1 Russia warns of investor flight (BBC) Russia expects investors to move up to $70bn of assets out of the country in the first three months of this year. The sign that investors are becoming nervous about Russia comes amid sanctions and tensions over Ukraine.
Speaking to reporters, Andrei Klepach, Russia’s deputy economy minister, also warned of stagnant growth and rising inflation. He expects growth in the first quarter to be “around zero”. The Russian economy grew by just 1.3% last year, but Mr Klepach said it was “too soon” to talk about “a recovery from stagnation”.
The Russian economy ministry forecasts suggest $65-70bn of assets would be taken out of Russia this quarter, but Mr Klepach said the figure was likely to be closer to $70bn. That would mark a significant rise on 2013, when capital outflows for the entire year totalled $63bn.
2 UK inflation at four-year low (Julia Kollewe in The Guardian) Chris Williamson, chief economist at data group Markit, notes that the fall in inflation to 1.7%, a four-year low, enables the Bank of England to keep interest rates low for longer. “The big uncertainty for the outlook for inflation lies with wages and salaries, which are finally starting to show signs of rising. The question is whether they will rise enough to worry policymakers into tightening policy sooner than currently envisaged.
The general expectation is that inflation is likely to continue to run at or below the Bank of England’s 2.0% target for some time, subdued by lower import costs, resulting in turn from sterling’s appreciation this year, as well as lower global commodity and energy prices. This means policymakers have greater leeway to keep interest rates at the record low of 0.5% for longer, as the economy goes through a ‘sweet spot’ of robust economic growth, falling unemployment and low inflation.”
3 India media gains in election spending by parties (R Jai Krishna in The Wall Street Journal) As most Indian firms are struggling, newspaper, television and radio companies are expected to flourish this year as the world’s largest democracy spends a record amount on national elections. In the federal polls which will run from April through May, political parties are likely to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to promote their candidates and causes to India’s more than 800 million eligible voters. This pre-monsoon shower of advertising could end a long drought at many media firms.
Companies that depend on advertising dollars have been struggling through a stint of stagflation which has crimped consumers’ spending power as well as consumer product companies’ advertising budgets. The spending will “prove to be a lifeline” to some news television channels, said Jehil Thakkar head for media and entertainment practice at KPMG. “The print industry is also likely to benefit significantly from election spending.” Politicians and political parties are expected to spend at least 20 billion rupees ($329 million) in advertising to campaign for votes as the south Asian nation heads to polls from April 7, according to one estimate by Kotak Securities Ltd.
Of the total campaign spend, KPMG estimates around 30% will go to newspapers and magazines and most of that slice of the political advertising pie will go to local language publications that speak to voters in their native tongues.