• Country Risk1 300Burundi – new election deadlines and more violence;
  • China – growing international use of the yuan;
  • Greece – down to the wire;
  • Uzbekistan – unusually volatile black currency market.

CANADA:  Extreme weather and the global oil price drop hit the economy in the first quarter. While the weather effect is passing, oil will have a negative influence for some time. Politically, to what extent one should take the NDP’s win in Alberta as a guide to the likely outcome of national elections is still difficult to judge.

INDIA:  The numbers would seem to suggest that in Prime Minister Modi’s first year India has responded well to a number of reforms and has become the fastest-growing emerging market. But the figures are not as trustworthy as one would like them to be. Mr. Modi is having to adjust his ambitious time table.

IRAN:  The June 30 deadline for a nuclear pact will not be adhered to. Meanwhile, it is interesting that France’s Foreign Minister Fabius has emerged as the most outspoken skeptic in the nuclear talks with Teheran, a man with sound judgment since the “deal,” if it ever comes into being, will leave all the trumps in Iran’s hand while the US cards are already totally on the table.

RUSSIA:  The Central Bank has done very well in stabilizing monetary conditions and while economic problems are still deepening, the IMF predicts an early rebound. But this is provided there is no amplification of the Western sanctions, which is a distinct possibility, given the Kremlin’s persistently aggressive stance.

SAUDI ARABIA:  The opening of the stock market to foreign investors will take time to show its full effects, but will eventually draw plenty of money into the Kingdom. Meanwhile, the many warnings of the financial stress Saudi Arabia will suffer as a result of the low world market prices for oil are greatly exaggerated.

TURKEY:  While political opponents were jubilant about the harsh setback the elections dealt to President Erdogan’s plans, investors are worried that this may usher in a period of instability. There are three possible directions in which the country may now go, and it may not be clear for some time which of the scenarios will unfold.

UNITED KINGDOM:  PM Cameron says he has a mandate to negotiate EU reforms and then take the issue of British membership to an up or down vote in a referendum. He may find the talks much more difficult than expected and the lineup of his sympathizers among EU officials more limited.

ZIMBABWE: The country is finally getting rid of a currency that has long ceased to be worth the paper it is being printed on. But the economic prospects remain difficult as the authorities seek to implement an IMF-monitored program meant to help them clear payment arrears, normalize debt service and regain access to external financing.

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