- June 18, 2009
- What’s New in Global Markets
Many years ago, when I first traveled to China, the presence of construction cranes as far as the eye could see really solidified in my mind that something special and enduring was going on there.
With the power of first-hand experience in mind, we’ve set up a webcast double feature for investors.
Next Thursday, I will share what I’ve learned on recent trips to Europe and Asia. What signs of recovery are out there? Have the actions of global governments been enough to pump life back into these economies?
And on Friday, my good friend Andy Rothman, CLSA’s China macro strategist, will fill you in on what’s happening on the ground in China.
Has the Beijing government’s infrastructure-focused stimulus been effective as reported? Will more stimulus be needed for growth to continue in the second half of 2009?
Andy is one of the most knowledgeable sources on China. He spent 17 years following China’s economic policy while working in the U.S. foreign service. He’s been CLSA’s China macro strategist since 2000.
I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity to expand your global perspective. Registration for both webcasts is below.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
11:00 AM ET (10:00 AM CT)
Friday, June 26, 2009
10:00 AM ET (9:00 AM CT)
I also wanted to share with you a slideshow of ongoing construction projects in China that I found on wallpaper.com. It’s really interesting to see how the unique Chinese culture mixes with the rapid changes that are taking place.
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- June 11, 2009
- New Jersey’s ARC de Triomphe
The Obama administration is looking toward infrastructure as a way to kickstart the U.S. economy, so this week’s start to the nation’s largest mass transit project is a significant event.
The $8.7 billion Access to the Region’s Core Project (known as the ARC) will connect New York and New Jersey via a new tunnel under the Hudson River. Transit agencies in the two states are putting up about two-thirds of the construction money, with the federal government providing the rest. Construction is scheduled to finished by 2017.
An expansion project of ARC’s magnitude is long overdue. The existing tunnel was built a century ago and was never intended for commuter use. Meanwhile, New Jersey’s rail ridership has quadrupled since 1984 to 44 million trips annually.
The system is so strained that one five minute train disruption during peak time can delay up to 15 trains and affect more than 10,000 passengers, according to ArcTunnel.com.
The ARC project is expected to create 3,000 jobs on each side of the Hudson and produce an additional $660 million annually in economic benefit for the region. There’s also an environmental upside, as access to more trains is projected to reduce auto traffic and emissions.
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- August 27, 2009
- Poor Infrastructure a Pothole for Russian Economy
The deadly collapse of a freeway bridge in Minneapolis in 2007 brought to national attention that our vital infrastructure was falling apart.
Perhaps last week’s disaster at a major hydroelectric power station in Siberia that killed 69 people will get Russia moving to update its crumbling infrastructure. But the challenges are many.
The vast majority of Russia’s roads, bridges, railways and power grid date back to the Cold War era, and it’s estimated that more than 60 percent need to be replaced.
Heat and power outages during winter months are common, and Moscow is plagued with world-class traffic-jams. But at least Muscovites have places to drive—as of last year, more than 10 percent of the country’s population had no access to roads at all.
And while other BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations have rapidly expanded their highways and rail systems over the past several years, the length of Russia’s usable roads actually declined by 31,000 kilometers (19,375 miles) from 2000 to 2006.
Safety and quality of life aren’t the only reasons Russia should invest heavily in its infrastructure. Looking at the economics, estimates are that annual GDP growth is reduced by up to 6 percent by the country’s poor infrastructure.
One infrastructure challenge facing Russia is its government incompetence and “unfathomable levels of corruption” that add huge cost to projects, according to the Moscow-based Center for Research of Post-Industrial Studies.
It cites figures that the cost of building one kilometer of a four-lane highway in Russia is about $13 million, about four times that of Brazil or China. For some sections of a highway connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg, the construction cost exceeded $130 million per kilometer due to government waste and palm-greasing.
Another problem is finding the big sums needed to get the work done. Prime Minister Putin proposed a 10-year, $1 trillion plan last year but that was prior to fallout in global markets and commodities.
Since then, more than $13 billion in infrastructure projects have been delayed or canceled, with the government spending most of the money earmarked for infrastructure on shoring up the country’s banking system instead. Rather than embarking on a comprehensive upgrade program, Putin now pledges to address “vital parts” of Russia’s infrastructure.
This means much of the funding for Russia’s infrastructure repairs will need to come from public-private partnerships (PPPs) and other innovative non-government sources. But these projects too will be vulnerable to costly corruption demands involving political entities and bureaucrats that would cut returns to investors.
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- June 14, 2010
- World Spotlight on South Africa
South Africa takes to the world stage as it hosts soccer’s first World Cup to be played on the African continent. For the next 30 days, the eyes of the globe will be watching Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Maicon and Messi battle it out for world soccer supremacy.
South Africa’s $287 billion economy is already the largest in Africa and it’s estimated that the World Cup will generate 400,000 jobs and contribute $7.3 billion to the country’s GDP, according to research firm Grant Thornton. It estimates 450,000 tourists will visit the country spending a total of $1.1 billion.
In preparation for this event, South Africa has given itself quite the makeover. This infographic from MENA Infrastructure details how South Africa has made substantial upgrades in its infrastructure.
A reported $2.2 billion was spent on 10 stadiums that will host the matches. Some of these, like the 46,000 seat Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth, the first stadium in the world to be completely powered by green energy, were new construction while others, like the 95,000 Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg, received major upgrades.
Another $9.1 billion was invested in the country’s road systems, $2.4 billion in airports and $2 billion on a new commuter rail. In all, the World Cup infrastructure program is estimated to have brought $52 billion in investment.
Once the games are over, the South African government hopes the investment will continue to pay dividends. World Cup hosts have experienced increased economic growth in the two years following the event. Analysis from Credit Suisse shows the host countries experienced 2.7 percent and 2.6 percent growth, respectively, in the years leading up to the World Cup but saw 3.2 percent and 3.7 percent economic growth in the two years after.
Only time will tell if this scenario plays out. Luckily we have the world’s best tournament to keep us entertained in the meantime. Enjoy the Cup!
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- May 20, 2010
- Brazil's Infrastructure Plays Catch Up
Brazil has become one of the globe’s beacons of growth but in terms of infrastructure investment it needs to catch up to its peers.
As you can see from the two charts below, Brazil’s investment in its infrastructure has lagged that of emerging market leaders India and China, but it’s also lagged other Latin American countries like Peru and Mexico. In terms of investment-to-GDP ratio, Brazil averaged 17 percent over the past five years, according to a Morgan Stanley report, far behind China (44 percent), India (38 percent) and Russia (24 percent).
Brazil’s infrastructure investment as a percentage of GDP has been declining for some time. In the 1970s, infrastructure investment averaged 5.4 percent of GDP but that number has dropped off to just over 2 percent in the 2000s. This is considered just enough to maintain existing infrastructure, not enough for new projects or to fill new needs.
The U.S. spends roughly the same amount and we have our decaying infrastructure to show for it.
The Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) estimates that infrastructure investment could total more than $145 billion over the next three years alone. Morgan Stanley believes that this figure needs to double to 4 percent of GDP if the country is to achieve 5 percent annual growth for this decade.
So where is the $290 billion worth of investment needed?
Morgan Stanley says that the biggest opportunities are in roads, railways and ports. Because they’ve received little investment so far, ports and railways are projected to increase by 24.8 percent and 12.7 percent annually respectively for the next four to five years. In addition, we’ve seen firsthand the need for more airports and large-occupancy housing in its major cities.
Luckily, Brazil already has some drivers in place to increase investment. In addition to the second-edition of the Growth Acceleration Plan we discussed back in April (Brazil’s Plan to Accelerate Growth), Brazil will play host to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Morgan Stanley also sees that the development of pre-salt oil reserves, a key driver of economic growth, will spur additional investment.
Our team’s visit to Brazil last November confirms the view that the country will benefit enormously from an upgrade of its infrastructure. It will take Brazil to the next level of economic development that will lessen reliance on commodities and diversify the engine of sustainable economic growth towards internal consumption.
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