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05.01.2014 23:33 China`s GDP growth in 2013 set to be weakest since 1999

China`s economy, the world`s second largest, may have grown around 7.6 per cent in 2013, its weakest growth since 1999, with latest economic figures indicating sluggish economic activities in the last quarter. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is scheduled to release China`s macroeconomic data for the fourth quarter and the entire year of 2013 later this month. China`s economy expanded by 7.7 per cent in the first nine months of 2013. GDP growth in the third quarter accelerated to 7.8 per cent from 7.5 per cent in the second. On December 25, a report submitted by the Cabinet to the parliament said China`s economic growth in 2013 is likely to stand at 7.6 per cent. If confirmed, it would be the weakest growth since 1999 in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis. Reporting to the Standing Committee of the National People`s Congress, the top legislature, Xu Shaoshi, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission said international and domestic economic conditions have changed. Xu said China`s economy faced many problems. Service industries have still to realize their full potential, strategic emerging industries are in their infancy, and industries such as steel, cement, electrolytic aluminum, plate glass and shipbuilding experienced overcapacity. Financial risks are also looming, with a hefty proportion of debt financing concentrated on public infrastructure projects that only generate low returns in the long run. There is already oversupply in the manufacturing and real estate sectors, he was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency. If China fails to handle its government debt properly, it will easily trigger systemic financial danger, Xu warned.

27.12.2013 19:27 Russian economy showed mixed results in 2013

The Russian economy started to stagnate at the end of the year. Throughout December, Russian and foreign experts lowered their forecasts of most key indicators. A review of forecasts shows different expectations, however, they all agree that the domestic situation, rather than external factors, was the biggest influence on 2013. There are two main reasons for this: - Reduction of investments into fixed assets by large state-owned companies, including the energy sector. This was a key factor that contributed to the economic slowdown in 2013. - A slowdown in consumer demand, due to large debt loads of the population. According to the Central Bank, the loan burden per worker is about 3.7 average monthly salaries. However, it is believed that despite the deterioration of individual indicators, the overall situation is not critical. In 2013, Russia`s economic policy was focused on balancing trade and economic relations with other countries, and reducing its dependence on the European market. Therefore, the main trends are the deepening of integration with Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries and the strengthening of relations with Asian countries. Within the CIS, this comes via the development of a customs union with the prospects of forming a single economic space by 2017. The integration with East Asian countries in the field of oil and gas exports intensified as well, particularly in cooperation with China, South Korea and Japan. These countries became interested in Russia as well, and began to invest in resource projects, primarily in eastern Siberia. In 2013, Russia announced the countrys first low-cost airline and smartphone. The low-cost carrier, Dobrolet, a subsidiary of Aeroflot, has already started staff recruitments. This year also saw the arrival of the first Russian smartphone, the IotaPhone. Experts have called it an absolute breakthrough of the year.

26.12.2013 19:51 POLL - Russian economy set to disappoint again in 2014

Russia`s economy is now forecast to have grown in 2013 at less than half the pace expected at start of the year and will perform only slightly better in 2014, weighed down by weak investment and tapering consumer demand. A Reuters poll of 15 economists said that gross domestic product had risen just 1.4 percent this year, when last December they had predicted an expansion of 3.2 percent. Economists are also more pessimistic about the economy`s wellbeing next year than the government, envisaging growth of 2.0 percent, against the Economy Ministry`s forecast of 2.5 percent. Economists now say there has been no growth in investment in tangible assets, such as buildings and plants, this year. A year ago, they had expected such expenditures would grow by 6.0 percent in 2013. For next year, they now expect a small rebound to 2.0 percent growth. The pickup will come mainly from the expected spending from one of Russia`s oil windfall revenue funds on infrastructure. Economists expect consumer price inflation to come in at 6.4 percent this year and ease to 5.2 percent next year. The central bank`s initial forecast saw inflation at below 6 percent this year, but an unexpected rise in food prices has spiked the rate above the target. Analysts also expect a weakening of the rouble, which now trades near four-year lows. At the end of 2014, they see the rouble at 34.20 against the dollar.

20.12.2013 20:09 Russia`s people problem

The Russian government expects the economy to expand a measly 1.4 percent this year (less than half of the growth the US is likely to see) and long-term growth estimates have been trimmed to 2.5 percent a year. Much of that is down to the lack of reform which has left many big companies in the state`s (generally wasteful) hands, weak rule of law that deters investment and capital flight to the tune of tens of billions of dollars a year. Yet there is another factor that could be harder to fix - Russia`s poor demographic profile. The population started declining sharply in the early 1990s amid political and economic turmoil, falling by 3.4 million in the 2000-2010 decade, according to census data. The impact is set to be felt sharply from now on, exactly when children born in 1990s would have started entering the workforce. The consequences are already being felt. Russia will close more than 700 schools this year for lack of pupils and the jobless rate has dipped to a record low of around 5 percent, not because the economy is booming but because the country is running out of people who can take the jobs. Russian bank VTB estimates that the labour force will shrink at the rate of 0.3-0.5 percent a year over the next decade. The demographic wave is coming into the market. For the past five years, it was not felt by companies. Now we will see the impact of the population decline as more people become pensioners and fewer young people come to the jobs market. The growth rates of the past decade coincided with better demographics of the 1980s. So we have at least 10 years ahead that should be very painful. Russia can get around this problem to some extent by boosting labour productivity. But an average Russian produces in one working hour less than 40 percent of the output of a typical American worker, something Putin acknowledged yesterday to be a problem. Meanwhile, there was some good news on the demographic front: this year, for the first time since 1991, Russia`s birth rate is running above its death rate.

18.12.2013 12:23 The Indonesian economy clocked 5.6 per cent growth in Q2 2013-2014

Indonesia which replaced India as the second fastest growing economy in the world a few years ago, continued to grow faster than India in the second quarter of 2013-14, despite its economic growth rate standing at a four-year low. India`s growth rate in Q2 of 2013-14 stood at 4.8 per cent, sub-five per cent for the fourth quarter in a row. Compared to this, the Indonesian economy clocked 5.6 per cent growth in Q2, which was the weakest in four years. Indonesia`s economy rose 5.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2013-14. India`s economy, on the other hand, picked up pace from a four-year low of 4.4 per cent in the second quarter of the current financial year. Indonesia`s economy was hit by weak exports and a low consumption level due to high inflation. Indonesia`s inflation stood at 8.32 per cent in October.

14.12.2013 18:47 Italian Economy Stops Contracting in the third quarter

Italy finally pulled out of a painful, two-year contraction in the third quarter as companies tentatively began spending again, although poor consumer confidence is likely to make for anemic growth in the near future. Italy`s gross domestic product was flat in the third quarter from the previous quarter, the best reading since spring 2011, national statistics institute Istat reported, raising an earlier estimate of a 0.1% decline. Italy`s industrial output measured by sales still shrank in the third quarter, but Istat said the sector as a whole posted 0.2% growth, reflecting investments and replenishing warehouses. Fixed investments, in physical capital such as information technology or tractors, in Italy were down 5.1% from a year earlier, but that is the best reading since the country adopted austerity policies in late 2011, according to Istat. Italy had a steep recession - conventionally defined in Europe as two or more successive quarters of economic contraction - in 2009, quickly followed by a long period of stagnation. As a result, Italian GDP has now shrunk a total of 7.3% from five years ago, while fixed investments are down 24%. Some indicators, such as bank loans and the unemployment rate, are still worsening in the fourth quarter. The government says it will achieve 1.0% growth in 2014, a rate that will almost double in the following years. Some of the emerging underlying trends support that, and companies have long overdue investments to make.

13.12.2013 20:06 IMF says Russian economy at risk from oil markets

The International Monetary Fund said there were risks to the health of the Russian economy because of its heavy reliance on the oil industry. Antonio Spilimbergo, an economist with the IMF, said he was concerned about the health of the Russian economy following a week-long visit to the country. In a statement following his visit, Spilimbergo said growth in the Russian economy had slowed down and vulnerabilities persist. Inflation remains in check, however, and the economy is moving at its full capacity despite a slowdown in the growth of the Russian gross domestic product. He said the budget was further influenced by the weak performance of sectors outside the oil industry. "Structural reforms should be a critical element of any plan to enhance Russia`s growth potential," Spilimbergo said.

10.12.2013 15:23 India GDP expands 4.8% in second quarter

India`s economic growth accelerated in the fiscal second quarter, spurred by higher output in both industry and agriculture and a rebound in exports, suggesting that the economy has bottomed out. Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 4.8% in the three months ended 30 September, compared with 4.4% in the preceding quarter, data released by the government showed. Agriculture grew 4.6% compared with 2.7% in the first quarter. Electricity production increased 7.7% against 3.7% during the same period. But growth in community, social and personal services, indicative of government expenditure, slowed significantly to 4.2% from 9.4% in the June quarter. The finance ministry expects GDP to grow 5-5.5% in the fiscal year to next 31 March. The economy grew 5% in the last fiscal year, the slowest pace in a decade, as companies put investments on hold and consumers cut back on spending in the face of high borrowing costs. Delays in mandatory government approvals hurt company cash flows, stalling projects. Economic affairs secretary Arvind Mayaram said the third and fourth quarters will see a pickup in growth to help attain a growth rate of at least 5% in the full fiscal year.

09.12.2013 18:21 Brazil Economy Shrinks More Than Forecast on Investment Fall

Brazil`s economy shrank in the third quarter more than analysts forecast as above-target inflation, deteriorating fiscal accounts and rising interest rates sapped confidence and crimped investment. Brazil`s gross domestic product fell 0.5 percent in the July to September period from the previous three months, the biggest drop since the first quarter of 2009, the national statistics agency said today in Rio de Janeiro. The drop was larger than forecast from 38 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, whose median estimate was for a 0.3 percent drop, and follows a revised 1.8 percent gain in the second quarter. On an annualized basis, the third quarter decline was 1.9 percent. Investment in the third quarter dropped by 2.2 percent. The decline shows the government artificially stimulated the economy in the second quarter and the impact was not lasting, according to Luciano Rostagno, chief strategist at Banco Mizuho do Brasil SA. The government expected that by giving stimulus to specific sectors, positive sentiment would spread out, Rostagno said by phone from Sao Paulo. You can clearly see that didn`t happen. Growth in the world`s second-biggest emerging market will accelerate this year to 2.5 percent from a revised 1 percent last year, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. That would be less than one-third China`s rate and about half of India`s. The analysts forecast a 2.4 percent expansion in 2014.

08.12.2013 12:52 The Return of Stagnation

In early November, the Russian government released its latest macroeconomic forecast. It could not have been an easy decision. Whereas President Vladimir Putin and his government campaigned in 2012 on a promise that the Russian economy would grow from 5 percent to 6 percent a year during his six-year term, the growth rate is now expected to average just 2.8 percent from 2013 to 2020. Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev explicitly acknowledged that achieving the targets set by Putin "will take longer." In some cases, that means much longer. Russia`s ruling elite understands very well that reforms are needed. The problem is that the reforms needed to achieve such growth - fighting corruption, protecting property rights, privatization and integration into the global economy - threaten the elite`s ability to hold on to power and extract rents. For those in power, a big piece of a shrinking pie is preferable to no piece of a growing one, which is what most of the current elite would receive under a fair legal system with clear rules and predictable enforcement. The growing realism of the government`s internal and public discourse is no small matter. It is finally leading, for example, to the much-needed discussion of budget cuts. What this and officials` new candor mean more broadly for Putin`s political future remains to be seen.

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