• Australia – lower interest rates and election prospects;
  • Kuwait – yet another new government;
  • Romania – interest rates and inflation; Serbia – the government’s cash is running out;
  • Turkey – a show trial and creeping authoritarianism.

CANADA: The trade deficit has narrowed and the economy keeps expanding, if at a frustratingly modest pace. This underscores new CB Governor Poloz’s admonition that stability and patience are what is needed at this point. Canadians are still waiting for a US government decision on the Keystone pipeline.

CZECH REPUBLIC:  The CB is still contemplating koruna sales to weaken the exchange rate, but political uncertainties ahead of probable early elections may persuade it to hold its horses for a while longer. The bureaucratic purge initiated by the interim Prime Minister has unleashed a fiery debate over the legitimacy of these moves.

INDIA:  The mood in the corporate world remains rather gloomy, except for hopes that the man who will take over the helm of the Reserve Bank next month will be more successful than his predecessor in reversing capital outflows and stabilizing the weak rupee while at the same time giving the economy a shot in the arm.

LIBYA:  Exports of crude oil have fallen sharply, due in part to power cuts, but more importantly as a result of civil unrest and attacks by militias. These problems hurt official and private business activity directly. They also scare off foreign investors, whose expertise is sorely needed to develop the economy.

UGANDA:  While President Museveni has been getting kudos, his authoritarian tendencies are causing growing concern. Uganda is on the brink of an energy boom, but still has to prove that it can handle such a development. For now, most of the signals are still positive, both internally and externally.

UNITED STATES:  Green shoots that have appeared of late have raised optimism that the US economy at long last may be overcoming its post-crisis lethargy. Uncertainties remain high with two budget battles impending, however, and the latest labor market statistics are not nearly as positive as one might think at first glance.

VENEZUELA:  The country has moved another step closer to hyperinflation and it is hard to see what the authorities can do in the short run to get monetary erosion under control. President Maduro is confronted with problems within the ranks of his own coalition and may have difficulty holding himself in the saddle.

ZIMBABWE:  The financial markets reacted badly to Pres. Mugabe’s election victory, and for good reason.  Key policies are now apt to revert to those that brought the country disaster prior to 2008. The change will not be immediate and abrupt, but few think that it will not take place eventually.

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