Friday, September 16, 2016

FT LatAm Viva For 16 September, 2016

10:04 AM (2 hours ago)
to me
FINANCIAL TIMES - Latam Viva: Your weekly briefing from the region
Shrinking of the jovial giant
By Benedict Mander 
September 16, 2016
Is it all over for Brazil’s beloved former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva? Breaking down into tears repeatedly as he desperately defended his record in congress after being accused of acting as the “commander-in-chief” of the country’s vast corruption scandal at state oil company Petrobras this week, Lula cut a very different figure from the jovial giant of Latin American politics he once was.
If Lula is not going down quietly – promising to “walk to prison myself” if he is proved to be corrupt – nor is Eduardo Cunha, the political mastermind behind the impeachment of Brazil’s former president Dilma Rousseff. After the former house speaker was expelled from congress in an act of what he called “political vengeance”, he threatened to get his own revenge by telling all he knows about his colleagues.
Thankfully, there were more edifying scenes this week in Argentina, where President Mauricio Macri hosted thousands of local and international business executives in a glitzy “mini-Davos” aimed at enticing investments to revitalise the stuttering economy. Sir Alan Duncan, the UK’s junior foreign office minister, joined in the chorus of praise from chief executives of some of the world’s biggest companies for the changes in Argentina since Macri came to power last year. A joint statement pledged that the UK and Argentina will seek closer co-operation, including the removal of restrictions on the Falkland Islands’ oil and gas industry.
Prospects for the oil industry in Venezuela were also looking up, after state oil company PDVSA announced a $7bn bond swap in a bid to alleviate mounting financial pressure as it stares down multibillion-dollar bond payments over the next 14 months. Chile is also attracting huge interest from investors everywhere, as the world’s free market laboratory considers reforming its pioneering pensions system copied by dozens of countries.
Finally, mixed news from Mexico: while the peso is the world’s second worst performing major emerging market currency this year, state oil company Pemex has made discoveries that could add up to 22,000 barrels of oil per day of production at a time when output is forecast to fall next year to its lowest level in four decades. But spare a thought too for the downtrodden migrants from Central America, for whom Donald Trump’s imaginary wall is less of a problem than another (figurative) wall on Mexican’s southern border.
Quote of the week
“They created a lie, constructed an untruth as if it were the plot of a soap opera… If they can prove that I was corrupt, I’ll walk to prison myself” - Brazil’s beloved former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva after facing corruption charges this week.
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The week in review
US investment in its backyard in decline
Latin America and the Caribbean receive less greenfield investment as economies slow
Brazil’s corruption probe tightens its noose
Former president Lula da Silva hits back at prosecutors as Petrobras case reaches climax
Lula da Silva charged with corruption by Brazil prosecutors
Former president accused of being ‘commander-in-chief’ of kickback scheme at Petrobras
UK and Argentina reset relations with Falklands detente
Macri government looks to improve ties with western powers after Kirchner era
Mexico builds its own wall against migrants
Pressure builds for measures to stem flow of refugees from the south heading for US
Expelled Brazilian politician threatens exposé of colleagues
Eduardo Cunha pledges to lift lid on behind-the-scenes dealings after Congress votes him out
Chile pension reform comes under world spotlight
Private system created when country was a free-market laboratory is paying meagre retirement income