Saturday, April 11, 2009

Asean summit cancelled amid protests -- FT

Anti-government protesters derailed Asia’s most important multi-lateral summit on Saturday, invading the conference venue in the Thai resort town of Pattaya and forcing the cancellation of the bulk of the three-day meeting.

The Thai government was forced to cancel the much-anticipated summit and declare a state of emergency, which was later lifted, after hundreds of red-shirted protesters broke through lines of police and military guards to reach the heart of the conference venue.

Click here to access this full article from the FT, written by journalist Tim Johnston who is reporting from Pattaya, Thailand

我要一瓶青岛! -- Tsingtao beer selling well

If anyone has sampled the bland world of Chinese beers you are probably aware that the majority of Chinese beers from all the different regions around China taste oddly similar to one another.

Tsingtao (青岛) however is the one beer that has a good, unique taste and growing brand recognition around the world.

Riding high on the strength of its brand, Tsingtao Brewery Co said "it expects to maintain strong sales growth this year also, despite high raw material prices and intense competition."

Tsingtao is one of the few brewers in China which has been able to adapt and do well in the context of both rising costs and shrinking domestic demand for beer in China.

Profit rose 25.34 percent from a year before to 699 million yuan, on sales of 16 billion yuan, up 16.88 percent. The company said it remains confident for 2009 and said its growth would be 2 percentage points higher than that of the national beer market.

In 2008, the company sold 5.38 million kiloliters of various brews, up 6.6 percent from 2007. The growth rate was 1.2 percentage points higher than the industry average.

Tsingtao's market share increased by 13.24 percent in 2008 from 12.86 percent in 2007 at the expense of its bland competitors.

Venezuela's to do list: Sell China 1 million barrels oil/ day by next year

Chavez's tour de Asia produced a new bit of news on Friday:

"I proposed that given the global situation we study the possibility and we agreed to move up the target set in the strategic accord for 2013," said Chavez on Friday.

Basically this means that in the context of the current global economic crisis Venezuela needs to increase its oil revenues which account for about 90% of the country's budget. Second, China which only a year ago was paying astronomical prices for all its commodity inputs (including oil), is now on a shopping spree in order to secure future supply while the price is good.

Click here to access a concise article which covers the major points on this development from Rigzone -- Efe

IEA downgrades 2009 global oil demand... again

In its Monthly Oil Report, issued Friday in Paris, the IEA said that "after a flurry of downward adjustments by both public and private forecasters," oil demand for 2009 has been revised down by 1 million barrels per day, to 83.4 million barrels per day.

This is a drop of 2.8 per cent compared to 2008, the IEA said.

Global GDP is now expected to contract by 1.4 per cent in 2009, with the 30 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) especially hard-hit.

Click here to access this article in its entirety from Rigzone -- Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tata Nano hits the streets of India

The long awaited Tata Nano hit the streets of India on Thursday with the company and dealers around India confident of strong demand in light of the global economic crisis which has hit the auto industry especially hard.

With a sticker price of 100,000 rupee's ($2000) the Nano is by far the cheapest car in the world. Despite this tempting price, a major concern in many investors minds must have been how India's consumers would be able to secure loans or if they would even be willing to take out a loans for a car in such volatile economic times.

Thankfully the Tata Motors Finance (TMF), the financing arm of Tata Motors, today announced the launch of an attractive loan program which include no upper limit on the number of cars to be booked through TMF, once the customers have submitted the forms a booking amount would be made to Tata Motors on behalf of the customers, applicants who have been allotted the car do not loose any amount except cost of the booking form and initial payments.

To facilitate the booking process, multiple touch-points have been created all over the country. As part of the arrangement, TMF will be assisted by Tata Capital Limited, E-nxt Limited, Tata Motor dealers, Tata Securities outlets and all channel partners – DSAs & Vendors to ensure wider distribution. The booking scheme offered by TMF will enable a customer to book the Nano by paying an amount starting Rs 3,199/- only for the base model.

All in all, there's high hopes for the Nanao which Tata Motors chairman Ratan Tata has said will "create a safe, affordable, all-weather form of transport for Indian families. Families of four -- and more -- are regularly seen balancing precariously on motorcycles weaving through the country's notoriously lethal congested traffic."

Here are some articles about the Nano launch

World's cheapest car goes on sale in India - AFP
Tata Nano Goes on Sale - Wall Street Journal
Tata Motors' special scheme for Nano - The Business Standard
Q+A: Bookings open for Tata's Nano, world's cheapest car - Reuters UK

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Newswire: Commodities

Mid-week review of the commodity markets from Bloomberg's Commodity Section.


Crude oil - $49.38 / barrel

Oil Rises as Government Shows Smaller U.S. Supply Gain Than API - Bloomberg

April 8 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose for the first time in four days after a U.S. government report showed a smaller inventory gain than an industry report.

Supplies increased 1.65 million barrels to 361.1 million last week, the highest since July 1993, the Energy Department said today. Stockpiles were forecast to climb by 1.5 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg News survey. The industry- funded American Petroleum Institute yesterday said stockpiles jumped 6.94 million barrels to the highest since 1990.


Gold - $885.90 / ounce
Silver - $12.34 / ounce

Gold Rises on Investor Demand for Store of Value; Silver Climbs - Bloomberg Article

April 8 (Bloomberg) -- Gold rose for a second straight day in New York as some investors purchased the metal to hedge against financial turmoil. Silver also gained.

The U.S. Treasury Department extended last year’s taxpayer- funded bank bailout to life insurers. Earlier, the bailout was broadened to include automakers and credit-card companies. Researcher GFMS Ltd. said yesterday that gold may reach a record this year as government spending raises inflation concerns.

“The reasons why investors bought gold -- fears of longer- term inflation and currency debasement -- remain intact,” John Reade, the head UBS AG metals strategist in London, said today in a report. Once gold prices have stabilized, “we expect bottom-fishers to begin the next cycle of investment,” he said.


Copper - $4,400 / ton
Zinc - $1,365 / ton
Aluminum - $1,490 / ton
Lead - $1,335 / ton
Nickel - $10,925 / ton
Tin - $10,880 / ton

Copper Gains, Erasing Earlier Drop, in London as Shares Advance - Bloomberg Article

April 8 (Bloomberg) -- Copper advanced on the London Metal Exchange, erasing earlier declines, as shares rose on prospects government support will help automakers and banks.

The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index of European shares rebounded after dropping as much as 1.7 percent today, while the U.S. Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed. The Dollar Index, a measure of the currency against six counterparts, fell 0.2 percent. A weaker greenback cuts the cost of commodities priced in the dollar for holders of other currencies.

“A little bit of buying has crept through on the back of the Dow,” said James Roberts, a broker at Sucden Financial Ltd. in London. “The turnaround in prices is equity-driven.”

Mid-week review of the commodity markets from Bloomberg's Commodity Section.

South Africa & Saudi Arabia relations --

Discovered haohaoreport this morning. A China focused version of Newsvine, Stumbleupon or Digg.

From haohaoreport I then found this great blog/site. A great, well written resource for news relating to the growing relations between China and Africa.

In this post, the author of the blog writes

A few days ago the Saudi Arabia-South Africa business Council was launched with the specific purpose of:

* Facilitating an increase in the volume of trade by easing the process of entry of products in each others markets;
* The department of Trade and Industry and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority signed an MOU to increase flow of investment between the two countries;
* Initiatives on food security to be undertaken;
* Signing an MOU on science and technology.

Importing agricultural products from South Africa and in return exporting talent to South Africa would enhance food security. This would offer an opportunity to Saudi Arabia to move away from its focus on oil and energy products as its sole exports. Long term investments would be undertaken by this oil rich nation in the field of farming. Saudi farmers had perfected a technique of growing maize in a manner that ensured a higher level of produce per hectare, and would use this technique in Africa. South Africa remains a net importer of foodstuff and needs to reverse the scenario in order to advance economically.

Click here to access this full post from

Sino-Venezuelan Cooperation

Good old Hu Jintao and señor Chavez met in Beijing today and agreed to step up their efforts to advance cooperation in energy, agriculture and technology.

The two also agreed to take joint steps to combat the financial crisis. How they hope to achieve such a grand goal, one can not say. All in all it's not much different than all the talk that has been going on about fighting the global financial crisis.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) meets with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, 4/8/09. (

APEC, the UN, IMF, US-Euro, the "G2," etc. All these multilateral organizations and the major economies of the world seem to be making a lot of pledges these days. If anything I think its a good thing in order to restore confidence around the globe. As for this recent foray of China-Venezuelan Cooperation, it is nothing THAT special.

It indicates Chavez continues to aggressively pursue new export markets for Venezuela's oil. Chavez was in Japan earlier this week where he also succeed in getting Japan to promise over $30 billion in investments for Venezuela's oil and gas industry in exchange for guaranteeing a healthy supply for the island (see this Bloomberg article).

Chavez also thanked China for the successful launch of Venezuela's first telecommunications satellite, which according to Chavez will help the "Bolivarian Nation," (a.k.a. Venezuela) achieve scientific and technological independence (see this CNN article about the launch).

Second, it shows that even in the wake of a financial crisis, developing nations are mutually interested in building their relations for the long-term. This means that they remain optimistic about the long-term picture.

A good thing considering growth in the developing world and rising demand from domestic economies is going play a siginificant role in helping the global ecoonomy emerge from this financial crisis.

Of all the announcements, the most important would have to be Hu Jintao's rhetoric. China has its poker face on and is planning its next couple of moves VERY carefully.

The financial crisis has given it a golden opportunity to assert it self on to the world stage. Personally, I believe leaders in China would have preferred to wait a while longer before being forced onto the world stage as a major decision maker and agent of change.

By forging strong alliances with the other developing countries like Venezuela and more importantly the fellow members of the BRIC block (Brazil, Russia, India and China), Hu Jintao and the rest of China's leaders are slowly building allies to support China in a new global framwork.

Made in China - The King of Bootleg

When I was living in China I was told by a Indian friend of mine that if there's one thing he is certain about it is that China is the king of bootlegs. If you're not familiar with the term bootleg, it means: fake, copied, counterfeit, etc.

Even if a great deal of "stuff" that comes out of China is indeed bootleg, I gotta give the Chinese credit... If the entire world could create knock off Gucci bags or F1 racers maybe the rest of the developing world would all be dressing and driving in style.

I say... GO Tangshan brothers. I hope some rich playboy tries to save some $$$ and buys your car.

Had trouble embedding the video with Blogger. Click here to check out the video that shows the brothers at work on the F1 racer.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Peru's Fujimori gets 25 years prison for massacres -- Reuters

LIMA (Reuters) - Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was convicted of human rights crimes and sentenced to 25 years in prison on Tuesday, the first time a democratically elected Latin American president has been found guilty in his own country of such offenses.

A three-judge panel convicted him of ordering a military death squad to carry out two massacres that killed 25 people during his 1990-2000 rule, when he was battling communist guerrillas. Nearly 70,000 people died in two decades of conflict in the Andean country.

Once lauded as a hero, Fujimori, 70, could spend the rest of his life in prison. He can file an appeal, but the verdict is likely to have far-reaching political implications for Peru.

"He was the president who saved our country from terrorism," the former president's daughter Keiko Fujimori, a presidential hopeful and popular lawmaker, said as she called for supporters to march in the streets to protest the verdict.

Cuba's welcomes talk with U.S. -- Reuters Video

Apr 7 - Fidel Castro praises U.S. efforts to normalize relations, as U.S. politicians continue their visit to the island.

China's currency swaps help expand yuan's reach -- Caijing

Li Tao and Zhang Man of Caijing, a financial news publication of China report on the rising influence of China's currency the Renminbi (yuan). The two write:

The cross-border exchange of regional currencies has become an important way to defend against the global economic downturn and promote trade. To circumvent a shortage of dollars and other currencies, as well as reduce exposure to exchange rate volatility, developing countries in eastern and central Asia as well as South America have implicitly recognized the Chinese yuan as a currency for settlements and, in some cases, reserves.

China is willing and eager to help ease liquidity in the financial system... as long as it gets some justified financial clout out of it.

So far China has established the following currency swaps:

Dec 12 - China and South Korea sign a 180 billion yuan currency swap framework agreement.

Jan 20 - China and Japan sign a 200 billion yuan currency swap between the People's Bank of China -- and the Honk Kong Monetary Authority.

Feb 8 - China signs a currency swap agreements with Malaysia's central bank for 80 billion yuan

March 11 - China signs a 20 billion yuan deal with the National Bank of Belarus

March 24 - China signs a 100 billion yuan swap deal with the Central Bank of Indonesia

Click here to read more on this topic from Caijing

Marc Faber - Author of Gloom, Boom and Doom speaks with Bloomberg

Marc Faber, investment guru and the author of the Gloom_Boom_Doom report speaks with Bloomberg about the recent bear market rally.

Major points from the video

- Many stocks hit their lows back in October
- We're set for a 5-10% correction
- We rallied on the S&P from 660 to above 840. Faber thinks we'll head south, but not to the October/November lows
- As an investor, Faber has done well investing in resource stocks. Newmont Mining Corp., and some speculative exploration companies. However he feels you should not avoid these plays until after the correction and improved economic fundamentals.
- Right now he's venturing into banking stocks, carefully...

Monday, April 6, 2009

George Soros Interview - Reuters Exclusive

A roundtable of Reuters Staff interviews Investor George Soros, Chairman of Soros Fund Management and author of "The Crash of 2008 and What it Means.

Venezuela and Iran seal the deal

Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

China_South America: News and Analysis has been following the development of this new "10-year strategic alliance" between Venezuela and Iran. For an old post on this topic click here.

My personally derived conclusion...It is all talk.

Economically speaking Chavez knows the people of Venezuela would be far better off buying tractors (among the many things it needs) from China, Japan or even the United States than they will be from Iran.

Second, both countries are endowed with very healthy supplies of crude oil so there's no need for one another on the energy front.

Politically, Chavez and Ahmadinejad succeed in aggravating the US.

The two, also make a point that developing countries, even ones which make the US mad can and should be allowed to cooperate with one another in achieving sustainable development.

Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The bi-national bank being created with the initial funding of $1.6 billion sounds nice, and might actually help the two considering international lenders are increasingly scared of Venezuela and are banned from doing business with Iran.

However, whether this "10-year strategic alliance" will actually help either country in their path toward development is probably unlikely.

Opinion - Crisis an opportunity to rebalance Asian growth

Interesting... but the author of this interesting op-ed from is not actually listed. Rather reports the author of the editorial has been written by the "Acting Chief Economist of the Asian Development Bank in Manila."

Here's an excerpt to grab your attention or click here to access the article in its entirety from

Today's global economic crisis is the worst since the Great Depression. And developing-Asia is being hit much harder than initially thought. It is now time-in fact it is an opportunity-to re-balance our recent rapid economic growth to help protect us from future external shocks and to strengthen our internal sources of growth.

Average growth in the region declined about three percentage points last year - to 6.3 percent. Our 2009 Asian Development Outlook now forecasts that growth will slow this year again by close to 3 percentage points - to 3.4 percent.

Many emerging Asian economies will suffer severe recession.

The region's two giants - China and India - are also seeing their rapid economic expansions curtailed. What does this mean to the people of our region? ADB estimates that more than 60 million will remain trapped in absolute poverty - surviving on less than $1.25 a day - people who in 2008/09 would have otherwise broken through the poverty threshold had 2007 growth rates continued.

Click here to access the full article from

Weizhen Tang a.k.a the "Chinese Warren Buffet" is a fake!

Another ponzi scheme has hit the presses, this time involving a Chinese-Canadian by the name of Weizhen Tang who liked describe himself as the "Chinese Warren Buffet".

Since 2004 Tang has been running a Toronto-based hedge fund called the Oversea Chinese Fund Limited Partnership. Through targeting the large American and Canadian Chinese communities Tang was able to raise as much as $75 million from roughly 200 investors.

Reuters has a nice summary of this unfolding drama, which you can conveniently access by clicking here.

Attempts by Reuters journalists to reach Tang were unsuccessful. However in a public letter to partners posted on Weizhen Tang's website said

"I did not steal everyone's funds."

"For my investment partners, February 27 of 2009 was a most shocking, heart-breaking and grieving day."

"It was also a day of tremendous pain to myself, one that I had feared so much but eventually it arrived. Because of the sin that I had committed, I have hurt you badly. I'd like to extend my deepest apologies."

Kazakh musician Mamer's album to debut

Short promo for Mamer's debut album - EAGLE.

Mamer comes from Xinjiang in Western China and sings in Kazakh language. Album released on Realworld Records Spring 09. Big thanks to Poppy Sebag-Montefiore for making the video with Mamer in Beijing!

Special thanks to --