• China – accelerated FX liberalization;
  • Ghana – efforts to diversify the economy;
  • Singapore – a shift in the tax burden to the well-heeled;
  • Uruguay – getting economic distance from Argentina;
  • Venezuela – opposition leader arrested;
  • Zambia –emergency meeting for the kwacha.

GREECE:  The primary budget surplus for 2013 appears to have come in much larger than anticipated, but the government’s ability to put it to use is circumscribed by a court ruling on salary cuts. In the political arena, parties on the Right and Left are getting ready to fight critical May elections.

ITALY:  Yet another new government, this one under former Florence mayor Matteo Renzi, is facing the same problems saddled with the same weaknesses as its predecessor under Enrico Letta. The latest official economic numbers seem to suggest the beginning of a recovery, but only faintly, with plenty of room for pessimism.

 KUWAIT: The IMF recommends that the country needs strong fiscal frameworks to guide public spending, but with the budget showing robust surpluses it will be difficult to persuade the people that austerity is necessary. The economic outlook is positive, but of course depending on developments in the oil markets.

LEBANON: The country has a new government and there is hope that it will soon have a new President and parliament as well. The political situation remains precarious, though, and al-Qaeda is now steadily expanding in Lebanon.  Israel, meanwhile, has reason to worry about the growing threat from Hezbollah.

LIBYA:  Nearly three years after Qaddafi’s fall, the country is still far from political stability and economic recovery. The General National Congress remains deeply split. Oil revenues have dwindled, and small-scale business, seeking to stage a revival, may not be able to sustain the effort.

MONGOLIA: For a country as dependent on foreign venture capital as Mongolia is, the government has shown little concern in its treatment of foreign investors. Corruption is an additional problem. The tugrik’s exchange market performance has been reflecting this. Among the people, there is concern about China’s intentions.

SOUTH AFRICA:  The ANC is likely to extend its two-decade-old rule in elections scheduled for May 7, but probably with a lessened majority as the nation struggles with slow growth, painfully high unemployment, a weak rand and mining strikes that further undermine the confidence of international investors.

UKRAINE:  As conditions go from bad to worse and violence mounts, downward pressures on the hryvnia will keep reappearing until a measure of social peace is restored and a reliable financial bailout has been arranged.  European and US threats of sanctions are the wrong message at the wrong time addressed to the wrong people.

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