Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders
Tech managers are not just savvy about new technology but also own the coolest, most cutting edge gadgets, right? Think again, some of them have no use for gadgets at all, finding pleasure instead in century old paintings and (gasp) pen and paper.
Alain Dutheil, CEO of mobile chipmaker ST-Ericsson, is not a man easily deterred when he wants to get somewhere.
“My plane was late and when I arrived there was no car there to take me into town as planned.” So what did the 64-year-old do?
But we still have the bumper cars…
Mexico’s central bank Gov. Guillermo Ortiz thinks the world economic crisis is probably past the worst but warned growth in the third quarter could contract on an annual basis.
Speaking at the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit, Ortiz — who also fronts the Bank for International Settlements — said there is a growing sensation that the crisis may have bottomed. Inflation in Mexico is likely to decline, helped by lower demand and the peso stopping its free fall against the dollar.
Two types of market interventions since October, where the government sold dollars to ease pressure on the exchange rate, have managed to pull back the peso to levels of just above 13 per greenback, a gain of about 19 percent from its March all-time low.
Ortiz also said the central bank is touching base with key market players to evaluate if a second auction of short-term dollar credits, aimed at triggering lending to companies once again, is needed.
At the beginning of 2009, as Mexico felt the pinch of the U.S. meltdown, Finance Minister Agustin Carstens said the country’s economy was much better prepared than before to resist slowing business from its northern neighbor, where it ships about 80 percent of exports.
Asked about the possible effects of the U.S. recession in Mexico, he candidly anticipated in a TV interview in February the economy would only “catch a little cold instead of a pneumonia.”
The phrase has haunted him ever since as mounting bad news — unemployment, inflation, industrial activity — show Mexico is not immune to the U.S. crisis.
With Mexico officially in recession — GDP contracted 1.6 percent in the first quarter versus the same period of 2008 and could fall further in the current quarter — Carstens now thinks the economy may not grow again until the first quarter of 2010.
In an affable chat with Reuters during the Latin American Investment Summit, Carstens also talked about measures taken to keep the peso from weakening further against the dollar but shied away from saying if, or when, daily dollar sales could stop.
High unemployment rates, declining remittances from Mexicans living abroad, an economic slowdown and contracting consumption is not boding well for Mexican retailers. This year is no exception as the country’s leading supermarket chains struggle to keep customers happy, offering anything from stamps to buy German cuttlery sets to cooking classes for housewives pulling their hair wondering what to prepare for lunch next.
Monterrey-based Soriana, Mexico’s No. 2 retailer, knows a thing or two about sailing in choppy waters. After an ambitious acquisition of 200 stores from a smaller rival in 2007, which boosted its presence across the country, the company faced tight liquidity to meet debt payments last year.
But Soriana has moved fast to cut costs and lighten the weight to face more hard times in 2009. Chief Financial Officer Aurelio Adan told the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit that Soriana’s same-store sales will be flat this year but it will generate enough cash flow to cut its debt by over 20 percent.
Adan expects to turn the page in 2010 and resume Soriana’s strong growth with the opening of 40 stores.
All the infrastructure projects in the world sound great! They look awesome on paper, they’ll make people’s lives better and they’ll let us go visit our friends and families in about half the time it used to take.
It’ll be a dream world!!
Well, unfortunately, we are going to have to pay for all these projects at some point and all of the guests at this year’s Reuters Infrastructure Summit acknowledge that the paying is the hardest part.
Or bridge. Or turnpike.
Every project we’re talking about at Reuters first-ever Reuters Infrastructure Summit has an enormous cost — sometimes in the hundreds of billions of dollars. And governments are looking for ways to pay for it all.
Enter public-private partnerships (or P3s as we cool, infrastructure types like to say these days). In these deals, governments will lease or sell an asset to a group of investors for a certain big up-front fee and then they will pay the government a certain per-year fee for the right.
This week, all of these kinds of phrases are much on the mind of our guests at the first ever Reuters Infrastructure Summit held in New York, San Francisco and Washington.
While infrastructure means different things to almost all of our guests (schools, roads, bridges, etc) — one of our first guests, Petra Todorovich, talked at length about the need for high speed rails.
Congress needs to get off the dime and create a resolution authority that would break down failed institutions in an orderly manner, since the lack of such an authority is driving policy decisions, according to Sheila Bair, head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Speaking at the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in Washington, Bair said that gap has fed into the too-big-to fail presumption and created a dilution in market discipline for those who invest and extend credit to very large institutions.
“We think Congress should give a very high priority to providing a resolution mechanism for very large organizations, Bair said. “The lack of this mechanism is driving policy choices right now.”