• Azerbaijan – a successful first bond sale;
  • Belgium – anti-foreign-worker drive;
  • Brazil — another interest rate hike (the last for a while?);
  • Croatia – borrowing needs;
  • Nigeria – starting to look at devaluation as an option?

BAHAMAS:  The Islands expect a better economic performance this year than last, based mainly on the assumption that the international environment will improve. The current-account BoP has been deteriorating shar;ly, though, and FX reserves are down to levels that warrant concern.

BAHRAIN:  The country remains trapped in a political conflict which attempts at dialogue between the ruling family and its opponents have not been able to resolve. The economy has not been unaffected, but neither has it gone into the death spiral that some had predicted.

CHILE:  Having chosen some old faces for her new Cabinet, Pres. Bachelet intends to stick to her campaign promises that include substantial corporate tax hikes. There are many who question the wisdom of such policies at a time when economic growth has slowed sharply and investment is weak, but the government would lose credibility if it backed away from her reform program.

FRANCE:  President Hollande’s appointment of Manuel Valls as Prime Minister was, in some respects, a courageous move, in others one out of desperation. It was a positive step, but also one entailing considerable risks. It is sure to open a rift on the Left of France’s political spectrum, and more than likely also to reopen one inside the Eurozone

GREECE:  Athens has clinched a deal with the troika that will get it safely over a repayment hump in May. For now, at least, it does not look as though the country will need another bailout. Austerity fatigue persists and the administration’s parliamentary majority has become precarious, but the immediate prospects are not bad.

SLOVAKIA:   By making Andrej Kiska their new President, the voters made it clear that they believe in a division of powers. This should ease the concerns of the EU and of international investors. The economy remains basically robust, but persistently high unemployment is still a major problem.

SYRIA:   While there is no end in sight to the violence of the civil war, the economy, as is usual in such cases, is surviving.   Assad is getting Iraqi crude from Egypt. Aid money is trickling in and of late the regime has even been able to build up reserves. In pockets, exporters have been trying to revive their businesses.

TURKEY:  The financial markets welcomed the outcome of the elections, mainly because they are looking for stability.  We suspect that they will have second thoughts once it sinks in just how much PM Erdogan’s authoritarianism has been fortified and what this means domestically and in relations with the EU.

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