Russia Prepares for an Endless Crisis

26 April 2015
A year after grabbing Crimea, economic stagnation is Russia's new normal.
Drawing by Renaud Vigourt

INSTITUTIONAL INVESTOR

APRIL 27, 2015

A Russian analyst who has monitored corporate credit for the past decade at a Big Three rating agency in Moscow still maintains the habits of the go-go years,enjoying a steak tartare lunch at a plush restaurant just off the capital’s Garden Ring, but his outlook for the country is grim — and not only in economic terms. He worries about the official media’s increasing focus on a “fifth column” supposedly seeking to undermine Russia from within, and about events like the 35,000-strong February march in Moscow, encouraged by the government, that was directed against “internal enemies.” Such efforts to stifle dissent and rally support for the government’s policies toward Ukraine could metastasize into a modern version of Stalinism, he warns.

Time to Buy Iran? Not Quite Yet

26 March 2015
"It's like Turkey with 9% of the world's oil," one banker raves. But investors are in no rush to Tehran.
Axis of Profit?

Iran: The Next Frontier?

Bibi Netanyahu and most of the U.S. Congress may still view Iran as an axis of evil. But a few brave analysts are starting to pitch it as something else: the next great emerging market. “Iran is the largest economy in the world by far that remains cut off from global markets,” says Charles Robertson, chief economist of Renaissance Capital, a London-based investment bank that had a good run in Russia and now wants to expand across the Middle East and Africa. “It’s like Turkey, but with 9% of the world’s oil reserves.”

The Verdict of Global Markets on Ukraine: We Don’t Care

19 March 2015
Some analysts are negative on emerging markets — but for reasons other than the crisis between Russia and Ukraine.

In this era of instant financial and economic contagion, a butterfly’s wing flapping in Greece or Thailand can send reverberations through stock exchanges in New York and London. Yet world markets have shrugged off a disturbance of potentially historic proportions during the past few weeks: Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian province of Crimea and the resulting revival of cold war–style tensions between Moscow and the West. “Except for the Russian and Ukrainian markets themselves, this is basically a nonevent,” says Melissa Brown, senior director of applied research at New York–based risk analytics and financial data firm Axioma, which studies equity and currency volatility around the world.

Sovereign Wealth Funds are Still a $7 Trillion Gorilla

06 March 2015
Savings in places like Russia are dwindling, but the giants will thrive, barring a total oil-price collapse.
Oil Wealth Still Packs a Wallop

March 7, 2015

Sovereign wealth funds swelled to a $7 trillion investing gorilla on a rich diet of oil windfalls, so it makes sense that they would lose some punch as oil prices fall. Marc Faber, a Barron’s Roundtable member and the editor of The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report newsletter, stressed at this year’s Roundtable that a tapering of sovereign-fund earnings would undermine global demand for securities in coming years.

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Investors Gear Up for Little Bang in Saudi Arabia

03 March 2015
Saudi's new king wants to open a stock market the size of Russia's to foreigners at last. But fine print will muffle the bang.
Tadawul Poised for Take-Off?

Investors Gear Up for Opening of Saudi Stock Market

(Institutional Investor – March 2015)

 

The price of oil may be depressed, but investor spirits in Riyadh are anything but. Anticipation is growing that a long-­awaited opening of the Tadawul, the Saudi stock market, to foreign investors will come as early as next month. Analysts believe the move will provide fresh momentum for the $500 billion market, which has risen by nearly 30 percent since mid­-December. “This will be the event of the year in emerging markets,” says John Sfakianakis, a veteran economist and investment strategist in Riyadh who opened an office there in September for the London-­based emerging markets specialist Ashmore Group.

 

Where is the Emerging Market Oil Dividend?

26 February 2015
Markets of oil importers like Thailand or Turkey should be booming, only they aren't

Oil Dividend Proves Elusive for Emerging Markets

Shares of importers such as South Korea, Turkey, and Thailand haven’t enjoyed the expected boost from lower prices. What happened?.

By 

CRAIG MELLOW

Feb. 27, 2015 11:34 p.m. ET

Emerging Markets

It’s a common, and seemingly commonsensical, assumption these days that if oil-exporting emerging markets like Russia and Brazil have been hammered by sinking crude prices, oil-importing countries must be sailing. The hot performance of the two oil-buying BRICs, China and India, since the crash started last summer seems to cement the theory—except it doesn’t.

Ukraine's Oligarchs at War, With Each Other

10 February 2015
Billionaire Ukrainian governor Ihor Kolomoiskyis a two-edged sword for Kiev.
Will Kolomoisky Get the Last Laugh?

FEBRUARY 11, 2015

Ukraine’s Oligarchs Take to Economic Warfare

Despite his reclusive tendencies, businessman and politician Ihor Kolomoisky is trying to tip economics and diplomacy in his holdings’ favor.

 

By Craig Mellow (Institutional Investor)



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UKRNAFTA, THE UPSTREAM OIL MONOPOLY OF WHICH THE STATE OWNS 58 PERCENT AND IHOR KOLOMOISKY’S PRIVAT GROUP OWNS A 42 PERCENT CONTROLLING STAKE. (PHOTO CREDIT: VINCENT MUNDY/BLOOMBERG)

 

The Evil Twins of Emerging Market Debt

25 January 2015
Russia's Gazprom and Brazil's Petrobras are rattling their bond investors, but will probably pay in the end.

Emerging Markets: Sizing Up Debt’s Evil Twins — Barron’s

   By Craig Mellow (Jan. 26, 2015)

 

Petroleo Brasilieiro, better known as Petrobras, and Gazprom are terribly managed companies at the heart of the less-than-brilliantly-run economies of Brazil and Russia, respectively. Both have huge debts, which have become tougher to repay, thanks to diving energy prices and internal factors — a corruption scandal that is paralyzing Petrobras, and international sanctions that are keeping Gazprom out of bond markets.

But could either of these national champions actually default? Not likely, and that may spell opportunity for fixed-income investors who can hold their governance noses. “These credits are priced at distressed levels, while we foresee that they will repay,” says Max Wolman, senior investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management in Scotland. “We are buying selectively.”

The Price Tag for Saving Ukraine

12 January 2015
A year after Maidan, will the West pay to keep Kiev afloat?
Poroshenko Passes the Hat

What It Will Take to Save Ukraine

A year after Maidan, Ukraine is on the brink of default. Will the West stump up the billions it will take to bail out Kiev?

 

By Craig Mellow

 

 



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PETRO POROSHENKO, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (PHOTO CREDIT: CHRIS RATCLIFFE/BLOOMBERG)

JANUARY 09, 2015 (Institutional Investor)

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