Archive for the ‘business’ Category

If it’s April, it’s Donziger at Harvard

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

File under higher education bubble, legal education edition:
Harvard hosts racketeer . . . twice, but not Patton Boggs or Paul Barrett.

From Bratz to Tree Change

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

On this Easter weekend, while we pray about the big things, let’s be glad about the little things.

Read about A happy thing for Easter weekend

TreeChangeDolls

Would Peru go for Chavismo?

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Mary O’Grady writes about the reasons behind Peru’s recent economic success: A market model that allows for

  • a vibrant consumer class that is entrepreneurial and creative
  • openness to imports
  • structural reforms that included ending a punishing system of import tariffs and quotas
  • fiscally conservative governance.

However,

Still, the downturn in commodity prices is eating into growth and the slowdown that began last year continues. Market forecasts for GDP growth are in the 3% range for 2015. Peru’s economy is performing far better than most in the region, but lackluster is not what Peruvians have come to expect.

The obvious answer to this lethargy is more aggressive trade opening on key products like sugar and corn, more tax cutting and deregulation. But Mr. Humala’s popularity is sagging and he is unlikely to do anything bold. Meanwhile, opponents of economic freedom will turn slower growth into opportunity by linking stagnant incomes in the market economy and corruption.

As O’Grady points out, this means Peru Is Chavismo’s Next American Target
Corruption scandals give the left an opening in the 2016 presidential election.

On a seemingly unrelated topic,
The Obama administration insists on easing restrictions on Cuba’s merciless Communist dictatorship while Cuba’s dependence on Venezuelan oil goes bust. Once Cuba’s economy improves cosmetically (because you can bet those in power will not give up their acquisitiveness), the Cuban propaganda machine will use this as another tool in its propaganda arsenal against market economies.

No matter how ruinous Cuban-driven Chavismo is in real life; propaganda is the only thing Cuba’s regime is good at, and it is particularly effective in Latin America.

Face it: The fact that the article talks about Chavismo – instead of Castrocommunism – itself is a success for the Cuban propaganda machine; in reality, “The Venezuelan regime is a puppet controlled by the Cubans.”

—————————————

Related reading:
Hernando de Soto’s excellent book, The Other Path, available on Kindle for under $10, and Ian Bremmer’s The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations?

Last call to complete a survey on political blogs

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

Doctoral candidate Juan M. Sánchez-Villar of the University of Valencia (Spain) has requested my help in completing his research on the effects reading political blogs may have on the adoption of a more participative political position.

For that, he needs that you, gentle reader, complete a survey before March 15th. The survey takes 8-12 minutes to complete.

Here is his email explaining,

Dear friends,

My name is Juan Sánchez and I am a PhD Marketing student at the University of Valencia (Spain). I am currently developing my doctoral thesis, which focuses on the existing relationship between Internet interactivity and the adoption of a more participative political position.

I would like to ask your collaboration to complete the empirical part of my thesis. In this respect, I need you to click on the link below in order to complete a brief and simple online survey.

As you will see, the questionnaire is easy to answer and can be completed in no more than 8-12 (real-time) minutes. The survey displays several statements on different elements related to blog reading and political participation.

My research has no commercial purpose whatsoever and all the collated information will remain totally anonymous. No previous relevant academic background is required and there are no right and wrong answers. What are truly important and relevant are the freely-expressed opinions on the matters raised.

Please click on the following link to participate:

BLOGS, INTERACTIVITY AND POLITICAL OPINION LEADERSHIP SURVEY

Thank you very much for your kind collaboration.

Regards,

Juan Sánchez-Villar
University of Valencia (Spain)

Thank you.

Please complete a survey on political blogs

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Doctoral candidate Juan M. Sánchez-Villar of the University of Valencia (Spain) has requested my help in completing his research on the effects reading political blogs may have on the adoption of a more participative political position.

For that, he needs that you, gentle reader, complete a survey before March 15th. The survey takes 8-12 minutes to complete.

Here is his email explaining,

Dear friends,

My name is Juan Sánchez and I am a PhD Marketing student at the University of Valencia (Spain). I am currently developing my doctoral thesis, which focuses on the existing relationship between Internet interactivity and the adoption of a more participative political position.

I would like to ask your collaboration to complete the empirical part of my thesis. In this respect, I need you to click on the link below in order to complete a brief and simple online survey.

As you will see, the questionnaire is easy to answer and can be completed in no more than 8-12 (real-time) minutes. The survey displays several statements on different elements related to blog reading and political participation.

My research has no commercial purpose whatsoever and all the collated information will remain totally anonymous. No previous relevant academic background is required and there are no right and wrong answers. What are truly important and relevant are the freely-expressed opinions on the matters raised.

Please click on the following link to participate:

BLOGS, INTERACTIVITY AND POLITICAL OPINION LEADERSHIP SURVEY

Thank you very much for your kind collaboration.

Regards,

Juan Sánchez-Villar
University of Valencia (Spain)

Thank you.

Brazil: No joy in soy

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Soybean prices have gone up following a truckers’ strike protesting a recent increase in the federal tax on diesel fuel in Brazil, according to the WSJ:
Brazil Truckers Jar Soybean Markets
Work stoppage impedes shipments to ports, fuels speculation that buyers could turn to the U.S.

U.S. soybean futures surged to a six-week high on Tuesday as truckers across Brazil’s main farming regions blocked roads to protest fuel-tax increases and low wages, impeding shipments to ports and fueling speculation the U.S. would enjoy increased overseas demand for soybeans at Brazil’s expense. Prices pulled back Wednesday as police officers cleared some roads, but analysts said the situation remained fluid as the protests spread to more states.

The effect will be felt by the farmers, further cramping Brazil’s economy.

Over in Argentina (the world’s largest exporter of soybean oil and derivatives), rather than expedite exports,

farmers defending their fields at night amid accusations that they’re hoarding crops to undermine the government.

Argentina imposes an insanely high 35 percent export tax on soy.

Venezuela: Get ready for $10 oil?

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Gary Shilling at Bloomberg is saying, Get ready for $10 oil It has to do with the marginal cost of production,

or the additional costs after the wells are drilled and the pipes are laid. Another way to think of it: It’s the price at which cash flow for an additional barrel falls to zero.

Last month, Wood Mackenzie, an energy research organization, found that of 2,222 oil fields surveyed worldwide, only 1.6 percent would have negative cash flow at $40 a barrel. That suggests there won’t be a lot of chickening out at $40. Keep in mind that the marginal cost for efficient U.S. shale-oil producers is about $10 to $20 a barrel in the Permian Basin in Texas and about the same for oil produced in the Persian Gulf.

Also consider the conundrum financially troubled countries such as Russia and Venezuela find themselves in: They desperately need the revenue from oil exports to service foreign debts and fund imports. Yet, the lower the price, the more oil they need to produce and export to earn the same number of dollars, the currency used to price and trade oil.

With the drop in prices,

Among the hardest hit are those nations that rely on oil for much of their government revenue and were in financial trouble before prices plunged. Venezuela along with its state-run oil company issued more debt than any developing country between 2007 and 2011. Venezuela has been downgraded to the bottom of the junk pile — CCC by Fitch — and credit-default swaps on Venezuelan debt recently indicated a 61 percent chance of default in the next year and 90 percent in the next five years. The nosedive in oil prices also is devastating African exporters Ghana, Angola and Nigeria, where oil finances 70 percent of the government’s budget.

How Bad Is Venezuela’s Economic Chaos? Bad enough that

Maduro has yet to fully account for how his government will meet its $10.3 billion debt obligations in 2015. A March 16 payment totally $1.1 billion is fast approaching and Venezuela’s economy is languishing.

I am not optimistic at all; even if Maduro goes, the country can remain under a dictatorship, just as Cuba has, for decades to follow.

And, by the way, even when the minimum monthly wage of 5,600 bolivars ($32 on a new exchange market created last week) is close to useless, the late dictator Hugo Chavez managed to sock away US$12 billion in his HSBC account.

So, all of you who preach that “Chavez immensely decreased inequality” in Venezuela can take that, spread it, and eat it on a cracker.

Venezuela: Persecuting the retailers

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

“Lines at a Government owned supermarket in the middle of Caracas, almost daily now” (click on photo for link)

The latest from the Communist regime? Arresting shop owners:
Venezuela Confronts Retail Sector
Caracas Arrests CEO of Chain Store, Seizes Business, Alleging It Hoarded Goods; 20 Other Executives Held

In the past week, the CEO of supermarket chain Día Día was arrested after a meeting in the presidential palace, two dozen of its store managers brought in for questioning, and all 35 stores taken over by the government.

Behind the Venezuelan government’s moves is its allegation that Día Día and other chains are hoarding food in an attempt to sow instability and overthrow the government.

Worse yet, Día Día Practimercados is a small grocery store chain that caters to Venezuelans living in the country’s slums.

The country’s economic doom can’t be blamed on fallin oil prices, either, since

Venezuela had the institutions it needed to prepare for a fall in oil prices. The main one was called FIEM and it was a Macroeconomic Stabilization Fund designed very specifically to prvent situations like the one we have today, by saving any windfall oil income above the average for the last five years in a rainy-day fund.

Miguel Octavio looks at the chaos,

But we don’t even know whether Maduro is completely in charge or whether others are telling him what to do, including his wife Cilia.

But I am sorry to tell you, the Government is not acting as stupidly as many lead you to believe. To start, they got US 1.9 billion from the Dominican Republic, which purchased its Petrocaribe debt at less than half price. Then Citgo sold US$ 1.5 billion in a 2022 bond at a yield to maturity with a coupon of 11.5% and borrowed an additional US$1 billion from banks by pledging terminals and its shares. Not bad, US$ 4.5 billion at the blink of an eye in Maduro’s coffers. Jamaica could do the same and then Maduro may decide to close his eyes and send the gold to London and problem solved for 2015. Yeap, just like that, we are thinking 2016 and not 2015.

For now, since the regime will never admit that communism doesn’t work, and, unlike Cuba, it doesn’t have an embargo to blame yet, it needs scapegoats.

And now it’s the retailers turn.

RELATED:
Venezuela News and Views posts Patricia Janiot’s documentary for CNN en Español,

I can assure that SHE DOES NOT EXAGGERATE ANYTHING.

Venezuela: Qatar gives a band-aid

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

No specifics, though:
Qatar Helps Venezuela Weather Oil Crisis
Venezuela Will Receive ‘Several Billion Dollars’ in Financing From Qatari banks, President Nicolás Maduro said, as Opposition Members Criticized the Leader’s Economic Stewardship.

“They’re giving us enough oxygen to cover the fall in crude prices,” he said in remarks carried on Venezuelan state television.

An untold amount, in an untold date, by unnamed banks.

Sounds like a deal!

Meanwhile, Venezuelan authorities are doing what they do best:
Over 1.5 Million Diapers Seized from Venezuela Warehouse

A government raid on a warehouse in western Venezuela has resulted in the confiscation of more than 1.5 million diapers along with over 360 tons of detergent and thousands of pounds of food which were being illegally hoarded.

Venezuelan Vice President Jorge Arreaza said on state television Monday that during the raid, 1,523,776 diapers, 360 tons of detergent powder, as well as conditioners, razors and towels, were found.

In the warehouse, situated in Zulia province, there were also 15,000 units with thousands of liters (gallons) of infant milk substitute, 17,076 kilograms (37,646 pounds) of beans, 11,176 liters (2,952 gallons) of milk, 40,250 kilograms (88,736 pounds) of maize flour and 30,000 kilograms (66,139 pounds) of rice, Arreaza said.

They also found sanitary napkins, shampoos of different brands, soap powder, toothpastes, batteries, napkins, food supplements, milk powder, salsas and pet food.

No band-aids there.

And people who photograph the long lines and empty shelves are sent to jail.

Juan Cristobal Nagel posted videos of folks Overcoming capitalist savagery at Farmatodo Bella Vista:

Mexico: Wal-Mart bodegas

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

As a former marketing/economics major, this strikes me as an interesting experiment:
For Wal-Mart in Mexico, Bodega Format Trumps Big Box
Retail Competes Against Street Vendors With New Chain of Mini-Grocers

Few organizations can match Wal-Mart’s in distribution and inventory, and now Wal-Mart is targeting the low-income market:

Since 80% of consumers in Latin America fall somewhere between middle class and poor, retailers who ignore that huge segment of the population aren’t really in the game, said Mr. Barrientos, who previously worked for Wal-Mart in Chile. Small stores, he added, are crucial for attending the lower-income brackets. Wal-Mart operates in nine Latin American countries.

The challenge comes from local open-air markets – the tianguis, possible protectionism measures from the Mexican government, adding locally-grown produce (in a country where cartels interfere in everything), and access to the new stores by customers who have no means of transportation.

However, these new shops offering longer hours may be welcome by slightly more affluent customers.

It’ll be interesting to see how it develops.