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Municipal elections cancelled; electoral crisis unfolding
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - In Brief 16 Feb 2020
This Sunday, the day when municipal elections were scheduled to be held, the unexpected happened: after 11am, the electoral board decided to cancel the elections. The decision was made due to the serious problems that affected the electronic voting system. The president of the electoral board ind...

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Turkey and Russia argue over Syria
RUSSIA / FSU POLITICS - In Brief 16 Feb 2020
On February 15 Turkey claimed to be honoring its agreements to calm the situation in Syria. 13 Turkish soldiers were killed by the Syrian Army in fighting around Idlib in the last two weeks. Russia is Syria's firmest ally. Russia claims to be urging restraint on Syria. Turkey is occupying Syrian ...

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Plan to massively increase Russian Arctic oil production
RUSSIA / FSU POLITICS - In Brief 16 Feb 2020
On February 11 Igor Sechin visited Putin. They discussed the Vostok oil project. Sechin has been one of Putin's closest friends for almost 30 years.Sechin manages Rosneft which is state owned. He wants to pump oil out of the north Urals region and send it by pipeline to the Taymyr Peninsula on Ru...

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Weekly highlights: Negative inflation y/y in Q1 will put pressure on MPC to act
ISRAEL - In Brief 16 Feb 2020
Highlights:Inflation in January came in at the low end of expectations. Inflation reached -0.4% and declined to 0.3% y/y from 0.6% in Dec.Core inflation also declined to 0.35% y/y from 0.64%.Headline inflation is expected to decline further in coming months: to 0.0% y/y in February and -0.3% y/y ...

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Another critical two weeks
TURKEY - Report 16 Feb 2020
Turkey is at war with the Syrian National Army in Idlib, with both sides swearing not to back off an inch. Only Putin can avert a bloody war, but he is very unlikely to act on behalf of Turkey, unless President Erdogan puts the threat of breaking up the relationship and returning the S-400 anti-m...

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A Valentine Day's present from S&P
HUNGARY - In Brief 15 Feb 2020
Quite unexpectedly, S&P raised the outlook for its BBB long-term sovereign rating for Hungary from Stable to Positive yesterday. The agency based its decision primarily on the country's robust growth performance. This expressly hints at the possibility of an upgrade within the next 24 months if p...

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Expect payment system to gum up on March 22
VENEZUELA - Report 15 Feb 2020
On 22 March 2020, General License 15, issued a year earlier by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to allow Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Western Union, and Moneygram to continue to transact with Banco de Venezuela and Banco Bicentenario, will expire. I...

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Gulf weekly: Bahrain’s deficit falls but Oman’s is flat, the US Senate opposes war with Iran
GULF COUNTRIES - Report 14 Feb 2020
A skimmable summary of key developments by country, overlaid with our analysis and links. Headlines include: * Bahrain’s 2019 deficit fell to 4.7% of GDP. * However, Oman’s deficit remained flat, at 9.0%, and it was put on negative outlook by CI. * OPEC trimmed its oil demand forecast be...

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Navigating rough terrain
PHILIPPINES - Forecast 14 Feb 2020
Economic forecasting in a time of a global health emergency is an especially humbling task. Not only do we know that we don’t know how the crisis will evolve, and over what time period, but we also know that we don’t know how economic agents will behave, in response not only to the crisis, but al...

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Russia Economics Conference Call - Growth to strengthen amid a more proactive economic policy of the new government
RUSSIA ECONOMICS - Report 14 Feb 2020
Our Russia Economic conference call replay,​ Growth to strengthen amid a more proactive economic policy of the new government, featuring Evgeny Gavrilenkov and Alexander Kudrin. Evgeny Gavrilenko and Alexander Kudrin are recognized among the top analysts of Russia's macroeconomic trends. In our ...

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South Africa’s SONA 2020: President Ramaphosa strikes a careful balance
SOUTH AFRICA - Report 14 Feb 2020
President Ramaphosa delivered his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) against a fairly dramatic background. Within the Parliament, the opposition party, EFF, staged a rowdy and disruptive scene to demand the sacking of Minister Gordhan - the Minister of State-owned Enterprises. (SOEs). The EF...

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Somewhat stronger forint today on GDP data and comments by the finance minister
HUNGARY - In Brief 14 Feb 2020
The forint moved upwards today, to EURHUF 335-336 in early afternoon trade. We see two factors potentially behind this.First, GDP growth was reported at 4.5% yoy for Q4 and 4.9% for the full year. Some presented this as a positive surprise, as e.g. Portfolio.hu had a 4.2% yoy average analyst expe...

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Inflation continues to move lower
ISRAEL - In Brief 14 Feb 2020
January's CPI declined to 0.3% y/y (-0.4% m/m), slowing from 0.6% y/y in December. Inflation came in at the low end of consensus (according to Bloomberg, the market was expecting -0.3% m/m). Core inflation (the CPI excluding all energy items and fresh produce) moderated as well, reaching 0.35% y/...

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Central Bank of Russia selling half its stake in Sberbank
RUSSIA / FSU POLITICS - In Brief 14 Feb 2020
On February 11 it was announced that CBR is selling 50% of its stake in Sberbank. The foreign exchange assets that are the proceeds of the sale will be utilized to purchase RUB over the next few years. The government is now breaking its fiscal easing rule. Until now oil revenue from prices north ...

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President Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2020
SOUTH AFRICA - In Brief 13 Feb 2020
After over 90 minutes of delays and disruptions caused by an orchestrated EFF interruptions, and following a short break in the parliamentary procedures, President Ramaphosa was finally given a chance to deliver his 2020 SONA. He presented a realistic and somewhat determined message to the nation...

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CPI-inflation unexpectedly exploded in January
HUNGARY - In Brief 13 Feb 2020 1 response
CPI-inflation for January was reported at 0.9% mom, 4.7% yoy this morning, the yoy rate up from 4% in December, far above target and also markedly above the top end of the central bank's tolerance range. The MNB's forecast was 4.3% yoy, Portfolio.hu's analyst consensus expected 4.4% yoy, and our ...

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Ukrainian president appoints a dove as chief of staff
RUSSIA / FSU POLITICS - In Brief 13 Feb 2020
On February 11 President Zelensky promoted Andriy Yermak as his chief of staff. Yermak was pivotal in negotiating a prisoner exchange with Russia in 2019. Moscow responded to Yermak's appointment by saying that its point man for Ukrainian affairs would be Dmitry Kozak. Kozak was born in Ukraine t...

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Three Baring Vostok executives released into house arrest
RUSSIA / FSU POLITICS - In Brief 12 Feb 2020
On February 12 it was announced that 3 Baring Vostok executives have been let out of jail and allowed to live under house arrest. The three Russian men were partners in the private equity company and were held in prison awaiting trial in 2019. A Frenchman and an American who were their co-accused...

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Coronavirus concerns ease, but the Gulf has clear vulnerabilities
GULF COUNTRIES - Report 12 Feb 2020
Highlights: * Lower oil prices, even only temporarily, will exacerbate fiscal challenges and will drive further OPEC action. * Countries most exposed to trade with China, such as Oman, could be at greater risk. * Supply chain problems in China could boost import prices, but total inflation w...

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CBR: Government purchase of Sberbank to effectively amend the fiscal rule, affect markets
RUSSIA ECONOMICS - Report 12 Feb 2020
Yesterday Russian authorities announced that the controlling stake in Sberbank, the nation’s largest commercial bank, currently held by the Central Bank of Russia, would be sold to the Finance Ministry. The deal will be financed by the National Wealth Fund (NWF). The deal is structured in such a ...