Emerging Market Briefs
By Scott B. MacDonald
Brazil Trends in the Right Direction: Credit conditions for Brazil are gradually improving. In mid-March Fitch changed the outlook on its B sovereign ratings from negative to stable. The rating agency indicated the change was due to a marked turnaround in international trade performance and signs the new government is committed to economic policies that could place Brazils public and external finances on a sustainable path. Looking ahead, Fitch believes that maintenance of sizable primary surpluses, a trend toward declining real interest rates, and critically, a resumption of reasonable economic growth rates will be critical to further improvements in Brazils international credit standing.
Colombia Coca Down: There is some good news on the war on drugs. According to United Nations data, Colombias coca harvest was down by 30% in 2002. This data was derived from satellite imaging, comparing the prior years data to 2002s. Most of the 105,600 acre (42,736 hectare) fall in coca production was due to the forced eradication campaign undertaken by the Uribe government. The acreage removed from production is estimated to cover an area more than double the size of Washington, D.C. The Uribe government attack on drugs is a major weapon for the government in its war against leftist guerrillas and far-right paramilitaries who sell coca to buy weapons.
Israel Israel Elect
Goes Down: Standard & Poor's downgraded in February Israel
Electric, from A- to BBB+, with a negative outlook. The agency cited
uncertainties in the companys operations and investment program
and its weak financial profile.
Ilissa A. Kabak, C. H. Kwan,