- Macedonia – elections to watch;
- Moldova – the next domino after Crimea?
- Turkey – prospects for the lira; Ukraine – a massive interest rate hike;
- Venezuela – dire currency forecast.
ALGERIA: There is no doubt that today’s presidential elections will be won by the incumbent Bouteflika. Less certain is in what physical shape he is and whether he will launch the energetic drive for reforms he has promised. The economy did fairly well last year, and a rebound in growth is anticipated for 2014.
BRAZIL: Even though the most recent interest rate hike may have been the last for a while, the real has been volatile on speculation that investors will be, once again, attracted to the nation’s assets and the government will fight them. Pres. Rousseff’s approval ratings have fallen, however, and the scandal swirling around Petrobras does not help.
CYPRUS: Thanks in large part to prudent management, the economy has shown more resilience than anticipated in the wake of its bailout. A rebound could come sooner than most thought. Damage has been done that is not necessarily visible from the outside, however, and Cyprus also has reason to be concerned about developments in Ukraine.
ISRAEL: The peace process with the Palestinians has, once again, ground to failure and this greatly increases the risks to geopolitical stability. It also threatens the economy, which otherwise should show a noticeable improvement this year. Headwinds to growth come from the appreciation of the shekel and a planned fiscal tightening.
LIBYA: The PM’s resignation after just one month on the job attests to the extent to which this country continues to be ungovernable. It is doubtful that elections later this year will change this. But at least the country is in the process of stepping up its exports of oil, following an agreement with rebels who had blocked four ports.
RUSSIA: Unplanned side effects, it turns out, are giving the minimal sanctions the West has so far imposed more teeth than anticipated, especially as the Russian economy was doing badly already before they were put in place. A recession this year can now no longer be ruled out.
TAIWAN: While the protests against a trade pact with China are over for now, they seem to have signaled that Beijing’s strategy of wooing the Island through strengthening economic ties is reaching limits. Taiwan cannot afford to put an end to the rapprochement, however, given the need to revive a sluggish economy.
TANZANIA: Controls on the foreign ownership of stocks and bonds are to be relaxed as the country seeks to attract more capital from abroad. The recent signing of a Monetary Union Protocol was a milestone on the way to deeper economic integration among EAC countries, but Tanzania is not free of socio-political tensions.