OZY on Global Investment Trends
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because money makes the world go round.
Earlier literature on China’s rise in Africa pushed us past the easy — and flawed — paradigm of China as Africa’s latest “colonizer.” But in his forthcoming book, China’s Second Continent, Howard French argues that the Chinese who migrate to Africa do so as individuals motivated by simple, familiar dreams of opportunity. A former China bureau chief for the New York Times and a veteran African correspondent, French traveled the African continent, speaking Mandarin with Chinese men and women who had grown weary of the daily grind in their homeland. The characters French encounters are risk takers: sometimes foulmouthed, often lucky and universally ambitious. Check out the interview.
The stock market is going crazy again. So where’s the exuberance from U.S. investors to match? Chalk it up to more than one mental block. As stock indexes flirt with further record highs in 2014, Wall Street analysts are trying to deduce the “resistance level” at which they’ll peak next before tumbling back down. But what analysts’ numeric models and myriad calculations can’t gauge is the nature of the resistance. Investors are haunted by the recent memory of two of the worst crashes since 1929, and they are showing signs of being twice bitten, thrice shy. The exuberance that generally accompanies market highs and the begetting of new ones is distinctly absent. The average investor right now is at best very cautiously optimistic.
Cuba’s new business leaders are as different from the 1950s’ legendary bearded guerrillas as an all-electronic Tesla is from the gas-guzzling vintage Chevys that still cruise the streets of Havana. In post-Soviet Russia, ambitious bureaucrats connived to purchase state-owned oil and gas companies. In Cuba today — emerging from five decades of socialist central planning — the state is not selling off public assets, at least not yet. Instead, the government is allowing enterprising Cubans to open their own small-scale firms. As a result, ambitious Cubans are busily abandoning public employment to seek their fortunes in newly promising businesses.
In recent years, investors from Angola, former colony of Portugal, have bought significant chunks of Portuguese companies. Spanish officials are urging their counterparts in South America and Latin America to come invest — never mind the conquest. And an exodus of bright young Portuguese seek opportunity abroad — often in erstwhile Portuguese colonies like Brazil, Angola and even East Timor. It’s a significant reversal from decades past, when former colonies went begging their former masters for investment, aid and trade preferences, while stomaching the brain drain of their best-educated graduates. Now the roles have reversed, at least in some quarters. Some former colonies have become emerging markets, logging fast rates of growth, while the erstwhile imperialists are scrambling to stay afloat in the global recession.