E Third World Populism

Today three leading emerging markets are in focus over political and populist moves threatening their economies. First, Mexico's President-elect Lopez Obrador allowed an open-list all-comers referendum to veto a new airport for Mexico City, which needs one. There are environmental issues but the main reason people voted against the half-completed site was NIMBY, a phenomenon not unique to Mexico.

This took down Mexican shares across the board—and not just our cement stock—on Monday.

Then a battle between the Central Bank and the Administration broke out, not in Washington or Rome or Warsaw, but in India. Its central bank, the Reserve Bank of India is under pressure from PM Narendra Modi who wants to influence RBI policies and spending.

Modi is trying to get the RBI to fund government spending to boost its chances in next year's election by using reserves. The no. 2 at the bank calls this “potentially catastrophic” as it will weaken the economy and allow bank stuffed with dud loans to continue to lend more. It will also weaken bank regulations, politicize monetary policy, and weaken the rupee.

Also, China decided to further increase stimulus after the last round turned out to be a dud. It is still being targeted by fierce tariffs by the Trump Administration. However, Beijing is not going all out in boosting stimulus to offset its new regulatory zeal, not only against the financial sector (where it is needed, given the volume of dud loans made by state and local government banks) but also against private sector firms. The notable victims this year have been its Internet companies. But it is already in hock nationally, with debt 120% over income so it cannot really cut taxes or spend money.

Three reporting companies from Australia, Japan and Britain today (to say nothing of vital changes at two of my US shares, GE and IBM) plus Fiat, FCAU, which we sold in time, mean I will not chat much more about our technical issues, but for the record they are now firmly being healed thanks to the intervention yesterday of my company lawyer with their company lawyer, a way to overcome IT messes that is so 20th century! We are also gaining from our now full-time employed former webmaster coming on my payroll for a weekday's work. I hope the tech issues will soon be nothing but a Hallowe'en joke.

*BP plc nearly doubled its Q3 profits in dollars to $3.8 bn, a new 5-yr quarterly high, boosted by more extraction, upstream and refining earnings, and Russia. Operating cash flow excluding the remaining payments for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the US Gulf of Mexico hit $6.6 bn, including an increase of $700 mn in working capital, a herald of better times ahead. (BP paid out another half bn bucks post-tax for the disaster.)

It produced daily oil and gas at a level of 3.6 mn barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) helped by both demand and new projects. Its upstream production rose 6.8% y/y (excluding 1.2 boe from Rosneft and other portfolio changes). Rosneft output rose 2.8% to 1.2 mn boe.

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