime's inexperience, the measures were largely reversed a day later.

These events had emotional ramifications across emerging markets. You can be sure that they will have cost some experienced investors small fortunes. It is the nature of bull markets, though, that others will shrug these losses off as mere misfortune – simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is moot, though, who is the bigger fool.

Emerging markets usually appear cheap. Low valuations and high growth rates contain the promise that an investor will reach his fortune more swiftly through them rather than along the dull route offered by the major markets. Typically, then, there is a choice between the high road and the low road to investment success. Now, though, one half of the attraction of developing markets has evaporated. Projected growth rates remain high, but low valuations have disappeared as a result of spiralling share prices.

This should slow the racing hearts of investors in emerging markets. Yet, as ever, their companies are expected to grow profits at exhilarating rates. Now, however, there is no longer a discount price to reflect the near certainty that many will fail to deliver and the possibility of economic crises that will swamp any individual company's best endeavours.

It is as well, then, to throttle back on investment in markets that are heavily reliant on the continued development of other, larger emerging economies, and which are over-dependent on international money flows. It is no coincidence that Thailand's short-lived currency controls were introduced because of fears about the effects of the baht's appreciation against the Chinese renminbi.

Three economic powerhouses are emerging, each of them grateful for foreign investment flows but each becoming capable of growing without them should the current investment frenzy abate. Russia, China, India: already they are setting the global capitalist agenda.

That agenda is the work at hand for central banks and foreign ministries in major and minor states. Most importantly, however, it is the strategic planning agenda of global corporations: export markets, outsourcing opportunities, suppliers but, most importantly, competitive threats.

Vodafone, a business battered by investors for the folly of its expensive excursions in Germany and Japan, is tellingly contemplating a $13bn-plus bid for India's fourth largest mobile phone operator. If we are to believe the spin, this is a market that Vodafone just cannot ignore.

Ownership rules in India dictate that Vodafone will need a local partner should its bid succeed. Such a stricture is just one of the quirks of operating in the country, but it is one that overseas businesses have learned to live with. As yet, they must reason, this is not Russia.

Shell has just discovered that quirky can swiftly become impossible. Last week's agreement to sell control of the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project to Russian state-controlled Gazprom will have felt like a body blow. And yet, squeezed by environmental complaints which as good as disappeared the minute the deal was concluded, Shell apparently had nowhere else to turn.

Russia, as China, is big enough and now commercially savvy enough to make its own rules. And hard-nosed enough to enforce them. Doubtless its politicians and entrepreneurs look on with some amusement at foreigners' huffing and puffing, while at the same time speeding on with their own international expansion plans.

It is possible that in 2007 the Labour Government will be confronted by another challenge to its laissez faire attitude to foreign ownership of "strategic" UK industrial assets, this time from Gazprom itself, which is said to be casting an acquisitive eye over Centrica, owner of British Gas. Expect outpourings of indignation if it bids.

It is eight years since the last major global emerging markets crisis in which Russia suffered a notable battering. The country is now much better equipped to weather the storm of any new crisis, emanating from whatever quarter. The same is true of China and India.

These may not yet be wealthy nations, as measured by average incomes, but they are powerful. Their billionaires are driving the property and art markets, and filling the world's most luxurious hotels. Their corporations are among the keenest buyers of business assets. Theirs, then, is global capital's agenda for 2007 and beyond. 

(Dr. Ahmet  Cetinbudaklar'dan alınmıştır)

Yazar owner156 açık 2007-01-12 19:10:25
The more people you sweat , the more power you get....

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