Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fear of emerging markets submerging in 2017; Envisioning no-fare airlines; Celebration, sorrow and slights on Castro's death

1 Fear of emerging markets submerging in 2017 (Gulf News) The year threatens to end as it began for emerging markets — with losses. After spectacular returns between end-January and October, emerging market stocks and bonds are again in retreat, disappointing investors who had hoped the sector had finally turned a corner after lagging its developed market peers for years.

Money managers who attended last year’s Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit had correctly called a turn in favour of emerging markets. At this year’s summit, held November 14-19 — just after Donald Trump’s US presidential election victory — the mood was far less buoyant.

In the wake of the election, investors pulled a record $6.4 billion from emerging bond funds tracked by JPMorgan — a full 10 per cent of what had been received year-to-date. Equity funds shed a third of year-to-date inflows, data showed.

Returns for 2016 are still positive. But foreseeing more pain, many summit participants said they had cashed out their emerging market trades. The emerging rally earlier this year had coincided with a 5 per cent fall in the dollar index. Since the election, the greenback’s value has risen 5 per cent to 14-year highs.

But Trump’s election may not be unequivocally negative for the developing world if his infrastructure plans reignite commodity demand and boost US growth. Emerging market debt is another story. Higher US yields don’t just reduce the appeal of emerging bonds, they also make it costlier for governments and companies to roll over maturing debt or raise fresh finance.

2 Envisioning no-fare airlines (Gwyn Topham in The Guardian) Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has outlined his airline’s plans: to cut fares and fly ever more people. That was, he said, “great news for all the bankers and robbers who will not be reducing their charges, and who will all be making out like highwaymen and bandits as they continue to see rising passenger numbers at their airports, rising retail sales and rising restaurant sales. All on the back of the poor stupid Irish who will be carrying all these people at even lower prices.”

Bitter? Very. But after the tirades, O’Leary shared a dream: “I have this vision that in the next five to 10 years fares on Ryanair will be free; in which case the flights will be full, and we will be making our money out of sharing the airport revenues of all the people who will be running through airports, and getting a share of the shopping and the retail revenues.”

Could that dream ever become reality? Certainly, the tills have been flowing freely at Stansted airport, Ryanair’s biggest UK base. The departure lounge, completed a year ago, is testament to the possibilities. The short distance to the departure gates can only be negotiated via a meandering trail through the duty-free. A hard right at Jo Malone takes you straight into the arms of the Jack Daniel’s boutique, before sniffing the air through a chicane of Lancôme and Estée Lauder, into an oxbow bend through the fashion stores.

This retail spending is the prize O’Leary covets. The airports, however, reckon that Ryanair already gets its share. The owner of Stansted, Manchester Airports Group, signed a 10-year deal with Ryanair soon after acquiring the airport for £1.5bn in 2013. In return for more passengers, Ryanair got lower charges.

Alongside, the airport gave the terminal an £80m transformation, adding 50% more space in the departure lounge. And the airline loosened up its notoriously tight policy on carry-on bags to allow people to bring their shopping aboard.

3 Celebration, sorrow and slights at Castro’s death (San Francisco Chronicle) While the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro prompted cheers from the country's exiles in Miami, the 90-year-old revolutionary leader's passing produced expressions of respect in other parts of the world and measured responses from governments that saw the devoted socialist as a threat.

US President Barack Obama noted that while "discord and profound political disagreements" marked the relationship between the US and Cuba for nearly six decades, Americans were extending "a hand of friendship to the Cuban people" during their time of grief. US President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter to share a thought that proved pithy even for the medium: "Fidel Castro is dead!"

Elsewhere in world, Castro was honored and mourned by many present and former national leaders. Castro's death was felt especially keenly in Latin America, where his success in overthrowing a military regime inspired leftist activists in other countries.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the chorus of admirers, calling Castro "a legendary revolutionary and orator" and a "remarkable leader." Trudeau's reaction prompted strong criticism from two Republican US senators, Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, both Cuban-Americans.

"Is this a real statement or a parody? Because if this is a real statement from the PM of Canada it is shameful (and) embarrassing," Rubio tweeted. Cruz wrote: "Disgraceful. Why do young socialists idolize totalitarian tyrants? Castro, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot -- all evil, torturing murderers."

"I hope his death can start a freedom revolution in Cuba," Denmark's Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen said.

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