• Belgium – still-ailing economy;
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina – an obstacle to an EU membership application has been removed;
  • Dominican Republic – improved external position;
  • Ghana – lowered credit rating;
  • Guatemala – new Finance Minister;
  • Nicaragua – favorable outlook; Panama – the economy is making great strides;
  • Portugal – a tough budget for 2014.

ARGENTINA: The health problem of Pres. Cristina Fernandez not only has an impact on government activity at the present juncture, it also adds to the odds that her administration may lose control of Congress in the upcoming mid-term elections. Meanwhile, the notion is widespread that Indec is lying about inflation as well as GDP growth.

AZERBAIJAN: President Aliyev has won a third term in elections this month, but to call the voting process fair would be a wild exaggeration. The near-term prospects for the economy are quite good, thanks to the booming energy sector.

BANGLADESH: Garment exports are still doing well, disasters and labor strikes notwithstanding. A new labor law brings change, but only to a limited extent. In the run-up to elections the BNP has been ascendant and there is a chance that it may defeat the incumbent Awami League. If so, much of the latter’s legislation may be overturned.

BELARUS: A potentially serious rift between Minsk and Moscow that caused upheaval in the global potash markets has been eased, but has yet to be repaired. It creates risks for the external accounts of Belarus and heightens the dangers for the local ruble.

BRAZIL: Banco Central will soon opt for another interest rate hike, especially in light of the real’s decline in the past six months. This probably means a Selic rate back in the double digits, since there are numerous forces making it difficult to hold inflation down.

IRELAND: Dublin has launched its seventh austerity budget in six years, and the stakes for the country and the Eurozone could not be higher. The Emerald Isle is the first member of the bloc to exit a bailout. There are good reasons for expecting the country to make it, but also some warning signals calling for caution.

MOROCCO: The country has a new government that is quite novel in its makeup. It will face strong opposition from the main Islamist opposition movement, however, as it prepares to raise energy prices as part of IMF-recommended budget reforms. The economy is perking up thanks to good agricultural results.

VENEZUELA: Faced with the disastrous results of the late Chavez’s economic misrule, Pres. Maduro is still talking about a new FX system, which is, however, unlikely to be introduced before December’s elections. Instead, Maduro has gone to parliament to seek decree powers, which he is likely to get.

This page is provided by S.J. Rundt & Associates, Inc., specialists in country risk assessment, consultants to multinational companies & banks, and publishers of Rundt’s World Business Intelligence and The Financial Executive’s Country Risk Alert. To order a subscription or individual issues of these reports, in print or by e-mail, contact S.J. Rundt & Associates, P.O. Box 1572, Montclair, NJ 07042; Telephone: (973) 731-7502, Fax: (973) 731-7503; E-mail: [email protected];  Web site: www.rundtsintelligence.com