• Brazil – the worst trade result since 2000;
  • Indonesia – external improvements apt to be sustained;
  • Sweden – lowered economic expectations and worries about a housing bubble;
  • Sri Lanka – brushing off IMF advice.

CHINA: The CB has succeeded in calming the financial markets, following a flurry of speculation that a cash crunch may be threatening banks and the economy. The country is also defying predictions of a sharp slowdown in growth. Meanwhile, Beijing has moved ahead on the deregulation of interest rates and on preparations for the launch of a deposit insurance scheme.

EGYPT:  The country enters the new year with deep divisions in its society and with bloodshed on the streets. The prospects for democracy appear bleaker than they have been for some time. Ideologies have hardened and there are now more weapons in the hands of militants.

SOUTH SUDAN:  Rather than heading for a cease fire, the crisis in this country is still escalating and threatening to spill over the borders. So far, the mediators have struck out. The violence has begun to dent vital oil production and, while it rages, foreign donors are also likely to withhold any aid that is not of a humanitarian nature

SURINAME:  Under rather questionable political leadership, Suriname is enjoying a reasonably strong economy thanks to its gold and oil resources. The risks for the coming year would seem to be weighted toward the downside, but over the longer run growth is expected to increase moderately if commodity prices hold up.

THAILAND:  The country is entering 2014 deeply divided, with no end to the confrontation in sight and many wondering whether the elections planned for February 2 can and will be held or whether the military will take over once again. Whatever the ultimate outcome, the economy will take hits in the interim.

TURKEY:  Although the CB has been doing all in its power, short of hiking interest rates, to stabilize the nation’s financial markets, the political turmoil engulfing Pres. Erdogan is likely to drag on. This could have serious economic repercussions. It will also accelerate the weakening of Turkey’s influence abroad.

UKRAINE:  The money that Kiev now receives from Moscow will be of no help in the longer run, because the deal does not require Ukraine to change policies in a way that would mop up red ink and encourage growth. It may allow Pres. Yanukovich to survive in office and for now this seems to be all he wants.

VENEZUELA:  The authorities enacted a partial devaluation of the bolivar. A full downgrading is apt to follow. It is bound to further heat up inflation, imposed price cuts notwithstanding. The socio-political situation is getting worse, with “parallel governments” helping to stoke polarized politics.

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