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from Photographers' Blog:

Inside Mongolia’s Ger District

Ulan Bator, Mongolia

By Carlos Barria

As the sun tucks behind the hills near the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, Baljirjantsan Otgonseren, 32, walks out of her "Ger," a traditional Mongolian tent, looking for her daughter. The girl is watching the last sunbeams of the day stretch over the settlement known as the Ger District -- a sprawling residential area that has grown so fast in ten years, it has evolved from a transient slum to a legal residential zone.

Like many other residents, Otgonseren and her family migrated from the grasslands to the capital looking for better opportunities. They left behind a traditional nomadic lifestyle in favor of city life and a shot at participating in their country's rapid economic growth. Recent natural disasters have played a part too. For example, the 2010 "Zud," a Mongolian term for an extremely snowy period, helped convince many to settle in one place for good.

According to a 2010 National Population Center census, roughly 30,000 to 40,000 people move to the capital every year. As a country, Mongolia is considered the world's least densely populated nation; with 2.8 million people spread over 1.5 million square kilometers (580,000 square miles).

At the same time, Mongolia’s capital faces one of the biggest housing shortages in the region, with 60 percent of the population living in the Ger District. In many cases, residents have difficult access to water, sanitation and basic infrastructure, according to data from the World Bank.

from Breakingviews:

Mongolia’s economic fairytale faces reality check

By Peter Thal Larsen

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

Mongolia’s fairytale economic boom is developing cracks. The failure of the country’s fifth-largest bank and delays to the development of its giant copper mine underscores fears that its growth potential is built on shaky foundations. Yet greater economic realism may ultimately be welcome.

from Full Focus:

Mongolia’s environmental Neo-Nazis

In the past year, ultra-nationalist groups have expanded in Mongolia. Among the groups garnering attention, the self-described Neo-Nazi group Tsagaan Khaas has recently shifted its focus from attacks on women it accuses of consorting with foreign men to environmental issues, with the stated goal of protecting the environment from foreign mining interests. This ultra- nationalist group was founded in the 90s and currently has more than a hundred members on active duty.

from Global Investing:

And the winner is — frontier market bonds

Global Investing has commented before on how strongly the world's riskiest bonds -- from the so-called frontier markets such as Mongolia, Nigeria and Guatemala -- have performed.  NEXGEM, the frontier component of the bond index family run by JP Morgan, is on track to outperform all other fixed income classes this year with returns of over 20 percent., the bank tells clients in a note today. Just to compare, broader emerging dollar bonds on the EMBI Global index have returned some 16 percent year-to-date while local currency emerging debt is up 13 percent.

That appetite for the sector is strong was proven by a September Eurobond from Zambia that was 15 times subscribed. Demand shows no sign of flagging despite a default in frontier peer Belize and shenanigans over the payment of Ivory Coast's missed coupons from last year. Reasons are easy to find. First, the yield. The average yield on the NEXGEM is roughly 6.5 percent compared with  just under 5 percent on the EMBIG.

from Global Investing:

Easy business trend in emerging Europe

Polish central bank governor Marek Belka doesn't apportion a lot of importance to the fact that Poland can boast the second biggest improvement in the latest World Bank's ease of doing business index, after Kosovo.

"This year we have improved, but I don’t care too much about it,"  Belka said at a meeting in London today.

from Breakingviews:

Public investors lose in Mongol mining battle

By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Mongolia’s treatment of the Chinese bid for coal-producer SouthGobi shows that the state which birthed Genghis Khan has lost none of its warlike spirit. Politicians seem determined to spike an offer from China’s state-owned Aluminium Corp of China (Chalco), which also involves mega-miner Rio Tinto and China’s sovereign wealth fund. A truce is possible, but public investors look likely to lose out.

from Photographers' Blog:

Set free in the Mongolian wild

By Petr Josek

Bulgan airport in the southwest part of Mongolia reminds me of a small train station from the spaghetti western film "Once Upon a Time in the West." It's slow, hot and once a week people wait for an airplane with no more then 20 passengers on board to arrive.

The day of July 17, 2012, was different.

The Czech Army plane Casa brought on board four Przewalski mares. They are endangered animals with a sandy brown coat and faintly striped legs, extinct in their homeland since the early 1970s.

from Breakingviews:

Mongolia’s task: avoid Nigerian resource curse

By Martin Hutchinson

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

In much of the developing world, natural resources seem to offer a handy way out of poverty. But they also present a curse. Mongolia, where the center-right Democratic Party led last week’s elections on a wave of resource nationalism, would be wise to avoid the mistakes of Nigeria and other nations. Government and private fingers can get sticky, the bonanza wasted and non-resource activity burdened and disincentivized.

from Photographers' Blog:

Jugderdem’s backyard

By Carlos Barria

Two-year-old Jugderdem Myagmarsuren opens the door of his tent to play with his plastic scooter in the backyard. He is accompanied by sheep and cows. This is not an ordinary backyard. It’s the Mongolian steppe, and his closest friends might live more than two kms (1.2 miles) away.

While the world’s population reached 7 billion on October 31st, 2011, Mongolia remains the least densely populated country on the planet, with 2.7 million people spread across an area three times the size of France. Two-fifths of Mongolians live in rural areas spread over wind swept steppes.

from Andrew Marshall:

Risks to watch in Asia: Country guides

For Reuters analysis of risks to watch in Asian countries, kept updated in real time and with graphics and video, click on the links below.

AustraliaChinaIndiaIndonesia/

JapanMalaysiaMongoliaNew Zealand

PakistanPhilippinesSingapore/South Korea

Sri LankaTaiwanThailandVietnam

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