- Barbados – critical problems;
- Ivory Coast — return to the international bond markets;
- Latvia – about to adopt the euro;
- Somalia – a new Premier;
- Ukraine – a deal between Kiev and Moscow
AUSTRALIA: The AUD’s prospects are for continued softness as the Reserve Bank persists in its efforts to talk the unit down, the government’s budget deficit has widened, and the US Federal Reserve Bank has begun to gear back its monetary stimulus.
CHILE: Chilenos cheered the second-round victory of Michelle Bachelet in the presidential elections. Some worry that the country’s enormous progress in recent decades will be undone. Much more likely, though, Chile will stay on its course, with more official attention being paid to greater social justice.
FRANCE: The government has been acting with considerable decisiveness abroad. It has shown much less resolve in tackling problems at home, where business activity has newly weakened and unemployment has climbed to the highest in 16 years.
GERMANY: Chancellor Merkel begins her third term in a strong position, at the peak of her popularity, with strong majorities in parliament, and supported by a coalition of the two biggest parties. She has a strong Cabinet that may well prove to be more EU-friendly.
JAMAICA: The economy is still on the edge of a crisis. Growth is minimal, inflation has picked up, and unemployment is high. After two debt restructurings in three years the burden is still staggering and there is some doubt as to whether the country will now make it without a further default.
NIGERIA: President Jonathan has been shocked by two leaked letters. At a time when the ruling PDP is divided and facing new threats from the opposition, this will almost certainly mean a further loss of momentum for economic reforms.
SAUDI ARABIA: The House of Saud remains deeply uneasy about US policies, but for now it is difficult to discern viable options for Riyadh to pursue more independent policies. An entente with Israel may be one way, but not the basis for a truly major shift. At home, a crackdown on foreign workers has been gaining momentum.
TUNISIA: Islamists and their opponents have reached a deal that should allow the nation to get back on track toward a democratic solution of its problems. A new constitution is close to completion and a second free election is around the corner.
Please note: The next issue of these Briefs will be published on January 2, 2014
WE WISH ALL OUR READERS A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY, HEALTHY NEW YEAR