MacroScope

from Global Investing:

Retail volte face confirms India as BRIC that disappoints

Jim O'Neill, the Goldman Sachs banker who coined the term BRICs to capture the fast-growing emerging-markets quartet of Brazil, Russia, India and China,  has fingered India as the BRIC that has disappointed the most over the past decade in terms of reforms, FDI and productivity. New Delhi's latest decision to put on hold a landmark reform of its retail sector will only confirm this view.

The government's backtracking on plans to allow foreign investment in supermarkets will not surprise those accustomed to New Delhi's record on key economic reforms. But it means India's weak performance on FDI receipts will continue and that's bad news for the worsening balance of payments deficit.  Speaking of the retail volte face, O'Neill said: "They shouldn’t raise people's hopes of FDI and then in a week, say, 'we’re only joking'".

Various Indian lobby groups that oppose the reforms contend that foreign giants such as Wal-Mart and Tesco will kill off the livelihoods of millions of small traders.

Not so, according to  a study by the Vale Columbia Centre for Sustainable Economic Development, a think-tank that studies FDI trends. The Centre's Nandita Dasgupta notes that many emerging economies that have allowed 100-percent foreign participation in retail since the early 1990s have seen encouraging results. These include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Russia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. In China, FDI in retail was permitted 20 years ago. But there is no evidence the huge investments have hurt mom-and-pop operations or domestic retail chains, Dasgupta says. In fact, since 2004 the number of small Chinese outlets has increased to around 2.5 million from 1.9 million. Between 1992 and 2001, employment in retail and wholesale almost doubled to 54 million.

In Indonesia, where FDI to retail was liberalised 10 years ago, 90 percent of the business remains with small traders, Dasgupta points out.

from Global Investing:

Which BRIC? Russia scores late goal for 2010

How quickly times change. Russia's stock market, unloved for months, last week overtook India to be the best-performing of
the four BRICs.  The Moscow stock index jumped 5 percent last week, posting its biggest weekly rise in seven months, bringing
year-to-date gains to 17.5 percent. Fund managers such as Goldman Sach's Jim O'Neill, creator of the BRICs term, are predicting it will lead the group next year too.

SOCCER-WORLD/

So what's with the sudden burst of enthusiasm for Moscow? One catalyst is of course soccer body FIFA's decision to award
the 2018 Soccer World cup to Russia. Investors are piling into infrastructure stocks, with steel producers especially tipped to
benefit as Russia starts building stadia, roads and hotels.  But the bigger factor, according to John Lomax, HSBC's head of emerging equity strategy, is the optimism that has started creeping in about U.S. -- and world economic growth.

Some of that may have been dampened by Friday's lacklustre U.S. jobs data. But overall, checks of U.S. economic vital signs show the economy looking sturdier than it was six months ago and most banks, including the pessimists at Goldman Sachs, have upped 2011 growth forecasts for the world's biggest economy. And China and India are continuing to grow at rates close to 10 percent.  All that is great news for the commodity and oil stocks -- the mainstay of the Russian market. Merrill Lynch, for instance, expects oil prices to be $10 higher by next December than now.