• Brazil – Lowered credit rating, with no immediate consequences;
  • Gambia – is quitting the Commonwealth as a “neo-colonialist” institution;
  • Philippines – investment-grade credit ratings across the board;
  • Saudi Arabia – unhappy with the US and the UN.

AUSTRALIA: With record low interest rates spurring household spending, the Reserve Bank is warning the nation’s lenders against imprudently loosening loan standards. The new government aims to rekindle the mining boom, but also promises to maintain economic stability.

CHINA:  Statistics paint the picture of an economy on the rebound. The yuan is likely to rise further. There is growing concern about debt problems, and yet, the government is making it more difficult rather than easier to assess a Chinese company’s or business partner’s creditworthiness.

GREECE: Although both the ECB and Germany have been playing down talk of a third Greek bailout, the Hellenic nation will need and get more aid from its troika of lenders, this time without conceding much more in terms of additional austerity. The crackdown on the extreme-Right group Golden Dawn is likely to give the governing coalition a boost, albeit only a temporary one.

IRAN: The new government, no doubt, is interested in getting the sanctions eased. Nonetheless, any hope that Tehran will abandon or even slow its push for nuclear arms is a pipedream. The presence of what many in the West hopefully describe as “technocrats” or “moderates” in the Rouhani Administration does not change this.

ITALY: Having succeeded, rather remarkably, against the machinations of Silvio Berlusconi in keeping his government alive, PM Letta now faces an even bigger battle to revive a sluggish economy that has emerged as a threat to the entire Eurozone. Still, his odds for soldiering on are better now.

SERBIA: The economy is in a sorry state and the government is under pressure to come to a new agreement with the IMF, which will not be easy to clinch. Serbia has taken another step in the direction of accommodating Kosovo, however, and this should help to pave the way for accession talks with the European Union.

SRI LANKA: The sweeping victory of the Tamils in a Northern provincial poll has more psychological than practical significance, but it has put the spotlight on a still-simmering conflict. The government continues to be under intense international pressure to conduct a meaningful war crimes inquiry.

TURKEY:  PM Erdogan has not had much in the way of good news lately and newly escalating social tensions increase fears for the fragile economy. A just-published package of reforms is being rejected by the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party, threatening progress in the ongoing peace talks. Not surprisingly, the lira is proving to be vulnerable .

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: info@rundtsintelligence.com; Web site: www.rundtsintelligence.com.